New York Sights to See - Park Avenue
In the 1930's Park Avenue was best known as "the street where the rich people lived".
For someone to have an apartment actually on Park Avenue was "to have arrived".
When you arrive in New York for your visit, however, you'll see fewer apartments
and a new sort of "rich people" firmly ensconced. Where posh
apartments used to abound are now scads of multi-national corporate
Some of the world's most well-known architecture is situated
along this wide boulevard, which, for the sake of tourism purposes, begins
at Grand Central Station.
Approaching the terminal from downtown you're greeted by an ordinary Greek facade at 42nd
Street and Park. But the interior is a sight to behold. Recently
restored to its early 20th century glory, mammoth in size and gleaming
with marble and brass, the busy concourse is still used by thousands
Inside its catacombs is the famous Oyster Bar where just outside a
tourist can find the "whispering gallery". You stand in one corner of
the arched walkway facing the stone. Speak softly, and your friend in
the opposite corner 20 feet away can hear every word clearly - an
"accident of architecture" owing to the way the sound travels up and
around the arch.
Then go have some oysters and beer.
Up the escalator and across the huge lobby you come out onto Park
Avenue in mid-town.
The sight is an amazing, wide corridor of famous buildings and zooming
cars. Walk across the street and look back at the MetLife Building
(originally the Pan Am
Building for whom it was constructed). Still one of the
largest office buildings on the planet, its distinctive octagonal floor
plan and wide facade are breathtaking.
You won't be able to see the lower half of the building, though, since
it's blocked by the still impressive Helmsley
with its golden top. The view is particularly spectacular driving down
Park from the north at night when the dome is lit.
A short walk to 53rd Street brings you to the Lever House,
still occupied by the original tenant, the international cleaning
products company. An architectural original, the green-glass-facade
tower rises above a similar one-story horizontal slab set on tall
The building is kept sparkling clean out of pride and as an
advertisement for its owners' products and the plaza underneath is a
wonderful place to stand in the shade and watch the busy street.
While standing there, across the street you'll see the famous Seagram
Building, built only a few years later in 1957.
This whiskey-colored marvel reflects the tastes of its original
developer, the liquor king Samuel
Bronfman. Sparing no expense on materials, when completed
the building was the most costly skyscraper erected in New York.
And now that you're tired and hungry, step into the Seagram and head to
Four Seasons Restaurant where (if you planned
ahead several months) you can dine in one of the greatest
establishments ever created. Admire the food, but don't forget to look
around at the sculpture and French
Stay out of the pool in the middle, though. The maitre'd gets angry
when you try to cool off there. New York
may be a wild and crazy place at times, but that sort of thing just
isn't done on Park Avenue.
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