Excerpt: 'How the Rich Get Thin'

According to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, what is now Park Avenue was originally laid out in the 1811 Commissioners' Plan as Fourth Avenue. In 1832, the long, narrow strip down the middle of the island was granted to the New York and Harlem Railroad, which ran horse-drawn cars along its path, starting with a run between Union Square and Twenty-third Street. By 1834, the service operated from Prince Street to the Upper East Side. Though given its present name in 1888, it was the 1903 conversion from steam to electric train power and the 1913 completion of the present Grand Central Terminal that paved the way for Park Avenue's future. The previously open rail yards and tracks north of the terminal were covered over between 1921 and 1924, and the avenue's wide, landscaped center medians gave credibility to its name. Subsequently, the wide malls were narrowed to their present configuration, to accommodate wider traffic lanes.

Today Park Avenue consists of rows of apartment buildings on the east and west sides of the street, separated in the center of the avenue by wide, planted islands. As the seasons change, so do the lovely gardens. In summer, the plantings consist of begonias; spring, tulips and flowering apple blossoms; fall, chrysanthemums; and the end of the year brings festive and beautifully lighted Christmas trees. The apartment buildings lining Park Avenue embody conservative elegance. Some of the grandest residences were constructed between 1920 and 1930 by Rosario Candela, with only one apartment per floor. Candela's apartments created the "off the foyer" layout, in which the foyer was an additional room that set the tone for the entry into the formal living space. Candela's well-constructed apartments had thick walls, large rooms with elegant double moldings, and very high ceilings. Born in Palermo, Italy, Rosario Candela's father was a plasterer. The architect Candela's own story represents fulfillment of the American dream, because today his elegant buildings are landmark structures and epitomize New York City living at the highest level. Our office is located in one of the beautiful buildings built by Rosario Candela.

Do You Have the Park Avenue Mind-Set?

1. Do you have a sense of time urgency? Are you always in a rush?

2. Do you inhale your food -- are you always the first one at the table to finish a meal?

3. Do you talk so fast that people tell you to slow down?

4. Will you sacrifice a health-promoting behavior, such as a yoga class, for an extra hour at the office or to take on one more after-school activity for your children?

5. Do you reach for a cookie or candy bar to power yourself through the afternoon?

6. Do you speed up at the yellow light?

7. Would you rather spend time working than working out?

8. Do you find yourself falling into bed at night and saying, "Not tonight, dear," because you have no energy left for sex?

9. Do you talk on your cell phone or eat meals while driving?

10. Do you eat on the run; i.e., in the car, at the airport?

11. Do you frequently order in or order room service?

12. Do you hit the mini-bar the minute you check into your hotel room?

13. Are your thumbs sore from using your Blackberry all day long?

14. Are you a multi-tasker?

15. Are you addicted to caffeine?

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