Time Out to Go Walking II
December 20, 2012

Take Time Out to Walk, Part 2

In last week’s post we reviewed a walk from one of our favorite New York City guidebooks, Time Out Book of New York Walks: 23 Walks Around the Big Apple. Among our favorite things about this book is that the approach of the authors describing their favorite walks is identical to ours, i.e., that the city is a destination best explored on foot. Last week’s destination, recommended by British Beat writer Barry Miles, was lower Manhattan—Chelsea, the West Village, and the High Line. This week we will take a look at a journey recommended by writer and filmmaker William Boyd, which he discovered during his visits to the city in the late 90s.

Among the reasons we recommend embarking on this walk now is that you can also squeeze in a visit to the Park Avenue Armory, located between Park and Lexington (running north–south) and 66th and 67th streets (running east–west). The Armory’s latest exhibit is similar to the "Discover Columbus" exhibit at Columbus Circle—the subject of one of our posts in October—in that it blurs the lines between indoors and outdoors. “The Event of a Thread,” by Ann Hamilton, is basically an indoor playground based around swings hanging from the ceiling. The space is massive, and kids have plenty of room to roam and swing up into the air. Our kids loved both the exhibit and the walk there, and we’re sure yours will too.

Up Madison, down Lexington

Boyd’s walk, which begins at 63rd Street between Madison and Lexington avenues, leads you on a loop around the Upper East Side. He recommends walking east on 63rd to Lexington, heading north to 79th street, then back west to Madison, and down to where you started. It’s a great walk because, as Boyd writes, though the “Upper East Side suffers a little from its reputation as a place where only the truly wealthy New Yorkers live…the denizens of this bit of Manhattan do make for a fascinating passing parade.” This is certainly true, as evidenced by the fact that among the local fauna we observed was Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, in town for the concert celebrating their 50th anniversary at the Barclay’s Center, and for the Hurricane Sandy benefit at Madison Square Garden.

As much as we liked walking in Boyd’s footsteps (and spotting a wild rock star), we also had our own thoughts on how to improvise the trip. Try using Park Avenue for the north–south portion of your journey, in place of either Lexington or Madison. While both of the latter are full of interesting sites, the wide empty sidewalks of Park Avenue are ideal for biking, scootering, and strolling. Because the buildings on Park are almost exclusively residential, the volume of foot traffic is relatively low compared to the busy bustle of shoppers on the blocks to the east and west. It’s basically like the difference between walking across a wide-open field, as opposed to a tangled forest.

As mentioned above, as you pass by the Armory on 66th Street, be sure to stop in to experience “The Event of a Thread” exhibit, which will be showing till January 6. As the reviewer in the New York Times wrote, “Anyone who liked swings as a child—and that should include quite a few of us—will probably feel a surprisingly visceral attraction.” The swings are large enough that two can fit comfortably. So it is among the few opportunities you will probably ever have to share a swing with your child. Don’t miss it.

 

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