Some historians say Turtle Bay was given its name because of an abundance of turtles in the creek that ran into it.
Others say it had nothing to do with turtles; it's a corruption of the Dutch word "deutel" which means "a bent blade," the bay's shape.
But by 1868 the bay had been entirely filled in by breweries, gasworks, slaughterhouses, cattle pens, coal yards and railroad piers. Any turtles had long since fled in terror.
|Turtle Bay when it was actually a bay (Wikipedia)|
|There are 10 missions to the United States in Turtle Bay,|
and 88 to the United Nations
The gardens, which are truly gorgeous, are there today, but you can't see them unless you either have a house on one of those streets, or have a friend who has one, or are in the real estate business and get to visit when one comes on the market.
But there are plenty of other charming little semi-secret places in Turtle Bay that are public, and I'll get to them in a minute.
|Amster Yard. What you see in the distance|
is not more of the garden but a mirror
set into an arch that makes the garden
appear to go on forever.
Tall and elegant office buildings sprang up along the avenue, and apartment buildings replaced old tenements on the side streets.
Today the area, officially bordered by the East River and Lexington Avenue, and 43rd and 53rd streets, is full not only of beautiful old townhouses and newer apartment buildings, but also of charming little nooks and crannies that are all but invisible to the casual observer.
|Beekman Place, both blocks.|
I was afraid the garden was private, but none of the people sitting at the little tables told me to leave, and I later found out it is indeed open to the public. While exploring, I was startled to see myself approaching. Turns out the garden is made to look a lot deeper than it is because of a large mirror set into an arch at the end.
|Footbridge to the East River|
Halfway down the stairs is a footbridge that will lead you to another set of stairs leading down to park benches where a few people are relaxing by the river.
If you don't walk across the footbridge but continue the rest of the way down the first set of stairs, you'll get to Peter Detmold Park, another one of those places nobody seems to know about.
|Peter Detmold Park, deserted on a |
In real life, it was the address of Huntington Hartford, Aly Khan and various Rockefellers.
The gardens and lawns of United Nations Plaza, 42nd to 48th, First Avenue to the river, are temporarily off limits due to construction, which, a guard told me, is to be completed in 2015. When that happens, they will once again be a lovely place for a stroll.
So what does it cost to live in Turtle Bay?
|What's behind those beautiful |
apartment buildings on Beekman Place.
If you prefer to own, the average price for a two bedroom, two bath condo is about $2,300,000. For a co-op, it's significantly lower at $1,200,000, and you might even snag one for under a million.
One bedrooms run about $865,000 for a condo and $550,000 for a co-op.
It's a neighborhood definitely worth considering. Hey, Katharine Hepburn, Leopold Stokowski, Maxwell Perkinds, Henry Luce, E.B. White (who wrote "Charlotte's Web" while living on 48th Street) and Irving Berlin all lived here. Why shouldn't you?