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Thread: Top 10 things to do in New York City

  1. #76
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    in Limbo


    I didn't know that.
    Here I was thinking the French were being genuinely nice to us.

  2. #77


    The French helped us big time get our freedom and independence.

  3. #78


    ^ And we returned the favor. Now we are all even... But they seem to forget that..

  4. #79


    Quote Originally Posted by milleniumcab
    But they seem to forget that..
    That's also a two way street.

  5. #80


    Quote Originally Posted by milleniumcab
    Roosevelt Island Tram is out of service, for the near future
    Yeah I'm not goin on the tram anytime soon after that power outage. Imagine being stuk that far up above the East River. I actually went on a day or two before it happened, in the same car! I got lucky.

  6. #81


    Thanks for the great ideas! Can I ask a couple of very stupid questions?

    Is it possible to walk from Brooklyn Heights Promenade to Brooklyn Bridge Park?? (is this Empire-Fulton ferry state park? just with a different name?)

    It looks walkable on my map, but you can never be too certain

    also how easy is it to get onto the bridge (to walk across) from either the park or the promenade?

  7. #82


    Quote Originally Posted by piglet View Post
    how easy is it to get onto the bridge (to walk across) from either the park or the promenade? Post #26.

    Last edited by ablarc; January 26th, 2007 at 07:26 PM. Reason: added link

  8. #83


    thanks very much for all the cool ideas
    sorry if i didnt see it and its here but is the bronx zoo open all year?

  9. #84


    It is. They've got a website with the hours they're open listed, as well.

  10. #85

    Default First timer

    So I've just recently found out that my mother is taking me to New York for my graduation present. I've never been to the east coast (besides Florida, but I don't think that counts). I'm going to see Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera, plus, you know, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero etc. etc. but I was wondering about things to do in New York beyond your basic tourist things. I'm probably going to be getting some classic New York pizza, for example. And I've seen in the movies lots of hot dog vendors (are there even hotdog vendors?) and if there are, I want one.
    So I've just recen

  11. #86
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Far West Village, NYC


    Hot dog vendors shouldn't be hard to find in Manhattan (particularly in Midtown), although they're not as ubiquitous as they once were.

    If you read through this entire thread, starting with the first post, you'll find lots of suggestions of things to do, both touristy and non-touristy.

    I would definitely recommend setting aside some time to walk around and explore Central Park and Greenwich Village. You should also consider walking the Brooklyn Bridge. New York is also home to the world's best museums (American Museum of Natural History, the Met, the MoMa, Guggenheim, etc.) if that interests you.

    Have a great time.

  12. #87


    Quote Originally Posted by LeCom View Post
    Remember that they gave it to the NYC because they made it for the opening ceremony of the Suez Canal but the Egyptians hated the statue, so the French had to dump it elsewhere.
    Not true, august bartholdi PROPOSED it there but it didnt take, then it was proposed as a gift to the US and was then built.

  13. #88


    Quote Originally Posted by Apple Blossom View Post
    I was wondering about things to do in New York beyond your basic tourist things.
    If you go beyond the basic tourist things, you might get hooked on New York.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandySavage View Post
    I would definitely recommend setting aside some time to walk around and explore Central Park and Greenwich Village. You should also consider walking the Brooklyn Bridge. New York is also home to the world's best museums (American Museum of Natural History, the Met, the MoMa, Guggenheim, etc.) if that interests you.
    All good advice, except I’d say hit the museums even if you’ve never been interested in museums before. The ones in New York are so good they might hook you on museumgoing for a lifetime.


    Metropolitan Museum will absolutely blow your mind. Vast skylit Engelhart Court contains sculpture, architectural fragments, even an entire building. Art Nouveau’s particularly well-represented with stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany, architectural fragments by Sullivan and Wright, swooning paintings by Whistler and Sargent, St. Gaudens’ gold-plated Diana from atop the original Madison Square Garden.

    The European Painting department rivals the Louvre, and they’ve recently redone the Greek and Roman sections. Don’t miss the Middle Ages, the armor and the Egyptian stuff.

    If you’re not yet into art, this place might just do the trick.

    Twentieth Century? You can’t beat the Museum of Modern Art; it has the Whitney beat except if your bag is Hopper. Christina’s World, Georgia O’Keefe, Grant Wood and of course Pollock, Kline, Rothko, Stella, Oldenburg, Lichtenstein, Chuck Close.

    Museum of Natural History has dinosaurs, stuffed animals (real ones) in naturalistic scenes, your ancestors from ape-man days, gold nuggets, and diamonds the size of eggs.

    MOMA, the Met and the Museum of Natural History are unlikely to escape your notice, but three of New York’s smaller museums might charm you more:

    The Cloisters, in Fort Tryon Park way at the northern tip of Manhattan, is a romantic distillation of all things medieval. Rockefeller-assembled from an assortment of European monastery parts, the collection features ivory devotionals, gold and jewelry, ceramics, metalwork, reliquaries, books of hours, stained glass, pollarded pear trees, sculpture, a Tudor chamber, a chapel, razor-sharp Flemish paintings, and the world’s best series of medieval tapestries in exuberant celebration of unicorn hunting (they even have a specimen horn, if you can believe that).

    This is like time travel.

    Perched in regal isolation on a wooded bluff above the Hudson, the Jersey palisades and the George Washington Bridge, this peaceful place celebrates solitude and contemplation, and when the herb gardens are in full scent, it’s a feast for the nose. Sundays resonate in Gregorian tones, and once in a while there’s ancient music live.

    Access is via the A-train to atmospheric and barrel-vaulted 190th Street station, the way out from which is by rock-hewn elevator shaft and tunnel. Bucolic Fort Tryon Park welcomes with specimen trees, lush vegetation and New York’s most charming outdoor eatery built of stone, the New Leaf Café, where you can have lunch or brunch before you hit the museum.

    After your museum visit, leave by the driveway portal, where the Number 4 bus waits idling to waft you back to Midtown on one of New York’s most interesting routes. Take a seat facing frontwards and stay on it all the way to its terminus; you’ll be surprised where it ends. A long ride but rewarding –especially on a Sunday, when traffic’s not too heavy.

    To my mind, the Frick Collection is more than a match for the lumbering Metropolitan, ten blocks uptown, for within the judicious, single-story sprawl of this tranquil city mansion you’ll find concentrated every bit as many top-drawer masterpieces as at the Met, without having to wade through crowd-filled acres of the lesser stuff.

    Here you’ll find Holbein’s Thomas More, familiar portraits by Titian, rooms full of naughty paintings by Boucher and Fragonard, El Greco’s more-than-magnificent St. Jerome, two Vermeers and two Rembrandts (one a self-portrait) better than the ones in the Met’s collection, one of Ingres’ two best portraits ever, the finest furniture from Renaissance to Louis XVI, stupendous works by Bronzino, Frans Hals, Van Dyck, Velazquez, Goya, Gainsborough, Hogarth, Turner, Whistler, Manet, Degas ...all in surroundings by the distinguished architect, John Russell Pope. Not a clunker in the house, unlike the Metropolitan’s warehouse of packrattery, which is full of them.

    Henry Clay Frick, Andrew Carnegie’s pit-bull partner, villain of the violent Homestead Strike, major-domo of Pinkerton’s private army of thugs and killers, possibly the richest man of his time—Henry Clay Frick had a good eye.

    Another plutocrat, Solomon R. Guggenheim, funded Frank Lloyd Wright’s last major work, an architectural tour-de-force ideal for generating bustle and hype for flashy exhibits. These have tended to mobiles, motorcycles, conceptual art, one-man shows, architecture or abstract painting. A permanent collection is heavy on Kandinsky, Picasso, Braque and other mainstream modernists, and is usually exhibited in level rooms, most of which were reworked by Gwathmey.

    After picking your jaw off the floor, ride one of Wright’s glitzy elevators to the top and coast down the ramps as though you were in a wheelchair. The space will follow you down.

    Unlike the other two museums, Guggenheim is usually quite crowded. An architectural spectacle with a museum attached.

    May is the best month to visit New York. The weather is balmy and the culture hasn’t shut down for the summer.

    SOME NEIGHBORHOODS (each is worth a half-day, even if you’re on a whirlwind tour)

    West Village. The nicest of the nice. (subway Sheridan Square; go into the fenced square for a surprise).

    The tree-lined streets of finely-detailed 19th Century town houses are both harmonious and stylistically diverse. As this is the northernmost outpost of New York’s pre-Madison Plan organic grid, these fine-grained houses are superimposed on a street pattern reminiscent of Paris. The Avenues play the role of, well…avenues, while Hudson Street, where Jane Jacobs lived and wrote, is sort of a cross between the rue Mouffetard and Boulevard St. Germain. At its heart, don’t miss quietly beautiful, Parisian, refurbished Abingdon Square and the adjacent White Horse Tavern, where Dylan Thomas drank himself into a coma. This is now primarily a tourist destination with a solid underlayment of local regulars.

    Be sure you go all the way out to the (Hudson) River to the handsome new park with its astroturf piers and look back to admire Richard Meier’s three graceful and fine-scaled glass towers: vacant stacks of celebrities. Late in the afternoon, you may see mammoth cruise ships glide by, ocean-bound.

    South of here lies faux-gritty but even richer Tribeca, and to the north they pack meat --though less of it all the time. 9th Avenue and 14th Street is worth a visit.

    Above even that you’ll find Chelsea, where poverty coexists unhomogenized with artists, bohemians, gays and the usual yuppies.

    These days Chelsea’s western reaches resemble a vast construction site; here star architects are putting up plutocrat housing on both sides of an elevated park (yes!) where there were once railroad tracks: the High Line. When you return five years from now this work-in-progress will be probably New York’s glitziest neighborhood.

    Brooklyn Heights. The next-to-nicest of the nice. (subway Clark Street or Borough Hall) Solid bourgeois houses here are more overtly Victorian than in the West Village, though a few go way back to colonial times, and some are even wood-clad. Joralemon Street is a nice neighborhood shopping street, and you’ll find mews (streets of converted stables) and a really nice mix of building types –as diverse as Washington’s Georgetown.

    The glory here is the East River Promenade with its TwinTowerless Downtown skyline view with Brooklyn Bridge. This Promenade is cantilevered out over a multi-tiered highway, which is thus neutralized as an environmental liability. Brilliant.

    Walk back to Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge and take in the view; you'll be facing in the right direction. Or take a water taxi (Fulton's Landing) if you’re tired.

    Upper West Side. New York to the core and New York at its best, and it's not touristy.

    Great apartment buildings are to be found on shop-lined Broadway; go in the courtyards of those that have them. Look especially for the Apthorp (west side of Broadway between 78th and 79th Streets) and the Belnord (east side of Broadway at 86th Street). An unexpected delight to stumble across (if you can find it): Pomander Walk, which runs between 94th and 95th Streets, midblock between Broadway and West End Ave. For hardcore deco: Master Apartments, Riverside Drive at 103rd Street. Round the corner, handsome Beaux-Arts rowhouses from the late 1890’s on 103rd Street. An adult George Gershwin lived in the building at #316 (1925-31), simultaneously Humphrey Bogart grew up at #245.

    Broadway is bustling and vibrant, and this stretch will inevitably remind you of Paris. One block over, West End Avenue is quiet because it's residential, and it too will remind you of Paris; it's like a boulevard with the buildings scaled up to about fifteen stories. Even further over is elegant Riverside Drive and Park right on the Hudson. Check out outdoor noshing at 79th Street Boat Basin Café in the park, at the Hudson River (a little hard to find; ask.).

    On Central Park West, twin towers reign, mostly deco. These are best seen from within the Park at Strawberry Fields (the John Lennon Monument) and to the north of it, from The Ramble, Central Park’s best feature.

    Even further east: Central Park and the Museum of Natural History. Side streets hereabouts feature brownstones galore, especially in the Seventies between Central Park West and Amsterdam Avenue. A lovely place for a walk.

    Lincoln Center is actually within walking distance on Broadway (66th Street). A little further down: be sure you take in the new Columbus Circle, its fountain, the Time Warner Center and its shops, Jazz at Lincoln Center, glitzy restaurants and slick basement supermarket/snack bar (Whole Foods)

    Morningside Heights is an academic community and the West Side’s uppermost reaches before Harlem. Take the subway a few stops uptown to 116th Street (transfer to local at 96th) for Columbia University’s terrific campus; (see the rotunda and the chapel, find where they invented The Bomb, explore), St. John the Divine (not fully recovered from fire; check out the sculpture in its Peace Garden!), Riverside Church. Plenty of bookstores hereabouts.

    But architecturally the very best thing in Morningside Heights is the intensely romantic Grant's Tomb, a moving experience, a poignant reminder of conjugal devotion, and perhaps New York’s noblest Beaux-Arts space, both inside (Napoleonic) and out. Note the urn near the fence and the Gaudiesque benches. There’s even a ruined belvedere with a magnificent view. Solitude and privacy will follow you here.


    Roosevelt Island Tramway.
    Familiar to Spider Maniacs, this suspended cable-car gondola provides a heart-stopping ride across the East River beside the Queensboro Bridge, affords dynamic skyline views and actually takes you somewhere. It will take you from Second Avenue and 60th Street to Utopia. In this case that means Roosevelt (formerly Welfare) Island, a social-engineered community.

    After you’ve seen the spectacular view, the incongruously-preserved woodframe farmhouse that once loomed manorially over the island’s cornfields and the vaguely Gothic madhouse chapel, you’ll be ready to hop the subway back.

    Gray Line Bus. Not really transportation unless you plan your days around it, this open-top double-decker provides (in good weather) Manhattan’s most consistently entertaining mode of transport. I don’t normally recommend tourbuses, but here I’ll make a strenuous exception. Buy the two day ticket and ride all three lines all the way through, hopping off and on as you please. If you have to omit one line, let it be Brooklyn, but then you’ll miss the dynamite Manhattan Bridge crossing, perhaps the best five minutes on all the tours combined.

    The high vantage point and open top give you a great perspective and facilitate photography; it's great to be able to hop on and off, and all three routes pass through interesting territory.

    The tourguides’ patter ranges from witty to bland, from informative and insightful to ignorant and dumb. But hey, if you’re well-informed, you know when the facts aren't spot-on; and when the commentary's truly inspired it's like a rolling comedy club --with all that scenery.

    I recommend it no matter how jaded you are. You’ll love it, but better hope the weather isn’t cold or wet.

    New York Water Taxi. Yellow and checkered, these jaunty little ferryboats provide multistop commuter service during warmer months. This is a much better deal than the Circle Line, which includes dreary hours of dull shoreline. Hudson River stops are at 44th, 23rd, 10th, World Financial Center and Battery Park; East River stops are at South Street Seaport, Fulton Ferry Landing (Brooklyn, at the foot of the bridge), Williamsburg (Brooklyn, on weekends) and 34th Street. That makes a pretty nice tour of most of Manhattan’s most interesting shoreline views, a photographer’s feast. In warm weather, the service runs often enough so you can hop off at every stop and explore, then hop back on. Get a two-day pass.

    You can thrill yourself with The Beast, a half-hour speedboat escapade at a breakneck 45mph. The boat holds close to a hundred, features ferocious Flying Tiger graphics, roars riotously all over the harbor, and you may get a little wet. Absolutely terrific.

    Everyone knows about the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free, and it’s good for a frank and a cheap beer. But after the skyline recedes, you’ll find it goes on way too long, and its destination holds no interest; when you get to Staten Island, the only thing you can do is return on the ferry. The Governors Island Ferry is different. The ride is mercifully short and the view from the ferry remains continuously exhilarating.

    But here’s the best part: when you get to this uninhabited island, there’s a [lady] park ranger waiting to show you around. Now this lady wears boots, so you’d better be ready for a strenuous hike. If you can keep up while furiously snapping pictures, you’ll find an amazing earthwork fort built by George Washington [yes!] to cover his retreat from the Battle of Brooklyn. Later in the Eighteenth Century, this was embellished with an ominously militaristic red sandstone sculpted gateway worthy of Vauban (completely un-American). Inside the fort, handsome Greek Revival officers’ barracks make Renaissance townscape.

    There’s also a battery of cannons aimed at Downtown’s skyline, a pair of chapels, a handsome row of wooden officers’ houses, and a second fort, engineered by Benjamin Franklin’s grandson. This estimable sandstone structure is round; he fondly imagined cannonballs would glance off it that way. They didn’t, so it was pressed into service during the Civil War to hold Confederate prisoners, and later it remained as the brig. The windows have bars and the court in the middle was used for exercise. Super interesting, but grim.

    There’s a great view from the promenade, there’s an imposingly-scaled pile that was --prior to the Pentagon-- the country’s biggest military building, and there’s the historic Commandant’s House. Possibly built on Dutch foundations, this ancient structure hosted Gorbachev on his U.S. visit and was the site from which he announced to Reagan the steps that would lead to the Evil Empire's collapse. The French President also stayed here when he came to inaugurate the refurbished Statue of Liberty. As though this weren’t enough, the kitchen of this house, old-fashioned and cheerfully resplendent in its two-tone tile, was featured in an episode of Law and Order.


    The best you don’t want to miss. They are:

    The Ramble. Everyone goes to Central Park. The Castle’s a great place to view the skyline, the sunning turtles and an exquisite frog skeleton in a display case, but the best part of Central Park is The Ramble…make-believe nature improved by man, a concept familiar to anyone English. Start across from the Dakota, where Chapman shot Lennon (72nd Street at Central Park West), cross into the park, where you’ll find that event memorialized, head east, then north around the lake, cross the Bow Bridge, and then proceed aimlessly north. Try to get lost and spot some wildlife.

    Union Square. New York’s liveliest, and like the others once the realm of low-lifes. Now you’ll find the Starbucks crowd shopping for organic produce on market days, Mo, We, Fr, Sa, 8-6. Newly restored Madison Square, 9 blocks up Broadway, is nice, not as lively, and flanked by some nifty architecture, including the original MetLife Building and the Flatiron. Unlike in Times Square, most folks you see here will be New Yorkers.

    Washington Square. About to be rebuilt with the fountain to be moved on axis with the arch and Fifth Avenue, this is a good place for people watching and urban exploring; it’s surrounded by secret places. You can sit on a bench and enjoy a lovely picnic lunch you assembled for yourself at the stupendously well-stocked deli and salad bar at University Place, just up from Waverly Place. Here you’ll also find picturesque Washington Mews, a street of stables for the splendid Greek Revival rowhouse/mansions that line Washington Square’s northern edge. Both mansions and mews are now mostly New York University offices. Henry James, Richard Morris Hunt, John Dos Passos, Edward Hopper and various other well-heeled artists lived here in the Square’s Nineteenth Century (and subsequent) heyday, before several of the houses were swept away for a crass apartment building.

    If you think Washington Mews was picturesque, wait till you see its western counterpart, McDougal Alley. Accessible only from McDougal Street, this gives new meaning to the term “gated community.” Feel free to open the gate and enter. Check out how the carriage houses have evolved in such diverse ways.

    You have to be rich to live here.

    Tompkins Square. The East Village edition of Washington Square is bigger, less genteel, a little remote and about equally good for watching people. Walk to it from Washington Square via 8th Street and you’ll pass a little zoo of architectural specimens called Astor Place, home of Cooper Union. You’ll know it when you spot the undulating glass apartment tower and the cube balanced jauntily on one point.

    At tuition-free Cooper Union, three subjects are taught professionally: engineering, art, and between them of course, architecture.

    Eighth Street changes its name to St. Mark’s Place; here you can still buy patchouli and a Che Guevara poster, remnants of the Summer of Love. Counter-culture wannabes swarm here from New Jersey on Saturdays. The people who live hereabouts fancy themselves progressive.

    Bryant Park. It’s easy to think of this as New York’s best park. It’s definitely Parisian, everything is just so --especially impressive to those who know that just a decade ago this was New York’s most dangerous needle park. Come with a little lunch or buy some at the kiosk, or if you’re feeling flush eat at the grill. Any way you do it, you’re bound to hang around for an hour or more. So many people to watch, such pleasant and salubrious surroundings, so much architecture to ogle. Just right.

    Grand Central Station. The big space is for people; the trains lurk in tunnels. In the basement, a great food court. Up the steps: mezzanine restaurants with bars. Up the escalators: the MetLife (Pan Am) Building (Walter Gropius, et al.). Grand Central functions like an indoor square.

    Hope you have a great time, Apple Blossom. How long will your visit be?

    Last edited by ablarc; May 25th, 2007 at 07:17 PM. Reason: added links

  14. #89


    - Times Square
    - Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
    - Ground Zero, Wall Street
    - Staten Island Ferry
    - ESB observation deck
    - Rockefeller Center observation deck (Top of The Rock)
    - Chinatown
    - Central Park
    - Fifth Avenue
    - Take a cab, subway

  15. #90

    Default A weekend in New York

    Thank you for that amazing and well-considered post Ablarc, you've picked out a few of my favourite things and given me some new ideas, especially Grovenor Island.

    I'm over (from London) in August for just 2 days. Having been to NY for work and pleasure several times and knowing how hot & humid it's going to be, I'm thinking about escaping Manhattan and have had the following ideas for day trips.

    Roosevelt Island: take a picnic and walk up to the lighthouse. Is it easy/clearly marked? Are there any good places to eat on the Island?

    Coney Island: classic New York and a day out on the beach...

    Grovenor Island (for the reasons Ablarc outlined above).

    Central Park?

    Any suggestions gratefully received. Am in town Fri 3rd - Sun 5th Aug.

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