The Unseen Sights of Secretive Beekman Place

Filed under just pictures, living in new york is neat

Now that the weather is getting nicer, Kamran and I have been actually getting up before noon on Sundays and taking walks around his neighborhood. You can kind of get the gist of any given neighborhood by walking a few streets, and at this point, we’ve been walking those streets for the five years Kamran’s lived in Midtown East, so we kind of thought we’d seen it all.

But walking down 1st Avenue, we decided to try out 52nd Street on a whim and found ourselves in a microcosm entirely different from the one Kamran lives in, with a tiny unnamed café, a gated garden area surrounded by balconied buildings, and a culdesac overlooking the East River. Doormen peered at us from under their caps and men out walking their oversized and undersized dogs turned around to watch us pass, as if they all knew we didn’t belong there.

We could see a little bridge leading down to a riverfront park one block down, so we headed back over to 1st Avenue and down to 51st Street, which deadended into a decaying stone staircase that led to this bridge:

And when we looked over the sides of the bridge, we saw this glorious dog park–Peter Detmold Park, it’s called–so huge it still looked empty even while teeming with puppies:

The last few feet of the bridge are covered by a metal fence as it crosses over FDR Drive, which is kind of exhilarating to stand over:

At the end of the bridge, you take a left and walk down another staircase, which leads you to a tiny strip of park sitting right on the river, with sights of the 100-year-old Queensboro Bridge:

some fancy ruins on Roosevelt Island no doubt being torn down to make way for condos:

two lovebirds:

the famous Pepsi-Cola sign on the other side of the river in Queens:

and the whisper-thin United Nations headquarters down the street on 42nd:

Having read Phillip Lopate’s wonderful but sad Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan, I’ve come to realize how important access to the river is to the community, and for the community to have spent so much money on this one-block chunk of park, you figure someone special must be living there.

Looking behind you, you realize how special. The buildings are towering behemoths:

with bay windows on every corner and balconies that have been closed off to become another room in the apartment:

There are long stretches of beautiful outdoor patios that can only be accessed through the buildings:

And look! When you try to Google Street View it, there’s no data available! FISHY!

We walked down Beekman Place between 49th and 51st Streets, and while the blocks were eerily quiet, what was weirder were the surveillance cameras conspicuously placed outside of every building to let you know you were being watched. It’s at once the scariest and safest street in NYC, I guess.

On the way back home, we were greeted with the familiar sight of the Chrysler Building, which shines in through Kamran’s windows every night, peeking through between some buildings off in the distance:

and of course the “Good Defeats Evil” monument of St. George fighting the “dragon” of nuclear war that used to be soooooo beautiful until the UN decided to build some awful structure behind it:

And that was that. Secret neighborhood microcosm de-secretized!


  1. Jessica R. says:

    Is that dog park made out of bricks and concrete? Now that’s just sad.

    I do love that bridge however… it’s like finding the Secret Garden.

    • Oh, wow, I didn’t think about that being sad at all, but you’re totally right. Some of the dog parks here have . . . mulch? That’s a little bit better, I guess. What’s really sad is that after being cooped up in a 200-square-foot apartment all day, those dogs are probably happy with that concrete.

  2. Lisa says:

    Sigh. Must move to bigger city.

    • Or a super-small city, which probably has even more hidden places like this, except without all of the traffic sounds. Of course, you’re way more likely to get stabbed in those places, I imagine, so use caution.

  3. Dishy says:

    WOW! What a wonderful tour!! I love exploring places by foot. It’s how we got to know our hometown (Philly) so intimately over year after year. Thanks so much for sharing this! Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed getting to come along.

    By the way, that fancy ruin is unbelievably beautiful. I SO LOVE old buildings, makes me sad just seeing it about to be torn down. Can you imagine what it must once have been?

  4. Dishy says:

    PS: The cameras though.. el creepo!

  5. Tracey says:

    This should be in a travel book. YOU SHOULD WRITE TRAVEL BOOKS.

    But only if you promise to add photos of yourself as one of the sites for everyplace you write about.

  6. Seriously, it must be like living at Hogwarts sometimes.

    Sigh. I have The Jealous.

  7. Cristy says:

    That is so amazing! Love the walking tour. You did that so well. And, the pictures are lovely. Neat. Thanks for taking us along. :)