Lives in New York
Since Jun 2008
Active writer, traveler and photographer, with interest in culture, art, history & architecture. (Good food, drink, company and weather are nice, too.)
Flea & Street Markets
Speciality Museums, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Monuments & Statues, Historic Sites
Scenic Walking Areas, Neighbourhoods, Points of Interest & Landmarks
Neighbourhoods, Points of Interest & Landmarks
Points of Interest & Landmarks, Neighbourhoods
Natural History Museums
Observatories & Planetariums
Parks, Points of Interest & Landmarks, Neighbourhoods
Parks, Monuments & Statues
Churches & Cathedrals
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Monuments & Statues, Points of Interest & Landmarks
This landmark is a bit off the beaten path, in Chelsea (far West Manhattan, 16th St). This was at one time a rather desolate industrial area with freight rail tracks behind, and the Hudson River. This "market" was once the home of the National Biscuit Co. (then Nabisco), birthplace of Oreo cookies. Some remnants of the original factory are still on the exposed red brick walls, in some sections. The main promenade, as the images show, is a long hall with restaurants and stores (including wines, spices, bakeries, and more). If you walk out the back and turn right you'll be right near the entrance to the elevated Highline park, on what was the old elevated rail line, now lined with flowers and art, and some cooling water areas (in the warm weather) and many places to just relax, or sketch, or take photos of Chelsea rooftops and streets below.
My favorite local deli for over 20 years, and it's not changed much. (The prices were somewhat high even years ago.) Serious Kosher deli, as in tongue, pastrami, stuffed cabbage, etc.
I've sent all your regards to Broadway, as I'm on or it near it often. The "theater district" or "Times Square district" overlap, with the theaters on the side-streets just off-Broadway or on, up to around 50th Street (Times Square's center is 42nd Street). This is where all the legendary plays were launched: Annie, South Pacific, The Fantastics, My Fair Lady, Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof, Cats... way too many "classics" to name, and more recently featuring both Disney stagings and more recent hits like Kinky Boots, The Book of Mormon, Wicked... There's no place like Broadway! Aside from the theaters themselves, and the plays, there is (on 42nd St) a wax museum and Disney store, and on Broadway itself, in warm weather, there is now a pedestrian promenade and all sorts of entertainers (human and otherwise) and high energy. At night it's like Tokyo - a lot of neon and LCD/LED displays, and packed with tourists.
Chelsea hugs the West Side in the teens and 20's (below "Clinton", nee "Hell's Kitchen"). It was once heavily meat-packing and industry, like the Nabisco Company (remnants of which are still in evidence within the Chelsea Market.) There's also the Highline, many art galleries, a huge selection of restaurants, a Barney's outlet, many small businesses, and many old neighborhoods, some with graffiti, others modern and over-looking the Highline or with views of the Empire State Building.
This is the restaurant of the Affinia Shelburne Hotel, off the lobby. I wrote a review of the food, but best you read the more recent reviews. I dined here with some family members who were gathered at the hotel. There was something for each of us, though none specifically looking for burgers. Theirs turn out to be special. I got a burger which was laced with bourbon with a side snifter too. There were some interesting versions (fairly healthy) of fries too. I'd check the recent reviews to get a sense of today's menu items. There are quite a few choices, indeed, and it's a fairly low-key place (the drinks and party are on the roof) This has the comfortable feel of a steak house, coupled with the casual but diverse diners. Reliable dining and very convenient for hotel residents as well as anyone on that black past the 9-5 workday
This is a lovely spot for a family visit, romantic walk, just to see what it's like - it's really quite tiny as zoos go, but it's tastefully carved into the trees and urban landscape behind, and this is right in the heart of New York. It's changed over the years, as the exhibits became more humane and naturalistic (i.e., no more elephants confined to cages). There are outdoor components, including a fountain with sea mammals playing about, and there are 3 separate "zones", major climates like temperate and tropical. There's also an iceberg with a large glass window between some polar bears and humans. There are family-friendly rest and dining areas. But as I began, it's tiny, really, and though I haven't checked lately, no special events. It's a small space, at the Southeast tip of Central Park, or walking from inside the park, a lovely stroll from the Fountain/Bandshell area to the zoo.
I'll defer to the many ongoing reviews of the exhibition, in terms of reservation ease and so forth. I've not been in the new museum, but have visited and contributed photos to the Tribute Center. (I'd spent a lot of time there, at the original WTC.) Anyway, the site and Freedom Tower construction is done, dignitaries and families have visited, and it's now open to the world - with advance reservations still. (Check the most recent reviews for tips.) Everyone I know who's visited says "powerful", "somber", even "overwhelming", and for survivors, doubly. It's a solemn place. Before or after, if you have time and the weather is nice, take a walk around, as you're in real, Old New York, in between the skyscrapers. Nearby are some historic pubs and buildings, City Hall and Wall Street.
Bottom line: New York has a "real Chinatown", on a large scale. True, not as extensive (or hilly) as San Francisco, but a legendary slice of New York life. Chinatown has long been the epitome of a transplanted culture within an urban environment. (Welcome to New York!) New Yorkers, and suburbanites, come to NY's Chinatown knowing it is a "real deal" sampling of Chinese Cuisine. Yes it is, and more. Chinatown has long been populated by a large Chinese community who often work, live,and raise families here. I came here as a child and in recent visits (as an old fogey) it' really just the same. In between I once took a visitor from Europe here, and she did not enjoy what I'd call it's "earthy" nature. Many of the best restaurants are on small winding sidestreets, like Pell Street - that's a pretty good 'restaurant row' including the Mandarin Pell, which has been there forever, while there's the super-inexpensive step-down restaurants on Mott Street and some gourmet restaurants a bit further north, on Elizabeth Street. Aside from the restaurants, as a child I would love to see this: Chinese pagoda-style telephone booths (do they still exist?) and huge spires on the buildings overlooking the main entrance to Chinatown, off also-legendary Canal Street. Not as many displays as in San Francisco, or even DC, but it's unique to see several blocks "Chinese-style" in the midst of modern Manhattan. And truly dense-packed with Chinese restaurants of every style, particularly Mandarin, Szechuan, and Hunan. You'll see Peking ducks hanging in windows. There are still active markets - the lifeblood of residents, it would seem, Chinese herbs, an arcade, general stores from which to buy chopsticks, and fish stores on the NY sidewalks just as in generations before.
I've written reviews and I'm sure there have been hundreds or thousands since. They say, we say, it is said: Times Square is the Heart of Manhattan. Energy-wise, it is for sure pumping out creative extravaganzas, from the dropping of the ball on New Year's Eve to TCKTS and the pedestrian mall to The Lion King, Kinky Boots, and the LCD-lit NASDAQ and Yahoo! buildings.... Picture Taylor Swift singing "Welcome to New York" on New Year's Eve. Right here. It's lovely when it's warmer out, too, with all sorts of street activities, a M. Tussaud's Wax Museum (on 42nd Street), and every collage of New York you've ever seen. Do watch for hustlers if you're in the midst of tourist season and it's mobbed, but know that real New Yorker's do consider this heart of New York. (Maybe Central Park, the flip side of Times Square, is the lungs.) To be in New York for even a few hours, see Times Square if you can, in the day for family things, at night for entertainment, and anytime for a dose of pure New York energy, day or night, heat wave or blizzard....
This is New York's premier opera center, at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (or just "Lincoln Center" to locals). This majestic opera house sits in the center of the campus which also includes film, jazz, and symphony centers. This building boasts not only the elegant stylized interior but features 2 huge Chagall paintings (several stories tall) in the front window, which are lit at night but covered by day (to avoid sun fading). Check the listings, the Lincoln Center and Metropolitan Opera web pages, and recent reviews to learn about the most recent performances. There is a huge variety of pre- or after show dining in this neighborhood (on the high end of pricing but a few moderate-priced options too). In warmer weather there are many outdoors cafes (across the street and sometimes in the plaza itself), and in the summer there are festivals directly in front of the Metropolitan Opera, which adjoins several small parks (one of which hosts an annual crafts fair). For generations both locals and tourists (and the occasional celebrity shoot) have gathered around the fountain in the middle of the promenade. As for the opera itself, again: check the latest reviews and listings, in print or online. It is a world-class venue. Borne from the ashes of, and now an integral part of, The West Side Story. Definitely worth a visit, from a walk-through to catching a performance.
This is a small and lovely little restaurant, with an inspired chef, friendly service, and a rather unique menu which features many small dishes (or full-sized) and allows for sampling new and old favorites. There's a bar as well. This is one of two Ethos restaurants a block apart, the other with some nice offerings as well, but it is this location we enjoyed specifically because of the chance to try several different things, all delicious and affordable.
Just like the pictures I see on display at the moment! Brownstones & parks. And there's also Zabar's (food emporium and cookware), Haydn Planetarium, the American Museum of Natural History, Citarella's (fish store), and the Fischer Bros. Kosher meats. These which I mention have been inetgral parts of the Upper West Side for decades, since shortly after "The West Side Story" was shot here. Of course those buildings and the playground (from the 'rumble') were razed and its footprint emerged: Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Also still here since, and recently renovated. Across the street from the IMAC theater now, and the American Museum of Folk Art.. And behind: housing projects, co-ops, and Trump buildings. All Upper West Side. Moving from West (bounded by the Hudson River and the wonderful Riverside Park with its dog playground, ballfields and marina) towards the East, there are all these wonderful side streets with these very "NY" brownstone buildings. (A bit like Georgetown?) At the end of 72nd Street, heading from Riverside to Central Park, one passes the wonderful Columbus Avenue (many outdoor cafes; wonderful in spring/summer), and is at the Dakota, home to Paul Simon, Mia Farrow, John Lennon... facing Central Park. Cross the street, pass the food vendors and continue straight ahead and you'll quickly see "Strawberry Fields" to your left and sign to your right, and then you are there: at the "Imagine" Mosaic. Somewhat sacred, often people gather, singing or honoring John. Further ahead is Bethesda Fountain and if I turn left and walk Northwest, I soon find myself at the American Museum of Natural History. A littler further north and we get into Columbia University and Harlem. But everything else I've mentioned: Upper West Side.
"Lower Manhattan" comprises quite a range of territory and distinct neighborhoods and destinations. Most are described in detail in reviews, and include such disparate elements as the World Trade Center memorial and tribute centers, Wall Street, Chinatown, Little Italy, So-Ho (many galleries "South of Houston St."), Union Square, Tribeca, Chelsea, the High Line, Chelsea Piers (sporting), Circle Line Cruises (past all the bridges, Statue of Liberty, etc.), and much more. It is an integral part of Manhattan, and New York, plus home to many iconic, historic sightseeing destinations, like Old New York cobblestones and the tavern favored by George Washington. There's City Hall and Federal buildings as well, countless restaurants and shops, and if it exists, you'll likely find it here. A microcosm of New York, with many iconic buildings and places.
From the Cotton Club and Apollo Theater, Harlem is iconic for many, both culturally and creatively. home to Duke Ellington and cradle for American jazz and big band music. Harlem has gone through economic and cultural changes, and is now in a rejuvenated mode, with many neighborhoods undergoing renewal and a strong community spirit remaining. There are many churches and historical buildings seen throughout the neighborhoods, small community gardens, and on 125th Street, the legendary Apollo Theater remains , along with the energy of the streets, in warm weather. One can find "ethnic" (or traditional, comfort) food, at Sylvia's (also legendary) or smaller places. Tourists can find some small-scale souvenir shops. It is New York, and so there is diversity of styles and neighborhoods. Harlem retains its identity as something unique.
At the risk of over-using the word "iconic"... Wall Street is. From the huge bull symbolizing economic strength to the fact of trading floors and headquarters for financial firms. Pillars and statues and grand building with marble steps. Like the Federal Buildings to the East, this in fact is living history. But unless you are interested in the inside of bank or stock exchange buildings (most of which do not allow public access), you can see the essential "Wall Street" rather quickly, as many tourists do, stopping for selfies at the bull or in front of the Stock Exchange. Contrary to the image the world seems to have (and many Americans too), Wall Street is not one big entity (just as The Kremlin is not a building). It is a street, with a small section devoted to financial buildings, and then continuing like any other downtown Manhattan Street, with stores, banks, restaurants, etc. While walking, this is something to take in and then continue on to the nearby World Trade Center, or perhaps Fraunce's Tavern (hangout of George Washington), or Chinatown, or to a boat terminal or the massive variety of shopping venues. A lot of history, which for a tourist might be interesting to hear from a guide or to read about beforehand. "Wall Street" is more a street and state of mind than tourist destination. But from Revolutionary war-era history to modern-day downtown Manhattan energy, Wall Street cuts a path through it all.
One of America's best-known museums, this is a fortress-sized venue with expansive exhibits as well as special events. Their permanent exhibits include the same ones I enjoyed as a child, and many times since: dioramas of both human and animal history, remnants of dynasties and tool-making and costumes and weapons are lovely to see, and very interesting/educational. Of course a main attraction, for many decades, has been the dinosaur collections. Some names have changed but there are still plenty of classic prehistoric creatures. Former home to Margaret Mead and other scholars and explorers, there are elements of all the "ologies", such as paleontology, cultural anthropology, sociology... There are special exhibitions too - see their website for the latest information on exhibit and times. Just next door to the museum is the Haydn Planetarium and Rose Kennedy Center, and this offers not only a mini-museum with facts about the universe and some hands-on things (like a scale to weigh yourself according to different gravities). The big feature is the planetarium itself, with its modernized and rather awesome simulated drive through the universe. Tickets for this are separate from the AMNH and are for specific times. A good plan (depending on weather) might be to take in the Haydn early or late in the day, and devote ample time to the museum, which is huge. Outside there are benches and a little park, and particularly along the Western side, many fine restaurants.
This is a mainstay of tourism and family outings in New York, for generations. The planetarium itself has been modernized and features a (reservations-required) journey through the universe, stars and all. There are some experiential features like a ramp one walks through the eons on, a scale which tells you your lunar weight, and many educational and interesting bits from astronomy and science.
Washington Square Park, featuring a miniature Arc de Triomphe at its Northern edge, is both a campus for New York University students, and small urban park. Here you'll find students and faculty reading or heading to/from classes, or relaxing. Depending on weather, on nice days there is usually some guitar or other spontaneous music happening. Like most urban parks, there are the usual nuisances as well as the better aspects, and it's a small park with many passersby of all kinds. The park is surrounded by classroom buildings (which have been there for generations), brownstones with NYU offices, a student center, library, and Law School. As I said, this is in effect the NYU campus. But it also the gateway into the West Village (including McDougal and Bleeker Streets, of Dylan and beatnik coffee house fame) and there are still some interesting boutiques,clubs, and "head shops" in the mix of counter-culture and serious coffee shop. To the north, through the arch, is most of Manhattan, after the many blocks of dorms and restaurants and campus bookstores, etc To the east, "the East Village" with its many clubs and restaurants. To the West, across 6th Avenue/Ave of the Americas, are more West Village, in winding, tiny streets which are truly "Old New York". And to the South, past McDougal and Bleeker Streets, there is SoHo (with many small art galleries and lofts) and Chinatown/Little Italy, and then downtown. (See separate listings) There's not a lot to see in the park itself, though it's a nice spot outdoors. But if you find yourself in the neighborhood, this is central to the West Village (nee "Greenwich Village") and a gateway to a choice of unique Manhattan neighborhoods.
Nobody you'll meet in NY will speak about "Greenwich Village" and if they do they're either quite elderly or not a New Yorker. Locals for a few decades now, refer to "the Village", which was known in the 1950's to early 60's as home to the beat movement, with "beatniks", who predated "hippies". The Village is described often in terms of "East Village" (east of Broadway or University Place, and including the "alphabet streets", Avenues A, B, etc.) versus the "West Village". The West is more closely what people think of, in terms of the beatnik and hippie movements, and includes Washington Square Park, the coffee houses and boutiques of Bleeker Street and McDougal, and several enduring theaters, parks, and historic buildings. Many sight-seeing tours either pass or walk by, but it's nearly impossible to drive and park nearby, so a better idea is use public transportation, like most places in Manhattan. A good spot to visit briefly if tired out from walking or studying, or if self-touring about lower Manhattan or seeking the ghosts of Bob Dylan, Folk City, and the 60's summers of love. Many young people, which may be a plus for visiting students or tourists seeking the latest nearby hot spots. Many small clubs endure and new ones have sprung out. Check individual sites or local papers like "The Village Voice" for concert and art exhibit info.
Strawberry Fields Forever! Well, this version is near where John & Yoko loved to walk, near the entrance to Central Park across from their home (The Dakota). The "field" itself may be hard to discern, a small patch of grass and strawberry off to the left of the trail, fairly nondescript. However, walking past this (from the W72nd and Central Park W entrance) a very short ways, one arrives at what is pictured in many of the reviews, the "Imagine" mosaic, or John Lennon memorial, where people often gather and pay tribute to John Lennon. There are local "guides" and followers there often, as well, and everyone stops for photos. Every time it is different as people leave offerings every day. You can sit here and take in sun, tourists, locals, and/or Beatles songs, or keep walking, as just ahead is Bethesda Fountain and the Bandshell, and all of Central Park. Sitting here a while, you are bound to hear many languages and see many Beatles fans of all ages. But there's more Central Park (including the zoo, local performers, mini-boats and real rowboats) and this is but one stop. It's an easy walk, easy find. But no buses come here - it's our beloved refuge from the city, Central Park. And Strawberry Fields too. Imagine.
Here is another classic landmark of New York, and still a highly revered Cathedral where dignitaries wed, eulogies are delivered, and Cardinals include pillars of the Vatican. It is open to the public most times, and whether just taking a respectful peak from the back, along a huge collections of candles, or watching a ceremony, this is a most serious living church of great importance, in the realms religion, history, and architecture.
This is an interesting "find", which it really is, as it's a difficult-to-categorize location, so it's not easily found as "Upper West Side" or "Midtown West" or other category. As I see it, this is just at the boundary between the two, as walking from the UWS to here ends up taking you to a small block not quite at Columbus Circle and midtown, just a short walk from Lincoln Center. Location. Check out all the recent reviews, as I did (they were one of the few restaurants open on July 4!) and know that this is immense in scale, great food but with hidden a la carte charges for basic staples (some think) like rice. On the other hand, they have a hugely popular workweek buffet lunch, where it's more affordable and filling for lunch. Again, read the reviews. I know lots of people go here, many from nearby mid-town and the AOL building, probably a few besides me who enjoy walking and found this by accident! Quickly checked reviews and figured it's worth a try. Really fine. Authentic.
Using this word once again (as it is unavoidable) : Iconic. Truthfully, to appreciate all that the skyline offers, think of all the movies and photos you've grown up with. The "classic" view is actually from New Jersey, across the Hudson River, or from across the East River. It's hard to appreciate the urban skyline until you're out from under it, and can view it in panorama. Some popular spots for photography or ambience include Liberty Park (NJ) and the Pacific Palisades (for a long-long shot). An elegant spot for a very special occasion is the River Cafe, in Brooklyn, just across the water. (Elegant in food, view, and cost.) There are views from the Triboro Bridge, as well as from any number of spots in New York City and northern New Jersey. If you're already on the island of Manhattan, you can see the skyscape from a rooftop hotel restaurant (Westin on the West, Rare on the East Side, for two) or from Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building. The skyline is as big as the island itself, with surrounding hills and buildings offering infinite variations of the view. As they say, YMMV (your mileage may vary) depending on your chosen spot and purpose (photography, barbecue with a view, party, whatever). The skyline is still a work in progress, recently joined by Freedom Tower.
Here is one of those attraction which literally "needs no introduction", as an international icon and tourist destination. (New Yorkers visit this too, and its recently re-opened). A gift from France, in honor of our birth as a democratic nation, the base features time-worn words from Emma Lazarus, encapsulating the hopes of our new country being a gateway to freedom and liberty for peoples of the world: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" -- The CIrcle line boat tour around Manhattan comes near this (great photo op) and you can also book a boat and tour where you climb the inside up to the top. Check with the tour operators (Grey Line, Circle Line, others) for times and costs, and check the recent reviews for any notices about temporary closures and visitor tips.