Somewhere around 19th Street and Park Avenue South you have the collision of three distinct New York neighborhoods: The Flat Iron District, Union Square, and Gramercy. And I’m currently sitting at the Starbucks that sits there on the border. Since I’ve already visited the former two neighborhoods, let’s focus on the latter.
Gramercy is a neighborhood structured around Gramercy Park. This park is unique for NYC in the fact that it is a private park, and only residents with a key can obtain access. No worries though, the park is actually quite small, and all a member of the general public need do is walk a few blocks west or south to the nearest public park. Trust me, Manhattan is not having a park shortage. But this disposition toward solitude may reveal why Gramercy, the neighborhood, has gained the reputation of being very quiet and reserved.
One peculiar fact about the Starbucks on 19th and Park is that it has one entrance that leads into the street and another that leads into a Bank of America. In case you were wondering the natural progression of the average caffeine addict, it goes bank –> Starbucks. And this location just expedited the process. There’s also a Chase directly across the street in case you’re not down with BofA.
Although not the most impressive of Starbucks, this one is not without its charms. The two red armchairs and poster sized image of an Italian scooter are two notable characteristics.
The Starbucks on the north-west corner of Union Square Park further exemplifies my theory that not all Starbucks are created equal. This location is first-rate. Rivaling the SoHo location on Spring and Crosby and far outweighing its sister store just on Union Square East.
What places this Starbucks a notch above the rest?
Location is definitely a bragging right. It’s not too far from anything. Just steps from Union Square and transportation goodness, this Starbucks is also right off of 5th Avenue and a fresh patch of retail stores. Shopping doesn’t interest you? Keep walking past 5th, and before you know it you’re in Chelsea — and why wouldn’t you want to be in Chelsea? Or you can travel south and take your pick between Greenwich Village or East Village.
Other then it’s prime real-estate, this Starbucks flaunts many noteworthy characteristics. It has a front and back entrance, keeping the line from flooding into the two — yes two — seating areas. It has copious amounts of chairs and tables that don’t really seem to fill despite the ever-flowing crowd. The bathroom is far removed from view by a tiny hall in the back. The neoclassical decor — with chain dangling lights and short leather chairs — is a design to admire. And it’s open til midnight daily.
Great for a quick cup on-the-go, but you may find yourself tempted to sit and stay awhile.
As I crossed through the park on my way to the Starbucks on the corner of 15th and Union Square, I became filled with admiration for New York. It wasn’t the mild and sunny day, beautiful tall buildings, or the statue of George Washington that did it — it was the naked trees.
Growing up in Central Florida, the variety of trees ranged from palm and pine — and let’s face it no one likes pine trees, they’re the green-headed step-child of Mother Nature, and palm trees wear thin after a few weeks of nothing else. New York’s parks, on the other hand, offer a variety of trees that are visually appealing even when bare. And those who feel confined by the skyscrapers and flashing lights need only to walk to Central Park to get their nature-fix.
Of course, I didn’t move to NYC for the trees… I moved for the Starbucks. Obviously!
This location is a mixed bag of sorts. Although it’s a very large store, it is also mere feet from one of the Union Square subway entrances — really bringing in the masses. There are three separate seating areas strategically spread throughout the space, but they’re strictly business — no comfy chairs in sight. The barista bar is placed in the center of it all, with a well-structured line system for tackling the large crowds. Only problem is the registers are a good 10-15 feet from the front of the line, sot the baristas almost have to shout to get the attention of those not acquainted with how a Starbucks line should work.
If I lived in the area this would be a hit & run Starbucks only — but you can always take your coffee to go and sit in the park to admire the trees.