Greeter Joan Briller should be an honorary NYC detective. She ferrets outs lesser-known neighborhoods, researches them with gusto, and always gives us magical adventures.
This time Joan chose an area that in 1651 was the farm of Peter Stuyvesant, Director General of New Amsterdam. We started at what she nicknamed “The Street of Theatres,” in front of 15th The Irish Repertory Theatre. Located at 103 East 15th Street, it is known for plays evoking the Irish-American experience.
Also on 15th Street was The Lee Strasberg Theatre where we crowded around an outside poster of famous Strasberg actors: Paul Newman, Scarlett Johansson, Marilynn Monroe and others. Then a security camera caught us! A huddled mass of 20 people, yearning to be let in. Out walked Dori, who works at the theatre and invited us to a performance!
By the way, Monroe studied at the theatre after becoming a huge movie star. She decided to “get serious” and learn Strasberg’s Method Acting where you draw upon memories in your own life.
Further east on 15th Street was The Vineyard Theatre, a Yiddish theatre 100 years ago. Today it is known for its bold new plays and musicals by contemporary artists, such as Indecent by Paula Vogel and Avenue Q by Robert Lopez and Jeffrey Marx.
Next were some quirkier places. The Seafarer’s and International House is an 84-room hostel that is comfortable and reasonably priced for sailors, travelers and ex-convicts! Nearby was Scheffel Hall, an 1894 brownstone that housed German immigrants and was originally a beer hall. Today it is a Yoga and Pilates studio.
Also on East 15th Street, we visited the Friends Seminary Upper School, the oldest co-ed school in the city. We also loved the tranquil beauty of the red brick Friends Meeting House. Both buildings are owned and operated by Quakers.
The serenity continued as we arrived at Stuyvesant Square Park at 2nd Avenue between East 15th and 17th Streets. This peaceful park is a respite from New York’s hustle and bustle. It was given to the city by Peter Stuyvesant’s great-great grandson. We gathered around a statue of Peter Stuyvesant, feeling grateful to him for having inspired our wonderful outing with Joan.