Wednesday, September 30, 2015

NYC Travel Sketches (No.1) - Morningside Heights

Squeezed between the Upper West Side and Harlem

My art journal Morningside Heights sketches (sketched from photographs)
We visited New York City from September 24-28, 2015 and stayed in the neighbourhood of Morningside Heights for the very first time. We usually stay in midtown and have never ventured farther north than the Upper West Side. Our Morningside Heights stay was delightful!

"New Yorkers have several nicknames for Morningside Heights: the "Academic Acropolis," "Bloomingdale Village," or as the late George Carlin (who grew up there) once cynically put it, "White Harlem."

Stretching from West 106th to 125th Streets, Morningside Heights is primarily known as the home of highly revered institutions such as Barnard College, Columbia University, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Manhattan School of Music, St. Luke's Hospital, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and Riverside Church." (Source:

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine was across the street from where our beautiful Morningside Heights airbnb was located and we were also near the Hungarian Pastry shop (that we visited every morning for our coffee)

The Hungarian Pastry shop

My "Hungarian Pastry Shop" art journal sketch
(sketched from a photograph)

Our airbnb hostesses Elisabeth and Jenn recommended the Hungarian Pastry shop and we are so grateful they did. The pastry selection is incredible and the staff are warm and friendly.

We later discovered that the pastry shop is listed as one of The 10 Best Restaurants in Morningside Heights and that Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley was hanging out there in late September too ("looking ever so somber")

NY mag writes: "Though not an official outpost of Columbia University, the Hungarian Pastry Shop has been a de facto lounge for hyperliterate students and uptown writers since JFK was in the White House. Now armed with laptops as well as textbooks (not to mention iPods), patrons fuel up on succulent old-world pastries like tart, flaky cherry strudel and Viennese sacher torte, chased with bottomless cups of American-style coffee. And while the lighting may be too dim to foster serious study, the cozy ambiance invites dawdling. The shop’s informal protocol hasn’t changed for decades: Place your order at the front counter, whether buying tiramisu to go or staying all day."

My "Coffee menu" art journal sketch
(sketched from a photograph)

This friendly, family-run shop is famous for its Hungarian coffee (which we did not have time to try and that we MUST have next time) and the shop is equally famous for its view of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine along Amsterdam

Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

My Cathedral art journal sketch (sketched from a photograph)

I went into the cathedral early Saturday morning before picking up our coffee at the Hungarian Pastry shop because I had learned on facebook of the expected passing of a wonderful woman (family member) back in Canada - Linda (Landers) Turpin on Friday September 25, 2015.

I needed to visit a spiritual space to say some silent prayers and I didn't really care what denomination the cathedral was (Episcoplian).

As I wandered in, I was awestruck by the incredible size of this cathedral. It is apparently the largest gothic cathedral in the world (the fourth largest church building in the world) and could easily swallow the world-famous Notre Dame or Chartres cathedrals.

The Cathedral spans three centuries—founded in the 19th; built in the 20th; continually unfolding into the 21st. It was under significant construction when I was there.

Next time, I would like to spend some extra time on the 11.3 acre grounds of the cathedral which includes:
  • a pulpit lawn with its 40 foot-high gothic spire of carved Daytona stone. 
  • a biblical garden with  covered benches, shady trees, and bubbling fountain 
  • a peace fountain a 40 foot-high bronze sculpture sculpted by Cathedral Artist-in-Residence Greg Wyatt to mark the 200th anniversary of the Diocese of New York in 1985
  • birds and bees including peacocks, (who go by Jim, Harry, and Phil) and a hive of 15,000 Apis melliflera, a gentle and mild-tempered species of honeybee.
Peace fountain art journal sketch
(sketched from a photograph)

Places To Go in Morningside Heights  Next Time

We did NOT have enough time in four days to go everywhere we would have liked to, so we are building our "NYC bucket list" for next time.

Our Morningside Heights bucket list includes:

Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner 
(Earworm warning: Ditty hard to get out of your head)

Morningside Heights Neighborhood Links

No comments:

Post a Comment