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TURTLE BAY

The area tucked between the East River and Lexington Avenue and 43rd and 53rd Avenues is known as Turtle Bay. The bay has always attracted affluent residents. Once occupied by a manor, later used as a boatyard, in the early 20th century the district started attracting philanthropists, actors, writers and other well-heeled citizens. Among former famous residents were Edgar Allen Poe, Truman Capote, John Steinbeck and Katherine Hepburn. Today’s locals are wealthy professionals and families drawn here by the amazing architecture, bars, restaurants, shops and last but not least numerous pocket-size parks and hidden gardens.


In the area you will find many famous buildings such as the UN headquarters, the Chrysler building and Tudor City which is the oldest tenement skyscraper in the world. Architecturally Turtle Bay is a stunning mixture of styles, from 19th century brownstones through early 20th century beaux-arts apartment blocks and Art Deco beauties like the Chrysler Building to ultra modern glassy skyscrapers that serve as hotels, tenement and office buildings. Among the forest of multi-storey towers nestles a historic district known as Turtle Bay Gardens. This little known architectural landmark comprises several rows of elegant 19th century townhouses with beautiful period facades and a hidden communal garden which stands as a leafy oasis of tranquillity among the forest of concrete towers. Among the famous residents of Turtle Bay Gardens was Katherine Hepburn.


At first glance the area seems to be dominated by skyscrapers but numerous small gardens, tiny parks, play grounds and sports facilities nestle in between the concrete towers. Amongst the most beautiful in the area is the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park that leads to the UN Plaza. At daytime the fountains are a spot preferred by local residents and workers for lunch breaks and at night the brightly illumined waters create the perfect setting for romantic outings. The naturalistic garden sits as an oasis of serenity amongst the urban hustle and bustle, while the greenhouse with its open air cafe is ideal for unwinding. Yet another green gem, Greenacre park, boasts a beautiful man-made fountain surrounded by fragrant flower gardens and cafe tables perfect for outdoor lunches. In June and July head to the James P Grant Plaza for a free midday jazz concert.


A major landmark in the area is the UN Plaza which encompasses three separate buildings along the banks of East river. Parts of the headquarters and the outdoor promenade are open to the public. Visitors can opt for a guided tour of the buildings, stroll among the fragrant rose gardens and cherry orchards, admire the numerous statues that adorn the promenade or enjoy a meal at the delegates dining room that offers fantastic vistas over East river.


You can find plenty of cosy bars, restaurants and shops in Turtle Bay but if you are after cultural experience head to the Music School for a concert or pop into the Norwegian Seamen's Church where you can get familiar with Nordic culture via concerts, exhibitions and numerous other events. The Japan society at Hammarskjold Plaza offers access to a beautiful Zen garden and its own roster of events for the fans of Japanese culture.  


While in Turtle Bay take a peek into Grand Central, the largest train station in the world and a shopping centre in its own right. The palatial interiors adorned by crystal chandeliers give the century old station a very grand and stately look. Grand Central houses its own market, gourmet restaurants and well over 60 designer boutiques that can make any train delay feel like a blessing. You can sample Belgian chocolates, crusty fresh bread, fine wines and many more at the numerous eateries and shops or come here if you plan a fancy dinner. The Oyster Bar and Restaurant that is almost as old as the station serves one of the most impressive seafood menus in NYC. Enjoy!


 

 

 

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