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NYC Starbucks: 103rd & Broadway

29 Dec

103rd and Broadway Starbucks

Did you know that Broadway has the most Starbucks located on it when compared to any other avenue in New York City? By my count there are 36 individual Starbucks locations off Broadway, and they just keep on coming. I think the only thing that rivals the amount of Starbucks on Broadway is the number of Bank of Americas. Every other street there seems to be one on the corner beckoning me to make an ATM withdrawal. I’m not really complaining since it is my bank of choice, but the concentration of them on this single avenue is kind of weird. I’m only used to seeing Starbucks on most street corners. Well, that or Subways.

I’m currently sitting at the Starbucks on the southeast corner of 103rd and Broadway. After reviewing the new Starbucks just a few blocks south on 99th street, I couldn’t help pay this one a visit as well. It’s not really that I’m pressed for time — not anymore at least — but I just couldn’t help compare these two locations a mere four blocks away.

Although both are on Broadway and conveniently located near trains, this one definitely attracts a larger crowd. Perhaps it’s because this one actually has a public restroom for patrons to use. There’s also twice as much seating here and a little more room to spread out. But this Starbucks’ decor is also much more dated than its southern counterpart, and the lighting here is  very dim, especially on a rainy day like today with limited natural lighting.

I guess the moral of this story is that no matter what your likes and dislikes, Broadway has a Starbucks for you. Not at one that suits your interest, just walk a few blocks in either direction and you’re sure to find another.

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NYC Starbucks: Pearl & State

24 Dec

Pearl and State Starbucks

On this Christmas Eve, I decided to take a trip to the Starbucks closest to Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. This Starbucks is on the corner of Pearl and State streets and is located directly between Battery Park City and South Ferry.

When I emerged from the subway station, I was surprised by the desolate looking Battery Park that expanded far toward the water. Then I turned around and the familiar skyscrapers and construction scaffolding reassured me I was still in Manhattan. Although the park is not much to look at now in this winter blight, I’m sure it is a pretty sight to see in the spring.

The Starbucks that lies across the street from the park is large and crowded. The line inside is mostly tourists but I can also pick out a few locals that are most likely coming from or going to Staten Island. Although there is plenty of space, there is only seating in the back area furthest from the barista bar. There is also a bar lining the exterior walls in the front but no high tops to go with it — probably because they would just make the place even more crowded. After all, no one likes to sit down with a constantly shifting crowd pressing at their backs anyway.

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NYC Starbucks: 75th & Broadway

22 Dec

75th and Broadway Starbucks

This time last week, it was snowing in New York City. Today it’s 70 degrees and I’m sitting at Starbucks drinking iced coffee. But never fear! Apparently this odd warm spell will be short lived, and we’ll all be forced to drink hot coffee by Christmas morning. Or maybe even some hot cocoa.

The Starbucks that I’m sitting at is an Upper West Side location that initially escaped my research. According to the baristas it underwent a remodel earlier this year, so there’s a chance it was closed down and unlisted for a while. I can’t say for sure what it looked like before, but I can say with certainty that it is a well designed Starbucks now. The decor is definitely its best attribute. On the walls hang a few framed photographs that portray people in metro areas enjoying Starbucks in various fashions. I’ve only ever seen these at one other Starbucks before, and they’re definitely more attractive than pictures of coffee beans and the roasting process. There’s also some pretty nifty looking lighting throughout. Above you can see the lighting ornament that hangs directly above the milk cart.

Apart from the decor, this Starbucks is average sized; it has a good amount of seating, one restroom, a consistently crowded lobby and a location that makes it convenient for a quick pick-me-up while Christmas shopping. Speaking of — that’s my mission for the rest of the day. Wish me luck!

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NYC Starbucks: 100th & Columbus

18 Dec

100th and Columbus Starbucks

The Starbucks on the corner of 100th and Columbus belongs to the small NYC neighborhood of Manhattan Valley. Essentially, this is where the Upper West Side meets West Harlem. Broadway is to the west, a small shopping district is to the south, Central Park is one block east, and Harlem is just north. The neighborhood — which was once called the Bloomingdale District — got its name because this area is a geographical depression. From Columbus Ave, I can literally see the street slope down to the south and rise back up to the north.

The Starbucks is at the northern edge of a small shopping area that contrasts greatly with the towering apartment buildings just north of 100th street. But then again, that’s gentrification for you. This location is not too big and not too small. It’s just the right size Starbucks with an adequate amount of seating on one side of the L-shaped interior. You can choose to sit at a low bar and gaze out the window and watch the southbound traffic. Or if you’re lucky enough, you can grab a seat at the long sofa with attached tables and power outlets. Most likely though, the fluctuating crowd will determine your seat, and you’ll take whatever is open.

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NYC Starbucks: 53rd & Park

17 Dec

53rd and Park Starbucks

Today I visited my 200th Starbucks for this blog.

100 Starbucks ago, I was sitting at Grand Central Terminal, half-way through my endeavor and somewhat optimistic that I could accomplish the task at hand. 100 Starbucks before that, I sat down at my first Starbucks on 52nd & 8th Ave and — quite frankly — had no idea what I was getting myself into. But here I am. 200 Starbucks into the blog and less than 10 away from visiting all the Starbucks in Manhattan. I’ll drink to that.

The Starbucks on 53rd & Park Ave is actually located inside a privately owned public seating area called Park Avenue Plaza. It’s just west of Park, and there are entrances both on 52nd and 53rd. The Starbucks is not a distinct store, but a kiosk style Starbucks located in the northeast corner of the space. There are office buildings above and other features include a book store, public restrooms, a children’s winter play place and a waterfall wall (pictured above).

Unfortunately, this Starbucks does not offer WiFi, so if you’re coming here to get out of the cold, bring a book not a laptop. Also come early. Although the space is available 7-days a week until 10pm, the Starbucks is only open until 6:30pm on weekdays, which only makes sense. After all, it’s not like there isn’t another Starbucks just a few yards west on 53rd street.

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NYC Starbucks: 145th & Bradhurst

15 Dec

145th and Bradhurst Starbucks

Today ends my exploration of the neighborhoods known as the Heights, and apparently I inadvertently saved the best for last. I’ve been to Morningside Heights, Washington Heights and Hudson Heights, and today I’m up on 145th street near the neighborhood of Hamilton Heights.

I’m currently sitting at the Starbucks on the corner of 145th and Bradhurst. Directly across the street to the west is the small — currently snow-covered  — park known as Jackie Robinson Park, where apparently residents like to build snowmen (see above). And it is that park that separates this Starbucks from the large neighborhood of Hamilton Heights and its sub-neighborhood of Sugar Hill. But since Starbucks up here in the Heights are so scattered, this is the closest location to serve the residents of these two neighborhoods.

In case you were wondering, yes, the Hamilton Heights neighborhood was named after Founder Father Alexander Hamilton — way back when there was still farmland here in Manhattan. But the story I find more interesting is that of the smaller neighborhood of Sugar Hill. The neighborhood got its name because it became the home to wealthy African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. Both it’s geographical height — yes, it is a hill — and the contrasting wealth of its residents made life in this neighborhood look sweet as sugar, and it has since become a municipal historic district of Manhattan.

One thing I find interesting about this Starbucks on 145th Street is that it is not directly atop a subway station. All the other Starbucks in the Heights of Manhattan have (for obvious reasons) quite literally followed the major subway lines. But this Starbucks is a few blocks between the A/C, B/D and the 3 stations. Perhaps that’s why it’s also larger and more accommodating then the other Upper Manhattan Starbucks. This one was designed for more than just a spot to grab your commuter coffee; here you can sit and stay a while. And judging by the sizable crowd and consistent lack of open seats, I would say I’m not the only one who feels this way.

In fact, today there is a sign on the door stating that their espresso machine is broken and they can only serve coffees and teas — but the crowd is still coming on strong.

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NYC Starbucks: Liberty & West

13 Dec

Liberty and West Starbucks

Nearly a year into this blog and still I’m discovering new and unique New York City neighborhoods. Today, I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Battery Park City in Lower Manhattan.

Battery Park City is just west of the Financial District and the World Trade Center. In fact, it’s the only neighborhood I’ve been to that is actually west of the west of the West Side Highway. There’s no subways into this neighborhood, but there is an elevated skywalk that crosses the highway so residents and visitors can easily pass between here and FiDi. Although Battery Park City is both business and residential, it seems to cater mostly to the business crowd.

In fact, this Starbucks is inside the lobby of a gigantic building complex called the World Financial Center, which appears to be part office building, part mall. There’s at least four independent buildings making up WFC, and they’re all interconnected and stretch across the entire neighborhood. The Starbucks is in the main building of WFC and literally overlooks the West Side Highway — or West Street as it is called in this neighborhood.

So, yes — this Starbucks is in an office building, but don’t underestimate it. It has its very own entrance, design, and decor. It’s no simple coffee cart. It’s a decent size and offers plenty of seating. In fact, I thought the Starbucks was small at first, only  to discover that beyond the barista bar is an entirely separate — and slightly hidden — seating area. The only thing it lacks is its very own restroom for guests.

According to the Starbucks App there are two Starbucks located here in Battery Park City. This one and one in Four World Financial Center. But this entire complex is going through some major renovations and actually changing names to be called Brookfield Place come 2014. I went hunting for this other elusive Starbucks but could not find it. I asked around and was told this is the only one in the area, so my guess is either this other Starbucks is not accessible to the public or closed during the renovations. Which begs another question… What do the residents of Battery Park City do with only one Starbucks in their neighborhood?

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NYC Starbucks: 34th & Broadway (Macy’s 3rd Floor)

1 Dec

34th and Broadway Starbucks Macy's 3rd Floor

After visiting the Starbucks on the 6th and 5th floors of Macy’s, I’ve now made my way down to the 3rd floor Starbucks. This location differentiates itself from the others because it actually has seating. It’s not simply a Starbucks counter like the others. It is set up in the corner of the floor and is completely distinct from the surrounding Macy’s merchandise. It even has different floor tiling and a half wall dividing it from the 3rd floor women’s department.

There are a handful of tables-for-two, a sofa with power outlets, distinctive Starbucks decor and it even gets natural sunlight from the windows behind the barista bar. Unfortunately, it’s closer to the ground floor so it is also more traveled than the Macy’s Starbucks on the higher levels.

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NYC Starbucks: 42nd & 8th

29 Nov

42nd and 8th Starbucks

After nearly seven hours of Black Friday shopping in NYC, my body feels like it just went through a trauma. My feet are swollen like a pregnant woman’s and my back is sore from carrying the baggage I inevitably picked up. Still — it was kind of worth it. And I got to visit a Starbucks along the way.

While most retail stores — and practically everywhere near Times Square — were much more crowded today than usual, I can assuredly say that the Starbucks on 42d and 8th avenue sees this kind of crowd daily. This location is connected to the Regal Cinemas and stays open later than most Starbucks in the city to keep late-night movie goers and passers- by caffeinated.

Inside, this Starbucks is average sized — maybe a little big by Midtown standards — and has a heavy crowd flow. Obviously, it houses as lot of tourists, but it also has a decently sized seating area and a few random bar stool to maintain the crowd. But its most distinctive characteristic is its elaborate decor. Even the Starbucks logo outside is louder than most, but then again, in this neighborhood, your signing needs to be over-the-top to stand out from the hundreds of other flashy and eccentric marketing ploys.

My favorite piece inside the Starbucks is a large eclectic wall mural that takes up most of the wall near the street entrance. It contains random colors, various siren sketches and different quotes about coffee, nature, mermaids and other random stuff. Most of the mural and some of the quotes are pictured above, but my favorite is as follows:

“Come into the water,” the Siren said. “Without water there would be no life. It is water that brews our coffees. Many humans are convinced you know, that there is no life before coffee.”

And — yes — clearly, I am one of those humans. Especially on Black Friday, there would be no life in me without coffee.

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NYC Starbucks: 114th & Broadway

23 Nov

114th and Broadway Starbucks

Today my Starbucks journey took me on a stroll through Columbia University and to the Starbucks on 114th and Broadway that serves its student population.

After I decided to move to New York, there were three universities that I considered applying to for grad school: Pace, NYU, and Columbia. Although NYU won out, I was highly intrigued by Columbia. After all, it is an Ivy League and one of the oldest universities in the country.

Columbia is located in the small Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Morningside Heights — which is characteristically an Upper West Side/Harlem hybrid. Although I’ve been to Morningside Heights before, today was the first day I stepped foot on Columbia’s  campus. Whereas Washington Square Park functions as the commons area for NYU, Columbia has its very own partially secluded common area between Broadway and Amsterdam. It’s well maintained, beautifully decorated and grand as I would expect an Ivy League’s campus to be. Pictured above is the main library and a statue that sits on the staircase leading up to it.

After taking in the campus environment, I exited on Broadway and crossed the street to the Starbucks on the north side of 114th. Once inside, two things were very obvious: Columbia students thrive on Starbucks, and there’s simply not enough space to contain them all. When I was a student at Florida State University, I used to wait in a line 20-30 students long at the Starbucks in the center of campus. The only difference between that Starbucks and this one is that this Starbucks does not have the space to hold all the students/residents that want their coffee fix. Not everyone is looking to stay and have a seat — in fact, most do get their coffee to leave — but the seats this Starbucks does offer are mostly full.

Luckily, I came at the right moment and was able to get my own table on the cushioned sofa in the back. Once I sat down I could feel the impression of all those Columbia students that have sat here for countless hours before me. And it was this thought that inspired me to knock out a term paper that I’ve been putting off for half a semester. What better Starbucks to write it in?

So, even though the seated crowd is pretty fluid and the restroom line is not too bad, that barista bar line has not let up since I arrived 3 hours ago. Maybe Columbia  should look into putting another Starbucks somewhere on campus? It certainly worked well for FSU.

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