In January I ventured out of NYC and visited San Antonio Texas by way of Dallas and Austin. The trip was extra exciting because the night before I stayed at the TWA Hotel- a great way to avoid a 3 AM ride to JFK.. 

It  is an interesting place-a well appointed hotel that is a trip back in time.

In fact it houses a museum that documents the history of TWA, the airline that was founded by Howard Hughes. The exhibits were curated by the New York Historical Society and really are a hoot.  It's quirky, it's fun and it truly is a tribute to the “The Golden Age of Flying” . The TWA Hotel is on the site of Eero Saarineen's landmarked TWA Flight Center.

It was originally built in 1962. It was praised by the American Institute of Architects as “one of the grandest examples of mid 20th Century modern architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The original Flight Center is flanked by two hotel wings that are designed to reflect and defer to the Flight Center. There are 512 hotel rooms, a rooftop pool, several restaurants, bars and retail space as well as historic exhibitions and more. It includes meeting and event spaces-There is 50,000 square feet of event space. So if you want to have a party for 1600 guests it is not a problem.

Lots of nostalgia - a Twister Room- yes really you can play twister there in a wall to wall twister game complete with an oversized spinner and a 1962 living room- complete with a vintage TV. There is a replica of Howard Hughes office and the walls tell the story of TWA.

The Sunken Lounge where the Beatles arrived in the U.S. in 1965 is a great bar offering great cocktails such as Vodka is My Co-Pilot; Control Tower Sour; Jet  Fuel, Dynamics Eero, Paper Plane and Mile HIgh Margarita. It also has an eclectic menu that includes sliders, quesadillas, crudite plates and charcuterie platters. You can even get the 60s soda- TAB. It has been taken out of retirement and it featured at the bar. There is also a “Food Hall” that is located in the lobby. It's a good place to get a quick snack or breakfast. The Jean- Georges’ Paris Cafe is really fabulous. We had a delicious meal that included roasted cauliflower, pizza , and calamari. 

The Observation Deck has views of the Bay Runway- it's nearly 3 miles long and the Runway Right 13/31 left. It is the second longest runway in the U.S. The Runway Chalet offers cocktails, Hot Toddies and Hot Chocolate and a cozy fireplace bar. A Lockheed Constellation “Connie” L-1649A plane- 116 ft long-23 ft high that was originally commissioned by Howard Hughes has been restored and has been converted to a cocktail lounge. You actually have to go out to the tarmac and up the steps to enter it. You are instantly transported to 1958. Great cocktails and lots of fun. 

Other amenities include the Roll a Rama Skating Rink and the hotel gym that is 10,000 square ft and is the largest hotel fitness center in NYC. You can even take snapshots in an old time photo booth. The lobby even has a Classic Solari split-flap message board with an authentic original 8 mechanical operation manufactured in Udine Italy.

To complete the “walk back in time” there are 2 small vintage cars- a BMW and a Fiat just sitting there for photo ops. The walls tell the story of  Eero Sarineen and the TWA history.  Vintage posters, photos of celebrities and more.

On the mezzanine there is a fabulous collection of TWA uniforms by great designers of the 1960s and 1970s.

And then there are the rooms- There are 512 guest rooms. They offer overnight and “day tripper” stays. You can stay from 4 hours- overnight. They are set up for efficiency and comfort. The floor to ceiling windows are the second thickest in the world. 

This blog was a great opportunity to share my experience at the TWA JFK Hotel. From the amazing room designs to the convenient location, my trip was a memorable one. Look forward to my next blog, where I'll be sharing stories and photos about my travels.

For inquiries and questions about tours ( In-person or Virtual ), you can send an email or call. Stay tuned for Susan's next new blog!

This week instead of going to another country let’s take a trip back in time to the Gilded Age in NYC. We’ll be taking a leisurely walk down 5th Ave from 103rd St to 70th St – so wear comfy shoes or you might want to give your tootsies a break and hop on the 5th Ave bus.

Many fortunes were made during the Civil War. The “ Gilded Age'' followed the war and the “nouveau riche” made sure you knew that they had money and they knew how to spend it. Grand mansions were built along 5th Avenue and an ostentatious lifestyle followed. 

Image from

The term “Gilded Age” (approx. 1870s – early 1900s) was originally coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in the novel, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873), satirizing what they believed to be an era of serious social problems disguised by a thin gold gilding. It was a time of rapid economic growth when families like the Carnegies, the Vanderbilts, the Astors, and the Belmonts were not only making money but spending money like it was going out of style.

The Museum Of The City Of NY Presents: Gilded New York by Evangeline Holland

Several years ago The Museum of the City of New York ( had a fabulous exhibit that featured pieces from this extravagant era – gowns by Worth, Tiffany jewels and silver, portraits and decorative art objects, and all matter of “accouterments” that indicated your wealth.

Today there is a “piece” of the Gilded Age in the Port City Gallery of the MCNY “Core” exhibit. The Astors and the Vanderbilts are among others included on the kiosks that are part of the exhibit.

In addition to all of the “things” the American aristocracy displayed, they were particularly skilled at flaunting their wealth at lavish parties and balls. Mrs. Astor’s ballroom held 400 people and thus gave rise to the term the Four Hundred- a list of New York society that Mrs. Astor approved. On February 16, 1892, the “Official” list was published in the NY Times by Ward McAllister, a confidante of Mrs. Astor. It included the Astors, the Vanderbilts, the Fishes, the Whitneys, and the Lorillards among others. Many have portraits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

During this time New York became the nation’s corporate headquarters for luxury retailers who plied their wares on Ladies Mile, and many cultural institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Opera, and many more helped to make NYC the worldwide force it remains today.

Carnegie Hill Image by Fatima Keita

To house all their “things” these Titans of Industry built lavish mansions in the East 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Several of the buildings remain- many have been repurposed. Today there are only 2 single family residences on 5th Ave

Named Carnegie Hill after neighborhood resident Andrew Carnegie—one of the richest individuals in history. This area features a spectacular collection of townhouses and other buildings of high artistic quality, designed by renowned architects such as Stanford White, Richard Morris Hunt, and Charles Follen McKim. 

Although the Vanderbilt Mansion that stood at 57 St and 5th Avenue is long gone (ironically demolished to build Bergdorf Goodman- the grand dame of NYC Department stores) the magnificent front gates are now in Central Park and they serve as the entry to the Conservatory Garden with its Untermayer Fountain with its three Dancing Maidens, the Secret Garden water lily pool and an amazing array of flowers and plants. Sculptural reliefs can be seen at the Sherry Netherland Hotel and a grand fireplace is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s Mansion at 742-748 Fifth Avenue (between 57th and 58th Streets). Image from Library of Congress.

Here’s my “don’t miss” list:

So, if you want to see how the 1% lived in the Gilded Age, explore these fabulous houses, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art or just take a walk through the Upper East Side’s Carnegie Hill neighborhood. In addition to the 5th Avenue mansions, the cross streets have great examples of the opulent lifestyle. 

Feeling more adventurous? Take a trip to Newport Rhode Island to visit their “summer cottages”

Where are we off to next? The only hint I’ll give you is we are traveling East!

For inquiries and questions about tours ( In-person or Virtual ), you can send an email or call. Stay tuned for Susan's next new blog!

July 14 is Bastille Day- Sooo to honor the day that Parisians stormed the Bastille and the onset of the French Revolution in 1789 I decided to check out the French influences a la NYC.

What’s with NYC’s fascination with France? I guess the “French Connection” goes way back. It can be attributed to the role the French played in the American Revolution and the Marquis de Lafayette. He was George Washington’s “adopted” son and aide de camp. In 1824 he returned to NYC and toured the U.S. and was treated as a rock star. He was feted with parades wherever he went and Congress voted him a gift of $200,000 and a large tract of land. Marquis de Lafayette, the statesman and general, maintained the convictions of democracy, social equality, and religious freedom throughout the remainder of his life.

A larger-than-life-sized statue of Lafayette stands in Union Square – It was sculpted by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi (1834–1904), the designer of the Statue of Liberty (1886). The granite pedestal designed by H.W. DeStuckle was donated by French citizens living in New York. Lafayette appears in another Bartholdi sculpture at Lafayette Square in Upper Manhattan that depicts him shaking General George Washington’s hand. Lafayette is also honored in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with a bas-relief on steel by Daniel Chester French. Lafayette has all sorts of places named for him in the US-Lafayette St-Lafayette H.S. in Brooklyn –Lafayette College and numerous towns throughout the US. Mid-nineteenth century New York had about 18,000 French immigrants. It was the largest French-speaking community in the United States. At that time the French immigrant populations of both Louisiana and Missouri were only 15,000 residents. These immigrants even fielded units for the Union Army during the Civil War. They lived in SoHo and it was home to small businesses, restaurants, charcuterie shops, bakeries, and cafes. By 1894 they moved uptown to Chelsea. 

Today, New York City is home to around 60,000 French ex-pats and more than 81,000 French speakers. French people and culture have long played an important role in the city. For many years E 60th St between Park and Madison Ave was a  hub of French Culture. It is home to the French Institute Alliance Francaise where you can take in a lecture, attend the Cinema, or take French lessons. In fact, the Le Temple du St Esprit, a church that was founded in 1687 for French Hugeonets, held services in their auditorium in 1926. They remained there until a former school was purchased by the congregation in 1941. Today the church is located at 109 East 60 St.

Bastille Day celebrations have traditionally been celebrated on 60th Street for many years.  This year on Sunday, July 10  the celebration will be on Madison Ave between 58 St and 63 St. It includes wine and cheese tastings, French food, arts and crafts, puppet shows, and other live performances.

5th Ave between 78 St and 79 St

Another “piece “ of France is located on 5th Ave between 78 St and 79 St. The French Embassy is located in the former Payne Whitney Mansion. Within the cultural Services of the French Embassy is the Albertine bookshop. The Albertine bookshop is the only bookshop in New York devoted solely to books in French and English with more than 14,000 contemporary and classic titles from 30 French-speaking countries.  In partnership with the Cultural Services, Albertine hosts lively debates and discussions exploring popular and classical culture through a modern and global lens. 

Little Paris ( Image by nypost )

In the past few years, another NYC neighborhood has been identified and dubbed Little Paris.”  “Little Paris'' is located on Center Street between Grand and Broome Streets not far from Lafayette Street. Its centerpiece is the former NYC Police Headquarters ( a building where my Dad worked in the late 1940s. It was built in the manner of a French hotel de Ville (town hall). It was converted to residential use in 1988. According to the AIA, it is ornate Renaissance Revival architecture and is laced with Baroque bits.

Little Paris is home to CouCou - a French-language school and more. It is a place where you can immerse yourself in French language classes as well as cultural events. Cousins Lea and Marianne Perret founded the school and are now supporting the “cause” to name the area Little Paris.

Another shop Posterati has a great selection of Movie Posters and it provides framing services.

Clic General Store and Gallery is a great place to visit- it has something for everyone-clothing, home decor, toys, and more.

Maman is a fabulous pastry shop that has a great garden and yummy pastries. The cornmeal waffles with vanilla mascarpone and the nutty chocolate chip cookies are highly recommended.

The La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels Wine Bar offers a great selection of wine and Mediterranean small plates.

Stay tuned- efforts are underway to “officially” name the area Little Paris. Signage is already there. French food has played a big role in familiarizing folks with French culture. So now let’s talk about French Food. 

French dining in NYC started with Delmonico’s – the first “restaurant” in NY- Although the brothers were Swiss the cuisine was French. It was very posh and gave us such things as the “Delmonico Steak” and the idea of a separate wine list

At the 1939 World’s Fair The Restaurant du Pavillon de France run by Henri Soule gave Americans a taste for French food. After the fair closed Soule and his chef Pierre Franey stayed in the U.S. as refugees and opened Le Pavillon at 5 E 55 St.  It was a big hit and operated from 1941-1971. New York’s love affair with French food continues and today Zagat’s Top 5 restaurants are French. They are all recognized by the Michelin Guide -Le Bernardin, Daniel, Per Se, Bouley, Jean GeorgesEach provides a fabulous dining experience although quite pricey.

In addition to these top-rated restaurants, NYC has a history of more modest French fare. Many years ago the West 50’s was an enclave of small French restaurants and I recall being very adventurous and ordering venison at Le Champlain- Larre’s was another go-to place when you wanted something sophisticated and delicious. But alas they are gone.

For a moderately priced French experience, today try:

I could go on and on but I won’t. As you can see you don’t have to fly off to Paris for a great French experience.

For inquiries and questions about tours ( In-person or Virtual ), you can send an email or call. Stay tuned for Susan's next new blog!

Our tour will visit 4 areas in NY that are little pieces of Ireland in NYC.

Irish Hunger Memorial (Image via Wikipedia)

The first stop is the Irish Hunger Memorial, located on a ½ acre site at the corner of Vesey Street and North End Avenue near Battery Park City. It is an authentic 19th-century Irish cottage set on a uniquely landscaped plot, which utilizes stones, soil and native vegetation brought in from the western coast of Ireland and contains stones from all of the different counties of Ireland. It’s dedicated to raising awareness of the Great Irish Famine – referred to by the Irish as "The Great Hunger" or An Gorta Mor in Irish Gaelic, which killed over a million people in Ireland between 1845 and 1852. The memorial was completed and dedicated on July 16, 2002. Many Irish families were forced to emigrate from the country. By 1854, between 1.5 and 2 million Irish had left their country. By 1850, the Irish made up a quarter of the population in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Baltimore. In the US today, there are 33.7 million residents who claim Irish ancestry with NYC having the largest number of Irish-Americans of any city in the United States.

I’ll bet you are expecting me to talk about Irish bars – I won’t disappoint, but before we start our traipse uptown let’s make a b-line for the oldest Irish bar in NYC – McSorley’s Old Ale House, generally known as ‘McSorley’s’. It is on East 7th Street in the East Village. Two of McSorley’s mottos are “Be Good or Be Gone,” and “We were here before you were born.”

McSorley's Old Ale House (Image via Wikipedia)

Prior to 1970, it was one of the last ‘Men-Only pubs.’ Another motto was “Good Ale, Raw Onions and No Ladies.” In fact, Dorothy O’Connell Kirwin, who inherited the bar in 1939 adhered to this rule and only entered the bar on Sundays.

In 1970 McSorely’s was legally forced to serve women but did not have to provide restrooms for them so restrooms at McSorely’s remain coed. Aside from the ladies not much has changed at McSorley's since it opened – sawdust floors, Irish waiters and bartenders, and lots of memorabilia scattered throughout. There are wishbones hanging above the bar; supposedly hung by boys going off to World War I. The plan was to remove them upon their return, therefore the wishbones remaining are from those that never returned.

Notable people who have visited McSorley’s include Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, Peter Cooper, Boss Tweed, and Woody Guthrie. So let’s have a pint of ale and the famous cheese platter with onions and we’ll add our names to this list.

Now that we have been fortified let’s head up to St Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue and 51st Street. The site was originally intended to be a burial ground but was too rocky and in 1850, John Hughes the first Archbishop of NYC (an Irish immigrant) announced the plan to build a new cathedral. The cornerstone is dated 1858 and it was consecrated in 1910. Designed by James Renwick and William Rodrigue in the decorated Gothic style of the 13 century. It’s considered a symbol of the success in New York of its immigrant Irish population – to get some sense of its majesty here are some statistics.

St. Patrick's Cathedral NYC (Image via Wikipedia)
  • Length: 332 ft.
  • Width: 174 ft.
  • Height from the street to the top of the spire: 330 ft.
  • Height of the Central Gable: 156 ft.
  • Length of nave and transept: 144 ft.
  • Width of the nave: 48 ft.
  • Height of nave: 108 ft.

It's a huge and fabulous building!

Ready for our next stop? This time we are heading north – just about as north as you can go to Woodlawn in the Bronx, known as “Little Ireland.” This neighborhood has been an Irish enclave since the Irish laborers made their way up north to build the Harlem Railroad, Woodlawn Cemetery, and subways in the mid-1800s. Not to mention the Croton Reservoir and Van Cortlandt Park’s aqueduct that delivers 90 million gallons of water to NYC every day. It’s a great place to shop for Irish specialties like jams, teas, and meats. You can also order up a traditional Irish breakfast or watch an Irish football game while sipping a Guinness stout.

Make sure to check out Katonah Ave, home to Rambling House – a great pub where you can have traditional fares like shepherd's pie or bangers and mash. Make sure to visit Prime Cut Butchers, which is home to fabulous Irish bacon and ham. Of course, you’ll also find delicious corned beef and cabbage in the nabe even though it isn’t authentic Irish fare. In fact, along with the St Patrick’s Day Parade, it is an Irish-American invention. The Irish immigrants ‘adopted’ corned beef and cabbage from their Jewish neighbors.

When the immigrants came to NY pork and the favored Irish bacon were expensive. So they tried the cured corned beef at the Jewish delis and food carts and found it to be a tasty alternative to the more expensive meats. The same with cabbage was much cheaper than potatoes…. sooooo folks started cooking them together same pot, the spiced, salty beef flavored the plain cabbage, creating a simple, hearty dish that couldn’t be easier to prepare. Potatoes were added at some point and it became the traditional St Patrick’s Day fare. We could go on and on probably for weeks bar hopping from Irish pub to Irish pub but let’s stop here.

Stay tuned for our next journey – who knows where we will end up.

For inquiries and questions about tours ( In-person or Virtual ), you can send us an email or call. Stay tuned for Susan's next new blog!

If you find yourself in the East Village on 6th or 7th street you may just find you have arrived in Ukraine without even jumping on a plane. The culture of Ukraine, handcrafts, and food can be found dispersed right along the streets here. This was previously posted a couple of years ago but I think it apropos to repost it as a show of support for Ukraine.

Saint George Ukrainian Catholic Church 
( Image by Jeff Rozwadowski )

First, you can see St George’s Ukrainian Catholic Church. With its Byzantine-style onion-shaped dome, it is the largest institute in the community.   Looking at 6th St. over the Church Dome from Cooper Union.

Ukrainian East Village Restaurant. The restaurant is housed in the Ukrainian National Home on 2nd Avenue. They serve holubtsi ( stuffed cabbage, kovbasa, or kielbasa sausages), borscht ( hot or cold beet soup ), and my favorite nalensnyky ( blintzes and gigantic potato pancakes served with sour cream or applesauce.

The Darmochwais family opened Veselka (rainbow in Ukrainian?) in 1960. It looked very different from today’s establishment. In fact, it was a candy store with a soda fountain and a newsstand with a room in the back that served Ukrainian specialties. In the 1980s it expanded and so did its reputation. Today they make 3,000 pierogies a day and 500 lbs of beets are used to make 5000 gallons of borscht per week. It is a favorite of many celebrities and was often visited by the late Anthony Bourdain. It's a great place for brunch and offers a variety of pierogies, blintzes, and more. Today it has an “outpost “ in the new Essex Market.

Streecha Kitchen is found at 33 E 7th Street. Access this one-of-a-kind eating spot is through the basement door of a brownstone diagonally across from St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church with which it is affiliated.  If your timing is right you may just find the church’s women’s group serving pierogies which are soft, medium-sized pillows of dough served boiled or fried and stuffed with cheese, potatoes, or kapust (sauerkraut) as well as some other typical favorites. It is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The menu offers four main dishes: borscht soup (in cup or bowl), Ukrainian potato dumplings known as varenyky, stuffed cabbage with pork and rice called holubtsi, and sausage with sauerkraut. It has no website but does have a phone number (212-677-7160).

It is open to the public, with operating hours on Friday through Sunday. Periodically an Instagram post goes out to its volunteers or anyone else who wants to help make dumplings (until 11 AM). The proceeds from the kitchen support the church and its private school. 

Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen ( Image by Michelle Young)

The parish of St. George has been in the neighborhood for over a hundred years and Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen’s decor is very sparse. In fact, it looks like a church communal dining hall.  That is pretty much what it is. The fare is simple, prices are affordable with the dumplings at $0.75 apiece, the hearty stuffed cabbage at $4.00, and the cup of borscht soup at just $2.00. Powdered jelly donuts, cinnamon danish, and cheesecake are also available. 

The hours can be unpredictable–Basically, the food’s available until it runs out –so get here on the earlier side of the afternoon and bring cash. Another gem on this block is a great drive bar - Blue and Gold. It is a step back in time complete with a cheap drink, a pool table, and a jukebox.

The Ukrainian Museum is found at 222 E 6th St. The museum was founded in 1976 by the Ukrainian women’s League of America. It houses 8000 objects including wedding and festive clothing. There are great examples of richly embroidered clothing and textiles and of course pysanky- the traditionally decorated Easter Eggs. The history of the Ukrainian people is documented in photographs, documents, and posters. There is also an impressive collection of fine art.

Ukrainian Museum ( Image by )
Ukrainian Pysanky ( Image by Luba Petrusha )

The belief is as long as people keep creating Pysanky the world will continue to exist. Tried to get all the print under the eggs but could not- Help!!!

Arka - A wonderful shop where you can purchase traditional garb as well as Christmas tree ornaments.

With our tummies full and our new embroidered tunics on let’s take a quick ride uptown to the Ukrainian Institute of America on E. 79 St., The Institute was founded in 1948 by William Dzus an inventor, Industrialist and philanthropist. In 1955 the mansion was purchased to house the Institute and to keep the Ukraine culture alive in the opulent Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion on E. 79 St. The building was designed by the preeminent gilded age architect Charles C.H. Gilbert. 

During the pandemic, they have offered a multitude of online programming including art exhibits, concerts, and lectures. Check out the Ukrainian Institute YouTube channel.

For inquiries and questions about tours ( In-person or Virtual ), you can send us an email or call. Stay tuned for Susan's next new blog!

This was written in 2020 to honor the three New York Women on the U.S. Supreme Court- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Sadly Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18, 2020. I am continuing to honor her for her invaluable contributions. 

Sandra Day O'Connor ( Image by PICRYL )

It will be missed If I will not mention Sandra Day O’Connor who was appointed by Ronald Reagan as the first woman to the Court. She was the trailblazer.

She was born in El Paso raised on a ranch where she branded cattle, shot coyotes, and jackrabbits, and lived 9 miles from her nearest neighbor.

Although her childhood was quite different, like the New Yorkers, she excelled academically. At 16 she attended Stanford University and at 22 graduated from its Law School.

Maybe like our NY bagels, it’s something in the water that “produced” these impressive women. Ruth Bader Ginsberg grew up in Brooklyn, Sonia Sotomayor in the Bronx, and Elena Kagan in Manhattan. Their families were recent arrivals.

They did not exactly arrive on the Mayflower. Ruth’s father was a Russian-Jewish immigrant and her mother was born in NYC to Austrian Jews. Sonia’s parents were from Puerto Rico. Elena’s grandparents were European Jewish immigrants.

They graduated from New York City High Schools with honors. Ruth from James Madison H.S. Where she was at the top of her class. Sonia was valedictorian at Cardinal Spellman and Elena was valedictorian at Hunter College H.S. They went to prestigious colleges - Ruth to Cornell, Sonia and Elene went to Princeton. They excelled and graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Ruth married right out of college and later attended Harvard and Columbia Law Schools. Sonia went directly to Yale Law School and Elena attended Oxford University where she received a Master's in Philosophy and then went on to Harvard.

The Painting of all four Justices hangs in the National Gallery
( Image by Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP )

Their mothers greatly influenced them. Ruth’s mother Celia often spoke of the value of education and regretted that she had to forego her own so that her brother could go to college.

Sonia credits her mother Celina as her “life’s inspiration” and vividly remembers the Britannica Encyclopedia set her mother purchased at great expense and much sacrifice.

Elena’s mother Ruth, a teacher at Hunter College Elementary School, also preached the power of education. Her father, Robert, an attorney and an activist specializing in tenant law were also very influential.

The importance of education in their lives is also reflected in that all three of them taught at prestigious Law schools.

Here are things you should know about Joan Ruth Ginsburg:

  • Born in Brooklyn on March 15, 1933.
  • An excellent student and had receive a scholarship to Cornell University. 
  • She met Martin Ginsburg while at Cornell.
  • Ruth graduated in ‘53 and was the highest-ranking female in her class. 
  • Married Martin 1 month after graduating. 
  • They moved to Oklahoma where Martin fulfilled his ROTC obligation. 
  • Ruth worked for the S.S. Administration.
  • Enrolled at Harvard Law School, became one of 9 women in a class of 500 men. 
  • She became the 1st woman member of the Harvard Law Review
  • Transferred to Columbia to earn her law degree in ‘59 and was the first woman to be on two major law reviews.
  • Rejected by Felix Frankfurter for clerkship due to her gender. Got clerkship under Judge Edward Palmieri from ‘62-63.
  • Became a professor at Rutgers University Law School in ‘63. Got paid less than her male counterparts.

As a result of these experiences, she became interested in gender equality and developed a law school case book on sex discrimination.

In ‘72 she co-founded the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. By ‘74 over 300 gender discrimination cases were submitted. Ruth argued 6 cases and won 5. Using a strategy suggested by her secretary the word “gender” was used to refer to the issue. It was felt that the word “sex” would distract the judge.

Aug. 10, 1993, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes the court oath from Chief Justice William Rehnquist, right, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Ginsburg's husband Martin holds the Bible and President Bill Clinton watches at the left. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander, File)

Sonia Sotomayor (left) is accompanied by her brother, Juan Luis Sotomayor, and her mother, Celina Sotomayor, as she takes the oath from Chief Justice John Roberts to become a Supreme Court justice Saturday in Washington.
( J. Scott Applewhite/AP )

Here are things you should know about Sonia Maria Sotomayor:

  • She was born in the Bronx on June 24, 1954.
  • At 7 she was diagnosed with childhood diabetes and then her father died when she was 8.
  • A big fan of Nancy Drew & TV’s Perry Mason. 
  • At Cardinal Spellman H.S. she was a “star”- active in public speaking and student government. 
  • Received a full scholarship to Princeton. There as a member of the University’s discipline committee she started to develop her legal skills.
  • A member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Summa Cum Laude.
  • Awarded the Pyne Prize - the highest undergraduate academic award.
  • Before heading to Yale Law School in ‘76 Sonia married her High School sweetheart Kevin Edward Noonan at St Patrick’s Cathedral. They amicably divorced 7 years later.
  • At Yale, she was Editor for the Law Review and received her degree in ‘79. 
  • Following her graduation, she worked as a prosecutor, a litigator & a judge in various jurisdictions for 18 years. 
  • In ‘91 she fulfilled a childhood dream when Daniel Patrick Moynihan recommended her for a federal judgeship. 
  • The youngest & the 1st Puerto Rican woman to serve as a judge in the U.S. Federal Court. 

One of her rulings ended the 232-day Baseball Strike in ‘94. Contrary to sexual stereotypes she said, “I hope none of you assumed I was not a baseball fan. You don’t grow up in the South Bronx without knowing baseball.” 

In May of 2009, President Obama nominated her to David Souter’s seat making Sonia the third woman and the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.  I guess Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it.

Here are things you should know about Elena Kagan:

  • She was born in the Bronx on June 24, 1954.
  • At 7 she was diagnosed with childhood diabetes and then her father died when she was 8.
  • A big fan of Nancy Drew & TV’s Perry Mason. 
  • At Cardinal Spellman H.S. she was a “star”- active in public speaking and student government. 
  • Received a full scholarship to Princeton. There as a member of the University’s discipline committee she started to develop her legal skills.
  • A member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated Summa Cum Laude.
  • Awarded the Pyne Prize - the highest undergraduate academic award.
  • Before heading to Yale Law School in ‘76 Sonia married her High School sweetheart Kevin Edward Noonan at St Patrick’s Cathedral. They amicably divorced 7 years later.
  • At Yale, she was Editor for the Law Review and received her degree in ‘79. 
  • Following her graduation, she worked as a prosecutor, a litigator & a judge in various jurisdictions for 18 years. 
  • In ‘91 she fulfilled a childhood dream when Daniel Patrick Moynihan recommended her for a federal judgeship. 
  • The youngest & the 1st Puerto Rican woman to serve as a judge in the U.S. Federal Court. 

One of her rulings ended the 232-day Baseball Strike in ‘94. Contrary to sexual stereotypes she said, “I hope none of you assumed I was not a baseball fan. You don’t grow up in the South Bronx without knowing baseball.” 

In May of 2009, President Obama nominated her to David Souter’s seat making Sonia the third woman and the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.  I guess Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., administers the Constitutional Oath to Elena Kagan in the Justices' Conference Room on Saturday, August 7, 2010. Jeffrey P. Minear, Counselor to the Chief Justice, holds the Bible. Witnesses included Marc and Irving Kagan (brothers) and Justices John Paul Stevens, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg & Sonia Sotomayor.
( Image by Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the US )

In conclusion, as I said, maybe it is the water but New York is certainly proud of these amazing and awesome women. I hope that Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan will follow their colleague Ruth Bader Ginsburg and be honored with statues in the future.

For inquiries and questions about tours ( In-person or Virtual ), you can send us an email or call. Stay tuned for Susan's next new blog!

In honor of Black History Month - Elizabeth Jennings Graham - New York's "Own" Rosa Park. Years before Rosa Park's courageous stance a young woman in NYC had a similar story.

Elizabeth Jennings Graham ( Image by Educators of America )

On Sunday, July 16, 1854, Elizabeth Jennings Graham a school teacher and church organist boarded a trolley at Pearl St and today’s Park Row. Along with her friend Sarah Adams they were in a rush and did not wait for a trolley that stated “ Colored People Allowed on this Car.

In an article written for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune in February 1855, he wrote;

"She got upon one of the company’s cars last summer, on the Sabbath, to ride to church. The conductor undertook to get her off, first alleging the car was full; when that was shown to be false, he pretended the other passengers were displeased at her presence: but(when) she insisted on her rights, he took hold of her by force to expel her. She resisted. The conductor got her down on the platform, jammed her bonnet, soiled her dress, and injured her person. Quite a crowd gathered, but she effectively resisted. Finally, after the car had gone on further, with the aid of a policeman they succeeded in removing her."

The incident led to an organized effort by black New Yorkers to desegregate NYC streetcars. Frederick Douglass published the incident in his newspaper and it received national attention. Jennings' family filed a lawsuit on behalf of their daughter against the driver, the conductor, and the 3rd Avenue Railroad Company. Elizabeth was represented by the law firm of Culver, Parker, and Arthur. Her case was handled by the firm’s 24-year-old junior partner Chester A. Arthur, future president of the United States.

In 1855 the court ruled in her favor. She was awarded $250 in damages ( equivalent to $6,900 today)  The Brooklyn Circuit Court Judge William Rockwell declared: “Colored persons if sober, well behaved and free from disease, had the same rights as others and could neither be excluded by any rules of the company nor by force of violence. The next day the Third Avenue Railroad Company ordered its cars desegregated.

Elizabeth Jenning went on to marry Charles Graham and to teach for 35 years. They had a son who died at age 1 of convulsions during the Draft Riots on July 16, 1863. With the help of a white undertaker, they were able to slip through the mob-filled streets and bury him in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn. After the Draft Riots, the family left NYC for Monmouth County New Jersey. After Charles’ death, Elizabeth and her mother and sister returned to NYC.

In 1895 she founded the first kindergarten for black children at her home on West 41 St. and dies on June 5, 1901.

Today- thanks to a campaign by children from P.S. 361 in Manhattan a block of Park Row has been “so-named” Elizabeth Jennings Place.  A statue of Elizabeth Jennings Graham is slated to be erected as part of the “She Built NYC” initiative. At the moment the location is being discussed.

For inquiries and questions about tours ( In-person or Virtual ), you can send an email or call. Stay tuned for Susan's next new blog!

As you may know, the Lunar New Year is just about here! New Year’s “Eve” is January 31. It is the Year of the Tiger and as usual, the festivities last 15 days.

New Year’s Eve  is traditionally spent with family and friends eating “lucky” foods such as: 

New Year's Eve is also a time to distribute "Angpao", red envelopes with money to the younger family members.

In addition to foods, there are “lucky” colors that are also associated with the year of the Tiger; Cerulean Blue, Fiery Red, Mint Green, and Yellow.

Celebrations abound throughout New York's " Chinatowns." They include Flushing and Elmhurst in Queens, Sunset Park, Bath Beach, and Bensonhurst in Brooklyn as well as lower Manhattan.

One of the largest enclaves of Chinese people in the western hemisphere is right here in New York City’s Chinatown between the Lower East Side and Little Italy. The borders are considered to be Broome Street to the north, amalgamating with Little Italy, Chambers Street to the south, East Broadway to the east, and Broadway to the west (bordering TriBeCa).

Museum of Chinese in America ( Image by Ajay Suresh )

As we immerse ourselves in Chinese culture a great place to start is the Museum of the Chinese in America(MOCA). The museum is a must-see for anyone interested in Chinese culture in NYC. Right now the museum is offering virtual programming for the Lunar New Year. A highlight within the Museum is “The Lee Family of New York”.  The exhibit takes place within a recreated general store, fashioned to represent an old New York storefront with tin ceilings, built-in wooden cabinets, and brick walls. The collection of artifacts, photographs, & old menus documents Chinese life in America through the Lee Family. Check out their website ????

Another must-see is the Mahayana Temple on Canal St, at the foot of the Manhattan bridge on the Bowery. A former “porn” theater, it is now the largest Buddhist Temple in Chinatown with 2 golden lion urns guarding the entrance. In the center of the sanctuary is a 16 ft golden statue of Buddha where religious services and prayers take place. Upon leaving don’t forget to give a donation and select a “fortune” from the bowl at the door which is guaranteed to come true!

The China Institute ( Image by Courtesy Corcoran )

The China Institute is another cultural center dedicated to Chinese culture through art, language, and other programming.

By now I’ll bet you are hungry and ready to find some authentic bites in Chinatown. Your first decision is what type of food you want from dim sum, Cantonese, Fukien, Szechuan - the list goes on.

The bargains are definitely found in small bites such as dumplings and you can get 17 for $5 at 106 Mosco St. Roast Pork buns are 2.30 at Fa Da Pastries at 83 Mott St. Check at the street carts and fruit stands- you will find authentic reasonably priced treats. Whether you are looking for a banquet check out some of these places :

Events for the Year of the Tiger

Let us know how's your Chinese New Year experience. Leave your comments below! ???? KUNG HEI FAT CHOI EVERYONE! ????

For inquiries and questions about tours ( In-person or Virtual ), you can send an email or call. Stay tuned for Susan's next new blog!

It’s not too late to experience one of New York’s Holiday wonders – The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens. It ends this Sunday, Jan 23!  Get tickets here.

This year I attended the Holiday Train Show with my 3-year-old granddaughter Maya Shayne.

To call the Holiday show a “train” show is really a misnomer. The Botanical Gardens has created an incredible collection with the help of the visionary artist Paul Busse and his fabulous team. The trains are interesting but for me, the real “hook” is the amazing replicas of New York City Landmarks. All the iconic “New York” buildings and sites are there- made of pine cones, twigs, berries, and all sorts of natural materials. 

The New York Botanical Garden (Image by Anthony22)

Each year it is updated and the 2021 addition is the New York Botanical Gardens own LuEsther T Metz Library. It was founded in 1899 and is the largest botanical library in the USA.

I believe we went to the first “train show” in 1991.  It consisted of a large table- just like a train board, you would set up in your living room.   It was outdoors in front of the administration building (the same building in which I won an “honorable” mention for my begonia dish garden in a competition for NYC school children when I was in the 6th grade at PS 91).


The Chrysler Building (Image by Wally Gobetz)

TWA Passenger Terminal (Image by Susan Birnbaum)

Maya with the Statue of Liberty (Image by Susan Birnbaum)

Yankee Stadium (Image by Susan Birnbaum)

Grand Central Terminal (Image by Wally Gobetz)

Macy's (Image by Susan Birnbaum)

Radio City Music Hall (Image by Susan Birnbaum)

Rockefeller Center (Image by Susan Birnbaum)

Brooklyn Bridge (Image by Wally Gobetz)

New York has so many interesting and festive activities during the Holiday Season sometimes it’s hard to choose, but I know The New York Botanical Gardens  Train Show never disappoints.

Let us know which interests you!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! We wish you a rocking Year. ????

Times Square has been having New Year’s celebrations since 1904 when the New York Times moved uptown and opened its headquarters at what is now 1 Times Square. The original celebrations were lavish firework displays from the top of the building from 1904-1906 but stopped by city officials because of the danger of fire.  Fireworks are dirty and dangerous soooo the ball was substituted in 1907.  Jacob Starr designed it and it was 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds and was decorated with 100 light bulbs.  On that night in 1907, hundreds of thousands of people congregated to watch the ball being lowered on a pole atop the building, marking the start of the new year. 

The long tradition continues today. Since 1908, and for more than one hundred years thereafter, Times Square sign maker Artkraft Strauss has been responsible for the ball-lowering. FYI they were also responsible for the iconic “Camel” Man sign which had smoke coming out of his mouth and many others throughout Times Square. They were the kings of neon. (Fun SusanSez Fact: My Mom worked for them for many years!)

First New Years Ball in 1907 via Vintage Culture

The first ball, dropped on December 31, 1907, was made of wood and iron but it is now the famous Waterford Crystal 2014 NYE Ball to be feature new elements via Times Square you see today.  On that night in 1907, hundreds of thousands of people congregate to watch the ball being lowered on a pole atop the building, marking the start of the new year.

Over the years the ball was tweaked and changed for various reasons. To celebrate the centennial of the ball drop, a new energy-efficient LED ball debuted to bring in 2008. Just one year later to bring in 2009 a larger ball was used and has become the permanent installation as a year-round attraction, used for celebrations such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween.

NYE Ball 2008 which became shown to the public year-round via Times Square

On average, about one million revelers crowd Times Square for the New Year’s Eve celebrations. However, for the millennium celebration on December 31, 1999, published reports stated approximately two million people overflowed Times Square, flowing from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue and all the way back on Broadway and Seventh Avenues to 59th Street.

2007 celebrated 100 years since the first ball dropped and a new ball was designed by Waterford Crystal and Phillips Lighting. LEDs enabled the lights to change color. It became known as the centennial ball.

NYE Ball 2008 (photo by Times Square Ball)

2021 NYE Ball (photo by Times Square ball)

Last year sadly Times Square was closed to the public due to CoVID. The ball received a facelift It was covered in 2,6888 Waterford crystals and 32,256 LED lights in 16 million vibrant colors. It weighs 11, 875 pounds. 

This year the ball will be updated-it as part of Waterford’s Gift of Wisdom design for 2022.

As of this writing, a press release indicates that due to the Omnicron surges in NYC the crowd will be greatly reduced. Instead of 58,000 people, it will be scaled back to 15,000. Proof of vaccination will be required for everyone over 5 years old and Masks will be required.

2022 NYE Ball (photo by Waterford)

I made it down there once – mostly as a result of a  dull party with a dull date. I organized a group and we made our way downtown to Times Square. It was fun and exciting and at 11:59 p.m., the Ball began its descent as thousands of voices united to countdown the final seconds of the old year. The most amazing part of it was how quickly the crowd scattered and within a few minutes, there was no sign of the festivities.

If you’re interested Times Square Association has pulled together some fun facts about the ball, click here to see them!

I hope to see you this year of 2022! Subscribe to our mailing list and Share. ????

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram