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Tudor City: A charming spot on the east side

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tudr Photo Credit: People walk up the steps from First Avenue to go up to Tudor City Place. Photo by

Tudor City is a city within a city, located on the far east side of Manhattan, right across from the United Nations. Built on a hill, the complex is removed from much of the city’s din, and locals enjoy neighborhood amenities from their perch above First and Second avenues.

Grand Central Terminal is about a five-minute walk, making it an easy commute for those who work in midtown. Street parking, however, is limited because many spots are reserved for diplomats.

Although the charming neighborhood has restaurants, florists, a grocer and even a place to buy helium balloons, it’s small, and locals tend to venture out to neighboring Murray Hill and Turtle Bay for more amenities.

The large apartment buildings were designed in the Tudor style, complete with stained-glass windows and exterior gargoyles. The complex was completed in 1928 and received landmark status in 1988.

When Tudor City was built as the first residential skyscraper complex in the world, slaughterhouses and industry lined the East River. Because of this, none of the units have windows that look out on to the river.

Instead, the buildings are oriented toward the small parks on the inside of the planned community.

These parks were part of a fierce battle between residents and Harry B. Helmsley, who lost his bid to build on them in the 1980s, when he co-owned the complex.

Today, a mix of families and singles live in Tudor City. And, inevitably, there’s always an abundance of camera-toting visitors trying to snap a shot of the U.N.

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To eat:

Tudor Cafe
5 Tudor City Pl.,
212-573-6490
Visitors are greeted in French by proprietor Yassine Boutemedjet, who serves up hot drinks, soups and sandwiches at his small cafe. Mideastern dishes, such as falafel and couscous, also are available.

Convivio Restaurant
45 Tudor City Pl.,
212-599-5045
Chef Chris Cannon’s upscale Italian eatery offers a daily, four-course prix-fixe meal for $62. Patrons also can opt to order items such as an antipasti of crispy pig’s head terrine ($15) and a squid-ink pasta dish with broccoli rabe ($25) a la carte.

Tsukushi
300 E. 41st St.,
212-599-8888
Tsukushi is a great hole-in-the-wall sushi joint. Servers bring out the specials of the day and sake for all patrons. Be prepared to be adventurous: Some dishes will be more easily recognizable than others.

To play:

McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon
800 Second Ave.,
212-986-1515
McFadden’s, a popular spot for after-work drinks, has been a neighborhood fixture for years. The bar draws a bridge-and-tunnel crowd on weekends.

Overlook
225 E. 44th St.,
212-682-7266
Just a few blocks from Tudor City proper, Overlook offers a venue to enjoy drinks and food on the restaurant’s roof. In the colder months, patrons can stay indoors and enjoy karaoke, pool and darts.

925 Cafe & Cocktails
800 Second Ave.,
646-360-3998
925 Cafe caters to those seeking fancy drinks in a more upscale atmosphere. Try a Honeydew or a Lychee Martini or a Candy Cane, with vodka, white sambuca and white crème de menthe.

To shop:

Conrad’s Bike Shop
25 Tudor City Pl.,
212-697-6966
Bike commuters and weekend enthusiasts will both find something at this well-stocked store. Conrad’s has been building custom rides, conducting fittings and servicing bicycles in Tudor City for 40 years.

Toy Balloon
5 Tudor City, 212-682-3803
Tudor City residents say it with balloons. Although the shop isn’t much to look at, every color and shape of balloon, including holiday styles, is available here.

UNICEF Headquarters
3 United Nations Plaza,
212-326-7000
On the ground floor of UNICEF’s headquarters, shoppers can find an array of cards, stationery, toys and other gifts. Proceeds benefit UNICEF and its humanitarian projects.

Center44 Antiques & Modern Marketplace
222 E. 44th St., 2nd Fl., 212-450-7988
From modern lighting to vintage seating, the 25,000-square-foot showroom can help any New Yorker decorate his or her pad.

To see:

United Nations Headquarters
3 United Nations Plaza,
212-963-8687
Tourists from all over the world flock to the Secretariat, often climbing the staircase at Ralph Bunche Park across the street in Tudor City to get a better view for photographs. The Isaiah Wall is part of that park, which includes the quotation “Let us beat swords into ploughshares.” The accompanying statue, a gift of the Soviet Union, is on the grounds of the U.N. complex.

Tudor City Greens
One Tudor City Place
The parks in Tudor City are part of the landmarked community and are well maintained by Tudor City Greens. Residents can walk their dogs, play with their children, or just sit and read in the low-traffic area.

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Frederica Bolgouras, an executive talent recruiter, has lived in Tudor City for 30 years. She calls it “the jewel of Manhattan.”

What’s the best part about the neighborhood? The amenities. The small shops, the historic area, the proximity to midtown. And it’s a friendly place with a lot of families and dogs.

Who lives in the area? It’s a mix. A lot of French and people from the United Nations. People from all over the world live here. And a lot of single women.

How is it residing next to the United Nations? There are protesters below the staircase on 43rd and First Avenue underneath Tudor City, but the crowd is contained. The Tudor Hotel also has a lot of diplomats who stay there, most recently [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, and the avenue was blocked with Secret Service. Parking is a problem, and people get annoyed because diplomats have taken over a lot of parking, even up to 45th Street.

What are the disadvantages to living in Tudor City? The apartments are smaller. And it’s small. There’s no music or entertainment. You can’t [hang out] for long.

How has the area changed since you’ve lived here? It’s become a lot more international. And younger people have moved in. In the 1980s, there were small merchants along 43rd Street in Tudor City who were bought out by Missions to the U.N., creating more of an international presence.


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