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Welcome to Urban By Design Online! This blog is a notebook of my travels as a city planner, historic preservationist and nonprofit advocate. It's a virtual collection of the many things that I adore, featuring cities, the arts, architecture, gardens, interior design, and retail. Enjoy! - Deena
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Entries in New York (14)

Monday
Jan022012

The Bronx is Modern: Below East 161st Street


Entrance to the Melrose Community Center [Deena Parham]

This year, I've decided to include a few posts dedicated to architectural treasures in the Bronx.  Today's installment is about Bronx modernism.

Recently, I mentioned to friends that I went on a tour of modern Bronx buildings.  I received several quizzical looks, followed by a collective, “Really?” 

As quiet as it is kept, several giants of the modern architectural movement such as Paul Rudolph, and Marcel Breuer had early commissions in the Bronx.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the Bronx is still stuck in the “buildings are burning” narrative, so this fact is not widely disseminated.  This post will venture into territory where most tours fear to tread- celebrating the borough’s modern architectural heritage!

The Melrose Community Center, 286 East 156th Street, Bronx, NY

[Formal name of building: South Bronx Classic Community Center at Melrose Houses]

A mere five minutes from Manhattan are the Melrose, Morrisania, and Jackson public houses in the South Bronx.  It’s a typical Post World War II, superblock, Robert Moses-era assemblage of functional architecture that met basic housing needs, but was miserably low on inspiration.  The formidable brick buildings with small patches of green space were meant to resemble towers of park. Unfortunately, the sheer density of the high-rise apartment buildings makes the community feel closed, like an impenetrable fortress. 

The gym at the Melrose Community Center [Deena Parham]

After walking past several mature trees, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Melrose Community Center.  The 20,000 square foot building was designed by Agrest and Gandelsonas Architects and Wank Adams Slavin (1998-2001) for the New York City Housing Authority.  It’s currently used as a cultural, recreational, and educational center for local teens.

The Melrose Community Center [Agrest and Gandelsonas Architects]

 Agrest and Gandelsonas Architects made the following design statement:

The design of the Bronx South Classic Center reflects a desire to avoid a fortress-like environment and instead provide the community with a building that conveys a sense of openness and accessibility. The symbolic aspect of the project is of major importance in its social function for the local residents who live amongst one of New York City's highest crime rates; it has generated a point of identification and pride for the community. The Melrose Community Center is composed of two main volumes enclosing programs, the bar and the oval gymnasium connected by a link which provides the entry space. The gymnasium, with its strongly recognizable form, is a symbolic element of identification for the entire community.

We chose to make the classrooms building as transparent as possible. Curtain wall glazing along the length of the bar exposes the interior to public view in both directions. The various activity rooms have a glass wall oriented towards the circulation corridor, enabling its users to see the activities of everyone else. This visual exchange creates a great sense of energy and excitement.

The Bronx Criminal Court Building 215 East 161st Street, Bronx, Harrison and Abramowitz

A travertine sculpture by Constantino Nivola at the Bronx Criminal Court Building. [Deena Parham]

This $31 million imposing courthouse was designed by the architectural firm of Harrison and Abramowitz (1973-1977).  It currently houses the Family Court, Criminal Court and their associated offices, the District Attorney, and offices of the Departments of Probation, Human Resources, Corrections, and NYPD.  The bulky limestone clad building is 13-stories tall, and is 600,000 square feet. This building's unwelcoming public presence resulted in a radical design approach when the Bronx Hall of Justice was proposed.  

 The Bronx County Hall of Justice 215 East 161St Street, Bronx, NY, Rafael Vinoly Architects

The glass facade of the Bronx County Hall of Justice [Deena Parham]

Architect Rafael Vinoly’s courthouse project opened to the public in 2008.  It is two blocks long, and is one of the largest courthouses in the country. The East 161St Street facade is known for its accordion-fold curtain wall of windows that reflected the brightness of the sunlight.  This building’s facade is a stand-out primarily because its intent was to show the transparency of justice, while maintaining a level of privacy. 

The $421 million, nine-story, 775,000 square foot building was constructed between 2001 and 2007.   The windows were made of translucent glass that was tested at a blast simulator in New Mexico, to ensure that they were resistant to any potential terrorist attack.  Overall there are 47 court rooms for the Supreme and Criminal courts, seven grand jury rooms, as well as offices for the Department of Corrections, the Department of Probation, and the Bronx District Attorney. 

Rear of the Bronx County Hall of Justice where the view of the public plaza is blocked. [Deena Parham]

While the building was supposed to be a shining example of superior public architecture, the courthouse has had its share of detractors since its opening.  Several newspaper accounts have quoted court personnel who have complained that the building is allegedly structurally unsound, has leaking ceilings and sewage pipes, and that overall, it is not very well-maintained. 

In the rear of the courthouse building is a public plaza that was meant to soften the institutional building, which faces a residential neighborhood.  However, the public space has not been open, due to structural problems with the two-story underground garage.  The plaza is currently hidden behind a series of fences that block most of the view.  Others wonder if it will ever be open to the public, due to security concerns in the post 9/11 era.  Apparently there's also a rooftop Zen garden that was intended for community space, but it is currently not accessible to the public.

Tuesday
Oct252011

Living with History: The Beacon Theatre

Part II of the report from the  Living with History forum.

The legendary Beacon Theatre was built by theatrical impresario Samuel “Roxy" Rothafel.  Constructed between 1927 and 1928, and designed by Chicago architect Walter W. Ahlschlager, the 2,800 seat theater is located on Broadway and 74th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.  It was bought by the Warner Brothers in 1929, and remodeled to accommodate vaudeville acts, musical productions, plays, and movies.

The theater’s interior was designated as a New York City Landmark in 1979.  In the Guide to New York City Landmarks, Andrew Dolkhart wrote that, “The lavishly appointed lobbies, stairways, and auditorium of the Beacon, with their eclectic Greek, Roman, Renaissance, and Rococo detail, are characteristics of the great movie palaces built in the 1920s.” The theater is also well-known for its nearly flawless acoustics.

Cleary Larkin, a preservation architect at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners, gave an excellent overview of the seven-month, $16 million renovation of the storied venue.  Madison Square Garden purchased the theater in 2006.  Beyer Blinder Belle was hired in 2007 to do an infrastructure upgrade and renovation of the Beacon Theatre. 

Ms. Larkin said, “The Beacon Theatre is one of the premiere rock houses in Manhattan. It’s been used as a rock venue since the 1980’s.  The acoustics are superb, but the decoration was not.  Over the years it had been overpainted, and it had a gritty interior that exemplified a rock house experience.  The original intent of the project that was created by Madison Square Garden was to really keep this rock house vibe.” 

The theater was built to give visitors the feeling of entering into another world, a place to escape and engage in fantasy.  Ms. Larkin said that there was always an element of surprise, and that attending a performance was meant to evoke a magical journey.  However when Beyer Blinder Belle surveyed the space before renovation, it had undergone severe years of wear and tear.  The theater had an illustrious history as a “gilded palace” and the “Baghdad on Upper Broadway” but they had no initial idea of what the colors and finishes were.  Part of the extensive renovation process included a thorough examination of the original and decorative painting elements that had been hidden under 10 layers of paint. 

“We did a finishes analysis all throughout the theater, and because it was an interior landmark, we had to go through LPC (Landmarks Preservation Commission) review.”

Madison Square Garden was very interested in the restoration of the theater, and encouraged the team to push beyond “a gritty renovation.  Some locations had sponge-finishes.  Others walls were gilded, glazed, and gold-leafed, and stippled paint. It was really a wild interior.  We decided to do a historic interpretation that brings out the aspect and finish of the original intent.”

 

 

Ms. Larkin mentioned that Beyer Blinder Belle worked with Brooklyn-based muralist Mason Nye to recreate a custom mural above the entry doors.  She said that the original mural was designed by Rambusch Studios, and it was an advertisement.  It was removed, and replaced by wallpaper in the rotunda.  Fortunately, they found a color palette that reflected the time period, and recreated the Rambusch mural.

More than 1,000 people involved in the crafts, trades, and other artisans worked on the project.  The entire theater was modernized from its infrastructure to the backstage functions.  Overall, the renovation was deemed a great success, because the client took an interest in revitalizing one of New York's landmark theaters without any hesitation.  The theater reopened in February 2009, and continues to attract major musical acts from across the globe.

All photos: Madison Square Garden

Sunday
May222011

Art at the Festival of Ideas for the New City

The Festival of Ideas for the New City made its debut on May 4-8 in Manhattan.  The event brought together several arts institutions, community groups, as well as downtown organizations to showcase new ideas that may benefit New York City’s future.  There were a series of workshops, a conference, a street festival, and more than 100 independent projects associated with the new collaborative initiative.  Most events occured near the New Museum, one of the founders of the festival.

On May 8, I did have a chance to briefly visit the outdoor Street Fest that took place throughout various points along the Bowery, Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and the surrounding Lower East Side.  More than 75 local grassroots organizations, small business and nonprofits were represented.  I thought that it was great to see so many nonprofits that are normally engaged in some pretty invaluable work, have a prominent spotlight. 

It was one of the most educational, and oddly entertaining street festivals that I’ve ever attended.   The minute that I stepped out of the Bowery subway station, I immediately noticed this:

 Agata Olek created this crotchet bicycle using acrylic yarn. 

Trust Art's Bushwick Art Park

Peter Stuyvesant chartered the Bushwick section of Brooklyn in 1661, naming it “Boswijck” meaning “Little town in the woods” or “heavy woods” in 17th century Dutch.  Ironically, the neighborhood has the least amount of open space, 0.6 acres per 1,000 people.  The New York City Department of City Planning recommends a minimum of 2.5 acres per 1,000 people.

Recently, several neighborhood artists and organizations, led by Trust Art, Factory Fresh, and Skewville put forth a proposal to de-map Vandervoot Place, an underused street in Bushwick, and transform it into a permanent sculpture garden.  At the festival’s street fest, Agata Olek, a Brooklyn based artist with a current show in the Bowery, contributed crocheted street performers (who were "yarn bombed"), as part of the prototype of the Bushwick Art Park. The depiction of the Brooklyn apartment dwellers drew quite a crowd, and brought pedestrian traffic to a standstill.

A recent article in the New York Times recently referred to "yarn bombing" as a feminine form of street art (as opposed to graffiti, which is male-dominated).

Yarn bombing takes that most matronly craft (knitting) and that most maternal of gestures (wrapping something cold in a warm blanket) and transfers it to the concrete and steel wilds of the urban streetscape. Hydrants, lampposts, mailboxes, bicycles, cars — even objects as big as buses and bridges — have all been bombed in recent years, ever so softly and usually at night. -NYT, 5/19/11

Art After Hours: Murals on the Bowery

 

During the festival, 15 stores along the Bowery, had their security gates painted by artists. This temporary installation known as "After Hours, Murals on the Bowery" featured site-specific paintings.   At the invitation of the New Museum, the Art Production Fund selected a cross-generational, international group of artists, and approached proprietors of retail spaces along the Bowery who will host the murals for two months. In some cases, the murals may remain indefinitely.  Above is work by Deborah Kass and pulp, ink at 214 Bowery. 

 The Laundromat Project

One of my favorite community based nonprofit arts organizations, the Laundromat Project was also at the festival. They invited the public to silkscreen a tote bag while listening to music from 2010 Public Artist in Residence Bayeté Ross Smith’s tower of boom boxes.  Below is a video that describes the great work that they do throughout NYC.

 

More info:

 

Friday
Oct152010

Wave Hill's architecture and design

 

 It’s officially fall, which means that I always sigh, because it is one step closer to my least favorite season, winter. On the bright side, the leaves will soon be colorful, and the apple harvest this year is rather abundant. 

Last week marked another milestone of sorts when I made a short trip to Wave Hill in the Bronx for their annual plant sale. Yes, my thoughts moved quickly to consider the beauty of next spring’s perennial blooms, even though autumn was barely a week old.  There were so many plants to choose from.

Wave Hill is an incredibly serene, and picturesque 28-acre public garden and art center in the historic Riverdale section.   It is a glorious urban oasis, filled with bountiful gardens, well-landscaped grounds, and spectacular views of both the Hudson River, and the Palisades. Since 1960, Wave Hill has been a cultural property owned by the City of New York.  “Wave Hill's mission is to celebrate the artistry and legacy of its gardens and landscapes, to preserve its magnificent views, and to explore human connections to the natural world through programs in horticulture, education and the arts.”
      

 
Wave Hill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  There are two original houses located on the property that remain in use for public activities.  The first is Wave Hill House, a Greek Revival home built in 1843-44 by William Lewis Morris, a New York City attorney. The area at the time was a place where many had summer residences.  Throughout the years it was leased to prominent New Yorkers, including Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. and his son (and the future U.S. president) Teddy.  Other famous tenants included the writer Mark Twain, and later Arturo Toscanini. Today the space houses art, a café, and rooms used for meetings.
 The terrace in the rear of the Wave Hill House is a quiet sanctuary that provides a lovely setting for outdoor dining at the Wave Hill Cafe.

 

 

Glyndor House, a Georgian Revival style house built in 1926. It was designed by New York architects Butler and Corse. Currently this space is in use for art exhibitions and is known as the Glyndor Gallery.

 

In 2004, Wave Hill added the Perkins Visitor Center.  The center was designed by Robert A.M. Stern architects. A signature aspect of the design is the board-and-batten exterior of the building’s northern portion. Traditionally used in Hudson River Valley cottages from the 1840’s, the choice of board-and-batten was inspired by Wave Hill’s setting overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. Fieldstone piers and foundation, as well as a copper roof, complement this construction and relate to the fieldstone façade of Wave Hill House, located within view of the Visitor Center. It is also home of the Shop at Wave Hill which recently saw a significant spike in sales of its Wave Hill Chair.  

The Wave Hill Chair
Wave Hill also has a place within the design world for their Wave Hill Chairs, which are scattered about the grounds. It’s not unusual to spot visitors sitting in them to read a book, while painting landscape portraits on easels, or napping.  The chair was recently featured in The Los Angeles Times which said, “the slat back and seat construction are reminiscent of Adirondack chairs and have an eye-catching architectural presence.” 
From Wave Hill: 
The chair is based on a 1918 design by the acclaimed Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld. The Rietveld Chair -- part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art -- was modified in the early 1960s and has been used exclusively at Wave Hill for many years. Comfortable, sturdy, and compatible with virtually any architectural form, the Wave Hill Chair enhances any formal garden or natural landscape.
Monday
Sep272010

Visiting The Nate Berkus Show

 

I went into this day without much expectation, and ended it with a smile. Nate Berkus couldn't have been nicer, and I had a good time doing something different. PS- loved my gift from Send the Trend.

Last Tuesday, I was in the audience full of design writers and bloggers, from all over the world (yes!), for the taping of The Nate Berkus Show.  I was excited to go, because over the years, I’ve appreciated his interior design work, especially as seen on Oprah.  I also met new people (like Anishka Clarke of Ishka Designs and Susan Schneider of Shandell's), and saw some familiar faces as well, including Brooklyn-based designer Karen Young of Hammocks and High Tea, and many others who I follow on Twitter, so that was wonderful!

When Nate came out to greet the audience, I didn’t feel particularly star struck, because he had such a genuine niceness, and everydayness that I felt like I already knew him!  He was a true professional, and a very gracious host.

Karen Young of the phenominal Hammocks and High Tea asked Nate a question.

The show had seven segments, which whirled by rather quickly. I was less focused on the actual content, and more caught up in the cheerleading…without the pompoms of course.  Dena Blizzard, a comic known as “One Funny Mother” kept the audience revved up as she gave us pointers on how to provide the background soundtrack.  There were also candy and t-shirt giveaways, and even a hokey dance to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”  No, I didn’t know the words, but it was comical!

 

 

The cheerleading for Nate didn’t just start on that day though.  Many bloggers in the audience had written passionate posts about him, which where posted on their websites, and announced via Twitter on #NateDay, which was launched by Julieanne Covino (Create Girl).  The idea for an audience filed with bloggers came from Joy and Janet, also known as the Moggit Girls who managed to bring the collective energy together to capture the attention of Nate Berkus, and his producers to make the day happen.  What these women did was nothing short of powerful, and quite wonderful.

During the taping breaks, Nate acknowledged, and thanked all of us for attending the show, and noted the efforts of Moggit Girls and Create Girl.  Nate spoke to us after the show with a Q & A that lasted for about 15 minutes. For the record, the highly-SCRIPTED, TV talk show host Nate Berkus was not as interesting as the extemporaneous Nate Berkus who shined like a total rock star. After the show in his chat with the audience, he totally came alive as he spoke enthusiastically about interior design, and how he only featured products on his show of things that reflected what he loved.



I really wished that the cameras had filmed the post-show conversation, because Nate discussed how he admired the blogging community, and how the show had utilized social media since his show’s inception.  He was so genuine, real, and appreciative of our participation.

I never knew what to expect, but to be surrounded by so many positive people, there was good energy, and it was a lot of fun. Many thanks to all who made the day a reality!

Thursday
Sep092010

Visiting the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

A small slice of rural life within the city's limits.

There are days when I'd like to visit the country, but I don't always have the time to go too far from home. One of my favorite hidden gems is the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, within Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. This New York City and National Historic Landmark is tucked away in the far reaches of the northeast corner of the highly urbanized borough, a mere mile from major highways.

The museum is located off of the very winding, and well-forested Shore Road, which feels more like a country road on Long Island’s North Shore than the Bronx. Upon entering the nine-acre site, there is a long driveway, flanked by towering canopies of centuries old trees, creating a natural tunnel, with subtle rays of light filtering between the leaves.    

After passing a carriage house, and a thicket of wildflowers that include a number of perennials such as black-eyed susans, and goldenrod, there is a three-story 19th century stone Federal-style mansion.  The house was built between 1836 and 1842 for Robert Bartow, a descendent of Lord Thomas Pell, who established the Manor of Pelham there in 1654.  Lord Pell purchased 9,000 acres from the Native American Siwanoys. The land extended from the Bronx to what is now Lower Westchester County.  Four generations of Bartow family members lived in the house until 1884.

The carriage house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978.  It is also open for tours.

The Bartow-Pell Mansion, with its stately Greek Revival interior, represents an era of past grandeur and splendor, a time when the New York elite built country homes to enjoy the incredible vistas of the nearby Long Island Sound.  Their temporary escape from the congested, densely populated areas of Manhattan to seek solace in the greener pastures of the Bronx, would be rather short-lived. Eventually the idyllic scenery enjoyed by a select few, was sacrificed to meet the recreational demands of a burgeoning population in a rapidly expanding city.  The Bartow heirs sold the land when the city decided to create Pelham Bay Park. Here is some additional historical context:

The City consolidated several estates to create Pelham Bay Park, including lands belonging to the Hunter, Furman, Edgar, Lorillard, Morris, Stinard, Marshall, LeRoy, and Delancey families. The park's largely natural acreage was virtually ready-made parkland, requiring only the construction of roads and walks.  During the late nineteenth century, the Bronx Parks Department leased some former estate buildings to various organizations, such as the Jacob Riis Settlement. One of these, the Bartow-Pell Mansion is a designated New York City Landmark. Several others were either demolished or converted into hotels and restaurants. By the 1930s, virtually all of them had been demolished. The Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, however, remains.  [NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission]

The City of New York spared the Bartow-Pell Mansion, and it was used by various charitable organizations until it became vacant. In 1914, the International Garden Club (now known as Bartow-Pell Conservancy) leased the house. The club's original intent was to model itself the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain. According to the New York Times, there were also plans to create a series of experimental gardens similar to those that the Royal Horticultural Society had at Bisley. The mansion was restored between 1915-18, with gardens designed by the architectural firm of Delano and Aldrich. In 1946, the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum opened to the public.


In 1915, Delano and Aldrich added a series of descending terraces that lead to the sunken garden, with its iron gates.  When the Bartow family's home was built, it had an unobstructed view of the Long Island Sound, where many boats could be seen from here on the terrace, and the rear rooms of the house. The 1930's era Orchard Beach construction project permanently obstructed the view, as the infill, and later new tree growth blocked the waterfront.

 

 

The 1930's era Orchard Beach was the brainchild of the "master builder" of the New York Metropolitan Region, Robert Moses.

 

A cherub fountain is the centerpiece of the Delano and Aldrich designed sunken garden

 

 

The Mary Ludington Herb Garden, outside of the South Gate of the Terrace Garden.  There are many lovely culinary, medicinal, aromatic, and ornamental herbs plant.  Boxwoods, nasturtium, black-eyed susans, sedum, day lilies and trumpet vine are among the many plants in abundance.

There are a variety of landscapes represented on the property, including wetlands, woodlands, and meadows, which are accessible by Pelham Bay Park's many hiking trails.

The museum is also known for its attention to decorative arts, and its interior design choices are from the Federalist period.  This room is known as the  Lannuier Bed Chamber, which is a master bedroom and personal parlor. The bed was designed by prominent French cabinetmaker Charles Honoré Lannuier.

Current Preservation Efforts

Recently the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Elizabeth and Robert Jeff Preservation Fund for New York City awarded the museum a matching grant.  Over the last two years, the museum has been the site of a volunteer workshop through Adventures in Preservation, a nonprofit organization that supports community-based heritage preservation workshops around the world.  More information: 

The volunteer workshop, Galleting Galore in the Garden, led by master mason Kevin Towle, finished the restoration of flagstone walkways and steps in the garden begun in the summer of 2008. The work consisted of resetting flagstones in walkways and steps, removing mortar between them, and replacing it with small pieces of bluestone known as gallets. Roughly 15 volunteers, from all over the country and even as far away as France, participated. 

 

Volunteers galleting in the Terrace Garden at the Bartow-Pell Mansion [August 2010, B-P Museum]

Visiting the Bartow-Pell Mansion

Today the Bartow-Pell Mansion is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, operated by the Bartow-Pell Conservancy, and is a member of the Historic House Trust of New York City. It also hosts a number of educational and public programs throughout the year, as well as museum tours.  For more information visit: Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

Video: Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum Tour 

 

Wednesday
Apr282010

Grand Opening: Fairway Market in Pelham Manor!

For many months, I’d stared at the shell of the building being renovated at the Post Road Plaza shopping center, and couldn’t wait for Fairway Market to open!

 

On April 14, with much fanfare, Irvington residents Howie Glickberg, and his son Dan Glickberg, ushered in a brand new era of Westchester and North Bronx retail history, with the opening of "the world's greatest food store" in Pelham Manor, New York.  I managed to have a front row seat (well, I grabbed a place in the line stretching around the side of the building), when the doors opened at 9 a.m.

There was an incredible turnout, under glorious blue skies.  Many customers in line had shopping carts at the ready, as they clutched flyers with advertised deals on organic produce, olive oil, and Murray’s chicken. Little Neck Clams, freshly harvested from Long Island's Gold Coast were also on sale.

Fairway Market, was founded in Manhattan in the 1930's.  There are now six stores throughout New York, and New Jersey.  The company prides itself as being family run (now in it’s fourth generation).  It had more than 12 million shoppers last year, ranking it as one of New York's premier artisinal food destinations.

After growing up in the land of huge corporate national grocery store chains, offering an array of average products, it was amazing to have so many extraordinary fresh food choices, all under one roof.  Howie Glickberg said, “Shop at Fairway once, and you’ll be a customer for life!”

 

 

In New York, Fairway has a legendary cult-like following.  Why would people from Westchester drive all the way to Harlem just to buy groceries?  Why were the local foodie blogs in a frenzied buzz over when Fairway would open in Pelham Manor?  At first, it really didn’t make much sense to me.  I had visited two of their stores- one in Red Hook, Brooklyn, which was in a converted Civil War era warehouse building, and the outpost in Harlem.  A cursory walk-through revealed yes, they had a lot of produce, and fabulous food, but I didn’t really appreciate that it was an extraordinary market.

I was sooo naïve.

However, times, and tastes change. After spending a few years volunteering on a few food systems initiatives, shopping at local farmers markets, and watching documentaries, I finally understood how important it was to have access to fresh food.  I saw the light. As a matter of fact, I also realized that buying food at Fairway is more of a culinary excursion than simply going grocery shopping! If cooking is an art, and baking is a science, then Fairway is the food university.

"This store is ginormous!"

The Pelham Manor store is a whopping 75,000 square feet, and has 400 employees.  At the door, employees handed out maps to navigate the aisles. At one point there was so much going on during opening day, that I found myself happily overwhelmed, and hit sensory overload.  Between the huge selection of coffee beans on display, the fresh mozzarella station, the sushi bar, the bakery, and the vast deli counter, I didn’t quite know where to look first.  The store also has 15,000 organic and natural foods available in the store. The staff was extremely friendly, and quick to answer questions.

 

There was a tremendous turnout, but I was pleasantly surprised at how fast it was to checkout.  Before leaving, I received a wonderful cornucopia of Fairway gifts, just for being among the first few hundred people to enter the store. 

The bag included a copy of The Food Life, written by Steve Jenkins, Fairway's former master buyer, and legendary cheese monger.  The book contains anecdotes from the man who personally brought so many of the world's greatest foods to New York and the United States.  It’s also a great primer for shopping at Fairway, as there are many stories about some of the store’s bestsellers. There are also many recipes by Jenkins's longtime associate, Mitchel London.

As great as opening day was, I had a chance to visit again a few days later, and there were just as many people there. However, I did get to walk around several areas of the store that I completely missed before, including the incredibly busy 60-seat café.  Some other must-sees include: 

  • 6,000 square foot produce section with both organic and conventional offerings
  • More than 100 varieties of domestic and imported olive oils
  • 70 different types of olives
  • Store roasts 2,000 pounds of coffee daily.
  • Cheese counter has more than 600 different cheeses and a mozzarella making station.
  • A fresh pasta section.

In May the Pelham Manor store will open a Fairway Wine and Spirits in 6,500 square foot space.  Fairway Market is open 8 am to 11 pm daily. For more information visit Fairway's website