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June 20, 2010 / howardmestas

Bus Tour of Manhattan

Italian Market

The Real “Little Italy”

Today we gave our feet a break and enjoyed a bus tour with Kenneth Jackson from Columbia University.  Originally we were supposed to only tour Harlem and the Bronx, but it ended up being nearly the entire city, which was fine by me because Jackson is not only a scholar of the city he was witness to notable periods of transition in urban renewal, ethnic and religious flight, and the growth of business due to the decline in criminal activity.  It was nice to go on a cruise and have him point out things like the subway that went through buildings and the café shown on the Seinfeld series.  I was excited when, out of nowhere, he had us walk up a hill to show us the Morris-Jumel Mansion where Washington hid out while the British occupied Manhattan.  I always wondered where he fled after the disastrous defeat at Brooklyn Heights, and just like that, unexpectedly I now know!  And amazingly, without even

Morris-Jumel Mansion

 having to ask, he points out where the Polo Grounds were located and Willie Mayes made his incredibly fabulous overhead catch.  And later he shows us a restaurant where the waiter was so rude and abusive to Robert De Niro, he decided to cast him as an extra in the movie he was filming.  That rude, squeaky voiced waiter turned out to be Joe Pesci (what a shocker!).  It was good to see that places like Harlem and the Bronx were being revitalized and property values were increasing.

Eventually we did a walking tour of little Italy, and just as Jonathan said, it was definitely the “real” little Italy.  The shops and restaurants gave us an understanding of what is meant by a “neighborhood” setting of the boroughs.  For lunch I joined the renowned scholar

Mangia! Mangia!

Brett Bridgeman for some real Italian cuisine at a place called Emilia’s.  I can’t recall what I ordered, I only know it was very good and my appetizer of “Clams Oreganata” was incredibly delicious.  I can’t say our restaurant was the most original but I heard one of the waiters whisper to another, “Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t take sides against the family again. Ever.”

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