Spend A Day In Another Era, New York Style


Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “The lake and terrace, Central Park, N.Y.”

Even in an ever-evolving, modern city such as Manhattan, there are many ties to the past. From architecture to historical landmarks, centuries-old establishments and time-honored traditions, remnants of New York’s bygone era are there for anyone who cares to look.

As alternatives to the faster-paced and more franchised attractions that New York City has to offer, take a step back in time to enjoy these more genteel ways to spend your day in the Big Apple.

Image: Ephemeral New York

Central Park Activities

In the 1850’s, New York’s high society had enough of being considered culturally and civically deficient by their European counterparts. $10 million and a decade later, America’s gained its first urban landscaped park – Central Park.

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the park was predominantly a “playground of the wealthy” in its early years. It was the place to be noticed among New York’s elite with a steady promenade of ornate carriages, the era’s status symbols, while also providing a place for working-class citizens to enjoy the outdoors and recreation.

On The Lake: One of these oldest forms of recreation in Central Park – row boating – has remained largely unchanged since the 1860’s. Spend a leisurely day away from the city’s hustle and bustle by renting a rowboat at the Loeb Boathouse. From there, you can meander along the 22-acre, man-made Central Park Lake to relax, take in natural wildlife such as egrets and herons, and even stop for a picnic.

For an even more unique experience on the lake, arrange for a classic Venetian Gondola tour. The Gondola can carry up to six people, and you might even get serenaded by the Gondolier along the way!

Finish your day off at the Loeb Boathouse Restaurant to enjoy a great meal and watch the sunset.

Horse-drawn Carriage: One of the most romantic and old-fashioned things to do in Central Park is to take a horse-drawn carriage ride. This is a perfect way to have a romantic interlude with your sweetheart, celebrate a special occasion with your family, or just enjoy the sites of Central Park as people did in a bygone era.

Typically, you will pass iconic spots in Central Park such as the Pond, the Central Park Zoo, the statues at the Mall, the Carousel, the Dakota building, and the tourist center.

You can pre-book your carriage ride and even customize it to make special arrangements for specific pick-up and drop-off locations, flowers, chocolates, pictures and more. If you decide spontaneously to take a ride while you are out and about, head over to the southern side of Central Park between 5th and 6th Avenues (originally named “Cab Stand #16 in the 1850’s) where carriages are parked.

Image: Cafe Reggio

Caffe Reggio

For the cappuccino connoisseur and lover of Italian Renaissance artwork, a coffee break at Caffe Reggio is just the ticket. This specialty shop in the heart of Greenwich Village was established in 1927 by Domenico Parisi. Mr. Parisi’s claim to fame was introducing America to its very first cappuccino in this very location. In fact, it still proudly displays the very chrome and bronze espresso machine made in 1902 that delivered this historically-significant beverage.

Caffee Reggio serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner featuring traditional Italian dishes, paninis, crepes, and even specialties such as Zabaglione, Italian pastries, and ice cream desserts. Take the time to also savor Caffe Reggio’s relaxed and old-school atmosphere featuring beautiful pieces of Italian artwork and European charm.

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Washington Square Park in the heart of the Village, enjoy your historic cappuccino in the European café al fresco tradition at one of Caffe Reggio’s sidewalk tables.

Image: TripAdvisor

Victorian Afternoon Tea

For a glimpse into Victorian life in New York City, take an afternoon or high tea at Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon at The Inn at Irving Place. Walking through the doors of this circa 1934 Georgian brownstone with exquisite Victorian furniture and architecture, you are instantly transported to a more romantic and elegant time in New York’s history.

Once seated, you will be treated to a luxurious five-course tea featuring finger sandwiches, scones, desserts, fresh fruit and berries, clotted cream, preserves and jams, and of course, a wide selection of the world’s most delicious and exotic teas.

It’s the perfect spot for friends to gather to celebrate special occasions or just enjoy the graceful tradition of afternoon tea. It’s also a unique location for bridal teas, intimate weddings, and other small events to be held in their separate private library. Call ahead to reserve your table and learn about pricing and seating policies.

Image: Untapped Cities

Paul Mole Barbershop

Paul Mole Barbershop is a treat for any gentleman who appreciates excellent grooming services with nostalgic flair and classic charm. As New York City’s first barber shop, this Upper East Side institution boasts a handsome interior of leather and chrome chairs, wood trim, old time barber poles and more.

Sit back and relax with your complimentary cappuccino as a seasoned barber lathers you generously with shaving cream and deftly administers the closest shave you’ll probably ever get, followed by a steaming hot towel, manicure, and expert haircut.

A favorite among actors, politicians, sports figures, and other movers and shakers of the past and present, it’s best to call and make an appointment, although walk-ins are taken as well.

Image: Liberty Ellis Foundation

Find Your Own History

For a more personal nostalgic experience, take the ferry from Battery Park over to Ellis Island to search the Ellis Island Archives for your own family’s history of immigration.

You may even decide to honor your family’s name or an individual by going through the process of adding their name to the Wall of Honor at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. What better way to honor the past than through this uniquely New York memorial with national significance.

Look for next week’s blog, “The Finest Dining Of NYC”.

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