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.
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?
The Starbucks at Platt street and William street in FiDi is an anomaly. From the outside, it looks amazing. It’s exterior is all platted glass. There’s an interior Starbucks sign that curves along with the exterior structure. It’s located inside the beautifully decorated courtyard of the large office building at One William Street. And everything in close proximity seems to glow due to the luminous pillars and overhead lights of the courtyard.
Unfortunately, the magic fades once you enter the Starbucks itself. The structure of the lobby curves along with the arching exterior. And since there’s only one entrance, this causes a good deal of bottlenecking at the end of the line where patrons are waiting to pick up there drinks. I arrived at 5pm today and the crowd was not too bad, but I can’t imagine what this Starbucks looks like during the morning rush.
Don’t get me wrong. This Starbucks is beautifully decorated. But its size and design flaws seem somewhat impractical for a busy FiDi location.
Presently, most New Yorkers are attempting to flee the city before the ThanksGiving nor’easter arrives. However, I — having no desire to pay holiday flight prices to Florida — plan on spending this stormy 4-day weekend doing something that really matters: shopping!
Now before you go judging me, know that the past 5 holiday seasons I’ve spent entrenched in retail madness. Last year I ate Chinese food for thanksgiving dinner then reported to work at Target by 9pm. Black Friday shopping has rarely been a possibility for me since I’m always working. So this year, I plan to take full advantage of the approaching sales. Obviously, I’ll need more than my fair share of Starbucks to cope with the early morning crowds and ferocity of other shoppers. Maybe I’ll even get to review a Starbucks during the mad dash for Christmas gifts.
But before all that drama starts, I decided to visit Manhattan’s southernmost Starbucks in the small South Ferry area. This isn’t really a neighborhood; it’s more like a small section of ports and docks for those wishing to catch a ferry to either Staten Island or Governor’s Island.
The Starbucks is directly north of the 1-train’s South Ferry station and is located inside the New York Plaza — a very oversized and elegant residential building. Unfortunately, the exquisite taste of the building cannot make up for the fact that the Starbucks is as small as a Midtown studio. There’s no seating or public restroom and just enough space to receive your drink, U-turn and head back outside.
Most likely, this Starbucks was put in place to catch the subway and ferry crowd while simultaneously solidifying the elegant stature of the New York Plaza.
After visiting the Starbucks just outside of Columbia University in Morningside Heights yesterday, I decided today was the day to infiltrate the Starbucks inside Pace University near the corner of William and Spruce.
You see, I’ve recently discovered that certain Starbucks are actually off-limits to the general public. Most are in office buildings, but some are actually inside college campuses. Earlier this week I went looking for the Starbucks inside of Pace University, only to be turned away by a campus security guard. So, I knew today I had to be a little more persuasive. Well, that’s not entirely true, I just dressed like an undergrad would on a Sunday and asked the front desk security where the Starbucks was. Regardless — it worked like a charm!
Unfortunately, the Starbucks itself is completely lacking of charm. Not only were the baristas rude (see description below) but the Starbucks itself is simply one of many restaurants inside a small campus food court. There’s no Starbucks WiFi and no comfy chairs. There’s just a cafeteria-esque environment of young Pace students grabbing lunch and a midday pick-me-up.
I know they say our college years are some of the best of our life, but I really beg to differ. The past two days of being around undergrads from both Columbia and Pace got me thinking. And I can honestly say that the best years are those that follow your graduation. That’s when the messy mold that formed in college begins to harden and you get to see just who you are and what you want to do in this life.
This is completely unrelated to the Pace University Starbucks, but some of you may recognize the image in the top-right corner of this blog entry’s photo. It’s Starbucks new holiday tumbler and it costs $75! Why you ask? Well, besides an artistic design — it also gives the owner a free handcrafted espresso beverage every day in January when you bring it into a participating Starbucks. So for those of you who really love their lattes, this may be the perfect tumbler for you. Or if you know someone who can’t get enough Starbucks, this would also make an excellent Christmas gift. It’s even going on sale for $65 on Black Friday. If you do the math, anyone who purchases it and uses it daily in January, will get their money’s worth well before the month ends. Unless of course your New Years resolution is to give up caffeine.
After spending a few hours in FiDi today, I began to realize what a ghost town this neighborhood becomes on a Sunday. Sure you see people walking the streets here and there, but most residents are probably tucked away in their apartments, and most businesses are closed until the business crowd comes back on Monday. The few street stragglers appeared to be walking to and from the few sports bars that are playing Sunday football. Of course I passed by each and headed to the Starbucks on Hanover and Pearl.
Today was actually the last day of Starbucks’ latest promotion: buy one, get one Holiday drinks. Although, I’m not the biggest fan of sweet espresso based drinks, I couldn’t pass this one up. Literally, I arrived 2-minutes before the promotion cut-off time, and ordered a gingerbread latte for myself and a peppermint mocha for my boyfriend.
The Starbucks itself is a small L-shaped location, with wraparound window seating and two comfy chairs against one wall. There’s no public restroom and no crowd beating down the door at 5pm on a Sunday. It’s very close to the water’s edge of Manhattan, and it’s ironically the only building on the block that is covered in construction scaffolding.
I was actually on my way to a different Starbucks in FiDi when I passed by the Starbucks on Murray and Church. I had to do a double-take to make sure I hadn’t already been to and rated this Starbucks before. Am I losing track of where I’ve been? Maybe… After all, I’ve been to over 170 Starbucks. Deja vu at this point is to be expected.
Once inside the Murray and Church Starbucks, I knew for sure I hadn’t seen this location before. On one of the seating area walls is a long framed picture that represents Lower Manhattan (pictured above). I’ve seen a few similar pictures at Starbucks throughout the city, but this one was definitely unique.
This Starbucks is definitely a good size and is well equipped with seating. The restroom line was much longer than the coffee line, and I had no problem finding a seat at the communal table. Unfortunately, the WiFi was atrocious. At first I thought it was down, but after 10-minutes of playing around with it, my computer finally connected. Still… the connection was so slow I didn’t stay online for more than five minutes before giving up.
I found it! I’ve been waiting to come across this Starbucks since I started this blog. No… the Starbucks on Carlisle and Washington is nothing spectacular — quite the opposite actually — but it holds a special place in my memory as it is one of the Starbucks I came to when I first visited NYC. Actually — I don’t even think I purchased anything at this location, I just really needed to use the restroom after paying my respects to the 911 Memorial. And now that I’m thinking about it, that action was a clue that I was meant to be a New Yorker.
This Starbucks is actually attached a part of the Marriott Downtown which is right of the West Side Highway of Manhattan. You can either enter the Starbucks through the lobby or its separate entrance on the backside of the Marriott. I think we must have been lost when we stumbled upon this location, because the cross-street of Carlisle and Washington isn’t exactly out in the open.
Once inside you’ll notice a couple of things. It’s extremely small. It has only one small stretch of seating. And there is no public restroom. If you’re really observant, you’ll also notice that this is a licensed Starbucks (probably owned by Marriott). The give-away? They don’t have the Starbucks App scanners and the receipts look different. Also the Internet is not AT&T WiFi or Google WiFi; it’s provided by the Marriott and doesn’t seem to work properly.
Thanks to the sheer density of Starbucks in Lower Manhattan, I’m beginning to know my way around the Financial District despite its irregular street names. In fact, the other day I was downtown giving directions to my boyfriend — who’s lived in NYC for 6 years, mind you.
One thing I’ve noticed about these FiDi Starbucks, is that they range greatly in quality. Basically, they are either great or just horrible. Location doesn’t even seem to be a factor in this — especially since they’re all so close together. And my experience today only further solidifies this theory.
I’m at the Starbucks on Fulton & Nassau. This Starbucks is only 2 blocks north of the very classy, unique Starbucks at Liberty & Nassau. However, it is lacking all of the decor styling and 80 percent of the seating. The best thing I can say about this Starbucks is that it’s in a good spot and has two doors.
Also, the barista that took my order was friendlier than your typical NYC Starbucks barista, and that is something I will always appreciate.
Today I intended to pay a visit to the Starbucks located within the New York Stock Exchange. Unfortunately, when I arrived on Wall Street, something dawned on me that I should have probably suspected long ago… they don’t just let anyone in the NYSE. Sure enough, I discovered that the entire building is fenced off and can be accessed only through security gates. So obviously, I’m going to have to think this one through and plan how I will be able to infiltrate the NYSE.
In the meantime, I took a short walk over to the Starbucks on the corner of Maiden Lane and Pearl Street. I must admit I love the combination of these street names. Together they almost sound like the title of a fairytale: The Maiden and the Pearl. I’d read it!
Sadly, this Starbucks is far from a fairytale and is more messy than magical. It’s small, crowded, and a helpless victim to the hundreds of business men and women currently suffering from that 2:30 feeling. In-fact, this Starbucks only saving grace is the unique decor — specifically the hanging wall photo pictured above.