Mad About Midtown: An Event Producer Discovers the Enchantments of Tudor City
I’m an event producer at a Midtown lifestyle agency and, yes, the fact that I’m low-key into historical cosplay only makes me awesomer at my job. Sometimes a little sixteenth-century revivalism takes the edge off at the end of the day, so you can imagine my elation when I discovered that snuggled into Midtown East’s 40s is a transportive realm where the fairies and goblins doth roam. I first happened upon Tudor City on a brisk cardio jaunt after work. Intrigued by a staircase leading up from first avenue, I ascended and accidentally made my way through a time portal. I gazed up at the threesome of Tudor towers soaring above the rabble in an homage to the heraldry, stained glass, and wrought iron lanterns we typically associate with the Bard’s latter-career digs. There was no turning back.
Any time I need to decompress, the hallowed ground surrounding these elevated co-ops awaits – a mere 10 minutes on foot from Grand Central (on the 4, 5, 6, 7, and S). Quite literally off Manhattan’s grid, with three privately run — yet publicly accessible — verdant parks, Tudor City beckons with its dearth of traffic and a sprinkling of more modern buildings to reassure visitors that they haven’t completely ruptured the fabric of the universe or accidentally eaten hallucinogenic mushrooms during lunch break.
This surprisingly overlooked housing complex was masterminded during the Roaring Twenties in response to Midtown’s expanding workforce. It was a time of enlightenment in the city, which ties in nicely with the ideology surrounding Tudor Revivalist architecture. After all, with the Plague epidemic out of the way, sixteenth century England lent itself to a boom in all things scholarly and artistic. Sure, the Tudors brought about a hot mess of devastating religio-political conflict (in large part thanks to Henry VIII’s TMN-worthy lovelife) but they also built a mean rustic cottage, complete with the mullioned windows, pillared porches, timbered framing, and steeply inclined gabled roofs seen today in the “Mock Tudor” architecture of what is arguably Midtown’s most charming enclave.
If you’re looking to enjoy this enchanted kingdom in good company, get your friends and colleagues up to Tudor City Bridge in late May for Manhattanhenge, when the sunset aligns so patly with the city’s grid that the westerly sightline of illuminated streets will knock your hose off. This happens but once a year, so taking those other 364 days into account you might choose to investigate Tudor City’s dining options. Should you work up an appetite mounting its stairways and ramps, a stop at Tudor City Steakhouse could be on the cards. This cozy go-to for happy hour prides itself on fresh, local ingredients. If you’re simply looking to refuel with java and a snack, John’s Coffee Shop is a laid-back spot offering classic diner staples and more formica countertops than you can shake a stick at. Or, if its further landmarked territory you crave, make moves to the neighboring UN Plaza’s heavily postmodern Ambassador Grill. Bring a change of costume if you please. Nothing like a glut of aesthetics at wild variance to remind you that you’re living large in merry olde Midtown!