Morningside Heights New York’s “Academic Acropolis”

A Quick Overview 

While Park 79 Hotel is set in the heart of Manhattan’s the Upper West Side, we  advise our guests to explore all the interesting neighborhoods.  One of our favorites is MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS. This vibrant neighborhood is known as “Harlem South,” “the Upper Upper West Side” and “Academic Acropolis.”  Geographical boundaries are:  East/Morningside Park, West/Riverside Park and the Hudson River, South/110th Street, North—Harlem/125th Street. And at its center, south to north: Broadway. New York’s major subway and bus lines serve  the boundaries and the heart of Morningside Heights, including the terrific bus link to LaGuardia Airport for one MetroCard swipe, the #106. Upper Fifth Avenue on the East Side boasts Museum Mile.  Morningside Heights, is unique in and of itself. Ice Age remnants are present in the granite outcroppings of the area, subway tracks emerge to street level before 125thStreet. The American Revolutionary War saw the Battle of Harlem Heights fought here, September 16, 1776. King George II founded Kings College in 1754, now the fifth oldest in America and known as: Columbia University. Writers, composers, artists and entertainers chose Morningside Heights as home and inspiration in their crafts. Visitors are enticed with these highlights of urban beauty and the dynamics of the area’s institutions of higher learning. In the mix are the religious institutes, a major music conservatory, architectural wonders, soul-pleasing urban parks and gardens and restaurants. Historical markers remembering the famous and their accomplishments add to the experience.  Morningside Heights is a permanent home these days to young families and a long-established community, often reflecting the “Academic Acropolis.” College students from every country and little kids just starting their ABC’s are everywhere.  Musicians and religious leaders gain their knowledge here. Craftspeople and artists, visiting school groups and tourists love the vibrations of Morningside Heights. May brings graduations and moving out; August sees the new and returning students do the reverse.  Irish pubs are great for camaraderie, watching soccer, making out!  Head north and love all that Harlem offers. From late November through March, Columbia University twinkles its bare trees in winter lights, and it can be stunning. Head over to Amsterdam Avenue and find even more dining choices, hang-out pubs, fast food from across the world.


Start Planning

Broadway is the link, and the world’s visitors are delighted to find this oasis of architectural gems, beautiful gardens, lawns, statuary and a youthful population that has come here from everywhere. A quick Google search will show free or moderately priced performances of every type on these campuses.  Join a street chess game with an unknown expert or a discussion that catches your attention, or just sit back and rest on campus.  This list, we hope, opens some planning ideas:



Dine, drink, eat, snack, indulge.  Even the street food in Morningside Heights can be terrific!  Tom’s Restaurant is known by every Seinfeld fan. Cuisine of every country is offered on Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway and the side streets. Some terrific neighborhood eateries.  The fresh food markets burst with nature’s colors outside, unending treats inside.  Travel a bit north to Harlem and find Soul Food. Return to Park 79 Hotel very satisfied, very tired. Great day!

The Annual Orchid Show — New York Zoological Society — Arthur Avenue

March 1 – April 21, 2014    Or even after the orchid show — always botanical beauty on display.                                                                               

 The Orchid Show 2014: Key West Contemporary



…and to complete your magic day –
The Bronx Zoo   and     Arthur Avenue– The Real Little Italy

This could be your most memorable day during a New York City visit this spring. Or any time of year!  Come to The Bronx  very easily.  There is also an express bus from Manhattan – The BxM11  along Madison Avenue travels directly to the Zoo’s Bronx River entrance (Gate B). You can choose.  The zoo and botanic garden are located in the same corner of the Bronx.  Dining in the zoo or botanical garden is quick… but





dining (and shopping) in Little Italy — Arthur Avenue — will be a real treat!  It’s safe, easy to get to /from by short cab ride from the parks. Very little has changed over the years when it comes to dining and shopping: New York City…but Old World.


to Botanical Garden Station   or the subway

to Bedford Park Blvd. Station


Tapas, Dim Sum & Wings on the Upper Westside

Tidbits for Dining and Having Fun

Guests at Park 79 Hotel come from everywhere in the world and want to do everything during their New York City experience. That’s how it should be!  Perhaps restaurant dining for 2-3 hours is just too long–so many places to go and things to do!  So…small plates dining is an ideal choice.  The Upper Westside offers many choices right through the day, starting with that warm bagel and coffee in the morning.  Then on to more adventurous dining-on-the-Run.  Where shall we start?

TAPAS…of course!  Must cut the list short; there are so many.  From the 70′s to the 90′s, along Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, tapas choices are terrific.  Enjoy a tapas experience from Spain, Argentina, the Caribbean,  as well as the wines and cocktails of those regions. And you are never far from the subway or bus that will take you to your next highlight.

Buceo 95   Spain
Casa Pomona   Northern Spain
Bar Rique   Spain
Andanada   Spain
Ronda   Argentina
Cava   Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba
Tolani Wine Restaurant   Mexican, Asian, Italian (expensive)


DIM SUM...We only recommend one nearby restaurant on Broadway–Red Farm.  An excellent, upscale choice. But we would be amiss if we did not include as well the amazing dim sum experience at the Golden Unicorn in Chinatown. Weekends are crazy but worth the wait; weekdays are much easier.  The choices seem unending and worth your experimenting.  Have your camera ready!
VEGETARIAN ONLY…One excellent recommendation, more fast service than true restaurant, try Soom Soom Vegetarian Bar.


WINGS, or BUFFALO WINGS…endless, endless choices given the many pubs and bars that populate our neighborhood. Some are really winners! Indoors at the bar or outdoors at a sidewalk table, and especially if you are a group of travelers together, house-made wings and beer will do any time of day or late into the night. Sports reign on the giant screens, with the Irish pubs especially featuring soccer from abroad. If you are dining alone, you won’t be for long!


Too tired to enjoy a restaurant setting?  Not a problem!  All these establishments deliver to Park 79 Hotel.  Put on the TV,  relax, your “tidbits” treat is just a call away.  Enjoy!



Shopping on the Upper West Side


SHOPPING  ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE has so dramatically changed during the past ten years as the neighborhood around Park 79 Hotel has also changed.  Small, personally owned shops–some still very much in business–gradually disappeared as America’s buying habits and trends touched our community.  Small, locally owned shops along Columbus and Amsterdam avenues became boutiques, American and foreign owned.  Broadway, from Columbus Circle to 96th Street, welcomed upscale clothing, jewelry, home furnishings, cosmetics..and more. But, also came some of the best discount merchants found throughout the USA.  We are almost a complete city within a bigger one!  Word has gotten around, and the UWS shopping experience is now featured in the major tourist publications.

Our staff at Park 79 Hotel recommends that our guests enjoy this terrific shopping opportunity, return to the hotel with their packages–relax–and then head out to their next set of sightseeing, entertainment and dining places.  Their shopping bags from each venture reveal a successful day, from discounters such as TJMaxx, Modell’s, DSW, HomeGoods, Century 21 AND Barney’s, Brooks Brothers, Gracious Home at the top of the price range.  Of course, Europe’s top merchandisers have found a profitable home on the UWS: Reiss, Burberry, UGG (Australia), L’Occitane. Time Warner Center is a palace of  Continental, Asian and American luxury shopping…now joined by H & M. An interesting walk north–or quick bus–brings our guests to the UWS’s answer to a suburban shopping mall: Columbus Square. Choices at great discounts in clothing, crafts, home and sporting goods, but in a very modern, open setting. Famous for amazing treasures every Sunday: Greenflea.  On Columbus Avenue, two blocks from Park 79 Hotel. And there are the seasonal street fairs all over the neighborhood.  Of course, dining, stops for fine teas and coffees, pizza on the run, frozen desserts–just about everything–rounds out the day’s adventures.

Ice Skating in New York City

New York City – Ice Skating A-Go-Go

 It’s all over our newspapers, the internet, TV.  Ice skating, once a sport or pleasure for very few, is now for everyone!  Autumn through early spring—21st century ice rink technology (no longer dependent on frigid weather to freeze streams and lakes), generous city government and corporations—it’s all come together!  Marvelous photo ops abound as multi-generations join together on the ice, with brave New Yorkers swishing into or past visitors from everywhere in the world. Indoor and outdoor rinks allow for skating in every kind of weather pattern. During holidays, no one seems to care how crowded and choppy the ice is—the spirit takes over!  Early spring days always find skaters slipping and sliding on melting ice—no matter—too good to let go of!



Staying in Manhattan at Park 70 Hotel, there are multi choices, day and night. Each year finds a new rink, with skate rentals for all.  Here are excellent skating rink choices:














Jazz on the Upper West Side

Loving Jazz on the Upper West Side

So many highlights of this neighborhood can be boasted about, praised, read about.  And local jazz is one of those.  Park 79 Hotel is not only located on a great corner, but it is also at the very heart of a neighborhood populated by jazz corners–dining, cocktails, good draughts, weekend brunch, late night mellowing.  The circle leads west from Park 79 Hotel  along Broadway, going south to Columbus Circle, north to Morningside Heights.  Harlem then takes over, the absolute heart of jazz.  Next day, try going north along Amsterdam Avenue, some new “joints” have opened and offer jazz and rock.

And…warm, sunny weekends in Central Park — lots of impromptu groups stir the scene.

 Jazz at Lincoln Center  presents its music for everyone.  Wynton Marsalis has created one of the world’s great jazz music venues, including Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club for late night, very moderate cost performances. Your good-weather visit to Central Park will always find ad hoc jazz and folk groups entertaining everyone—and it’s total happiness.  Here are some “joints”  you’ll want to include during your Big Apple stay.


Harlem Jazz Clubs

A quick ride on the #1, then #2 or #3 subway–from 79th Street to 110th or 125th streets. Jazz overflows in Harlem, with a decent selection as well on The Upper West Side.  Brunch, evenings, late nights–here is jazz heaven, with every jazz origin. Full bar service, weekend brunch, Deep South, Latin, Continental dining choices.  Gospel services on Sunday.

Yes, this is the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, an affiliate of the Smithsonian National Museums.  Terrific events and performances through the year.  And some worthwhile souvenirs



Smoke Jazz Club: Fried chicken and smooth jazz ‘n blues can’t do much better than this UWS club. Small space and expect an entertainment charge ($20-$40), food/drink minimum, especially on a Friday/Saturday night. But Smoke feels like an old-world jazz joint—elegant and mellow. Reserve in advance,  sells out fast on popular evenings.  #1 subway, 103 St.

Sugar Bar  Historic brownstone belongs to Ashford & Simpson. Mellow jazz, great food, often sit  with celebs.  254 West 72nd St. is a beautiful stroll from Park 79 Hotel.


Cleopatra’s NeedleNever a cover charge, new on the scene or seasoned pros, they all play here; open mic, late night jam sessions–$10 minimum!  Park 79 guests can walk along Broadway to 93rd St. or the #1 subway to 96 St.

Columbus Avenue restaurants sometimes feature jazz, but more so rock music.  Of course, Midtown and Greenwich Village jazz spots are an easy subway ride downtown.   And…the tours!  So many choices.

Bars & Nightlife    More jazz info around the city
















Discover The Lower East Side


While this blog often highlights the wonders of the Upper West Side, our staff–New Yorkers all–would be amiss not to wander with you through a neighborhood that perhaps most represents the rich immigrant beginnings of this important corner in American  History. Streets and alleys filled with vendors and thick horse manure, rampant diseases, racial and ethnic books, violent movies, musical films, theatre and poetry. Families grew, worked and died in horrid conditions–BUT–they always had and kept dreams. And in many, many languages. They enlisted and died in America’s wars. BUT–they pasted together their talents and dreamed…and New York City and America were officially created and on its way as we know it now.

The 21st century is the palette on which a now totally diverse inner city shines.  Yes–it’s clean! The deadly years of drugs and their street wars, garbage and rotting buildings, are portrayed in books and films.  The average age has dropped almost unbelievably, and the prosperity level has risen and doesn’t stop. Ethnic landmarks of trade and social activities still exist, but just barely.  But their history has been saved and made available for us. Many history and guidebooks can help the visitor be prepared and enlightened in advance. Find what strikes your fancy and your mind in advance so you become part of the changes…and love it!  Book a walking tour with an expert!

See Off-Broadway theatre and the newest international films…and dine on food from every province in China or Italy or Poland. Ethnic small museums bring it all to life, and very new contemporary galleries and museums show what our Great Uptown Museums do not.  Trendy $$$ boutiques still are neighbors to old, kind of crumbly shops with underwear or competitors to Harlem’s sleek styles. Fabrics for home and wardrobe, trendy jewelry. Gelato or falafel,  4*** tasting menus, dim sum, NY pizza, cannoli–the foods of your country or region…and ours. Oh, and you can stay out very, very late here…but treat yourself to a taxi back to the Upper West Side…and Park 79 Hotel.

Subway lines serving the Lower East Side

Walking Tours            





Shopping…and everything else







































































































The Lower East Side (often abbreviated to LES) is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of  Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by the Bowery to the west, East Houston Street to the north, the East River to the east, Canal Street to the south. The western boundary below Grand Street veers west off of the Bowery to approximately Essex Street.

It was traditionally an immigrant, working-class neighborhood. It has undergone rapid gentrification starting in the mid-2000s, prompting The National Trust for Historic Preservation to place the neighborhood on their list of America’s Most Endangered Places.[2][3] It has become a home to upscale boutiques and trendy dining establishments along Clinton Street’s restaurant row.



Town Hall — A Pretty Special Midtown Theatre

Our visitors to Park 79 Hotel usually do lots of research before their arrival, so they are familiar with the Broadway Theatre District, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and even the Brooklyn Academy of Art and the new Barclays Center.  So with a quiet sense of pride, we introduce you to The Town Hall.  It’s located right there, quietly elegant, at the eastern edge of the Theatre District, close to Bryant Park and the NY Public Library, on 43rd Street near 6th Avenue.

Its history is now of 90 years.  A vibrant group of suffragists, protesting for the Women’s Right to Vote, wished to build a meeting space to address people on the time’s important issues. The celebrated architects, McKim, Mead & White, designed the hall to reflect the democratic principles of the League. Box seats were eliminated and no seats had an obstructed view, with a new undeniable expression: “Not a bad seat in the house.” The 19th Amendment was passed, and on January 12, 1921 The Town Hall became a reality and with a double meaning: a symbol of the founders’ victory and as a spark for a new, more optimistic climate.

Comedy, Music, Dance, Lectures, Chorale, Cabaret–here is the perfect, beautiful theatre for New Yorkers and our Partk 79 Hotel guests.


The Town Hall is Laughter Center this November with the New York Comedy Festival’s six shows featuring a behind-the-scenes look at The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert and his team (Nov 7 @ 8);comedians Nick Swardson (Nov 8 @ 7), Whitney Cummings (Nov 8 @ 9:45),  John Mulaney (Nov 9 @ 7), Anthony Jeselnik (Nov 9 @ 9:45), and Larry David and David Steinberg (Nov 10 @ 7:30).



Late November brings two evenings with author Neil Gaiman and musician/cult figure Amanda Palmer (Nov 22 & 23), and Garrison Keillor returns to The Town Hall stage with live shows of A Prairie Home Companion (Nov 30).

Music abounds with singer/songwriters Colin Meloy of the Decemberists in his first solo tour in five years (Nov 1), Grammy-winner Steve Earle & the Dukes (Nov 2),  and rightous babe Ani DiFranco with special guest

Just Words: A Spoken Word Celebration wraps up with two events StarTalk Live! with Neil deGrasse Tyson (Nov 4) and PEN America’s A Tribute to Poet C.P. Cavrey with an all-star line up (Nov 18).

Paula Cole (Nov 16). Legendary singers Bibi Ferreria (Nov 13) and Barbara Cook (Nov 14) will grace the stage.

Just Words: A Spoken Word Celebration boasts two evenings to delight intellectuals with two events StarTalk Live! with Neil deGrasse Tyson (Nov 4) and PEN America’s A Tribute to Poet C.P. Cavrey with an all-star line up (Nov 18). Well, maybe you don’t HAVE to be an intellectual–these are sure to be super entertaining evenings.





Park 79 Hotel’s Upper West Side neighborhood is at a center of changing seasons. The historic streets lined with tree canopies; Central Park and Riverside Park, Theodore Roosevelt Park (across the street!), and our wide streets are green havens. As October moves along-wow! The colors change from greens and pinks to rich golds and reds. Nature’s change is accompanied by a slew of seasonal highlights:

  • BOUTIQUES: Cotton and see-throughs in windows are now wool, leather, boots
  • RESTAURANTS: Menus offer new choices for the plate and beverage glasses
  • PUBS: Autumn’s local and imported brews and ciders are hailed
  • ENOTECAS: Hail to 2013′s vintages are in wine shops and bistros
  • FOOTBALL: Is everywhere on multi-screens and talk overheard at outdoor tables
  • FLORALS: Pumpkins, autumn leaves, chrysanthemums-stunning displays
  • ENTERTAINMENT: Park 79 Hotel is central to so much for so many!

Our Facebook Page is constantly updated; The NY Times and TimeOut NY leave nothing out. Be out and about, back to your hotel room, sooo satisfied

MUSEUMS: Some important, very interesting exhibits have opened this fall:


Balthus: Cats & Girls-Paintings and Provocations has already commenced

“Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade 1500 – 1800“

Rockefeller Vision: “The Best” in Arts of Africa, Oceania, The Americas

Silla: Korea’s Golden Kingdom (Opens Nov. 4)



Chagall in Love and War


Iran Modern – three decades of work leading to the 1979 revolution



American Modern: Hopper to O’Keeffe This URL is great to keep handy-The New York Times updates the week ahead right

and don’t forget the Whitney and the Morgan Library and Museo del Barrio and the American Museum of Natural History (“the Power of Poison” opens November 16!) This URL is great to keep handy-The New York Times updates the week ahead right

Interesting September Events & The Big Apple’s Small Museums


Late summer is always welcome! Hopefully, no heat wave, cooler nights, beautiful sunsets. Cityfolk return from vacation, and the pace picks up! So, what’s happening: 

AUG. 26- SEPT. 9: The U.S. Open  World’s greatest tennis champs in the annual Great Event. The #7 subway brings visitors right to the tennis stadium.

SEPT. 12-22:  The Feast of San Gennaro  87th Annual event in Little Italy for 11 days.  Fun!!

OPENS  TUES., SEPT. 24:  New International Ceramics underscores the power of the human figure   Body & Soul Exhibit at the Museum of Arts & Design

SEPT. 27-OCT.13:  The New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center returns to West 66th Street!  

And…all so easy a commute from Park 79 Hotel!



All visitors have the Met and Natural History on their must-see list. For the return visitor or someone with the luxury of an extended stay, we share these rich suggestions. This is NOT a full listing….

                                 ** MANHATTAN  **                      


National Academy of Art      (on Museum Mile)   A prestigious school and gallery of American art in an exquisite setting. Our finest artists of several hundred years and their rich history not known to most of us. 

The Bard Graduate Center  West 86th St. near Central Park West. Modest in size, in a restored, elegant townhouse, featuring treasures of the world’s decorative and costume arts.  

The Morgan Library  Once the famed library of J.P. Morgan, now with Renzo Piano’s modern space adding a counterpoint. The printed word, diaries of the famous, maps, paintings. Illuminated manuscripts of the Medieval world.  And the stunning library room itself. 

The Hispanic Society in America  sits above the Hudson River and brings the visitor across the seas to Spain and Latin America during discoveries and rule—and thereafter.  Always very quiet, a visit always leaving an impression.  

Skyscraper Museum and  The Mu$eum of American Finance  – Both Downtown, Skyscraper on the Far Westside,  the second, of course, in the Financial District.  Everything you may want to learn, you always coming away amazed. 

Studio Museum of the Arts   and The Schomburg Center for Black Culture  are both worth your quick subway ride to discover the culture of this changing, dynamic north Manhattan neighborhood.  Historic and Modern — all periods are featured.


The Noguchi Museum  was the workshop and home of Isamu Noguchi,  20th century sculptor of stone and wood, now also with visiting exhibits.   Museum of the Moving Image  – everything, every aspect of films to fascinate.   MoMA’s PSI is an offshoot of MoMA in Manhattan–modern and contemporary art, dancing, fun!  


The Bronx Museum of the Arts  has ever-changing exhibits, IS ALWAYS FREE OF CHARGE!  Sometimes daring in its choices.  On the Grand Concourse, now designated as an Historic District. The D train takes you right there!


Snug Harbor and and the St. George District are Staten Island’s art sites with various offerings through the year. The Chinese Scholar’s Garden is exquisite. Always something happening around Snug Harbor, as well as St. George District (close to the ferry station.)


Doll & Toy Museum and  Transit Museum  are great stops for families and anyone fascinated by these histories.


We’ve left out quite a few sites–there are just so many, especially in Manhattan–but this should be a good start!