Day: May 22nd, 2007

On the block

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 | All Things, Events, Friends, NYC History

My block association hosted a wine and cheese reception at Maya Schaper Cheese and Antiques on West 69th Street. (For those of you who know: no, technically, this isn’t my block, but close enough.) The first time I passed by this quaint-looking shop, cheese and antiques did strike me as an unnatural combination (unlike my combo bar/laundromat idea: “Buds and Suds”– hey, it could still work!), but most of the antiques do seem to be food-related items, so perhaps not so strange a pairing.

The shop, though, is best recognized as the exterior stand-in for Meg Ryan’s children’s bookstore in 1998’s You’ve Got Mail — an association proudly displayed on a movie poster at the front cash register wall.

Nora Ephron’s gauzy film was a valentine to this part of town (and to America Online) – as much a love story about the neighborhood as it was about the characters. The movie website even offers an interactive tour of some of the actual Upper West Side locations featured in the movie: the café where Meg Ryan arranges to meet Tom Hanks, Gray’s Papaya (also rhapsodized about in the Matthew Perry-Salma Hayek romantic comedy Fools Rush In ), H&H bagels, Zabar’s – even one of my favorite local warm-weather spots, the W. 79th St. Boat Basin Café.

Maya Schaper Antiques

Maya Schaper Antiques

Maya herself hosted the evening, which was a rare opportunity to meet a few of my neighbors on the block. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised to find that most of the guests that night were quite a bit older than I, having lived on the block, in a couple of cases, for decades. Still, the attendees as a whole were welcoming and pretty sociable – granted, a self-selecting group – and seemed very willing to expound upon bits of the block’s storied history, and even to gossip about one of my own building’s more notable residents.

Maya’s shop is also a stop on the Location Tour’s “New York TV and Movie Sites” tour — and was seen briefly during the final season Sex and the City “To Market, To Market” episode. In a scene culled from a hundred nightmares, before a storefront of cheese and antiques, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) randomly encounters her ex-fiancé Aidan (John Corbett)… and his newborn son. Awkward amiability ensues.

Time Out‘s 2006 listing of the best residential blocks in New York City was based on a combination of factors: aesthetics, nearby amenities, the “green factor” (trees, parks, waterfront access); noise and traffic; proximity to public transportation; a wild card “New York–ocity” factor; and affordability (certainly relative), as defined by median sale and rental prices in the immediate vicinity. No, my particular block didn’t quite make the TONY cut — boo! — but we’ve got our eye on you, West 78th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues (#10) and West 72nd Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue (#29).

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