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More about “Upper East Side“, posted with vodpod. View on Flickr to see captions.

The Upper East Side adventure was my first “reserved” neighborhood – Chelsey recently transferred to a school up there, so we figured we’d explore and perhaps find her some new favorite haunts. I’m excited for some of the other neighborhoods I reserved for people; among them are Chinatown and Hamilton Heights.

Classy shopping in the Upper East Side.

On January 30th, I got up to 59th Street a little early and ducked into H&M to see if I could buy a hat, because I had forgotten mine and it was FREEZING! And I had decided to press on even though I realized upon leaving the dorm that it was going to be a bitterly cold day. Sadly, I didn’t find a hat. But I observed some other shoppers loading up on spring gear, which apparently gets sold in January. Practical, except for the part where I want to have winter things available while it’s still winter! N.b. 2/17: Looks like The Sartorialist shares my chagrin.

Gossip Girl

Click for source.

The Upper East Side, despite what you may have gleaned from Gossip Girl, is not all fashion and rich people running about. Or at least it wasn’t at 1 p.m. on a Sunday. I wasn’t particularly interested in recreating any posh vibes from the show, although I enjoy the silliness of GG just like anyone else. I also decided to pass on the Met, because I’ve already been there several times. Don’t let that turn you off though – if you’re new to New York or visiting, it goes without saying that you should take a gander.

Speaking of Gossip Girl, though, if you are interested in popping up to the infamous neighborhood, Jaunted has put together a very comprehensive Gossip Girl map.

Chelsey and I had a nice time catching up and stopping to warm up in random stores, such as Pylones, where they had a squid whisk! Theoretically, there are plenty of interesting things one can make a conscious effort to go do in the UES, but a lot of them involve bars or fine dining or… museums. So we chose to see the more everyday side of this classy neighborhood. This involved me admiring the architecture a lot and wishing I could live in an old brownstone or mansion. We also took a look around Hunter College. The small differences between Hunter and NYU are amazing – I was allowed in without needing to flash my ID at any point. We went on a high floor balcony and weren’t blocked in by alarms and barriers.

UES Building

Someday... this shall be mine...

We had a lovely brunch at the Lexington Candy Shop Luncheonette. I had cinnamon raisin French toast and a vanilla egg cream. If you have never tried an egg cream because of the name, you’re not alone. But it’s actually just flavored syrup (chocolate or otherwise), milk and seltzer. That kind of sounds gross, too, but trust me – it’s not! It was a great place to try something new, in the vein of this whole project. We wandered around some more as the gloomy sky darkened, rounding off the adventure with delicious hot chocolates at another diner.

Now I’m curious… have any of you done or wanted to do a Gossip Girl tour of the UES? I feel that somehow this blog would be more popular if that is what I’d done…


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more about “East (Spanish) Harlem“, posted with vodpod. View in fullscreen for captions.

A mural of the Barrio's history on 104th St. & Lex. Click photo for a site with another version and a suggested walking tour route (not the one I chose).

On the very first day of my project, I made my roommate Anna choose a random neighborhood out of the jar where I keep each neighborhood. Horrible picker that she is, she chose East (Spanish) Harlem for me! 😡

Of course, it was actually not a horrible pick at all. Anna even pretended that another neighborhood had stuck to it, saying I could choose that one instead. But this was actually a great way to start off 13 Weeks of Shutter. There is so much culture up in Spanish Harlem and I was excited to get a faraway neighborhood out of the way early on.

Because I like formulas, I looked up the street boundaries of Spanish Harlem the night before I went, thinking I would walk the perimeter and then hang a diagonal to get back to the subway when I was ready to leave. This of course, was highly impractical, and it is a lucky thing that I don’t swear by formulas.

Click for the New York Times article this image came from.

Spanish Harlem is really big, and some neighborhoods are even bigger, so I probably won’t get to use my formula ever. It’s ok though. I ended up taking the 6 up to 125th St., walking over to 2nd Ave. on 128th St. and then meandering south on 2nd and 3rd Aves. until lunch down on 105th St. When I first arrived, though, I panicked briefly because I hadn’t even considered that I might be getting myself into some trouble in this neighborhood. It’s not the safest, and although it was actually fine, I momentarily wondered, “What if there is a DRIVE-BY??! I could DIE TODAY!!” Common sense got the better of this irrational fear and I headed promptly to one of the busier streets, snapping away.

I resisted giving in to my hunger at one of the sad little bodegas and fried chicken spots, and I was so glad I waited because I came across El Paso. It was very affordable (although I gorged myself on a huge entree and dessert, spending $24 including tip – you can avoid this by not being a fatty like me), and the service was wonderful. The hostess sat me by the window, where I could gaze out at the dreary Sunday afternoon, waiting for my chicken enchiladas with mole and, later, a tres leches cake with vanilla ice cream and a fried tortilla chip!!


I chatted with my friend Emma on the phone while I had lunch (she had some juicy stories :P), bubbling over with happiness at my great adventure. It had been raining when I’d stopped at El Paso but by the time I headed out again, the rain had stopped, so I made my way to the Museum of the City of New York.

Museums are the kinds of things that you are just supposed to do when you go to or live in New York. I think in any big city, that’s an implied necessity. I hadn’t been to many, because art museums are not really my favorite. But this type of cultural museum, oh! To give you an idea of how much I enjoyed it: I watched their documentary, Timescapes, about the history of the city, and got EXTREMELY misty-eyed! I was really on the verge of some uncalled-for tears there. But it was wonderful. I recommend the MCNY; admission is an amazing $6 for students ($10 for adults), and Timescapes is great.

The gift shop also had this awesome New York Soundtrack. It was a little expensive (of course), but I’m sure some of these songs will somehow make their way into my iTunes library…

I spent about three and a half hours in Spanish Harlem and still felt I only scratched the surface. I’m sure there are many more hidden gems to be found, but I was proud and satisfied at the end of the day. A great start to this exciting project! If you have suggestions for future neighborhoods or questions about what I’m doing, please comment!


July 2018
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