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.
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.
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?
Before I go into the elaborate — cough cough — details of the Starbucks on 48th and Lexington, I want to address my brief hiatus.
I was in Vegas!
No really. One of my best friends turned 30 this past weekend, and we thought there would be no better way to welcome Gay Death — as some call it — then to take it to Las Vegas. This was my first time out there, and I won’t bore you with how I managed to escape with a $30 profit on the slot machines, how we ended up taking a Cirque du Soleil style gym class, or our belaboring flight delays. But I would like to mention the state of Starbucks in that city.
Literally, before I left the airport I had passed two Starbucks coffee stands within the terminals. And once we got to The Strip it became pretty obvious that most every hotel/casino had at least 1 or more Starbucks inside. Here I thought Vegas ran on cigarettes, alcohol, and blind hope, but apparently Starbucks coffee has its role as well. Also worth mentioning is that all the casino Starbucks I visited were definitely licensed stores. Sometimes the pastries varied and not all took the Starbucks app as a form of payment. Still… it was pretty neat seeing how Starbucks is embedded in the flashing lights of that city.
Now that I’m back, I’m determined to dive right in and finish off the remaining Starbucks I’ve yet to visit in NYC.
The Starbucks pictured above is on the corner of 48th and Lexington and is attached to The Lexington — a boutique Marriott hotel. It has a street entrance on Lexington and also feeds into The Lexington’s lobby. Essentially, this gives the Starbucks the feel of a small hallway — a coffee scented hallway, that is. It’s really small, has no seating, and no restroom of its own. But one thing it does have is some interesting decor.
Pictured above is one of three identical wall plaques that line the entrance walls of the Starbucks. From outside looking in, this statuary immediately gave me a religious vibe. But I can also see some Greek or Roman attributes as well. Really, I can’t tell what or why these 6 figures represent. But they certainly bring a level of uniqueness to this small Midtown location.
If you’re staying at The Lexington or in the area you should check it out — unless you’re strong proponent of the separation of church and Starbucks.
As of right now, I can officially say that I have observed the major universities in New York City through the lens of the Starbucks that serve them.
Way back in March I visited the Starbucks that serves New York University — where I’m currently attending grad school. Last month I made it all the up to Columbia University and down south to Pace University. And just today I paid a visit to the Starbucks inside of the Fashion Institute of Technology — aka FIT.
Like with NYU and Pace, this is a licensed store that is owned by a company other than Starbucks. In this case, it’s owned by Aramark — which seems to be the number one food supplier to college campuses. Even the Florida State University Starbucks was Aramark. But unlike NYU’s Aramark Starbucks, this one resembles Pace more in the fact that you really must be a student to gain access. In other words, both the FIT and Pace Starbucks are located inside the university cafeterias which are both within campus security. Obviously, this isn’t TSA or anything, but they may give you a hard time if you try to get into the campus simply to get a coffee.
Luckily I’m persuasive.
A big difference between this Starbucks and the one at Pace is that this store actually has its own distinctive walls and bar stools. It even offers several power outlets for students to plug in, work, and pretend they aren’t in a college cafeteria.
When all is said and done — of all the NYC university Starbucks — my favorite must be NYU’s. Am I biased? Maybe. But it also is the largest, the biggest, and is open to the public.
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.
Just a stone’s throw away from Macy’s Herald Square — in the thick of Penn Station traffic — is a the small Starbucks at the base of the towering skyscraper of 1 Penn Plaza. It’s semi-removed from the street and a few yards from the exterior plaza on the corner of 8th avenue. Technically, this Starbucks is neither on 7th or 8th ave, but I eye-balled it closer to 8th.
Although this Starbucks looks like it has the potential to be quite sizable from the outside — with its long window paneled exterior — it’s really just a trick of the eye. This Starbucks is another small shallow shotgun style store. There’s a few stools lining the glass walls and an entrance into the office space of 1 Penn Plaza, but that’s nearly it. No restroom, no distinct seating area, and no need to hang around for longer than you need to.
The balcony Starbucks at Macy’s Herald Square is definitely impressive. It actually got renovated this year and was closed for several months. But obviously Macy’s and Starbucks made sure it was all shiny and new before the holiday season.
The balcony floor is also know as floor one and a half, and it overlooks most of the women’s perfume and jewelry department, which is by far the busiest section of Macy’s all year round. Luckily, the renovation seems to have added more seating and more style to this Starbucks. Now there are cushioned seats, mini tables, and dividing wall units that do a descent job at separating the Starbucks lounge from the crazy crowds.
And yes — the crowd is crazy. I’ve waited in line at this Starbucks for over 15-minutes in the past. But fortunately today I caught it at a good time and waited only 2-3.
I thought this location was the only one in New York to offer what Starbucks calls their “Evening Menu” that includes champagne; however, the barista informed me this is not the case. He said there was another Starbucks on the 2nd floor of Macy’s that is known as the Herald Square Cafe, and I could get champagne and wine up there.
Here, I thought there were only four Starbucks in the Macy’s Herald Square, but technically there are five. So clearly my exploration of Macy’s is not over just yet.
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.