The Algonquin on a Rainy Sunday

I live in one of the best cities of our time.  And I am not given to hyperbole, being an utterly objective person with impeccable taste and also unsurpassed wit.

I am also a person who is not immune to the wily ways of procrastination, and so it was that this past Saturday I found myself reading two books on what to do in New York City.  Why I, a local, have said books is a minor mystery.  Call it luck or call it genius, or call it my accidentally taking someone else’s books home.  Call it what you will.

The result was a growing checklist of things to see.  I can live without visiting the Statue of Liberty again, or going up the Empire State Building again.  But what about the really cool stuff?  (Okay, the book Time and Again does make the statue cool again, but let’s move on post-haste.)

Turns out the unweary traveler can hop in to see the homes of Alexander Burr, Teddy Roosevelt, Herman Melville, and Alexander Hamilton’s wife.  In addition to wending the never-ending corridors of the Metropolitan Museum and hopping through the courtyard of the delicious Frick Gallery, one can also obtain backstage tours of the Lincoln Center, Broadway playhouses, the Metropolitan Opera and so forth.  Historians and docents can introduce one to historical New York, uncovering the hidden secrets beneath the city’s surface–like the 17th century African burial ground downtown.  Yes, there’s bright lights, but there’s also the gentle lines of varying architectural trends, from gothic to art deco.  Every ethnic group that’s come to our country has stopped by New York or left some trace there, and whether one’s taste runs to dim sum in Chinatown or rakija in a Serbian tavern, we’ve got it all.  Then there’s the gem of the north, the medieval cloisters brought here rock-by-rock by Rocke(well-named)feller.  And all the rooftop bars and restaurants overlooking the exquisite and beguiling Central Park and its frame of museums and grand houses, home to the well-heeled and stratospheric.

And then there’s the hotspots.  Where George Washington rallied with his troops, or where, say, Dorothy Parker and the great American writers of her day met for a weekly get-together to chat and whatnots.  The Algonquin Hotel.

On Sunday morning I called J.  “Worry not,” I said, “for I have a plan for the day which you will love and adhere to like cement.”

Over the line I felt J raise her brow doubtfully, so I continued.  “We’ll start with brunch at the historic Algonquin, followed by an amble through the antique dealers in one of our gorgeous New York City neighborhoods, each more enchanting than the last.”  (This last phrase might be aimed at one GypsyScarlett who has yet to visit the city, in an affront to all that is decent and human.)

J agreed, partly because she’s an agreeable, spontaneous sort, and partly because she was hungry and needed to buy furniture.  See, I have a wily side too.

And so we met and went to the Algonquin.  We saw the Algonquin Round Table, where the authors sat, and the collection of old-seeming books which had nothing at all to do with the group, which seems an oddity.  And then we sat comfortably in its lovely tearoom and saw something rather shocking.  Namely, the pricetag of our intended breakfast.

Not wishing to each be $30 lighter in the pocket for a continental breakfast, we opted to be non-continental and ordered coffees demurely.  Just coffee.  Which came to $16.  How simply delightful.  Somehow I doubt the authors blew through that kind of money, but maybe writers earned differently those days.  Funny how Parker had to pay for her whatnots there, and now the hotel reaps the rewards for her choice to patronize it.

Ah well.  It was lovely inside, for sure.  And I’m glad I saw it, although the service was pushy.  For that reason, above all, I won’t bring a guest to the city there but for a quick look at the famous round table, if they’re a literary type.

And nows you know.  Any places in particular which you recommend or always wished you’d seen?  I should start taking photos again, too…. 🙂

Central Park South (not the Algonquin which is several streets to the south)

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About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. After a decade in international development, democracy work, and inclusivity training for domestic NGOs, I joined Peace Corps, and after a year, experienced my first Russian invasion. I followed that up by volunteering with refugees and youth, and after some vacation time climbing minarets and mountains, I returned to New York City, where today I work on social justice with college students, produce short films, and write.
This entry was posted in Algonquin, exploring one's own city, New York, sightseeing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Algonquin on a Rainy Sunday

  1. Ahem. One Gypsyscarlett tries to stop lauging hard enough so she can go find something to hit Sput over the head with.

    The majestic city of Berlin does sadly, also have some ridiculous tourist traps. Evidently, the Adlon Hotel serves curry sausage with a glass of champagne and ten (exactly ten) hand cut and hand fried French Fries for thirty two euro. (about $46).

    • sputnitsa says:

      One GypsyScarlett might find that New York is chock-full of great things to hit Sput over the head with, and Sput headily and readily invites her to come try. 🙂 🙂

      As per the Adlon Hotel’s hospitality, I do say that ten French fries is truly not the right amount when serving champagne and curry sausage–not for any price. 🙂 And certainly not for 32 Euro. Dear goodness. 🙂

  2. ralfast says:

    I never envisioned myself living in NYC (London on the other hand…) but it is a great place to visit, and walk, and walk, and walk some more.

  3. Thank you for your kind invitation. However, one Gypsyscarlett has decided she doesn’t need to find a weapon to hit you over the head with. She has a much evil-er plan: tying you up and leaving a piece of cheesecake just slightly out of reach…

    All that said, Sput is quite welcome to visit the splendor that is Berlin. 🙂

    • sputnitsa says:

      It’s funny you should mention cheesecake, that world-renown dessert of New York City. 🙂 Thereby admitting that holding NYC just out of reach is a dreadful punishment for a soul–so no need to deny yourself any more! You may come; we will welcome you with open arms and cheesecake. 😉 🙂

      That said, I am glad to see Berlin too. I hear it has, um, … er. 😉 I jest. I hear it is hip and historical at the same time, which is quite a feat. 🙂

  4. Kasia says:

    Yadda, yadda, yadda…

    Where is your postal address???!!!! I have searched my inbox, but to no avail! Grrrr!

    Amend, please. ASAP! :p

    Also, glad to hear that you are well. 😉 x

    • sputnitsa says:

      Egad! I am remiss INDEED! 🙂 Shall get to it asap. 🙂

      (Is this your way of saying you’re coming for a visit to this mine most gorgeous city?) 🙂

      • Kasia says:

        Yes! Bad, bad, bad! 😉 Nothing like rubbing it in, eh? 😉

        I would love to visit your amazin’ city, but first I would like to send you snail mail! Nothing quite like receiving a letter in the post! So! I am STILL waiting! :p

        All ze best! x

  5. Beth says:

    Sounds like a fun morning (if a wee bit pricey). My friend and I were just thinking about doing more touristy things in Boston.

    I’ve always enjoyed visiting places from books while traveling. After reading The Marble Faun by Hawthorne, I needed to see the Capuchin monastery in Rome (creepy cool).

    I visited Tintern Abbey in Wales before reading Wordsworth’s poem. Having been there made the poetry much more vivid.

    • sputnitsa says:

      *GASP* You’ve gone to Tintern Abbey? Wow… Tell more. Detail. 🙂 🙂

      And thanks, btw, for setting me back an additional $3.95 (plus $2.25 subway fare). Now I clearly have to buy the Marble Faun. It’ll be my first Hawthorne, actually… You’re a Hawthorne fan, in general, right? I feel this isn’t the first time you’ve mentioned him 🙂

      Boston’s also gorgeous, and I remember I visited one of my favorite museums there. It’s the museum/mansion of a rich woman who passed away, if I remember rightly. Lovely, Italian style building with a courtyard and lots of art. When I went there was a medieval musical group playing some unexpectedly delicious and delicate music… 🙂 Enjoy your explorations!!! 🙂

      • Beth says:

        Ah, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum! I’ve been there several times to study paintings for Art History courses (and just to draw). The last time I was there, a chamber quartet performed. Even though I didn’t see them, just listening to the music flow through the courtyard was amazing. One of the security guards surprised me by complimenting one of my drawings–I was off in my own little world and didn’t realize anyone was behind me!

        Hawthorne’s one of my favorite authors. The Marble Faun is my favorite novel of his–not his best, but the one I connected with the most. Part travelogue, modernized folklore and good old fashioned doom-and-gloom, what’s not to love? His short stories are fantastic: check out “Rappaccini’s Daughter” and “The Birth Mark.”

        As for Tintern Abbey, my family visited Wales when I was in the eighth grade. We stayed in Tintern. While driving to the bed and breakfast, we passed the Abbey and determined to stop by before we left. The day we visited, the weather was beautiful. Blue skies with fluffy white clouds, the grass a vibrant green, quite the opposite from our visit to Tredegar Manor (the home of the Morgan family, including Captain Morgan of the rum).
        While in ruins (and probably because of), the Abbey remains one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. When I think of Wales, that’s what comes to mind. Treacherous terrain, as you can climb staircases that end abruptly with only a metal bar preventing you from plummeting into the remains of the sewer. I’ll have to scan my photos from the trip into my computer and post a few on the blog! 🙂

        • sputnitsa says:

          Mmm, yes! It’s FANTASTIC! Sounds so lovely, your wanderings there, with music sounding through the galleries, and you over your drawings… 🙂 I love that place. 🙂

          I just looked up Marble Faun–and added it to my shopping basket over at Half.com. 🙂

          Tintern sounds…INCREDIBLE! *imagines* gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!! Do post photos!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 I love your descriptions….

  6. ralfast says:

    BTW, in a completely unrelated subject, yet this is the season so…I wrote this post about a week back, and the picture reminded me of you:

    Enjoy!

    http://ralfast.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/a-harry-potter-essay-did-molly-know/

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