COFFEE @ Bluestone Lane – Church of the Heavenly Rest 2E 90th Street (Upper East Side), NEW YORK, NY
Just when you think you’re going to be stuck with Starbucks’ poor-excuse-for-coffee while in New York City, Bluestone Lane restores your faith in humanity. Owned and masterfully run by an Aussie, it was deliberately created to reflect Melbourne café culture. In fact, Bluestone Lane is not a place, but a brand.
I was strolling around the Upper East Side marvelling at the gorgeous architecture (as I’m wont to do) and noticed a Gothic sandstone archway. At first, it escaped me that there were quaint patio-style tables and chairs in front of it but as there was no obvious signage on the building (and just a sandwich board on the footpath), I’d be forgiven for wandering in purely on architectural interest alone.
The café is located opposite Central Park and right next to the Guggenheim. Its gorgeous interior features very on-trend styling and happens to be consistent with the other two Bluestone Lane cafes I visited – Astor Place and the West Village. As the photos show, it feels a bit like a time warp; one foot in the 21st century and the other in the 19th. It’s an inviting and welcome respite for what’s known as ‘Museum Mile’.
There’s always an Aussie on staff and the menu has a distinct Australian ‘flavour’. The real must-try is the Salted Caramel Brownie … to die for!
NOW & THEN around Uptown Manhattan, NYC
Central Park is such a juxtaposition in a city such as New York. Not only is it meant as a public space for people to enjoy, it also plays an enormous role in keeping the air clean, the temperatures down and the collective mindset healthy. The park was created to disprove the European notion that Americans had no sense of civic duty or appreciation for cultural refinement. It became “the place to be seen” for socialites and the poor were invited to enjoy the clean air and free outdoor recreation opportunities.
Central Park was designed by architect Calvert Vaux and landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted. Vaux was also the brains behind the Victorian Gothic designs of the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (‘the Met’), both on the Upper West Side. Interestingly, the Met was widely panned as being outdated, even before it was completed. Many additions have been made over the years with modernistic glass walls being added in the late twentieth century.
Another museum for which NYC is famous is the Guggenheim on the Upper East Side. Established at its current location in 1959, it is considered one of the most significant architectural icons of the twentieth century. Looking somewhat like a collapsible white cup, it features a cylindrical building that features a spiral design which is wider at the top. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was instructed to create: “ … a temple of spirit, a monument!”
The Upper East Side is also home to churches of numerous denominations, synagogues and mosques, all with their own characteristic features in accordance with their respective religions. There is the Marymount School of New York with its Beaux-Arts (neoclassical) architecture and then there is Hunter College, whose modern grey concrete buildings were added in the 1980s and link with the old buildings via skyways.
A photographic record of my visit to Uptown Manhattan, NYC
Though I would love to have shown you examples of ‘Contemperiod’ architecture in the really iconic New York City buildings, the fact is that such alterations are not usually given permission by the City. Still, the city itself stands as a monument to Contemperiod, with a blend of very old and traditional and cutting edge modern. The following examples of infill developments are located in uptown New York.
The nature of Manhattan’s built environment means that school playgrounds are usually located on the rooftop of buildings. This presents an obvious safety issue that in the case of The Beekman Hill International School has been dealt with in a creative and contemporary manner. A perforated metal screen has been added to the roof of this former c.1910 nurses residence.
Not all additions to period buildings are successful. This four storey addition and side extension to a c.1910 building is one such example. The addition overwhelms the original fabric and the pattern of openings is unsympathetic.
New York City captivates the imagination. The soaring skyscrapers seem to defy engineering capabilities whilst Central Park is an oasis of calm and serenity amongst the hustle and bustle, with a surprise around every turn. As the city continues to grow and change the meeting of old and new buildings ensures that every visit to New York is exciting to the design enthusiast.
Location Map – Bluestone Lane Cafe