A Grand view

Saturday, May 5th, 2007 | All Things, Friends

AH generously offered to host JL‘s birthday festivities at her penthouse-floor apartment in the Seward Park Houses on Grand. This complex of a dozen brown-brick highrises sits in an area south of the the Williamsburg Bridge and west of FDR Drive. The cooperatives were sponsored and financed by textile/garment trade unions and the United Housing Foundation, in a drive to create moderately-priced housing for union members; in 1959, initial offerings were priced at about $3,000(!) per unit. The lobbies still feature original Hugo Gellert murals of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Albert Einstein; the upper-level balconies, some outstanding views of Lower Manhattan.

Grand Street view

Grand Street view

I was last here in September for another birthday, the highlight of which was AH’s home-baked carrot cake. This time, though, in deference to JL’s strict dietary regimen, the cupcakes were brought in from Babycakes. The Lower East Side bakery touts products that are certified Kosher, Parve and vegan, and fully — almost improbably — organic, dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, nut-free and egg-free. How do they do it? Short answer: spelt flour or garbanzo/fava bean flour mix instead of wheat flour; agave nectar or unrefined, unprocessed cane juice instead of white sugar; and soy milk instead of dairy. All of which sounds potentially taste-free, but which is actually far more palatable than one would have any right to expect. In fact, New York magazine caused quite a stir when they declared Babycakes the best cupcakes in the city — that’s best overall! — in 2006.

Happy 30th, JL!

There are 3 Comments ... A Grand view

May 16, 2007

Those are some nice shots!

May 17, 2007

Aw, thanks! Nice historical briefing on Audrey’s building–wonder if even she knew all of that?? Here’s some other interesting trivia off the Seward Park Housing Corporation’s website:

“The Seward Park Houses derives its name from a three-and-half acre park and playground which borders upon Essex Street and East Broadway. This was the first playground established in the City of New York in 1903 !! It was named after William Henry Seward who was born in 1801 and served as Governor of New York from 1839 to 1843. He was one of the earliest political opponents of slavery and and also one of the first to recognize and discuss the valuable contributions that immigrants would someday make to this country.”

May 17, 2007

NYC had a population of about 3.5 million in 1900. And one playground? There must have been a heck of a line for the slide.
Anti-slavery, pro-immigrants — nice work, Governor Seward! I suspect that my building is just named for some guy with money.
Thanks for the comment!

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