Category Archives: City Scapes

So long Frank Llyod Wright …

His was a vision like no other before and nary a one after.

Each time I’d go visit my mom in the old neighborhood, I’d take a walk down to the docks, passing the huge white Bush factories. I loved to fantasize what the genius of Wright would have done with the old buildings. I’d imagine lofts and tiny shops skirting the shore, enormous windows facing the narrows, the views of Lady Liberty, the harbor, the waterway leading out to the sea.

I still love to daydream of what could have been … what was.

From the stories of Sunset Park:

The building, in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn, was the last in a row of three houses, adjacent to the Greek Diner. These houses were cold flats where the current owners resisted installing radiators for heat or converting the old coal stoves to gas. The fronts of all three houses called “airy-ways,” were enclosed in ornate wrought iron fences. The windows looked out at a giant white factory across the street.

Across the trolley tracks, across the alley and reaching down three avenues, Bush Terminal Factory District spread like giant tentacles along the docks of downtown Brooklyn, creating jobs for thousands of blue-collar workers. The women sewing piecework in long lines on factory floors, heads bowed and backs bent. The men loading and unloading the countless ships from all over the globe arriving to the ports of New York, the longshoremen.


The docks and the Bush buildings remained for decades, abandoned like unwanted children, only to become the center of controversy. The center of a zoning battle to restrict the number of stories the developers can built up. The original plans would have blocked the beautiful vistas from Sunset Park and Owl’s Head Park. The vista along the Narrows that stretches from downtown Brooklyn, adjacent to the Belt Parkway, under the Narrows Bridge and moving out to sea.

Progress wants more tall buildings to block the sun and ruin the landscape. Progresss hasn’t done enough damage. It wants to see how much more it can exact from the land before it implodes.

Ironic. We thought we grew up in a slum. Now progress has found the small row houses on 39th Street and the areas of Lower Sunset Park near the waterfront and wants to install fast food chains and factory outlets for cheap shopping.

Someone out there still believes we can shop our way out of economic crisis.

It was the Brooklyn Garment Center, the hub of activities, the inside of an intricate bee hive, alive and buzzing, producing sweet freedom for thousands of immigrants. It was for decades the gateway to middle-class. With its demise we would witness the end of an era.

The battle raged for years, and happy to say, the developers lost.

While some of the abandoned factories are being cordoned off as writer’s lofts, and others for games like paint ball fighting, the proposed sites for outlet shopping has been restricted.

The views for a change won out.


With all the assaults on our beautiful blue planet, nature endures. It cannot be conquered or completely eradicated by man and machine … and for that I am grateful.

Think about the town or city, hamlet or farmland where you grew up. How much of it still stands today? How much of your childhood remains should you be so inclined to revisit those good-old-days?

There are dozens of neighborhoods in Brooklyn that have changed so much that if I were dropped in by parachute, I would not know where I was … regentrified to the point of desiccation, the Brooklyn of my childhood has vanished.

Entire beach communities, my beloved Coney Island, and the areas above and below Sunset Park, are no longer as I remember. It reminds me daily that the man was spot-on … you can never go home again.

And what developers did not vanquish, Hurricane Sandy blew to dust in the wind.


Yet I can still walk to the circle by the flagpole, the highest point in Sunset Park and enjoy the sun setting into the bay. The vistas from my park and Owl’s Head Park remain … one small victory against the battle of time.

What part of your childhood has remained the same?

What part have you lost?

fOIS In The City


Third Party Credit

Note: The photographs of Sunset Park and Brooklyn came to me years ago from a now defunct blog. Like the credit above, many photographs and cartoons, and a bag-full of Maxine come to me from the same “third party” sources. Thanks to all who continue to post her and dozens of others for our enjoyment.


Filed under City Scapes

Part Six-Romancing The Big Apple-Love on the river …

Saving the best for last is a good writer-tease-trick-tickle of a way to bring you to another happy ending.

Happily ever after along the winding rivers of downstate New York means you can circle the entire island, cruise inside her harbor, visit her out-islands or duck under her bridges.


The Boat

My love affair for riding on top of the water goes back to my earliest recollections of being on the Hudson River Day Line, the boat to the Statue of Liberty, and of course, the Staten Island Ferry … the old Brooklyn Ferry that carried me from the 69th Street slip in Bay Ridge to the ferry slips of Staten Island.

I also took the New York Ferry that travels, and still does so, from downtown Manhattan to the same docks on the Island.

staten island ferry

Old Staten Island Ferry

statenFerry Slip

Incredibly, like the trolley ride, this was the best use of a kid’s meager nickle. A nickle ride to enjoy the open air of the trolley and the ferry.

Visitors can still enjoy the Manhattan Ferry for a grand view of downtown, the lower harbor and the Statue of Liberty. However, the most frequent users of the ferry system are residents of Staten Island on their way to work.

For residents of New York and visitors, there are over thirty-one boat cruises daily. This includes the Hop On, Hop Off Sightseeing Ferry, The Sunset and Twilight Cruises, New York Water Taxis, The Statue by Night, The Circle Line, The Daytime Statue Sail on the Clipper City Tall Ship, several yacht, tall ship and speed boat cruises, and a half dozen choices for dinner cruises.

At least two times each summer, I traveled with my family on the original Hudson River Day line, up river, and debarked at the docks of Poughkeepsie. My dad, an old seafaring man, wanted at least one trip to our family by water. Our trips back to Brooklyn were by railroad and subway.

Hudson River Dayliner at Bear Mountain Dock New York

Hudson River Dayliner at Bear Mountain Dock New York

For true love on the river, the evening dinner cruises are the most spectacular, the fine dining, the amazing views of the bridges and the skyline at night, and the lull of the water, all conspire to romance.

ships at night

Whichever way you might decide to tour my grand city, the Circle Line offers tours as short as one and a half hours, or an evening cruise in the harbor. Consider taking at least one boat ride … or if you travel down to the Memorial for 9-11, take a short walk and ride on the Staten Island Ferry, a very short, sweet way to enjoy the harbor.

Romance is the most popular genre fiction, the glue that holds a good relationship together, and the secret desire of both men and women.

It is celebrated in song and sonnet, in short and long tales, on the big and small screen, and for those traveling to New York City next week at the RWA National Conference, it is the ultimate experience for a romance writer.

Romancing The Big Apple can last a lifetime.

It is why millions choose to pay high rents, endure rush hour on the subway or ignore her ticks and warts … why millions travel from all parts of the globe to embrace her, to call her home, to take back memories that never fade.

I can only hope that for those of you who have never seen or felt her, that one day you have the opportunity to embrace what I have known all my life.

It is called The City because there is nothing like her. And although some of you may balk or tell me the wonders of your city, she is the ultimate, The City that never sleeps, the true City of Lights and the best little island anywhere.

To be fair please I’d love to hear about your favorite city.

Tell me her name and why you think she is the best.

fOIS In The City




Filed under City Scapes

Part Five-Romancing the Big Apple-The Wheels on the Bus …

go round and round … all around the town ...


The Bus

In the first four parts of this series, I highlighted several options for the free days or evenings conference attendees might have during the RWA Annual Conference in New York. There are two ways you can see most of what I’ve already shown you and more in one fell swoop. And today we are going to visit the first of those two ways. bus.06

New York City Bus Tours

  • You have been to New York.
  • You are from New York and moved somewhere else.
  • You still live in New York and will take a subway to the conference. Or …
  • You have never been to New York and wonder … what of all the things you have heard and seen do you want to hear and see for yourself.

bus.02 In front of Lincoln Center Would it surprise you to know that many natives or frequent visitors also avail themselves of bus or water tours? We do. Natives might never have seen some of the highlighted sights on the tours or they might be entertaining out-of-town company and want a convenient and fun way to show off The Big Apple. Below is a breakdown of the downtown and uptown sites available on one or all of the three major touring companies. The best deal is the Hop on Hop off ticket.


You will receive a 48/72 hours Hop on Hop off double-decker ticket valid from the time you exchange your confirmation email for a boarding ticket at Citysights NY Visitor center.

  1. Theater District   —   Broadway between 47th and 48th Streets. (starting point for Downtown)
  2. Theater District   —   50th st. & 8th ave.
  3. Carnegie Hall   —   7th ave between 56th & 57th streets.
  4. Winter Garden   —   50th street & 7th ave.
  5. Times Square   —   Broadway between 47th & 48th st.
  6. Times Square   —   7th ave between 41st & 42nd streets. Transfer here for Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises.
  7. Macy’s   —   34th st between 7th & 8th ave.
  8. Empire State Building   —   34th st between 5th & 6th ave.
  9. Flatiron District   —   5th ave between 22nd and 23rd Streets.
  10. Union Square / Ladies Mile   —   14th Street between 5th and 6th aves.
  11. Greenwich Village   —   Bleecker Street between Carmine Street and 6th ave.
  12. SoHo   —   Broadway between Spring Street and Broome Street.
  13. Chinatown / Little Italy / Canal Street   —   Broadway between Walker and White.
  14. Site of the One World Trade Center/St Paul’s Chapel   —   Broadway & Park Place.
  15. Battery Park/Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Ferry   —   Battery Place & State Street.
  16. South Street Seaport   —   South Street and Fulton Street. Transfer her for Liberty Helicopters.
  17. Lower East Side/Chinatown   —   Pike Street between Madison and Henry Streets.
  18. Lower East Side   —   Allen Street between Grand and Broome Streets.
  19. East Village   —   1st ave between St Marks Place and 9th Street.
  20. Kip’s Bay   —   1st ave between 34th and 35th Streets.
  21. United Nations   —   1st ave between 44th and 45th Streets.
  22. Waldorf Astoria Hotel   —   49th Street between Lexington Ave. and Park Ave.
  23. Rockefeller Center   —   49th Street between 5th and 6th aves. Stop here for admission to Top of the Rock.

bus.04 UPTOWN TREASURES & HARLEM TOUR You will receive a 48/72 hours Hop on Hop off double-decker ticket valid from the time you exchange your confirmation email for a boarding ticket at Citysights NY Visitor Center

  1. Times Square South    —   8th Ave bet. 42nd & 43rd St.
  2. Theater District North    —   8th Ave & 52nd St.
  3. Columbus Circle / Time Warner Center   —   Corner of 59th Street and 8th ave.
  4. Lincoln Center    —   Broadway & W. 63rd St.
  5. Central Park / Strawberry Fields    —   Central Park West & W. 72nd St.
  6. American Museum of Natural History / New York Historical Society    —   Central Park West & 79th St.
  7. Cathedral of St. John the Devine    —   Amsterdam Ave & 112th St.
  8. Grants Tomb / Riverside Church    —   Riverside Drive & 122nd St.
  9. Apollo Theater / Harlem    —   125th St. between Fredrick Douglass & Adam Clayton Powell Blvds.
  10. Harlem Market / Shopping    —   116th St. bet. Malcom X Blvd. & 5th Ave.
  11. Museum of the City of NY / Conservatory Gardens    —   5th Ave. & 103rd Street. Stop here for your admission to the Museuem of the City of NY.
  12. Guggenheim & Jewish Museums    —   5th Ave. & 90th St.
  13. Metropolitan Museum of Art    —   5th Ave. & 83rd Street.
  14. Frick Collection / Whitney Musuem / Central Park   —   5th Ave. / 72nd St.
  15. Central Park Zoo    —   5th Ave. & 66th St.
  16. Plaza Hotel / Central Park    —   Central Park South between 5th & 6th aves.
  17. Carnegie Hall    —   7th Ave between 56th & 57th Streets.
  18. Winter Gardens    —   50th Street & 7th ave.

At every hotel or motel in every major city there is the wonderful service provided by the concierge.

Find them at the Marriott Marquis and gather the information you need about the major bus tours, their schedules, prices and tour sights.

No matter how you get there, once in New York, avail yourself of her sights and sounds, her culture and her spunk.


If you get to our great city

where would you like to go?

fOIS In The City

maxine travels Maxine travels


Filed under City Scapes