Hyatt Place in Cross County’s Place

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FullSizeRenderImagine going to a mall and after a long day of Louis Vuitton and Hermes Handbag shopping sprees you suddenly stumble upon a 155 Room business traveler’s hotel, perfect right?

Well for the Kardashian in us all perhaps but for the actual residents of Yonkers, not sure I can say the same.

The Hyatt Place Hotel opened its doors this month and along with its swanky hotel lobby and indoor pool which is currently under construction, one would have to look far and wide as to how the City of Yonkers, the people themselves, actually benefit from the monstrosity.

I took a stroll over to the hotel yesterday and here’s what I found…

First off…it’s weird to look up past the store fronts and see the same exact steel beams that once housed the hospital building now holding up this…

FullSizeRender_3 copyVersus this…

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Look it is what it is.  They took an upscale hotel chain and plopped it right in the middle of the Country’s oldest outdoor mall.

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There’s an entrance for key card holding guests from the mall…

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And some other highlights of the Hotel include the lobby which is actually pretty nice and does have a ton of seating for an evening glass of wine or appetizers.

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And there’s a giant satellite photo of the Cross County area, in case you forgot where you were…

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Very nice swanky seats and lounge chairs…well worth the $165-$250 a night they charge per room and depending on room size and day of the month and a myriad of other factors.

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Like I said, the lobby is actually a nice place to sit and have a drink but other than that…not sure I’m impressed with much else of the Hyatt Place…

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I’m not trying to play the role of grumpy old man here but when the Cross County Shopping Center was built, it served the community it surrounded, as did the Hospital that bore its name, but this?  Not sure Yonkers will benefit at all other than a few more jobs and some tax revenue.

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By the time I came along in the early 80’s, the Cross County Hospital was a shell of its former-self and was more used as an office building for the mall than anything else and certainly in the last few years, hell even decade, it did become a bit of an eyesore…

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Far from its glory days of the 60’s and 70’s, so many Yonkers babies were born here within the same steel beams that now house the weary business traveler and the compulsive gambler…

165277_184743224883690_100000440417040_578033_1052409_n CC04bFullSizeRenderMy heart truly yearns to see the City not just survive but thrive.

Cross County has been in the midst of a decade long revitalization with costs estimated in the $150-200 Million dollar range that the owners have shelled out to make the area what it once was.

Hyatt Place…not the answer Cross County, sorry.

It serves a small consortium of people who have no vested interest in the city or the mall for that matter.

It will serve the businessman who wants to stay there so that the casino is a hop skip and a jump away.  It will serve upper Socio-Economic families who want to spoil themselves while visiting their roots in Yonkers and the surrounding area for a weekend.

And it will serve the young foolish yuppies who have more expendable income than they know what to do with and feel that paying $200 a night for a hotel in Cross County is a value too good to pass up.

Again though…what about the City itself?

Where does it leave the city of gracious living and the people who could have benefited from the services the building could have otherwise offered had it been designated for other purposes such as education, health care, business, etc.

I’m sure in 10 years, we will all forget what life was like without the Hotel sitting there but for now, old habits and sights and IMG_3963eyesores die-hard.

The best case for the city of course will be the raging success of the Hyatt, so that it too won’t become a former shell of itself and sit vacant for decades.

Perhaps the ghosts in the steel beams of the Hospital have other plans though and this property will become a black hole of sorts where any business that dares to take up shop will forever remain in the red, broke and penniless.

For more info on the Hyatt Place, click here and see if there’s any vacancies…and for those who haven’t been to Cross County in a while, they’ve since plopped a Red lobster, Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse in the vacant areas of the parking lot of the mall.

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So plenty of rooms and plenty of places to eat at Cross County…for now.

—Josh

My Younkers???

Back in May, I was working in Wisconsin for the month and since I’m just like any other American, I decided to hit the mall for some downtime.  Most of the time, you might see Sears or Macy’s at the mall, but as I turned a corner, I found this…

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Imagine this store in Cross County or Getty Square, I mean it would probably be guaranteed business if not for the ease in regard to its name and convenience.  Apparently it is a subsidiary of a larger chain of department stores in the Midwest and even Northeast.

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Inside of course you find all the goodies you would find in any other store, but I couldn’t resist walking up to a lonely employee to show her where Yonkers NY was on a map and emphatically illustrate the connection…but finding one was an issue.

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Much like some other abandoned structures and places in the real Yonkers, Younkers Department Store was also a ghost town, void of shoppers or employees, I think I see some old guy near the back…damn it, it’s too late he actually went into the back.

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Well abandoned or not, the store lives on.  I’m sure if I went on a five-minute looting spree, rent-a-cops galore would spring into action like flies on you know what, so I casually just walked out.

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Why doesn’t Yonkers have a cool looking NEON sign like this?  Perhaps by the pier? Central Ave?  Cross County? Hell even prop it up on top of the Seminary Communication Tower so travelers from afar can see that the City of Gracious Living, is just over those damn hills.

–Josh

The Abandoned Mailbox of Parkway North

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Sometimes you simply stroll by something in Yonkers and if you are not already hardened and cynical by the City’s underbelly, you can appreciate things for what they are and not really question anything else about your observations.

Case and point, Parkway North, a clean east to west boundary line for Yonkers and the Bronx running from Kimball Ave. to the Thruway, you don’t expect to find something like this in the northern woods of Van Cortlandt Park…

Mailbox3A lone mailbox, sealed shut and who knows how far away from its permanent home.  Moreover, how can the U.S. Postal Service lose track of a mailbox?

Mailbox2I feel bad for this lil guy…

IMG_3514Perhaps he gave it the office and retired some years ago, but I imagine his retirement dreams after a career as a letter carrier were more situated in the Florida sunshine or even somewhere along the Hudson River as a place for seagulls to rest their wings on a sunny day.

Mailbox1Whatever the case, if you find yourself on Parkway North at the corner of Old Jerome Ave, pay a visit to this lonely guy and if any of you have a truck and a saw, feel free to give him a lift to perhaps a more fitting retirement home.  I’m pretty sure once the mailboxes are no longer in use it is not a federal offense to move one…

—Josh

 

Hello Again!

IMG_3464Being the curator of this website, I’ve found in the last 5 years that its taken on the characteristics of a relationship, with highs and lows and even falling outs.  Still though, like any good relationship, I’m still here and so are you!

Just as when I began MyYonkers, I still love this city as if it were a person.

And while I’ve moved around a bit, living in Arizona in 2013 and currently residing 5 blocks south of McLean Ave. in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, Yonkers will always keep its magic and wonder in my eyes, despite gentrification, segregation, litigation, legislation and any other “tions” I may have missed there.

I look forward to expanding the “Outside of MyYonkers” section of this site in 2015, as well as profiling more individuals in the MyYonkers Conversations Section and as always, covering the ins and outs of the city through my own unique lens.

I missed writing on here in 2014 and also, despite the site being dark for a year, I received dozens of email inquiries about former articles, was asked about the site countless number of times and our social media presence even increased, meaning people were “liking” a facebook page for a website that no longer existed.

So to really fire things back up on here, I will be publishing 12 NEW articles in the month of April!

Please know that I look upon this site as an extension of a great community, past and present and the overwhelming number of memories and comments shared over the years have simply been a testament to how great a City Yonkers truly is.

Thank you for continuing to come back to MyYonkers to read the articles and I hope that my ideas and words can create a positive emotional response in your heart and that you can have continue enjoyment on MyYonkers!

—Josh

 

What is the Reputation of Yonkers?

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A few months ago I read an article that was titled “10 Yonkers Stereotypes That Are Completely Accurate”, by Maria Scinto, a writer on a real estate website OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMovoto.com.

I’m certainly not about to go through all 10 as many of them are fairly ridiculous to say the least, but I thought a few of these so-called stereotypes would make for some interesting debate as to their validity.

Here are a few that I thought were the most interesting observations about the city of Yonkers and her people.

  • Residents never miss a chance at name-dropping whether it’s a Yonkers celebrity or mutual friend

Ok so I changed this one up a bit because I believe it should have been worded as such.  I don’t know about you but I am sure my name has been tossed around like a midget at a bachelorette party as it seems as though everyone in the city is a mere one degree of separation away from everyone else.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Oh you went to Gorton HS…class of 86’….did you know so and so?”  “Oh you used to hang out on Carol Ave.?…Were you friends with such and such?” “Oh you used to use the bathroom at Macy’s before catching the 20 bus to go up to Central Ave…did you ever see blah blah blah?”

It’s actually an endearing quality and one that I longed for when I would live outside of NY and the chances of running into someone who used to know my elementary teacher Mrs. Aglione because she’s their cousin and their daughter went to Gorton HS, the same school I graduated from, only she was a year ahead of me….yea that’s not gonna happen out in Phoenix AZ.

  • Yonkers is full of cops and teachers

Now I’m sure we can debate this one for a while here but when I think of Yonkers, I don’t think to myself, “my gosh…this city has nothing but Law Enforcement and Educators!”  Sure within the 4 Precincts there are hundreds of Law Enforcement personnel and the school district has tens of thousands of students, resulting in over 1500 full-time teachers in the district. But still come on…cops and teachers?

Obviously the city boasts many many other professional opportunities, from Firemen and EMS to local businesses and so on.  As with others on the list, I thought this one was a stretch.

  • People of Yonkers cling to their culinary past

This one I felt was fairly spot on as we do reminisce about places like Landi’s Deli, El Torito, Horn and Hardart, hell even the lunch counter at Woolworth’s was a gem of a place to get a grilled cheese and fries.

You all saw how torn up I got about the loss of Nathan’s on Central Ave. and at least that place does still exist 8195670144_de0a39c3e4_zin one form or another.

Most places around the world take their food very seriously so I don’t necessarily look at it as a point of distinction, rather an endearing quality that makes any city great.

  • The city is super-diverse, but by neighborhoods

IMG_0405Again, a valid point and one that I think the city is finally doing a good job in excepting and embracing.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade Should take place on McLean Ave., South Broadway just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

South Broadway should be lined with Caribbean, Hispanic and South American cuisine because in large measure, that is the population that now inhabits that neighborhood.

When they built the Starbucks on Bronx River Rd. a number of years back, my initial response was “finally!”.  It’s an area of young professionals, college students and um…we’ll call them, seasoned residents; all of whom utilize the place daily and needed a reliable coffee shop to meet their needs.

To read all 10 of the Yonkers stereotypes, click here and lemme know what you think about the one’s I mentioned in the comment section below.

–Josh

Happy Birthday to MyYonkers!

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IMG00986-20120210-1616Back in 2011, I began finding more and more bloggers out there whose passion for people and places and things, stirred something within me to bite the bullet, acknowledge the creativity of others and then go create something of my own.

At the time I had also met about four other Yonkers bloggers out there, the best of which in my opinion far and away were these guys…SoYoSunset. 

This is an amazing “resource” for lack of a better term as these gentlemen have left no stone unturned in their endeavor to not only cover the city from top to bottom, but also to create a forum with millions of postings from people who currently reside in Yonkers, or who used to reside in Yonkers, or those who have never left Yonkers in their minds,  where the city of the 1960’s is still vividly trapped inside their heads each and every day.IMG_0189 copy

Being honest though, the blogger who really inspired the creation of MyYonkers was a guy named Nick Carr, someone I have become friends with and a very talented Film Scout and Writer who after working in NYC for a number of years scouting film locations, decided to write about the places he gets to see day in and day out on ScoutingNY.com.

So I did the best I could to model my site after his and find my own Ins and Outs of Yonkers, the city where I was raised.

I made a great many discoveries about myself and about the people who read this blog in the last three years.  I always knew I could be a writer but there’s being a writer with seven screenplays tucked away in a bottom draw somewhere and then there’s actually putting your work out there and consistently doing so, whether it is your job or simply your passion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFunny though how perspective in life is everything.

In 3 years time I have published 75 articles on here.  Some may look at that number in admiration while others…myself included, look at it and wish it were much higher.

Many people ask me how I go about choosing the things I write about and the short answer is that I want to always look for a creative and original way to showcase people and places in Yonkers that many residents most likely already know about, but have not perhaps considered the perspective that I’m offering.

My audience when I write each article are always the residents of Yonkers.  If outsiders enjoy the articles, all the better.

We’ve all been to Artuso’s, but I wondered how many residents realized the history behind the bakery and the hard work, the love and the unity it brings to McLean Ave?

The tradition of Yonkers Raceway and the litany of events, thrills and heartaches that have been endured on that exact parcel of land for over a century…

The fact that Bronx River Rd. has Sign Eating Trees and Doorways to No Where….OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Or even simply, using MyYonkers as a platform to share my feelings regarding the ever-changing city and mourn the loss of places like Burger King and Nathan’s, two Alma Maters of my youth and relics that I hope will never be forgotten by a few of us punk kids who haunted those locations day and night.

I know I don’t churn out content as often as other bloggers.  I know I’m not god’s gift to writing nor do I write with the charm and charisma of a seasoned writer and one who has strengthened their writing muscles to a degree where Congress would investigate them for performance enhancing drug use. ( Is that joke still even relevant?)

IMG_0946I suppose just as any writer/blogger/creator of content, we simply do what we do, just cause.  I’ll take quality over quantity any day of the week and I believe New Yorkers, specifically Yonkersites are the same.

I truly appreciate the engagement that has developed on the site.  If you look back, many articles now have dozens of comments left in them, where people have connected with others to share similar memories or sentiments regarding the given topic of discussion.

So as always, thank you so much for reading this blog, those that do regularly or the first timers who stumbled upon it and know that my efforts will continue for the forseeable future in bringing high quality content to the blog.

Happy 3rd Birthday MyYonkers…here’s what I looked like when I was your age…living in Yonkers :)

–Josh

Josh Summertime-1983

The Pioneers of Snowflake Arizona

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If you go back far enough into any city’s history, it usually all begins with just one or two people or families, hell bent on making it on their own, leaving all the IMG_1001familiarity of people and places behind for greener pastures and a fresh start.

Case and point, Snowflake, Arizona, a tiny community that sits about an hour’s drive south of the famed corner in Winslow Arizona.

I’ve often come up here in my 10 years plus of living in Arizona, mainly because the temperature is usually a solid 20 – 30 degrees cooler than the hot desert floor in Phoenix but as the years past by, I stopped merely “passing through” and began exploring around the sleepy town to see what daily life was like and to learn how the hell any place in Arizona got the name “snowflake”?

Turns out, the name of the town is a combination of two family names, Snow and Flake.  Back in 1878, Mormons were on the move all across the western U.S., settling in communities up in Utah, Idaho and even Arizona.

IMG_1002William J. Flake led his and five other families into the area and settled there, describing the place as, “a thing of beauty with clear water and hills covered in green grass”.

At an altitude near 5,000 ft, Snowflake, AZ experiences all four seasons and it certainly would have been a vision to see the untouched landscape 150 years ago.

Meanwhile, Erastus Snow, a Mormon missionary and pioneer, sent out west to grow the church even larger and establish settlements along the Little Colorado River, crossed paths with Flake during this time and together they created “Snowflake” a permanent settlement in the high desert of Arizona.

These men, along with hundreds more had to do everything to ensure the town’s future, from laying out roadways and irrigation systems to establishing churches, schools, law enforcement, fire and so on.

In the end, tens of thousands of descendents of the first 50 or so pioneer families who inhabited the area have these two men to thank, plus the sacrifices of dozens more.

This story of sacrifice, of settlement, and of having a vision for future generations is no different really than any other western town or city, settled by visionaries who sought out a new beginning, serving a greater calling larger than themselves.

The sculpture you saw earlier and below was designed by Justin Fairbanks and depicts in stunning detail, the two men meeting in Winslow, forming a bond and partnership that would forever bear their family name on an Arizona state map.

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Again the detail is just beautiful!

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IMG_1001Having the level of respect and admiration that I do for pioneers, those who choose to be first, to be the leaders and to go forward into uncharted territory, men like Snow and Flake remind me of the courage and sacrifice that we all must endure I suppose to step out of the familiar and into the new.

Snowflake Arizona may have happened either way,  but who knows, in this area of the state, communities are few and far between.

I guess the important message I would like to leave here with is to never take your surroundings for granted, be it in Arizona, Yonkers or wherever.

Instead, ask yourself, what did it take to build that?

How did Central Ave. in Yonkers go from just a dirt road that led north to White Plains to the major commercial district of today?

What did it take to cover up and then uncover the Saw Mill River?

How did areas such as Homefield, Bryn Mawr, Getty Square, Crestwood, Nepera Park, Runyon Heights, Dunwoodie and so on develop into residential and commercial centers?

Our city has just as many tales of pioneering spirit as Snowflake Arizona does and my hope is that those who read this will be a pioneer in their own right and seek out the answers to not only the questions I laid out before, but to their own questions and frontiers in life.

Here’s to Erastus Snow and William Flake and to all the pioneers, past, present and future.

—-Josh