I hadn’t seen the part of New York called Lenox Hill when I read an article about it some months ago. Walking about this neighbourhood, I enjoyed the vibe of a friendly mixed use neighbourhood. I walked through streets with well-maintained row houses, opening out on avenues with nice neighbourhood restaurants and shops. It was also New York in a nutshell: Chinese laundries (like the one in the featured photo) cheek by jowl with bakeries and pizzerias with tables on the pavements. My first distant acquaintance with the feel of New York had come from Nero Wolfe mysteries and their description of row houses on West 35th street. That had disappeared by the time I first visited New York. Today Lenox Hill seems to have the charm that the West 35th Street of the 1930s seemed to have.
The history of the area intrigued me, but there seemed to be no way to get a bite. I kept coming to the story of Robert Lenox who bought land here in 1818, and his son, James Lenox, who made a killing selling it off in the 1870s. Then I saw the beautiful Art Deco facade (photo above) of the Trinity Baptist Church on 61st street. This was an opening into the story of Lenox Hill. The website of the church said that the beautiful brick structure was designed by Martin Gravely Hedmark, and completed in 1930 (it is worth walking in). This was a initially a Swedish congregation. The Lenox Hill Hospital nearby was earlier called the German Hospital. So, starting from the 1870s to early in the 20th century, this area must have been full of recent immigrants.
This connected with another bit of history I found while researching the artwork in the Lexington and 63rd Street subway station. The beautiful mosaics by Jean Shin (one of which is in the photo above, and another I’ve written about before) depict the lives of people who lived here when the subway was an elevated train. The low-income households of an earlier time began to give way to today’s higher-income mix in the 1990s.
After inspecting the wonderful market below Queensboro Bridge, I could have taken the Madison Avenue Bus from York Avenue to the 59th street subway station, but I walked. The neighbourhood is full of nice little espresso bars. The one you see above is run by a pair dedicated to the cause of coffee. I had a very nice cuppa here before moving on.