Tuesday, March 2, 2010

NYC Midtown to Uptown Walk: Midtown/NYC Writers' Homes and Haunts (link to celebrity locator map)

For this midtown to uptown walk, we managed to clock 11 miles on the old pedometer. If you plan tightly with the map, you could cover it in less if that's your goal, but ours is to walk as many steps as we can, and this day, it was the triumphant double.

Click to enlarge this map. We started from Grand Central Station at 42nd Street between Lexington and Park Avenues. You might consider a stop at this massive transportation hub for a tour of the art deco rotunda and then a casual meal downstairs at the food court. There is a holiday market set up during the Christmas season, and many year-round shops to browse through in the street level corridors.

From Grand Central Station, we walked up Park Avenue to 44th Street and turned left to go west as far as the Algonquin Hotel at 59 West 44th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues. The Round Table, aka The Vicious Circle, met here regularly to drink, dine, trade barbs and witty insults. This group included writers, artists and actors such as Alexander Woollcott, Robert Benchley and Dorothy Parker. Perhaps Parker's most noted quip, when challenged to used the word "horticulture " in a sentence was, "You can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her think."

The Algonquin Hotel is a literary landmark.

Opposite the Algonquin, south side at 28 East 44th Street, closer to 5th Avenue is the headquarters for The New Yorker Magazine. Some Round Table writers worked here.

We walked up 5th Avenue to 47th Street and turned right to walk east to 231 East 47th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, home of author Edmond Wilson. He was married to another famous author, Mary McCarthy.

After walking east and then north, we arrived at 1st Avenue and 49th Street at the UN Plaza, the final home of Truman Capote. He bought his apartment in this complex in 1965 for $62,000 with the proceeds from his best seller, In Cold Blood.

At One Beekman Place, (York Avenue and 49th Street), lived writers Mary McCarthy and J. P. Marquand.

Serandipity3, at 225 East 60th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, famous for huge and delectable frozen desserts and fabulous hanging tiffany light fixtures, was frequented in the past by Andy Warhol and Jackie Kennedy, the latter of whom is said to be the first to be given the then secret recipe for the Frozen Hot Chocolate. In fact, we still see many a celebrity seated en famille, all enjoying a meal and dessert, and maybe a purchase of a crafty souvenir for the children on the way out.

Leaving Beekman Place, we walked west to Park Avenue and north on Park to East 78th Street. Here, once stood numbers 882 and 884 Park Avenue, the address of the home of Edith Wharton. This apartment house at 886 Park seems to have consumed those addresses.

At 111 East 77th Street between Park and Lex, once was Edith Wharton's stable.

We headed over to 23 East 74th Street, final home of New Yorker writer and wit, Dorothy Parker until her death in 1967. Her morbid fear was that after she died, the undertaker would be forced to stand her corpse upright in the elevator.

Our last address for the day was on West 86th Street so we took the 72nd Street Tranverse across Central Park and continued west to Broadway (the longest street in NYC), and up to The Belnord, Isaac Bashevis Singer's home at 225 West 86th Street. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978, he was the most notable writer of Yiddish literature of his time. His works were serialized in the Daily Forward.

This block on West 86th Street between Columbus and Broadway is known as Isaac Bashevis Singer Boulevard.

At this point, after checking our pedometers, we decided to stop in for hot soup and a sandwich at Pain Quotidien back down on West 65th Street. But the quest continues. We think we know where Edna Ferber, Edgar Allen Poe, Emma Goldman and Bob Dylan used to live. Stay tuned...