PIECES OF 78 on the Upper East Side

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ForgottenFan Victoria and I were on Cherokee Place (I’ll let you rack your brains for a minute to figure out where that is) and East 77th and 78th Streets in spring 1978 to take a look at the Shively Sanitary Apartments, now known as simply the Cherokee. It’s a magnificent building constructed with plenty of light and exposures, originally housing tuberculosis patients; it’s just a magnificent co-op these days. (It’s by the FDR Drive.)

After lunch at the Barking Dog on York and 77th (I recommend any place that sells me more food than even I can handle) we staggered down East 78th.

I can honestly say I did not have a lot of toys as a kid. I am told of a battered Bugs Bunny toy almost as big as me that said “Eh, what’s up doc” when you pulled a ring on a string (are those kind of toys still made?) that made a trip on a TWA plane with me to Los Angeles in 1962 (the first of my two visits; the second came in 1990). I used to make fake lampposts with a pencil, a spoon, and a flashlight bulb; what more toys did I need really?

I did make plenty of visits to Walt’s Hobby Shop (in both of its Bay Ridge locations, on 4th and 86th and 5th and 77th) when we acquired electric trains. But there seem to be no other references to Walt’s Hobby Shop on the internet except my own.

Had I been a girl and played with dollhouses and miniatures, I’m not sure I’d ever leave Tiny Doll House, 314 East 78th.

The place reminds me of the Twilight Zone in which Robert Duvall plays a specey young man who falls in love with one of the dolls in a museum miniature. Who knows if it ever worked out; she was 6 feet shorter than him.

A couple doors down at 308 is Orwasher’s, which has been in business since 1916, coincidentally the year my mother was born. It has been there through 6 wars and an onslaught of Silvercup, Taystee, Arnold’s and Entenmann’s. It is not the oldest bakery in the city: the honor is Holtermann’s in Richmondtown, Staten Island (1878)!  Monteleone’s, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, goes back to 1902.

The Hi Life Lounge on 1st Avenue between 78th and 79th looks quite a bit better at night, when the neons are lit up. Let Satanslaundromat prove it. Some fine neon at work…

PS 158, York Avenue between East 77th and East 78th. York Avenue was named not for the Roman-occupation-era city in England that gave New York its name, but for World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York. Streets that are renamed now get a “subsign” under the old name; on the good old days, such as 1928 when this street was renamed, the city went whole hog and just changed the name. Sometimes this works out, and sometimes it doesn’t; 6th Avenue was renamed Avenue of the Americas, and no one paid attention; it’s too much of a mouthful. But, everyone accepted York Avenue. The old name was Avenue A – still chiseled on the 77th and 78th Street ends of the school.

A pair of East 78th doorways: 241 and 262, west of 2nd Avenue

On the way to the subway, more nifty neon…Neil’s Coffee Shop, Lex and East 70th.

5/1/08





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3 Responses to PIECES OF 78 on the Upper East Side

  1. Toni says:

    I love this neighborhood – I have a friend who lives on 78th and I stay there when I am in town – we’ll have to wander and see if we can find these special places!

  2. Bill says:

    Avenue A? Of course. York Avenue runs on the same line as the “real” Avenue A in the East Village. Quite the surveying feat (although I guess that they could have just measured east from First Avenue, right?)

  3. Charlie says:

    It is PS 158, not 198.

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