April 21, 2018 | Leave a comment A 4 miles trek off the beaten track (2 good hours of strolling and taking photos) to explore mainly residential parts of Midtown in Kips Bay, Stuyvesant Town, Cooper Village, East River and East Murray Hill, with a few variations possible . You’ll discover a private park and beautiful mansions, second-hand clothing and furniture shops, two red-brick towns in the city, the shores of the East River, and an alley of old stables (photos and details below the map). Highlights: Block Beautiful, Gramercy Park, a spice haven, second hand furniture and clothing shops, Stuyvesant Town, Cooper Village, East River, Sniffen Alley, the American Copper building and the Corinthian. City Opera Thrift Shoo Gramercy park A and B: From Union Square, find Park Ave and follow it towards the 19th St which you’ll then take on your right. After Irving Pl and before 3rd Ave, you’ll be in what’s called Block Beautiful, a set of red brick townhouses that was an artists colony in the 1920s and still houses celebrities looking for calm. C: Once you ‘re done admiring the facades, retrace your steps to take Irving Pl to Gramercy Park. Surrounded by beautiful building (in Greek, Italian and Gothic revival style, find which one is what), it’s also a quiet place, away from the crowd, and only accessible by the inhabitants of the buildings bordering it who have a key. Yet you can still go around and dream to be invited inside! D: Then continue on Lexington Ave until you see Kalustyan’s on your right, an extraordinary spice shop situated after the 28th St. If however the detour seems too long, turn before on 23rd St and walk to 2nd Ave. You’ll be able to go and see Kalustyan’s later if you decide to shorten your walk along the river -see the marker G further down with the proposed route and its alternative. E: 23rd St has 4 furniture and second-hand clothing stores you could be interested in, one on your left before the 3rd Ave named Housing Works Thrift Shop and designed to help people with HIV , the others on your right after 3rd Ave. If only to see a beautiful interior, try the City Opera Thrift Shop, the last of the series and the smallest one, but one where you’ll probably find the most incongruous treasures. Opposite to it, you can go and have a look at the small gallery in the School of Visual Arts, it’s in its lobby. Stuyvesant Park Inside Stuyvesant City F: The trek now takes you to two amazing architectural ensembles, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Built in red brick after the Second World War, they form a group of about one hundred residential buildings almost all identical, housing a population of about 25,000 inhabitants, with its own police, shops, cafes and public places, a kind of city in the city. To get there, you have the choice between going through the large Stuyvesant Park and taking the 16th St between the buildings of the Mt Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, this is the path shown on the map that will take you to visit Stuyvesant Town, or to take the 22nd St to go directly to Cooper Village. East River Along the East River G: In any case, rejoin 20th St after your visit, walk towards East River and go under the FDR highway to reach the banks of the river. Although the noise of the highway is constant, it’s another world you enter now, made of local joggers and walkers, seabirds and various boats. In front of you, Greenpoint, a Brooklyn neighborhood. Head north and take either 26th St via a footbridge directly opposite the United Nations School (then join 3rd Ave and turn right to 36th St, or if you are you haven’t been to Kalustyan’s yet but wish to go there, join Lexington Ave and turn right), or go to 35th St as shown on the map to have the opportunity to walk a bit longer along the river. If you choose this option, you need to turn right past the footbridge in front of the United Nations School and rejoin the boardwalk along the river. It’s not well indicated so don’t hesitate to ask your way to the guards who are there in front of the school. You are now far from everything and the walkway is dated, but you’ll eventually see and reach a heliport. It will be there that you’ll go back under the highway to take 35th St, unless you want to go a little further to take a ferry that will bring you to the East River treks through Roosevelt Island, or to the Bay Ridge trek (still to come). Sniffen Court American Copper Building f you stay on this trek, St Vartan Park at the beginning of 35th St has restrooms and offers beautiful views of the American Copper Building, actually two towers of luxury apartments connected by a footbridge, and the Corinthian, a wavy tower that allows all apartments to have bow windows. The edge of the river at this location is in fact a succession of high rise apartment buildings, but these two towers have a particularly interesting architecture. H: After the park, turn right to take 36th St on your left. Once past 3rd Ave, you’ll see on your left an alley from another time, Sniffen Court, the smallest historic district of New York. Built in 1863 to house stables, it remains as it was except for the horses and the gate that now closes it. I: All you have to do now is turn right on Lexington Ave to find Grand Central on your left after reaching 42nd or 43rd St. It’ll be the end of this trek but if you want to do more, Grand Central is also the starting point of the East River Trek, parts 1 and 2, and the Midtown Trek, part 1. Good to know: you’ll see few restrooms on this trek except at Union Square, St Vartan Park and Grand Central; you’ll find benches in the public parks, Stuyvesant City and along the river. Avenues are your best bet for finding something to eat. Metro: Union Square (departure) Grand Central (arrival). Tips for the guide: they are welcome but as we live in a virtual world, it will be easier to follow the suggestions at the bottom of the page. Thanks in advance!