The last time mudcub was in town I took him to one of my favorite "little treasures" in NYC: Paley Park. A plot of some of the midtown's most prime real estate, deeded to the city by Bill Paley. Bill Paley was the chairman of CBS for many years, back when there were only three networks and not 1,006 cable stations, one of the most powerful men in the country.
You can wiki him for more background. I first learned of him long before moving to New York somewhat obliquely: a throwaway line in the classic gay novel, Dancer from the Dance. Bill Paley's wife, Babe Paley, was one of the city's leading, most glittering, socialites. In the novel, an outrageous drag queen is shopping at a Salvation Army, and pulling out a frock from the rack, exclaims "Thank God I found this before Babe Paley did!"
Anyhow. In this dense and expensive area of midtown, just off Fifth Avenue, the vacant plot of land was turned into one of NYC's first "pocket parks," a small oasis for sitting and relaxing amongst all the hustle and bustle. In the rear, they built a "water wall" fountain, and as the water falls over its rough surface, it creates a soothing white noise that drowns out all the din from the city's sirens, construction, and traffic horns. The park and the water wall were a huge success with urban space critics and the public, and was instrumental in creating a lot of similar spaces (and similar wall fountains!) throughout the city.
But we're still not to Paley Park's best feature. You can't see it from the sidewalk, but once you enter the park and turn around, there's a small concessions stand. For many years this was one of NYC's little secrets -- someone would have to show you or tell you about it, although today there's a small "Refreshments" sign.
They make and serve Paley Dogs, which are hot dogs made to Bill Paley's personal specifications. The hot dog is lightly grilled -- so much better than those dirty-water dogs from all the street vendors! -- and the bun is lightly toasted and brushed with butter. Back in the day, Paley even had Hebrew National make a special hot dog just to his personal liking to be served in the park -- yeah, that's what titans of industry could do back then -- he preferred them less spicy. It's one of the best hot dogs to be found in NYC.
We got a couple hot dogs, one plain, one with chili, along with a surprisingly excellent Caesar salad, a couple of sodas, a walnut brownie (that also pleased me 'cause it was one of the few commercial brownies I've ever seen that meets my rather high standards for walnut-to-brownie ratio), all this and a bag of chips, and had a nice lunch in this urban oasis.
Well fed, mudcub then gave an impromptu performance of "Don't Cry for Me, Paley Park"...
...with a big finish!