Tag: Exploring New York City

Bronx Museum of the Arts  1040 Grand Concourse  The Bronx, NY 10456

Bronx Museum of the Arts 1040 Grand Concourse The Bronx, NY 10456

The Bronx Museum of the Arts

1040 Grand Concourse

The Bronx, NY  10456

(718) 681-600


Open: Sunday 11:00am-6:00pm/Monday & Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 11:00am-6:00pm

Fee: Free

My review on Tripadvisor:



I recently had some time to visit the Bronx Museum of the Arts when I was visiting Yankee Stadium recently for a football game. The museum is right down the road on the Grand Concourse. It is an impressive little museum.

I had wanted to see the exhibit “Art Versus Transit: 1977-1987” by artist Henry Chalfant who had recorded the graffiti art on the subway cars during the late 70’s into the early 1980’s. This is before the subway investing in the new subway cars that could be cleaned by hosing them off.

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“Art versus Transit: 1977-1987”

The art was interesting as it was an expression of the times just when Hip-Hop was becoming popular and the City was going through the financial crisis. The artist did a good job capturing the times. Not only do we see the art but the music and dance as well of the time.

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Subway Art

The other exhibition that I saw was “The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop” which displayed the artist’s interpreted that Gay Community and the beginnings of the AIDS crisis. It was an another interesting perspective of the times of New York City.

Mission and Background:

The Bronx Museum of the Arts is a contemporary art museum that connects diverse audience to the urban experience through its permanent collection, special exhibitions and education programs. Reflecting the borough’s dynamic communities. The Museum is the crossroad where artists, local residents, national and international visitors meet.

Today an internationally recognized cultural destination. The Bronx Museum of the Arts is committed to presenting new ideas and voices in a global context and making contemporary art a vital, relevant experience. For the past four decades, the Bronx Museum has presented hundreds of changing exhibitions featuring works by culturally diverse and under-represented artists from a spectrum of levels. Exhibition have investigated themes of special interest to the Bronx community while exploring the interplay between contemporary art and popular culture.

A permanent collection of over 2000 artworks in all visual media preserves and documents artists who are not typically represented within traditional museum collections by showcasing work by artists of African, Asian and Latin American ancestry, as well as artists for who the Bronx has been critical to their development. The Museum provides direct support to artists through Artist in the Marketplace, which nurtures the work of 35  emerging artists each year and providers professional development seminars culminating in a multi-site biennial exhibition and catalog.

The Museum’s education department empowers students from grades K-12 by offering a variety of programs that inspire academic proficiency visual literacy and critical thinking. Through the Group Visits Program, students are exposed to the Museum’s works during single-session tours lead by teaching artists. Through In-School Partnerships. Museum educators work with school teachers to encourage scholastic excellence through the application of arts education techniques in addition, the Museum’s Teen Council Program helps Bronx high-school students build applied arts and media skills as they create a variety of visual and text-based materials.

(Bronx Museum of the Arts Mission-Website)


The Museum opened on May 11, 1971, in a partnership between the Bronx Council on the Arts, which was founded in 1961 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The opening coincided with a borough-wide “Bronx Day” event. The first exhibit consisted of 28 paintings from the Met’s collection. The Museum was first housed in the first floor rotunda of the Bronx County Courthouse. Additional galleries were located in the Bronx’s Co-op City, Bedford Park and Allerton neighborhoods. In its first 12 years of operation, the museum held over 350 exhibitions.

In 1982, the city purchased a vacant synagogue at 165th Street and the Grand Concourse as a new location for the museum. The new location opened to the public in May 1983 in conjunction with “Bronx Week”, which succeeded “Bronx Day”. The new space was inaugurated with an exhibition of twentieth artwork. It consisted of paintings, photographs and prints borrowed from the Met.

In February 2004, construction began on a $19 million expansion project that doubled the museum’s size 33.000 square feet. The expansion opened in October 2006. In 2008, a arts center was added to accommodate educational programs for local schoolchildren and their families. The Museum no longer charges fees since 2012.

Bronx Museum

The Bronx Museum of Art and its additions

The original design was by Simon B. Zelnick in 1961 and the extensions were designed by Castro-Blanco, Piscioneri & Feder in 1988 and a second addition in 2006 by Arquitectonica.

(The Bronx Museum WIKI)



Gracie Mansion Carl Schurz Park  East 88th Street and East End Avenue New York, NY 10128

Gracie Mansion Carl Schurz Park East 88th Street and East End Avenue New York, NY 10128

Gracie Mansion

Carl Schurz Park

East 88th and East End Avenue

New York, NY  10128

(212) 570-4773

Hours: Mondays only-10:00am. 11:00am and 5:00pm. See their website at www1.nyc.gov/site/Gracie/visit/visit page or gracieinfo@cityhall.nyc.gov


TripAdvisor Review:


Hours: There are free house tours at 10:00am, 11:00am and 5:00pm on Mondays only. Check their website for availability. This is one of the few rare treats of New York if you can snare one of the tours of Gracie Mansion. It is a really interesting tour of the first floor rooms and entrance to the gardens of this historic home and the Mayor of New York City’s residence.

This was really a wonderful tour of the mansion given by one of the interns who worked for the Mayor. We started the tour in the extension Wagner Wing addition that was added in the 1960’s by the Wagner Administration.

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The Library at Gracie Mansion

We saw the formal ballroom, library and meeting room and then the hallway leading to the front of the house which is the original part of the mansion. We saw of the original house the formal living room, dining room and reception hall by the front door and got to peek out at the formal gardens which were being set up for a party.


The Gracie Mansion Dining Room

There is a lot of interesting art work on loan from  museums, period furniture some from the Gracie family as well as some of the current Mayor’s books. There are interesting stories about each room plus the whole history of the Gracie family who had been big in shipping and trade at one time.

It is a one hour tour and it is well worth it to tour the mansion on its history alone.


Gracie Mansion, built in 1799 by shipping merchant Archibald Gracie, is the last of the elegant county estates that once lined Manhattan’s East River shore. Gracie hosted elegant dinner parties at his country estate for visitors including Alexander Hamilton, Rufus King, Joseph Bonaparte and Washington Irving.

Archiebald Gracie

Archibald Gracie

Major losses during the years after the War of 1812 forced Gracie to sell his estate in 1823 to Joseph Foulke. In 1857, the Mansion was bought by Noah Wheaton. After Wheaton’s death in 1896, the City of New York appropriated the estate, incorporating ts 11 acres of grounds into the surrounding park that was renamed Carl Schurz Park in 1910.

After years as a comfort station and ice cream stand, Gracie Mansion became the first home of the Museum of the City of New York. When the museum moved to a larger building, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses convinced  City Authorities to designate the Mansion as the official residence of the Mayor. In 1942, Fiorello H. La Guardia moved into Gracie Mansion.

In 1966, the Mansion was enlarged with the construction of the Susan E. Wagner Wind, which includes a ballroom and two additional rooms. Under the guidance of the Gracie Mansion Conservatory, major restorations to the Mansion were undertaken between 1981 and 1984 and in 2002.

The 2002 restoration transformed Gracie Mansion into the “People’s House” and increased accessibility to the public and City agencies. First Lady Rosalyn Carter and South African President Nelson Mandela are among the many notable visitors.

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Gracie Mansion at the turn of the last century

Gracie Mansion is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Gracie Mansion Conservatory and is a member of the Historic House Trust.

(Gracie Mansion Pamphlet)

Tours of Gracie Mansion:

Join us for free guided tours, offered select Mondays at 10:00am, 11:00am and 5:00pm Reserve online at the Gracie Mansion Conservatory website: nyc.gov/gracietour or call (212) 676-3060.

We look forward to welcoming you and your friends, colleagues and constituents.

Gracie Mansion Conservatory:

After years of neglect and continual erosion of any trace of history, Mayor Edward I. Koch and founding Chair Joan K. Davison, established the Gracie Mansion Conservatory in 1981. as a public./private partnership.. Under its guidance, the first major restoration of the house was undertaken between 1981 and 1984. Besides creating a connection between  the original house  and the Wagner Wing, this effort included the display of art, furniture and decorative objects either  purchased or more often, lent by the City’s many cultural institutions. The Charter mandate of the Conservatory was not to seal the residence in the past (especially as there is no record of how it originally appeared inside) but to protect its history while accommodating change and progress by successive generations of New Yorkers.

The Gracie Mansion Conservatory continues to operate as a charitable organization dedicated to enhancing and enlivening its namesake. Its mission is to preserve and honor Gracie Mansion’s Federal Period origins while also making sure it remains as forward-looking and welcoming as the city it serves. An increasing  share of this work focuses on exploring the many different people and cultures whose contributions to Gracie Mansion and the New York at large gone unrecognized for far too long. The Conservatory also works to improve the surrounding landscape and gardens and provide public programming and educational services, including publications and tours for local school students, especially those studying in New York State’s 7th grade social studies curriculum.

(Gracie Mansion Conservatory pamphlet)

Disclaimer: This information was taken from the Gracie Mansion Conservatory pamphlet press kit given on my tour and I give the Conservatory full credit for it. Please check the website for tour information or call them to find out about group tours.

It really is a great tour!



Shorakkopoch Rock Inwood Hill Park New York, NY 10034

Shorakkopoch Rock Inwood Hill Park New York, NY 10034

Shorakkopoch Rock

Inwood Hill Park

New York, NY  10034




Located in Inwood Hill Park and part of the NYC Parks System. The rock was dedicated on February 2, 1954 by the Peter Minuet Post #1247, American Legion.

I came across the Shorakkopoch Rock, the noted spot that Peter Minuet has been said to have bought the island of Manhattan from the Indians. No one is too sure where the spot of the ‘transaction’ took place as some feel it may have been closer to downtown by the Bowling Green, where the original Dutch settlement was located or maybe he travelled to them, we will never know. What we do know is that he said the transaction took place under a tulip tree and in this spot used to be a tulip tree that was over 220 years old before it died.

Shorakkopoch Rock

The rock reads:

Shorakkopoch: According to legend, on this site of the rock, principal Manhattan Indian Village, Peter Minuet in 1626, purchased Manhattan Island for trinkets and beads them worth about 60 guilders. This boulder also marks the spot where a tulip tree (Liriodendron Tulipifera)  grew to a height of 165 feet and a girth of 20 feet. It was until its death in 1932 at the age of 220 years old, the oldest living link with the Reckgawawang Indians, who lived here. Dedicated as part of New York City’s 300th Anniversary celebration by the Peter Minuet Post 1247 American Legion 1954.

For more information on the rock, please contact the Art & Antiquities  at (212) 360-8143.

Disclaimer: This information was taken form the NYC Parks Department website.

Please take time out when visiting Manhattan to see this important piece of the city’s history as the city itself was founded on this very site.

Muscota Marsh West 218th Street and Indian Road New York, NY 10034

Muscota Marsh West 218th Street and Indian Road New York, NY 10034

Muscota Marsh

West 218th Street & Indian Road

New York, NY 10034




I came across the Muscota Marsh when I was walking the neighborhood of Inwood in 2015 and thought that this is a great site that tourists should see on top of a visit to Inwood Park and the Shorakkopoch Rock where Peter Minuet bought Manhattan from the Indians.

The Shorakkopoch Rock in Inwood Park

Shorakkopoch Rock

The Muscota Marsh is a one acre public park in the Inwood section of the borough of Manhattan in New York City, on the shore of Spuyten Duyvil Creek, a section of the Harlem River. It is adjacent to the much larger Inwood Hill Park and Columbia University’s Baker Athletics Complex. The park is notable for its views and for its ecological conservation features.

Muscota Marsh is unusual for having both a freshwater marsh and a salt marsh in such a tiny area. Besides attracting plant and animal life, these wetlands are intended to help filter rainwater runoff and thereby improve the water quality of the river. Other facilities include a dock for kayaks and canoes, benches and walking paths. A wooden deck overlooking the river provides views of Inwood Hill Park, the Henry Hudson Bridge and the New Jersey Palisades.

Muscota Marsh

As this public green space, with a design inspired by tidal flats and mud ways, you can enjoy the educational richness of the marsh from the wildlife observation deck or venture out on to a wooden deck stretching out to the waterway through the native water gardens.

Because of the close proximity of the salt marsh and the freshwater wetlands, you’ll be able to spot beautiful wading birds like the great blue heron and the snowy egret. You can also see leopard frogs and ribbed among the dramatic colors and textures of the marsh’s native plants.

Muscato Marsh II

Opened to the public in January 2014, the park was constructed by Columbia University as part of a deal to construct the new Campbell Sports Center within its adjacent athletics complex. It was designed by James Corner Field Operations, which is best known for its work on Manhattan’s High Line. It is cooperatively administered by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and Columbia, with the university providing maintenance and security.

Muscato Marsh

The park is open all year round and is free to enter. It is right next to the Columbia Stadium. Check out the big ‘C’ on the cliffs opposite of the river.

Disclaimer: This information was taken from the NYC Parks information guide and Wikipedia. Please check this small pocket park out for its beauty and for its importance in the environment.

Fort Washington Park: The Little Red Lighthouse 178th Street by the George Washington Bridge New York, NY 10033

Fort Washington Park: The Little Red Lighthouse 178th Street by the George Washington Bridge New York, NY 10033

The Little Red Lighthouse: Fort Washington Park

178th Street under the George Washington Bridge

New York, NY  10033

TripAdvisor Review:



*I came across the Little Red Lighthouse when I was touring Fort Washington Park one afternoon on the walk and did not realize how famous this landmark was in literature. It was part of the book, “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge”. It is a small landmark but on a nice day it offers great views of the river and the surrounding park.

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The Little Red Lighthouse & Fort Washington Park (Text is part of the Historical Signs Project).

The Little Red Lighthouse stopped being used as a functional lighthouse long ago but over the years this 40-foot-high structure has become a beacon of another kind. Located underneath the George Washington Bridge along this treacherous section of the Hudson River once known as Jeffrey’s Hook, this is one of the few surviving lighthouses in New York City and serves as a quaint reminder of the area’s history.

Long ago, Native Americans known locally as the Wiechquaesgeck-part of the Lenape tribe-inhabited much of upper Manhattan and eastern New Jersey. The Wiechquaesgeck and later the Dutch and English colonists, fished and hunted along the banks of the Hudson River. The Hudson was also an important route for travel, connecting upstate cities such as Albany to New York City and the Atlantic Ocean. As traffic increased along the river, so did the number of shipwrecks at Jeffery’s Hook. In an attempt to reduce the accidents, a red pole was placed at Jeffrey’s Hook jutting out over the river to warn travelers of danger. In 1889, two 10-candlepower lanterns were placed on the pole to aid navigation. Much of the land surrounding the lighthouse, including the riverbanks of Jeffery’s Hook was acquired by the City in 1896 and became known as Fort Washington Park.


In the early 20th Century, barge captains carrying goods up and down the Hudson demanded a brighter beacon. The Little Red Lighthouse had been erected at Sandy Hooks, New Jersey in 1880 where it used a 1,000 pound fog signal and flashing red light to guide ships through the night. It became obsolete and was dismantled in 1917. In 1921, the U.S. Coast Guard reconstructed this lighthouse on Jeffrey’s Hook in an attempt to improve navigational aids on the Hudson River. Run by a part-time keeper and furnished with a battery-powered lamp and a fog bell, the lighthouse, then known as Jeffery’s Hook Lighthouse was an important guide to river travelers for ten years. The George Washington Bridge opened in 1931 and the brighter lights of the bridge again made the lighthouse obsolete. In 1948, the Coast Guard decommissioned the lighthouse and its lamp was extinguished.

The Coast Guard planned to auction off the lighthouse but an outpouring of support fro the beacon helped save it. The outcry from the public  was prompted by the children’s book, ‘The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great gray Bridge’, written by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward in 1942. In the popular book, the Little Red Lighthouse is happy and content until a great bridge is built over it. In the end, the lighthouse learns that it still has an important job to do and that there is still a place in the world for an old lighthouse.  The classic tale captured the imaginations of children and adults, many of whom wrote letters and sent money to help save the icon from the auction block.

On July 23, 1951, the Coast Guard gave the property to Parks and on May 29, 1979, the Little Red Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historical Places. It did not receive much attention over the years until City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin worked with Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern to find funding for its restoration. In 1986, Parks hosted a party in honor of the lighthouse’s 65 anniversary and to celebrate a $209,000 renovation of the lighthouse that included reconstruction of the concrete foundation and the installation of new steel doors. In the year 2000, the lighthouse received a fresh coast of red paint that is true to its original, historic color along with new interior lighting and electric lines. Today the Little Red Lighthouse remains a stalwart symbol of the area’s heritage, lighting the way into the city’s past.

The Little Red Lighthouse is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and is a member  of the Historic House Trust of New York City.

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*This information comes off the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation website. I would advise because of the isolated location of the lighthouse in the park to visit at daylight hours.

The Morris-Jumel Mansion 65 Jumel Terrace New York, New York 10032

The Morris-Jumel Mansion 65 Jumel Terrace New York, New York 10032

The Morris-Jumel Mansion

65 Jumel Terrance

New York, NY  10032

(212) 923-8008


Fee: Adults:  $10/Seniors/Students: $8/Children under 12: Free/Members: Free

Open: Monday:  Closed to general public; visitation by advanced appointment only/Tuesday-Friday: 10:00am to 4:00pm/Saturday-Sunday: 10:00am to 5:00pm

The museum is closed on the  following holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.


TripAdvisor Review:



I came across the Morris-Jumel Mansion on my walk around Manhattan and noted it on my blog site “MywalkinManhattan.com”. This is the only remaining Colonial residence left on the island of Manhattan and is worth the time to take the tour of the house for its significance in the American Revolutionary War and in it’s later history.

When touring the house, you get to see most of the rooms furnished with period furniture and some with the family belongings. The house had other uses over the years and the curators are trying bringing it back to the period of time when Madame Jumel lived there. The tour guides have some interesting stories on the colorful history of the house.

In the summer months, don’t miss the beautiful if somewhat rustic gardens that surround the house. It is very beautiful during the summer months. Check out their website for special events.

The History of the Morris-Jumel Mansion:

The Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan’s only remaining Colonial era residence is unique in its combination of architectural and historical significance. Built as a summer ‘villa’ in 1765 by the British Colonel Roger Morris and his American wife, Mary Philipse.

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Colonel Roger Morris

It originally commanded extensive views in all directions: of New York harbor and Staten Island to the south; of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers to the west and east and of Westchester county to the north. The estate named “Mount Morris” stretched over 130 acres from the Harlem to Hudson Rivers and the working farm grew fruit trees, and raised cows and sheep.


Mary Philipse

Colonel Morris was the son of the famous architect Roger Morris, a fact which may explain the extremely innovative features of the Mansion such as the gigantic portico, unprecedented in American architecture and the rear wing which was the first octagon built in the Colonies.

The house’s situation and large size made it ideal as military headquarters during the Revolution and it was occupied successively by Washington, General Henry Clinton and the Hessian General Baron von Knyphausen. As the Morris’s were loyal to Britain during the Revolution, so their property was seized and sold after its conclusion. In 1790, Washington returned for a cabinet dinner at which he entertained Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton and Colonel Knox among others.

The later history of the house centers on the Jumels. Stephen Jumel was a wealthy French émigré, who married in 1804, his beautiful and brilliant mistress, Eliza Bowen. They bought the mansion in 1810. In 1815, they sailed to France and offered Napoleon safe passage to New York after Waterloo. Although he eventually declined the offer, they did acquire from his family many important Napoleonic relics-some of which can be seen in the blue bedroom on the second floor.

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Eliza Jumel and her family

Favorable tariffs and faster sailing technology made Atlantic trade in raw materials in raw materials and luxury goods and luxury products highly lucrative.  Stephen made his fortune  as a merchant. Later as his business floundered, Eliza applied herself to the real estate trade, buying and selling land and renting properties downtown.


Morris-Jumel Mansion bedroom

Her success made large profits for her husband and herself  at a time when it was very unusual for a woman to be so active in business. Stephen died in 1832 and Eliza married the ex-Vice-President Aaron Burr in the front parlor one year later.

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The Reception Room at the Morris-Jumel Mansion

Eliza filed for divorce in 1833, a lengthy process which was not finalized until 1836 at the time of Burr’s death.  Eliza lived in the house until her death at age 90 in 1865, exactly 100 years after the mansion was built. On her death , she was considered one of the wealthiest women in America.  In 1904, the city of New York purchased the house and turned it into a museum.

Today, the mansion is the oldest remaining house in Manhattan and is a museum highlighting over 200 years of New York history, art and culture. The neighborhood surrounding the mansion is known as the Jumel Terrace Historic District. The hill that Roger Morris once called “Mount Morris” in the 18th century became better known as “Sugar Hill” during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s.

*The buildings in this district are protected by the New York Landmarks Commission and must be maintained as if they were new, so this is why the area has changed little over time. The Morris-Jumel Mansion is a proud member of the Historic House Trust of New York City and partner of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.


*This information is taken from the Morris-Jumel Mansion press release and pamphlet and from the New York City Parks Department. Please call or email the mansion in case times have changed or events planned.



Welcome to ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’, a trip through smaller museums, cultural sites and parks & gardens in NYC and beyond.

Welcome to ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’, a trip through smaller museums, cultural sites and parks & gardens in NYC and beyond.

My name is Justin Watrel and welcome to ‘VisitingaMuseum.com’, a trip through cultural sites, small unique museums,  historic mansions and homes and pocket parks & community gardens in New York City and beyond its borders. I created this blog site to cross reference all the cultural sites that I came across when I was traveling through Manhattan  for my walking blog, “MywalkinManhattan.com”.

Bergen County Historical Society III

Historic New Bridge Landing

I was inspired by all these sites that I had missed over the years and never knew existed in New York City and its suburbs.  Many of these being in Bergen County, NJ where I live. I found that most people feel the same way. The only way you would know that these sites existed is by walking past them.

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School House Museum in Ridgewood, New Jersey

So I created this site to showcase all these smaller, largely unexplored ‘gems’ in Manhattan, the rest of New York City and places outside the greater New York City area. I concentrate on smaller, more off beat places that you might miss in the tour books or may just find by passing them on the street. This has lead me to  becoming a member of the Bergen County Historical Society in Riveredge, NJ as well as other cultural sites in the area.

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The Aviation Museum in Teterboro, New Jersey

There is so many interesting historical sites, parks, gardens and homes to explore that I want to share it with all of you. They are tucked behind buildings and walls, locked behind gates or hidden behind trees only for you to want to discover them.

Ringwood Manor Christmas 2019

Ringwood Manor in Ringwood, New Jersey at Christmas

I want to give these smaller and unique ‘gems’ more exposure and ‘sing their praises’  to an audience (namely out of town tourists) who might overlook them. It is hard for a lot of these cultural site because of the lack of volunteers or volunteers getting older or the absence of money to properly advertise these sites.

Gallery Bergen Professor Show III

Juan Leon’s work at Gallery Bergen on the Bergen Community College campus in Paramus, NJ

So join me in the extension of “MywalkinManhattan.com” with my new site “VisitingaMuseum.com” and share the adventure with me. Join me also on my sister blog sites, “DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com” and ‘LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com’ for restaurants and small shops.

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The Dyckman Farm in Washington Heights in Manhattan

These sites featuring all sorts of small restaurants, bodegas and bakeries, where a quality meal can be had for $10.00 and under and unusual stores with unique merchandise that just stand out in their respective neighborhoods. It is important to support small business owners especially in this economy.

Lucy the Elephant

Lucy the Elephant in Margate, NJ

So join me here as I take “MywalkinManhattan” to some unique and special historical sites and open spaces.