Parks & Places - Not For Tourists Guide to New York City - Not For Tourists

Not For Tourists Guide to New York City - Not For Tourists (2016)

Parks & Places

Parks & Places ✵ Battery Park City

General Information

Battery Park City Authority:

212-417-2000 or

Battery Park City Parks Conservancy:

212-267-9700 or


Welcome to Battery Park City—a master-planned community reminiscent of Pleasantville. Originally the brainchild of Nelson Rockefeller, this urban experiment transformed a WTC construction landfill into a 92-acre planned enclave on the southwestern tip of Manhattan. As space in Manhattan continues to disappear into the stratosphere (literally, the only way to build is up), the idea of BPC requires a doubletake. It’s about making public spaces (about 30% of those 92 acres) work within private entities. Imagine taking Central Park, cutting it up, and saying, “Here, your neighborhood can have a chunk of it, and that street down there, and that street over there, too.” Admit it: walking among private, commercial spaces day in and day out is enough to make anyone claustrophobic (thank you, Financial District). In BPC you walk through spacious parks with weird statues and brick pavers all on your way to work, the grocery store, the gym, or the movie theater. BPC will have you asking: “What’s outside Battery Park City?”

Those looking for all-night eateries and party spots should pass it up, but if you’ve got kids this is the place for you. Many NY families—roughly 25,000 people—occupy the 40% of BPC that’s dedicated residential space, including a future-forward “green” building, the Solaire. Robert F. Wagner Jr. and Rector are good choices for a picnic; The Esplanade or South Cove to walk along the Hudson; Nelson A. Rockefeller to play Frisbee; North Cove to park your yacht; and Teardrop Park for the kids. People of all ages have welcomed the ever-popular Shake Shack (the cheapest meal in the neighborhood), live music at the World Financial Center, and Manhattan’s first green LEED-certified branch library.

Seeing: Amazing sculptures by Bourgeois, Otterness, Puryear, Dine, and Cragg. Inspired architecture: Stuyvesant High School, Siah Armajani’s Tribeca Bridge, Kevin Roche’s Museum of Jewish Heritage, Caesar Pelli’s Winter Garden, and the World Financial Center. If you like things nice, neat, and compartmentalized, this ‘hood is for you.


image Landmarks

✵ The Irish Hunger Memorial ✵

Vesey St & North End Ave

✵ Manhattan Sailing Club ✵

Liberty St & S End Ave

✵ Mercantile Exchange ✵

1 North End Ave [Vesey St]

✵ Museum of Jewish Heritage ✵

36 Battery Pl [Little West St]

✵ Police Memorial ✵ Liberty St & South End Ave

✵ The Skyscraper Museum ✵

39 Battery Pl [Little West St]

✵ Tom Otterness’s The Real World Sculptures ✵ Rockefeller Park

✵ Winter Garden ✵ 37 Vesey St [Church St]

image Movie Theaters

✵ Regal Battery Park Stadium 11 ✵

102 North End Ave [Vesey St]

image Restaurants

✵ Blue Smoke ✵ 255 Vesey St [North End Ave]

✵ El Vez ✵ 259 Vesey St [North End Ave]

✵ Gigino at Wagner Park ✵

20 Battery Pl [Washington St]

✵ Mighty Quinn’s ✵

225 Liberty St [South End Ave]

✵ North End Grill ✵

104 North End Ave [Murray St]

✵ P.J. Clarke’s on the Hudson ✵

4 World Financial Ctr [Vesey St]

✵ Picasso Pizza ✵ 303 South End Ave [Albany St]

✵ Shake Shack ✵ 215 Murray St [North End Ave]

✵ Umami Burger ✵

225 Liberty St [South End Ave]

Parks & Places ✵ Central Park

General Information

Central Park Conservancy:




Taking a stroll through Central Park is something that tourists and residents can always agree on. This world-class sanctuary is a huge, peaceful lush oasis in the concrete jungle, and who hasn’t skipped therapy once or twice in favor of clearing your mind the old-fashioned way, by taking a long walk in the park? On any given day, you’ll see people disco roller skating, playing jazz, juggling, walking their dogs, running, making out, meditating, playing softball, whining through soccer practice, getting married, picnicking, and playing chess.

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the 1850s, Central Park has a diverse mix of attractions. The Central Park Conservancy ( leads walking tours, and you can always hail a horse-drawn carriage or bike taxi for a ride through the park if you want to look like a true tourist.


Central Park is easily accessible by subway, since the A, C, B, D, N, R, Q, 1, 2 and 3 trains all circle the park. Parking along CPW is harder, so try side streets. Unless you’re heading to the park for a big concert, a softball game, or Shakespeare in the Park, walking or hanging out (especially alone!) in the park at night is not recommended.


Central Park is the place to see and be seen, for birds, actually; 230 species can be spotted and The Ramble (27) is a good place to stake out. There are an amazing number of both plant and animal species that inhabit the park, including the creatures housed at the zoo (4 & 8). Some people forage for edible plants throughout the park, perhaps out of curiosity, though officials tend to discourage this practice. A good source of information on all of the park’s flora and fauna is NYC schoolteacher Leslie Day’s book, Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City.

Architecture & Sculpture

Central Park was designed to thrill visitors at every turn. The Bethesda Fountain (11), designed by Emma Stebbins, is one of the main attractions of the park. Don’t miss the view of Turtle Pond from Belvedere Castle (16). The Arsenal (5) is a wonderful ivy-clad building that houses the Parks Department headquarters. The original Greensward plan for Central Park is located in the Arsenal’s third-floor conference room—if there isn’t a meeting going on, you might be able to sneak a peek. Two of the most notable sculptures in the park are Alice in Wonderland (15) and the Obelisk (19). Oh, and one other tiny point of interest…the Metropolitan Museum of Art (24) also happens to be in the park.


Open Spaces

New Yorkers covet space. Since they rarely get it in their apartments, they rely on large open areas such as the Great Lawn (26), and Sheep Meadow (28). The Ramble (27) is stocked with trees and is great for hiking around—just use common sense after dark. When it snows, you can find great sledding on Cedar Hill (30), which is otherwise perfect for picnicking and sunbathing.


In warmer weather, Central Park is a microcosm of the great cultural attractions New York has to offer. The Delacorte Theater (18) is the home of Shakespeare in the Park, a New York tradition begun by famous director Joseph Papp. SummerStage (9) is the city’s best outdoor concert venue for all types of music, including killer rock shows. Free opera and classical concerts happen all summer long on the Great Lawn (26). Or just enjoy a sing-along with some dude with an acoustic guitar for as long you can stand at the Imagine memorial to John Lennon at Strawberry Fields (10).


Rollerblading and roller skating are still popular, as is jogging, especially around the reservoir (1.57 mi). The Great Lawn (26) boasts well-maintained softball fields. Central Park has 30 tennis courts (if you make a reservation, you can walk right on to the clay court with tennis shoes only—212-280-0205), fishing at Harlem Meer, gondola rides and boat rentals at the Loeb Boathouse (13), model boat rentals at the Conservatory Water (14), chess and checkers at the Chess & Checkers House (25), two ice skating rinks (1 & 22), croquet and lawn bowling just north of Sheep Meadow (28), and basketball courts at the North Meadow Rec Center (20). You will also see volleyball, basketball, skateboarding, bicycling, and many pick-up soccer, Frisbee, football, and kill-the-carrier games to join. During heavy snows, bust out your snowboard, cross-country skis, or homemade sled. Finally, Central Park is where the NYC Marathon ends each year.


1 Wollman Rink

2 Carousel

3 The Dairy

4 Central Park Zoo

5 The Arsenal

6 Tavern on the Green

7 Roller Skating Rink

8 Children’s Zoo

9 SummerStage

10 Strawberry Fields

11 Bethesda Fountain

12 Bow Bridge

13 Loeb Boathouse

14 Model Boat Racing

15 Alice in Wonderland

16 Belvedere Castle

17 Shakespeare Gardens

18 Delacorte Theater

19 The Obelisk

20 North Meadow Recreation Center

21 Conservatory Garden

22 Lasker Rink

23 Dana Discovery Center

24 Metropolitan Museum of Art

25 Chess & Checkers House

26 The Great Lawn

27 The Ramble

28 Sheep Meadow

29 The Cliff

30 Cedar Hill

31 The Great Hill

Parks & Places ✵ Columbia University


General Information

NFT Map:


Morningside Heights:

2960 Broadway & 116th St

Medical Center:

601 W 168th St



Website: or @Columbia

Students Enrolled:

29,250 (2013)


$8.2 billion (2013)


Yearning for those carefree days spent debating nihilism in the quad and wearing pajamas in public? Look no further than a quick trip to the Ivy League haven of Columbia University.

Unlike the other collegiate institutions that pepper Manhattan’s real estate, Columbia actually has a campus. The main campus, located in Morningside Heights, spans six blocks between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues. Most of the undergraduate classes are held here, along with several of the graduate schools. Other graduate schools, including the Law School and School of International and Public Affairs, are close by on Amsterdam Avenue. The main libraries, Miller Theater, and St. Paul’s Chapel are also located on the Morningside Heights campus. You can even get your intramural fix on a few fields for Frisbee-throwing and pick-up soccer games.

Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University is one of the country’s most prestigious academic institutions. The university is well known for its core curriculum, a program of requirements that gives students an introduction to the most influential works in literature, philosophy, science, and other disciplines. It also prepares them for the rigors of those pesky dinner parties.

After residing in two different downtown locations, Columbia moved to its present campus (designed by McKim, Mead, and White) in 1897. Low Library remains the focal point of the campus as does the Alma Mater statue in front—a landmark that continues to inspire student superstitions (find the hidden owl and you might be the next valedictorian) thanks to a thwarted plot to blow it up by the radical Weather Underground in the ‘60s. Students line the stairs in front of the library on sunny days, eating lunch and chatting with classmates. Columbia even has its own spooky network of underground tunnels (third largest in the world) that date back to the old Morningside mental asylum and were utilized by students and police during the 1968 strike.

Town/gown relations in Morningside Heights are quite controversial. While Columbia students show local businesses the money, the university continues to relentlessly buy up property and expand into the community, to the chagrin of many New Yorkers city-wide. The most famous of these struggles came in response to Columbia’s plans to build a gymnasium in Morningside Park. Contentious proposals, approved in 2009, for a 17-acre expansion into Manhattanville (the area north of 125th Street) by 2030 still cause tension and fear of evictions, and the debate between the university and old-time residents continues.

Columbia’s medical school is the second oldest in the nation, and the world’s first academic medical center. The school is affiliated with the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in Washington Heights and encompasses the graduate schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, and public health. Columbia is the only Ivy League university with a journalism school, which was founded at the bequest of Joseph Pulitzer in 1912. (The prize is still administered there.) The school is also affiliated with Barnard College, Jewish Theological Seminary, Teachers College, and Union Theological Seminary.

Numerous movies have been filmed on or around the campus including Ghostbusters, Hannah and Her Sisters, and various iterations of Spiderman.

Notable alums and faculty include artists James Cagney, Art Garfunkel, Georgia O’Keeffe, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Paul Robeson, and Twyla Tharp; critic Lionel Trilling; baseball player Lou Gehrig; and writers Isaac Asimov, Joseph Heller, Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty, Zora Neale Hurston, and Herman Wouk. Business alumni include Warren Buffet, Alfred Knopf, Joseph Pulitzer, and Milton Friedman, while government officials Madeline Albright, Dwight Eisenhower, Alexander Hamilton, Robert Moses, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Teddy Roosevelt all graced the university’s classrooms. In the field of law, Benjamin Cardozo, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Charles Evans Hughes, and John Jay called Columbia home, and Stephen Jay Gould, Margaret Mead, and Benjamin Spock make the list of notable science alumni.


Undergraduate tuition is approximately $50,000 per year plus room, board, books, illegal substances, therapy for your inferiority/superiority complex, etc. We suggest: Shacking up with your Aunt Agatha on the Upper West Side for the duration.


The Columbia Marching Band plays “Roar, Lion, Roar” after every touchdown, but their instruments remain tragically roarless most of the time. The Lions almost set the record for straight losses by a major college football team when they dropped 44 consecutive games between 1983 and 1988. Success has continued to elude the team. The hapless program even inspired a podcast on the local NPR affiliate. The Lions play their mostly Ivy League opponents at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium (Baker Field), located way up at the top of Manhattan.

Columbia excels in other sports including crew, fencing, golf, tennis, and sailing (silver spoon not included). The university is represented by 29 men’s and women’s teams in the NCAA Division I. It also has the oldest wrestling team in the country.

Culture on Campus

The ire evoked by its controversial immigration speech, when students stormed the stage, pales when compared to Columbia’s 2007 invitation to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to participate in a debate. Good or bad, it created much hype and put the campus in the spotlight for a day or two. Columbia does, however, feature plenty of other less volatile dance, film, music, theater, lectures, readings, and talks. Venues include: the Macy Gallery at the Teacher’s College, which exhibits works by a variety of artists, including faculty and children’s artwork; the fabulous Miller Theatre at 2960 Broadway, which primarily features musical performances and lectures; the student-run Postcrypt Art Gallery in the basement of St. Paul’s Chapel; the Theatre of the Riverside Church for theatrical performances from their top-rated graduate program; and the Wallach Art Gallery on the 8th floor of Schermerhorn Hall, featuring art and architecture exhibits. Check the website for a calendar of events. And bring your rubber bullets, just in case.

Phone Numbers

Morningside Campus: 212-854-1754

Medical Center: 212-305-CUMC (2862)

Visitors Center: 212-854-4900

Office of Communications and Public Affairs: 212-854-5573

Office of Alumni and Development: 212-851-7800

Public Safety: 212-854-2797, 212-854-5555 (emergency)

Library Information: 212-854-7309

Parks & Places ✵ East River Park


East River Park is a thin slice of land sandwiched between the FDR Drive and the East River, and running from Montgomery Street up to 12th Street. Built in the late 1930s as part of the FDR Drive, the park’s sporting facilities are some of the best Manhattan has to offer. The East River Esplanade welcomes runners, rollerbladers, dog-walkers, and those who just want to enjoy up-close views of the Williamsburg Bridge and across to Brooklyn. Long-term plans call for waterfront parkland from The Battery to Harlem, and in fact East River Park is part of an overall plan to someday create one continuous green stretch from Maine to Florida, known as the East Coast Greenway.


The park comes alive in the summer and on weekends, when hundreds of families barbecue in the areas between the athletic fields, blaring music and eating to their hearts’ content. Others take leisurely strolls or jogs along the East River Esplanade, which offers dramatic views of the river and Brooklyn. Many have turned the park’s unused areas into unofficial dog runs, places for pick-up games of ultimate Frisbee or soccer, and sunbathing areas. And aside from bathing beauties, you’ll even find fishermen waiting patiently for striped bass (not that we have to tell you, but nothing caught in the East River should be eaten—while the water quality has improved dramatically, it’s still full of pollutants).


The sports facilities at East River Park have undergone heavy reconstruction. The park now includes facilities for football, softball, basketball, soccer, tennis, and even cricket. Thankfully, many of the fields have been resurfaced with a resilient synthetic turf—a smart move given the amount of use the park gets by all the different sports leagues.



There are three bathroom facilities located in the park—one at the tennis courts, one at the soccer/track field, and one up in the northern part of the park by the playground. The reconstruction has provided East River Park with new benches, game tables, seal sprinklers for the kids, and new water fountains. Aside from the occasional guy with a cart full of cold drinks, there are no food or drink options close by. Your best bet is to arrive at the park with any supplies you might need—if that’s too difficult, try a bodega on Avenue D.


Built in 1941, the Corlears Hook Pavilion was the original home of Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare in the Park. However, it closed in 1973, and has never quite returned to its glory days. Plans for the fancy $3.5 million amphitheater/restaurant that was to replace the sad-looking, abandoned, graffiti-covered Corlears Hook Pavilion band shell have been canned.

A less ambitious reconstruction took place in 2001, however, and with new seating, a renovated band shell, and a good scrubbing, the facility is currently open for use.

How to Get There

Two FDR Drive exits will get you very close to East River Park—the Houston Street exit and the Grand Street exit. Technically, cars are not allowed in the park. There is some parking available at the extreme south end of the park by Jackson Street off the access road, but it’s hard to get to and poorly marked. Plan to find street parking just west of the FDR and cross over on a footbridge.

If you are taking the subway, you’d better have your hiking boots on—the fact that the closest subways (them J, M, Z, F at Delancey/Essex St and the L at First Ave) are so far away (at least four avenue blocks) is one of the reasons East River Park has stayed mainly a neighborhood park. Fortunately, if you’re into buses, the M22, M21, M14 and M8 and get you pretty close. Regardless of the bus or subway lines, you will have to cross one of the five pedestrian bridges that traverse the FDR Drive, unless you approach via the East River Esplanade.

Parks & Places ✵ Empire State Building


General Information

NFT Map:



350 Fifth Ave ( & 34th St)




Observatory Hours:

Open daily 365 days a year 8 am-2 am. Last elevators go up at 1:15 am

Observatory Admission: $27 for adults, $21 for kids, $24 for seniors, $50 if you want to be a show off and cut in front of everyone to the front of the line (we’re not lying with this one, folks…our society is indeed morally bankrupt).


There may not be a gorilla climbing it, but if you don’t already know the “World’s Most Famous Office Building,” the jig is up, Mac. Put down the NFT and back away slooowly. You’re not a true Manhattanite; you’re not even a well-researched tourist. So, folks, how did the giant end up perching on our block? In 1930, at the hands of raw men compounding raw material day after day, four-and-a-half stories were erected per week. Those ravaged from the Depression and eager to put their minds to work built the 1,500-foot structure in just 14 months, way ahead of schedule. We used to make stuff in this country. Quickly.

A year later, it served as an ambassador to visiting dignitaries like Queen Elizabeth and, years later, your Aunt Elizabeth. These days it is one of New York City’s (and the world’s) most famous landmarks. Movies have been shot there. Big shots work there. Wherever you are in Manhattan (and sometimes Brooklyn or Queens), it’s there to orient you. And you can take plenty of snapshots from the reason-you-go-there observation deck on the 86th floor. No trick questions asked. Some New Yorkers think it’s hip to have never been to the Empire State Building. These people are nuts. Whether you choose to go during the day or at night, it’s a totally different but amazing experience either way.

The Lights

As far away as downtown and all the way uptown, the lights of the Empire State Building soar above the clouds, signifying an international holiday and/or an interminable disease. On the 86th floor, a man with binoculars and a direct line to the lighting engineers waits. His raison d’être? Close-flying flocks of birds. One phone call, and the lights go out, lest the poor suckers smash their beaks and plunge to their death from the mesmerizing lights. True story.

Lighting Schedule (for updates/changes, check

image January ✵ Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

image January ✵ March of Dimes

image January-February ✵ Lunar New Year

image February 14 ✵ Valentine’s Day

image February ✵ President’s Day

image February ✵ Westminster Kennel Club

image February ✵ Swisspeaks Festival for Switzerland

image February ✵ World Cup Archery Championship

image March 17 ✵ St. Patrick’s Day

image March ✵ Greek Independence Day

image March ✵ Equal Parents Day/Children’s Rights

image March ✵ Wales/St. David’s Day

image March ✵ Oscar Week in NYC

image March ✵ Colon Cancer Awareness

image March ✵ Red Cross Month

image March-April ✵ Spring/Easter Week

image April ✵ Earth Day

image April ✵ Child Abuse Prevention

image April ✵ National Osteoporosis Society

image April ✵ Rain Forest Day

image April ✵ Israel Independence Day

image April ✵ Dutch Queen’s Day

image April ✵ Tartan Day

image May ✵ Muscular Dystrophy

image May ✵ Armed Forces Day

image May ✵ Memorial Day

image May ✵ Police Memorial Day

image May ✵ Fire Department Memorial Day

image May ✵ Haitian Culture Awareness

image June 14 ✵ Flag Day

image June ✵ Portugal Day

image June ✵ NYC Triathlon

image June ✵ Stonewall Anniversary/Gay Pride

image July 4 ✵ Independence Day

image July ✵ Bahamas Independence Day

image July ✵ Bastille Day

image July ✵ Peru Independence

image July ✵ Columbia Heritage & Independence

image August ✵ US Open

image August ✵ Jamaica Independence Day

image August ✵ India Independence Day

image August ✵ Pakistan Independence Day

image September ✵ Mexico Independence Day

image September ✵ Labor Day

image September ✵ Brazil Independence Day

image September ✵ Pulaski Day

image September ✵ Race for the Cure

image September ✵ Switzerland admitted to the UN

image September ✵ Qatar Independence

image September ✵ Fleet Week/Support our Servicemen and Servicewomen/Memorial for 9/11

image September ✵ Feast of San Gennaro

image October ✵ Breast Cancer Awareness

image October ✵ German Reunification Day

image October ✵ Columbus Day

image October 24 ✵ United Nations Day

image October ✵ Big Apple Circus

image October ✵ Pennant/World Series win for the Yankees

image October ✵ Pennant/World Series win for the Mets [Ha!]

image October ✵ NY Knicks Opening Day

image October-November ✵ Autumn

image October ✵ Walk to End Domestic Violence

image November ✵ NYC Marathon

image November ✵ Veterans’ Day

image November ✵ Alzheimer’s Awareness

image December ✵ First night of Hanukkah

image December ✵ “Day Without Art/Night Without Lights”/AIDS Awareness

image December-January 7 (with interruptions) ✵ Holiday Season

Parks & Places ✵ The High Line


General Information

NFT Maps: 5 & 8

Website: or @highlinenyc


Built on top of a disused portion of elevated freight train tracks, The High Line is at once both an escape from the chaos of the city’s streets and a celebration of Manhattan’s West Side, especially its architecture. The first section between Gansevoort Street and West 20th Street opened in 2009 and was an instant success, proving that open space could be hip and stylish, and causing the city tax assessor’s heart to race at the thought of all the surrounding property that suddenly deserved a second look. Section 2, which opened in June 2011, doubled the length of the park up to 30th Street. Section 3, completed in 2014, follows the elevated track to its end at 34th Street.

The rail line was built in the 1930s as part of the West Side Improvement project that eliminated dangerous at-grade railroad crossings and alleviated terrible traffic along Manhattan’s West Side. The same project expanded Riverside Park on the Upper West Side. As trucking became more efficient, train traffic on the rail line slowed. By 1980 the entire line shut down and quickly fell into disrepair. Many wanted to demolish the line, which was prohibitively expensive, but a grassroots group, Friends of the High Line, slowly built support that became a groundswell, thanks in part to a mayoral administration that didn’t mind investing in high-end development. The final cost of sections 1 and 2 was $152.3 million, including $112 million from the city, $20 million from the federal government and nearly $50 million in privately raised funds.

The High Line is open from 7 am to 10 pm daily (7 pm during winter and 11 pm during summer). The entire thing is wheelchair accessible although there are limited access points along the way. Dogs and bicycles are strictly prohibited, though there are bike racks at street level at various access points. Closest subway access is the A, C, and E along Eighth Avenue or the 1 along Seventh Avenue. The M11, M14, M23 and M34 buses also travel toward the park.

The park has several environmentally friendly touches. The flora planted along the High Line is representative of the region’s native ecology. Half of the plants are native to North America and 30% are native to the Northeast, making the park a natural home to birds and butterflies. The park also absorbs and uses rainwater that would otherwise be finding its way into gutters. Although the philosophy is low impact, the High Line has had a decidedly high impact on the surrounding neighborhood. In addition to providing an aesthetically pleasing path from the Meatpacking District north into the heart of Chelsea’s art galleries, the High Line has attracted people and businesses to a part of the city that was perhaps better known for its untz-untz dance clubs and Scores. The High Line has been a catalyst for both architectural and cultural development in the area, including The Whitney’s new home in the Meatpacking District.

Take a quick survey of the architecture by simply looking up; The Standard, which straddles the High Line just south of 14th Street, sports a posh restaurant as well as a beer garden, both directly underneath the High Line. Two other stunning architectural gems visible from the High Line (looking west) are Frank Gehry’s first commercial office building in New York, Barry Diller’s IAC Building, and Jean Nouvel’s 100 Eleventh Avenue condo building right across the street. The IAC is one of the most wonderfully luminescent buildings in all of New York, and Nouvel’s facade of hundreds of differently sized panes of glass became an instant classic. Of course, the work on the High Line itself, by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and landscape architects James Corner Field Operations, is simply amazing. The 10th Avenue Square area, with amphitheater-style seating and a living-room-window view of the northbound traffic of Tenth Avenue, is a favorite as well as a perfect place for a picnic (hit up the nearby Chelsea Market food vendors).

While weekend days during summer on the High Line is already a madhouse, we recommend an early-morning or evening stroll during spring and fall. The cityscape views at night are stunning; early morning is quiet and generally cool, until the sun moves above the skyscrapers to the east of the park. Really, there is no bad time to visit the High Line. The views will be great no matter what time of day it is.

Great food options abound nearby, including hip Cookshop (Map 8), French haven La Lunchonette (Map 8), neighborhood standby Red Cat (Map 8), Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market (Map 5), and warm Italian Bottino (Map 8). Want cheaper fare? Hit greasy spoon Hector’s (Map 5) or wait for one of the gourmet trucks to pull up around the corner from the Gansevoort stairs, or go DIY by buying food at Chelsea Market (Map 8). On the High Line itself, look out for stands selling artisanal popsicles, ice cream, tacos and coffee.

At night, you can hang around to rock out at The Highline Ballroom (Map 8), or drink at pubs The Half King (Map 8), Brass Monkey (Map 5), or The Standard’s Biergarten (Map 5), or, better yet, walk the streets of the West 20s in search of gallery openings (read: free wine and cheese). No matter how you slice it, a visit to the High Line will only make you happier. We promise.

Parks & Places ✵ Hudson River Park


General Information

Hudson River

Park Trust:





It’s up for debate whether Hudson River Park is a beacon for downtown joggers or a Bermuda triangle that pilots should fly away from. In a matter of months, this western stretch of green torpedoed into infamy when two planes and a helicopter crash-landed off the banks of the park. Most famously, the U.S. Airways “Miracle on the Hudson” skidded to a safe water landing in early 2009. Seven months later, a helicopter and a small plane collided in nearly the same spot and killed nine people.

Of course, we’d rather talk about the park’s safer aerial acrobatics, like the trapezes and half-pipes that define this 550-acre, $330 million park development along the south and southwest coastline of Manhattan, stretching from Battery Place to West 59th Street.

As part of the New York State Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat, 400 acres of the total 550 thrive as estuarine sanctuary. This means the 70 fish species (there are fish in the Hudson?) and 30 bird species on the waterfront won’t go belly up or beak down with all the marine preservation. Thanks to this effort, you’ll be able to enjoy the winter flounder, white perch, owls, hawks, and songbirds for generations to come. (That’s fantastic! Bob, tell them what else they’ve won…) What downtown, nature-loving, organic-eating savers of the planet have won is in what they’ve lost. As a mandate, office buildings, hotels, casino gambling boats, and manufacturing plants are prohibited from the HRP, as are residences (sorry, no water-front property next to your yacht) and jet skis (better to leave them in the Caymans). Check out the Intrepid aircraft carrier/sea-air-space museum, especially during Fleet Week each year (usually the week of Memorial Day, in May). You’ll get to see teeming Navy personnel and much more modern vessels, some of which absolutely dwarf the Intrepid itself. A sight not to be missed.


HRP takes its culture cue from the surrounding downtown art scene of TriBeCa, SoHo, and Chelsea. Perhaps you saw one of Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s final performances before they shut down. Or maybe you were waiting in line to see Ashes and Snow, Gregory Colbert’s rendition of the interactions between animals and humans took form in the temporary Nomadic Museum on Pier 54. Or maybe you checked out Malcolm Cochran’s Private Passage on Clinton Cove (55th-57th St). Similar to your late-night antics, you peered into a gigantic wine bottle. There, from portholes carved on the sides, you could see the interior of the stateroom of the Queen Mary. Or, hearkening back to an early time, the Shadow of the Lusitania. Justen Ladda recreated the shadow of the famous ship on the south side of Pier 54 (also home to reconstructed historic ships, not just their shadows), its original docking place, with glass and planters. Jutting out where Pier 49 used to sit is one of the park’s more somber exhibits, the New York City AIDS memorial. Dedicated on World AIDS Day in 2008 after 14 years of fundraising and planning, the 42-foot-long memorial is both a striking accomplishment and a sober nod to those whose lives have been lost to the disease. A more permanent piece in HRP: Salinity Gradient in TriBeCa. Paver stones spanning 2000 feet take the shape of Hudson marine creatures. Striped bass included. Not impressed? HRP Trust hired different designers for each segment of the five-mile park, with only the esplanade and waterfront railing as universal pieces. Check out the landscape design of each segment.



Season-specific events are held year-round at HRP. During the summer, experience fight-night basics on Pier 84 for Rumble on the River with live blood splattering with each KO. Sundays in the summer host MoonDances on Pier 84 with free dance lessons before live New York bands play. Wednesday and Fridays in the summer boast River Flicks on Pier 54 and Pier 84 with throwback films like The Goonies. Pier of Fear is mainly a Halloween party for the kiddies, but if you’re still down with dressing up as the Scream guy, hey, no one will stop you. An estuarium (dedicated to the science of the river) and a TriBeCa dog run, among other projects, are next on the list of improvements for HRP.


Think of sports in terms of piers. You already know about ritzy Chelsea Piers, but soon enough “Pier 40” or “Pier 63” will also become vernacular to sports freaks. And there are far less expensive piers beyond CP. Most crucial to athletic-minded souls, a five-mile running/biking/blading path that threads through the piers. It’s a miniature divided highway—smooth, simple, and super crowded during peak times (early evening and weekends). You’ll find sunbathing lawns throughout (the most sport some will ever do). Pier 40: three and a half ball fields. Area south of Houston: three tennis courts. Mini-golf. Batting cages. Skateboard park. Beach volleyball. Trapeze lessons. Pier 40, CP, Pier 63, Pier 96: free kayaking. Those are the highlights; for more that’s up your particular sports alley, check out the website.

How to Get There

Hmmm. How to most efficiently make your way through all the concrete to the shoreline? The 1 and A, C, E between Chambers and 59th Streets will get you the closest. Go west ‘til you hit water. You’re there.

Parks & Places ✵ Javits Center



General Information

NFT Map:



655 W 34th St


Phone Number:



This massive 2.1 million square-foot glass-and-steel behemoth of a convention hall next to the Hudson River was officially built to house big trade shows, conventions and expositions, but clearly its true purpose is to annoy anyone who has to go there. Located between 34th and 38th Streets, the James Ingo Freed design has been sitting in the middle of nowhere since 1986. Although it generates well over $1 billion of business for New York, dissatisfaction with the convention center has brewed for a number of years, with complaints ranging from the aesthetic (big ugly box) to the practical (lack of space). Various plans have been proposed over the years to expand the center up or over the adjoining west side rail yards, and overhaul the building’s facade. The Javits even got dragged into the Jets stadium fiasco, but seems to have emerged with some concrete progress towards a revamping: in late-2006, ground was broken on an expansion that would more than double the size of the Center. The election of a new governor, Eliot Spitzer, and subsequent resignation of said governor due to prostitution allegations resulted in a re-evaluation of the plans. When discovered that most of the $1.6 billion budget would go towards fixing—not expanding—the project was essentially nixed. Meanwhile, somewhere along the way someone even got the idea to demolish Javits completely, replacing it with a larger version out at the Aqueduct Racetrack near JFK in Queens. In the meantime, a less-ambitious and somewhat less-expensive $465 million renovation added 110,000 square feet of space to the north, connected via level two, and various environmentally friendly features.

What is most important to know about the Javits, and most other convention centers in the world, is that they are essentially soulless, dehumanizing spaces with crappy bathrooms, horrific food, nowhere to sit, and filled (generally) with absolutely slimy, soulless, moronic sales and marketing people; it just depends on which industry is in town that moment as to what exact breed you’re getting. Even the presence of cool sports cars (i.e. the Auto Show each Easter week) can’t overcome a feeling, after spending even two hours in this convention center, of an absolute black nihilism. Surely someone’s come up with something better? Perhaps all trade shows should simply be outdoors in Southern California in the spring—at least, that’s our vote. Wait, was that out loud?

All that said, the extension of the 7 train to 11th Avenue and 34th Street should help make the ‘ol glass eyesore seem a little more connected to civilization (or at least the rest of Midtown). And plans are in place for a third phase of the nearby High Line that will terminate at Javits’ southern edge at West 34th Street. Easier to get to and a more pleasant overall experience—all this in spite of itself (sounds about right).

The main exhibition halls are on the first and third levels. Levels one and three also have ATMs. Go to level two for coffee, newsstands, and transportation. The lounges are on the fourth level.


The food at the Javits Center is, of course, rapaciously expensive, and, if you’re exhibiting, usually sold out by mid-afternoon. There are food courts on levels one and three that serve typical food court fare: pizza, deli sandwiches, juices & smoothies, and the requisite mall-style Asian and panini fare. As an alternative, look for people handing out Chinese food menus and have them deliver to your booth. (And yes, they take credit cards. And yes, it’s bad Chinese food.)

How to Get There—Mass Transit

Until the extension of 7 train, there was no direct subway access to the center. The next closest subway stop is 34th Street/Penn Station, a good four - to five-block hike away. The M42 and M34 buses travel crosstown on 42nd Street and 34th Street, respectively, connecting with subway stops along the way. Both bus routes drop you off right outside the center.

There are also numerous shuttle buses that run to various participating hotels and other locales free of charge for convention goers. Schedules and routes vary for each convention, so ask at the information desk on the first floor.

From New Jersey, the NY Waterway operates ferries from Weehawken that ships you across the Hudson River to 39th Street and Twelfth Avenue in under 10 minutes, dropping you just one block from the Javits Center. The ferries leave every 15-30 minutes during peak hours. Call 1-800-53-FERRY or go to for a schedule and more information.

Parks & Places ✵ Lincoln Center / Columbus Circle


General Information

NFT Map:



General Info:


Guided Tours:





Alice Tully Hall:


Avery Fisher Hall:


David H. Koch Theater:


Walter Reade Theater:



The Chamber Music Society:


Film Society of Lincoln Center:


Jazz at Lincoln Center:


The Julliard School:


Lincoln Center Theater:


The Metropolitan Opera House:


New York City Ballet:


New York Philharmonic:


New York Public Library for the Performing Arts:



Lincoln Center is the largest performing arts center in the world, which means it’s a beloved icon, but it’s also guilty of some cultural Disneyfication. It sets the gold standard, but it also needs to make money, which it does by presenting the same venerable artists performing the same standard works, geared toward an aging, wealthy, elitist audience. However, that shouldn’t stop you from seeing the Met Opera, hearing the New York Philharmonic, and taking a photo by the fountain at least once in your life. Go ahead, wear jeans to the ballet, in the name of the people!

In 2012 LC completed a massive $1.2 billion renovation, which included a much-needed facelift (inside and out) for Alice Tully Hall and the addition of a lawn-covered café, among other worthy attractions. Don’t miss out on discount tickets at the new Atrium, one small step toward lowering LC’s snob factor. (But not for long, as LC now hosts Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.) Jazz at Lincoln Center, opened in 2004, benefits from having Wynton Marsalis as its artistic director; the trumpet god has done wonders for promoting jazz education. That said, JALC embodies the same disparity as the rest of LC: it’s an esteemed heavyweight in the jazz world, but it caters to the 1%, despite jazz having been conceived as accessible music for regular folks like you and me.

Who Lives Where

A mecca of tulle, tin, and strings, Lincoln Center houses companies upon troupes upon societies. Matching the performing group to the building means you won’t end up watching Swan Lake when you should be listening to Mozart. The most confusing part about Lincoln Center is that “Lincoln Center Theater” is actually two theaters—the Vivian Beaumont and the Mitzi E. Newhouse theaters. Jazz at Lincoln Center moved into the Frederick P. Rose Hall in the Time Warner Center.

American Ballet Theater—Metropolitan Opera House

Chamber Music Society—Alice Tully Hall

Film Society of Lincoln Center—Walter Reade Theater

Jazz at Lincoln Center—Frederick P. Rose Hall

Julliard Orchestra & Symphony—Alice Tully Hall

Metropolitan Opera Company—Metropolitan Opera House

Lincoln Center Theater—Vivian Beaumont Theater and Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater

Mostly Mozart Festival—Avery Fisher Hall

New York City Ballet—David H. Koch Theater

New York Philharmonic—Avery Fisher Hall

School of American Ballet—Samuel B. and David Rose Building

Columbus Circle

The crazy-making subterranean Whole Foods in the Time Warner Center is probably the reason most trek over to Columbus Circle, but don’t miss the intriguing Museum of Arts and Design, which opened up on the south side of the circle in 2008 following an expansive and controversial renovation of 2 Columbus Circle. Check out its sublime permanent collection, excellent temporary exhibits, and cool design shop. As for the Time Warner Center, the shops therein cohere into something resembling a mall, a Manhattan rarity, though one with a great view of Central Park. Elsewhere there is the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, featuring 18,000-count sheets on which your out-of-town guests will not sleep unless they own a small kingdom. Ditto for eating at Thomas Keller’s Per Se ($300-plus per person, not including wine), though his Bouchon Bakery is more within reach. See also the uptown outpost of TriBeCa’s cool Landmarc restaurant. The Trump International Hotel and Tower rises up across the street, next to the riff on the Unisphere; Nougatine, of Jean-Georges fame, is its premier lunch spot…ahh…the other reason you go to Columbus Circle.

How to Get There

Lincoln Center is right off Broadway and only a few blocks north of Columbus Circle, which makes getting there easy. The closest subway is the 66th Street 1 stop, which has an exit right on the edge of the center. It’s also an easy walk from the trains that roll into Columbus Circle. If you prefer above-ground transportation, the M5, M7, M10, M11, M20, M66, and M104 bus lines all stop within one block of Lincoln Center. There is also a parking lot underneath the complex.

Parks & Places ✵ The New School


General Information

NFT Maps:

5 & 6

Welcome Center:

72 Fifth Ave (at 13th St)





10,340 (2012)


$205 million (2012)


The New School, formerly The New School for Social Research, is a legendary progressive university located in and around Greenwich Village, housing seven major divisions, a world-renowned think tank and the backdrop for Project Runway. Founded in 1919 as a refuge for intellectual nonconformists (including historian Charles Beard, philosopher John Dewey, and several former Columbia professors), The New School credits its philosophy to the fusing of American Intellectual rigor and European critical thought.

The university annually enrolls 10,000 students within seven undergraduate and graduate divisions, including Parsons The New School for Design, The New School for Public Engagement, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, Mannes College The New School for Music, The New School for Drama, The New School for Social Research, and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.

The current New School for Social Research, formerly the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science, formerly the University in Exile was a division founded as a haven for dismissed teachers from totalitarian regimes in Europe. Original members included psychologist Erich Fromm and political philosopher Leo Strauss. Quite a lineage with which more recent graduates as Sufjan Stevens and Marc Jacobs have to contend.


Tuition for undergraduates can exceed $40,000 per year plus nearly $14,000 to share an apartment with two or three other students. Yes, that’s over $1,650 per month to share a living space for the school year (not the full calendar year). See website for detailed division-by-division tuition information.

Culture on Campus

Parsons is always showcasing something or other, from student shows to MoMA-presented conferences to fine arts lectures. The John L. Tischman Auditorium is the egg-shaped art deco venue for the masses. The quad courtyard, between buildings on 12th and 13th Streets, is the closest thing to a college campus. Otherwise, there’s the city.


All the subways that Union Square has to offer: N, Q, R, 4, 5, 6, and the L. See also the F and M trains along Sixth Avenue.

General Phone Numbers

Admission and Financial

Aid Information

212-229-5150 or 800-292-3040

Alumni Relations:


Campus Security:


Academic Phone Numbers

Parsons The New School for Design


Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts


The New School for Social Research


The New School for Public Engagement


Mannes College The New School for Music


The New School for Drama


The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music


Parks & Places ✵ New York University


General Information

NFT Map:




Website: or @nyuniversity


44,599 (2013)


$3.1 billion (2013)


Founded in 1831, one of the nation’s largest private universities sprawls throughout Manhattan, though its most recognizable buildings border Washington Square. Total enrollment hovers around 45,000, about half of whom are undergrads, many of whom will flood the city with their artistic product upon graduation, as if there wasn’t enough competition for young artists here.

The expansion of NYU during recent years has not been welcomed by local residents. Some Village folks blame NYU’s sprawl for higher rents and diminished neighborhood character. On the other hand, the students are a great boon to area businesses, the Washington Square campus is one of the city’s largest private employers (this in a sector that enjoyed great growth even despite the country’s recent economic downturn), and—to the ostensible point of many of the university’s detractors—many historical buildings, such as the row houses on Washington Square, are owned and kept in good condition by the university.

NYU comprises 14 colleges, schools, and divisions, including the well-regarded Stern School of Business, the School of Law, and the Tisch School of Arts. It also has a school of Continuing and Professional Studies, with offerings in publishing, real estate, and just about every other city-centric industry you could imagine. Oh, and somehow they have the only Chick-fil-A this side of Paramus.


If you squint, tuition for undergraduates runs around $50,000, plus $15,000 for room and board. Presented without comment.


NYU isn’t big on athletics. They don’t have a football team—where would they play anyway? It does have a number of other sports teams, however, and its fencing teams are highly competitive, with a long list of Olympians. The school competes in Division III and its mascot is the Bobcat, although all of their teams are nicknamed the Violets. The reason for this is explainable but by no means awe-inspring. “Violets” comes from the cute purple flowers that grew in Washington Square Park. Preferring a more robust identity, in the early 1980s the school turned to the Bobcat, inspired by—no kidding—its novel new computerized Bobst Library Catalog system dubbed “BobCat.” Somewhere Albert Gallatin was all like, “SMH,” but it stuck and here we are today…

Culture on Campus

The Grey Art Gallery usually has something cool (, and the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts hosts live performances ( Still, NYU doesn’t host nearly as many events as decent liberal arts schools in the middle of nowhere. But then again, why would they? NYU is in Greenwich Village, surrounded by some of the world’s best rock and jazz clubs, and on the same island as 700+ art galleries, thousands of restaurants, and tons of revival and new cinema. This is both the blessing and the curse of NYU—no true “campus,” but situated in the middle of the greatest cultural square mileage in the world.


NYU runs its own campus transportation service for students, faculty, staff, and alumni with school ID cards. They run 7 am to 12 midnight weekdays and 10 am to 12 midnight weekends. During fall and spring session, free overnight Safe Ride Van Service is available to and from NYU facilities. NYU also has its own bike share program. Unlike Citibike, it’s free and users can have bikes for the entire day.

General Phone Numbers

Gould Welcome Center


Office of Financial Aid


University Development and Alumni Relations


Bobst Library Information


Main Bookstore


Parks & Places ✵ Randall’s & Wards Islands


General Information

Randall’s Island Park Alliance: 212-830-7722

Website: or @randallsisland


If landfills, minimal food options, and a treacherous mix of the Harlem and East Rivers called “Hell Gate” don’t entice you over the RFK Bridge, you probably have good instincts. But put Randall’s & Wards Islands’ sullied past aside, and its 480 acres of open space just across the bridge will surprise you, not only its abundant recreational facilities but also the large concerts, art fairs and various festivals that set up shop each summer.

The islands, which were actually once two separate features since connected by landfill, were once home to hospitals and various social outreach facilities. In the 1930s the site began to transition to its current use as a public park and recreational hub. Over the years the island’s Downing Stadium hosted concerts starring the likes of Duke Ellington and Jimi Hendrix. Jesse Owens competed there in Olympic trials, and Soccer great Pele played there with the Cosmos in the 1970s.

As with many of the city’s ambitious 1930s-era projects, by the 1980s Randall’s Island fell into disrepair, but since 1999 it has undergone a huge overhaul, and now it again boasts some of the city’s top recreational amenities. The Randall’s Island Park Alliance public-private conservancy now operates the greenspace and keeps progress humming. The foundation kicked off the park’s renovation by replacing Downing Stadium with the state-of-the-art Icahn Track & Field Stadium, opened in 2005. Since then, they’ve restored dozens of ballfields, marshes, and wetlands, and built new waterfront bike and pedestrian paths. Some ideas have not come to pass: in 2007, local activists put the kibosh on a grand plan to build a fancy suburban-style water park.

No matter what, we hope future plans bring in more food facilities. Currently, the only culinary options are a smattering of food trucks near the Icahn Stadium and the golf center’s snack bar. One suggestion: make a Whole Foods/Fairway/Zabar pit stop before enjoying a chill weekend afternoon in the park.

How to Get There

By Car: Take the RFK Bridge, exit left to Randall’s Island. While you do have to pay the MTA’s hefty toll to get on the island, rest assured that it’s free to leave!

By Subway/Bus: From Manhattan: take the 4, 5, 6 train to 125th Street, then transfer on the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue for the M35 bus to Randall’s Island. There’s a bus about every 15-20 minutes during the day.

By Foot: A pedestrian footbridge at 103rd Street was built by Robert Moses in the ‘50s to provide Harlem residents access to the recreational facilities of the parks after then-City Council President Newbold Morris criticized the lack of facilities in Harlem. The bridge is open to pedestrians and cyclists 24/7.


1 Randall’s Island Golf Center; 212-427-5689; The golf center on Randall’s Island features a year-round driving range with heated stalls along with grass tees and an area to practice your short game (complete with sand bunkers). See also their 36 holes of mini-golf, nine batting cages, snack bar, and beer garden. Shuttle service is available weekends year-round and weekdays in season ($12 round trip).

2 Icahn Track & Field Stadium; Named for financier Carl Icahn (who contributed $10 million for naming rights), the 5,000-seat stadium is the only state-of-the-art outdoor track and field venue in New York City with a 400-meter running track and a regulation-size soccer field.

3 Supportive Employment Center

4 Charles H. Gay Shelter Care Center for Men

5 Odyssey House Drug Rehab Center/Mabon Building

6 DEP Water Pollution Control Plant

7 Fire Department Training Center; the NYC Fire Academy is located on 27 acres of landfill on the east side of Randall’s Island. In an effort to keep the city’s bravest in shape, the academy utilizes 68 acres of parkland for physical fitness programs. The ultra-cool training facility includes 11 Universal Studios-like buildings for simulations training, a 200,000 gallon water supply tank, gasoline and diesel fuel pumps, and a 300-car parking lot. In addition, the New York Transit Authority installed tracks and subway cars for learning and developing techniques to battle subway fires and other emergencies. They’re clearly missing an opportunity here…

8 Sportime Tennis Center; 212-427-6150; 20 year-round courts, including courts heated for winter use, a training facility and café.

9 Robert Moses Building; perhaps a few urban planning students have made a pilgrimage here, the one-time home of Moses’ power-consolidating Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.

10 NYPD; they launch cool-looking police boats from here.

Parks & Places ✵ Riverside Park


General Information





Riverside Park, stretching from 59th Street to 155th Street along the Hudson River on Manhattan’s West Side, is the place where Upper West Siders go to find a little bit of rest and respite in the one of the most crowded neighborhoods in the country. The park also serves as a vital link between Upper Manhattan and Midtown for bicyclists and joggers along the water’s edge, and there are ample recreational opportunities all along the way. Oh, and the views to the west across the Hudson from the vistas above are just magnificent.

The park developed in stages. The initial plans, from 72nd to 125th Streets, were conceived in the 1870s by Frederick Law Olmsted, co-designer of Central and Prospect Parks. Those designs were implemented piecemeal into the early part of the 20th century; the garden pathways and vistas along Riverside Drive are part of the original Olmsted plans. In the 1930s the Parks Department under the leadership of so-called master builder Robert Moses undertook a massive expansion of the park when the Henry Hudson Parkway was built along the waterfront and recreational facilities were added, along with the 79th Street Marina and Rotunda. In 1980, the park was designated an official scenic landmark by the City Landmarks Commission; it is one of only a handful of scenic landmarks in the city. The new millennium saw further expansion south of 72nd Street to 59th Street.


Sights & Sounds

The thin path between the Henry Hudson Parkway and the water’s edge between 100th and 125th Streets is home to dozens of cherry trees, gifts of the Japanese government from 1909, and from the same batch as were planted in D.C’s Tidal Basin. In spring the pink flowers are stunning. Speaking of trees, the American Elms along Riverside Drive are a relatively rare living example of a species that has been nearly decimated by disease over the years. Many films and television shows are shot in Riverside Park, but head to the garden at 91st Street to see where Tom Hanks finally met Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument at 89th Street is the site of the city’s annual Memorial Day commemoration. At 122nd Street is the punchline to the old Groucho Marx joke: technically, no one is buried in Grant’s Tomb, as the 18th President and his wife lay in rest in two sarcophagi above ground. And if you thought you had a good deal on rent, check out the lucky few who get to dock their houseboats at the 79th Street Boat Basin. But will Zabar’s deliver?


In the early part of the 20th century park systems across the country began focusing less on passive recreation in favor of active recreation. Part of the Westside Improvement Project that covered the train tracks and built the Henry Hudson Parkway also added recreation facilities on the land below bluffs. Today Riverside Park has ballfields, basketball, tennis, volleyball and handball courts, and even kayak launches. It’s safe to say that Olmsted probably never expected dog runs dotting his park.


Take the 1, 2, 3 train to any stop between Columbus Circle and 157th and it’s just a short walk west to Riverside Park. The M72 bus gets you closest to Riverside Park South and the M5 bus runs up and down Riverside Drive, right at the edge of the park.

Parks & Places ✵ Rockefeller Center


General Information

NFT Map:





Rink Phone:


Rink Website:

NBC Tour Phone:


Top of the Rock:


Perhaps you’ve been blinded five streets away by 25,000 Swarovski crystals. Or maybe you’ve glimpsed a gargantuan King Kong of a tree shooting seventy feet in the air and wondered how on earth such vegetation could grow in concrete. Regardless, you fall for antics, arrive in bewilderment at Rockefeller Center, and stay for the ice skating rink, services at St. Patrick’s, and the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. When there’s not a huge pine tree to distract you, you’ll note that Rockefeller Center occupies three square blocks with a slew of retail, dining, and office facilities. Midtown corporate just ain’t the same without its magic.

The massive Rockefeller Center complex was begun at the height of the Great Depression and reflects the Art Deco architecture of the era. It opened in 1933 and it’s notable that most of the iconic Rockefeller Center attractions and features actually date back to those early years: the tree tradition began in 1931, the Rainbow Room opened for business in 1934, the wintertime rink first welcomed skaters in 1936, and Radio City Music Hall and its Rockettes date back to the early days. NBC has been headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (i.e., “30 Rock”) since the very beginning; when you go, you’ll recognize the Today Show exterior immediately, and Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers all take place in the NBC studios on the lower floors of the 30 Rock. NBC offers tours of its facilities; call or visit online for more information.

The Top of the Rock Observation Deck has jaw-dropping, 360-degree views of the skyline from atop 30 Rock. In some ways it’s a better view than that from the Empire State Building, if only because it features a great view of the Empire State Building. Top of the Rock is open daily 8 am-12 am (last elevator 11 pm). Tickets are timed entry and cost $27. Guided tours of Rockefeller Center are offered daily throughout the day and combined Top of the Rock/tour tickets are available.

Where to Eat

How hungry are you? Rock Center isn’t a prime dining destination, but you won’t starve if you find yourself in the area. For cheaper fare, try places down in the Concourse. You’ll pay for the view if you eat overlooking the skating rink. For coffee, there is an outpost of Blue Bottle on the Concourse level. The Magnolia Bakery on 49th and Sixth is one of two architectural holdouts that refused to sell to the Rockefellers. Many restaurants in Rockefeller Center are open on Saturdays, but aside from the “nice” restaurants, only a few open their doors on Sundays.

Where to Shop

Much of the Rockefeller Center roster could be at a mall nearly anywhere, but there are some fun standouts in the crowd. FDNY Fire Zone (50 Rockefeller Plaza) features both interactive fire safety exhibits and official FDNY merch. La Maison Du Chocolat (30 Rockefeller Plaza) sells high-end French chocolate and boffo hot chocolate. Posman Books (30 Rockefeller Plaza) is a family-owned independent bookstore. Teuscher Chocolates (620 Fifth Ave) are Swiss chocolates in the truest sense: they’re flown in from Switzerland.

The Rink

To practice your double loop: The rink opens Columbus Day weekend and closes in April to make way for the Rink Bar. Skating hours are 8:30 am-12 am daily. Rates are $27 for each 90-minute session plus $12 skate rental. Season passes are available. If it all seems a little pricey, keep in mind that only 150 skaters are allowed on the rink at one time, making for a more intimate experience. And that setting, duh.

Parks & Places ✵ Roosevelt Island


Once upon a time, Roosevelt Island was much like the rest of New York—populated by criminals, the sick, and the mentally ill. The difference was that they were the residents of the island’s various mental institutions, hospitals, and jails, but these days this slender tract of land between Manhattan and Queens has become prime real estate for families and UN officials.

The 147-acre island, formerly known as “Welfare Island” because of its population of outcasts and the poor, was renamed for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1973, when the island began changing its image. The first residential housing complex opened in 1975. Some of the old “monuments” remain, including the Smallpox Hospital and the Blackwell House (one of the oldest farmhouses in the city), while the Octagon Building, formerly a 19th-century mental hospital known for its deplorable conditions, has been turned into luxury condos (so yes, you’re still in New York). Four Freedoms Park, which dusts off a decades-old design by the architect Louis I. Kahn, is a focal point for the southern tip of the island; the putting green-length grass and severe white granite isn’t exactly welcoming, but you certainly can’t beat that view of East Midtown.

The island’s northern tip is a popular destination for fishermen with iron gullets. It’s also the home of a lighthouse designed by James Renwick, Jr., of St. Patrick’s Cathedral fame. The two rehab/convalescent hospitals on the island don’t offer emergency services, so if you’re in need of medical attention right away, you’re out of luck. The island’s main drag, Main Street (where did they come up with the name?), resembles a cement-block college campus circa 1968. Just south, closer to the tram, is a more recent stretch of development that fetches top dollar. Two of these buildings are residences for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller and Cornell University employees.

Perhaps the best way to experience the island is to spend a little while on the local shuttle bus that runs the length of the island. You’ll see a wonderful mix of folks, some crazy characters, and have a chance to grill the friendly bus drivers about all things Roosevelt Island. Trust us.


How to Get There

Roosevelt Island can be reached by the train, but it’s much more fun to take the tram. Plus, your-out-of town friends will love that this is the tram Tobey Maguire saved as Spiderman in the first movie. You can board it with a Metrocard (including an unlimited!) at 60th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan—look for the big hulking mass drifting through the sky. It takes 4 minutes to cross and runs every 15 minutes (every 7 minutes during rush hour) 6 am-2 am, Sunday through Thursday, and ‘til 3:30 am on Fridays and Saturdays. To get there by car, take the Queensboro-Ed Koch Bridge and follow signs for the 21st Street-North exit. Go north on 21st Street and make a left on 36th Avenue. Go west on 36th Avenue and cross over the red Roosevelt Island Bridge. There is limited reliable street parking on Roosevelt Island; hit the Motorgate Plaza garage at the end of the bridge at Main Street instead.

image Landmarks

✵ Blackwell House ✵ 591 Main St [River Rd]

✵ Blackwell’s Lighthouse ✵

North tip of Roosevelt Island

✵ Chapel of the Good Shepherd ✵

546 Main St [West Rd]

✵ Four Freedoms Park ✵

1 FDR Four Freedoms Park

✵ Smallpox Hospital ✵

South tip of Roosevelt Island

✵ Tramway ✵ 346 Main St [West Rd]

image Restaurants

✵ Riverwalk Bar & Grill ✵ 425 Main St

Parks & Places ✵ South Street Seaport


General Information

NFT Maps:

1 & 3





For years New York’s modus operandi has been something along the lines of build, tear down, build bigger, tear down again, and build even bigger until it’s the biggest, bestest, most badass thing in the Western Hemisphere. Or something like that. Which is what makes the South Street Seaport such an odd and endearing spot in Lower Manhattan. The old-tymey tyme historic ships and intact nineteenth-century buildings take you back to New York’s mercantile/shipping past. If you squint, you just might make out Walt Whitman ducking a roving band of Dead Rabbits. Or something like that. Or maybe those are just a few preteens goofing while their folks settle up at the TKTS booth. Same-same.

Indeed, time was you could be forgiven if you assumed South Street Seaport was just a mall and a cobblestoned pedestrian mallful of chain stores. After Superstorm Sandy, however, the area has undergone quite a physical and spiritual change. Today the Seaport has been rebranded as a spot for container ship pop-ups, artisanal vendors from Brooklyn and a space for live events. Even the bad old mall is scheduled for a major renovation.

Part of the impetus for change has come from the Howard Hughes Corporation, which has plans to shake up what had become a sleepy and, honestly, somewhat stale part of Lower Manhattan. The museum and its picturesque tall ships had been struggling financially for years, the bland shops along Schermerhorn Row amounted to a lesser Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and the less said about that strange Pier 17 mall the better. It remains to be seen whether the plans for a giant tower and multi-screen mixed-use fantasia survive first contact, but the ball is definitely rolling. And if they can do something wonderful with the former Fulton Fish Market, which has been waiting for a permanent repurposing since it closed in 2005, then it will all be for the best.

For the time being, the area deserves all the support it can get. For years, our favorite stop is friendly and crowded Nelson Blue, with its crisp, clean New Zealand cuisine. It can get crowded early evenings with Wall Streeters, but off-times and weekends it’s a perfect respite from walking the pavement. SUteiShi, right across the street, does excellent sushi rolls, while Barbalu’s owners proved stronger than the storm. A gourmet cuppa joe can be sipped at Jack’s Stir Brew or have a glass of wine at Bin 220 before indulging in succulent steaks at Mark Joseph. And then there are those great old-old school places that remain awesome—don’t miss brunch at 19th-century spot Bridge Café and drinks at former fishmonger hangout Paris Café. And Pasanella is a great wine store.

The South Street Historic District is at a crossroads, and time will tell whether the development that happens creates something smart and vital or just replicates the same sort of tourist crapola à la Pier 17 mall. Here’s hoping for the former—the infrastructure is just too cool, and the stakes are too high to let this fantastic resource wither.

Parks & Places ✵ Times Square


General Information

NFT Map:




Take the 1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, R, and S trains to get to the center of everything at the 42nd Street/Times Square stop, under Broadway and Seventh Avenue. The A, C, and E trains stop at 42nd Street along Eighth Avenue.


Let’s get real: the hand-wringing about whether the “old” “gritty” Times Square was somehow better than the “new” “sanitized” “Disneyfied” Times Square is so three decades ago. Times Square is what it is, and the truth is that if you spend any amount of time in Midtown, or if you’ve ever go to a theatrical presentation, or if you—god forbid!—happen to happen upon one of the most iconic cityscapes on the planet, then you just might find yourself here. And when that occurs, you can either be a dead-ender about it and spar with Elmo about how Show World was so much better than M &Ms World or you can accept the fact that, duh, healthy cities evolve. That said, no one’s debating the idea that those Hard Gump Planet Fieri ShrimpZone theme restaurants are and always will be patently absurd. Granted. And of course you dislike Times Square—of course you do, we get it. But now that you are here, let’s talk about how to make the most of it.

For starters, now that Broadway between 42nd Street and 47th Street is permanently closed to traffic, Times Square is a lot less of a headache to walk through. Now there is ample space to gawk at the underwear ads above. The street preachers have lost their narrow sidewalk gauntlet. Some days you can even walk from one end to the other without once ever having to consider whether you like comedy. The “pilot” project that began in 2009 was made permanent, or permanent enough, by the end of Bloomberg’s tenure in 2013.

On the north end of the Times Square district in Duffy Square is the giant red TKTS booth, a sort of ziggurat of cheap Broadway tickets. Climb to the top—don’t worry, unlike nearly everything else in the immediate vicinity, it’s free—take the customary selfie and admire the view. Come on, admit it: it’s pretty neat up there. And now you know what the view is like from the Olive Garden.


Times Square was known as Longacre Square until 1904, when The New York Times moved to the building now known as One Times Square, which is also known as the place where the ball drops each New Year’s Eve. The paper has since moved twice—first to 229 West 43rd Street and then in 2007 to a new Renzo Piano-designed 52-story skyscraper on the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, just across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The Times Building also houses a hip MUJI store for all your Japanese design needs. As for the Port Authority, it’s not a bad option if you’re feeling nostalgic for the gritty days though even it, too, falls into the Latter-Day Lion King camp: the dumpy old bowling alley has been rebranded as Frames, with bottle service (!) and the Port Authority Greenmarket (!!) is a year-round operation. Or, just embrace the suck, and go for broke at the View Lounge, which, not for nothing, features a 360-degree rotating bar at the top of the Marriott. Gripe all you want about the overpriced drinks, but you can’t beat the view.

Restaurants & Nightlife

Far be it from us to speculate about what compels people to travel all the way to New York, with its tens of thousands of restaurants, some of which being actually very good, only to spend several meals’ worth of calories (and a not inconsequential wad of cash) at one of the chains in Times Square. Which is to say, those places exist, but that’s not all there is. Cases in point: Virgil’s Real BBQ (152 W 44th St) serves up quite good grub, although they rush you out like you’re in Chinatown; the 24-hour French haven Maison (1700 Broadway, off the map) features an excellent beer selection as well; Marseille (630 Ninth Ave, off the map) is another French standby that is a good pre-theater option; and there’s a branch of Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack over on Eighth Avenue and 44th St. After dinner, the Iridium Jazz Club (1650 Broadway, off the map) showcases top-notch jazz acts; guitar god Les Paul jammed here every Monday before dying of pneumonia in 2009 at age 94. For a drink, the bar at the Paramount Hotel (235 W 46th St) is cool (merci, Monsieur Starck), though (of course) not cheap. Our recommendation: head a few blocks north to the Russian Vodka Room (265 W 52nd St, off the map) for a singular experience. You won’t remember it, but you’ll have fun doing it. And finally, for people who say the old Times Square is gone forever, stop in for a shot, a beer, and some boxing nostalgia at Jimmy’s Corner (140 W 44th St).

Parks & Places ✵ Union Square


General Information

NFT Maps:

6, 9, & 10


Want to find the real pulse of Manhattan? Head straight to Union Square where thousands of people surge through here everyday to hang out on the steps, shop at the excellent farmers market, protest whatever’s wrong with our country this week, and watch the city roll on by. Part of the charm is that there’s no real attraction here. There’s a park with some benches, a few statues, a dog run, the aforementioned market, and that’s about it. After 9/11 New Yorkers congregated under the George Washington monument to console each other and remember the perished. Since that fateful day, Union Square has become the de facto living room of Downtown. Between New School and NYU kids rushing to class, crazy street entertainers, lost tourists, and people just trying to get to work, this place is always jumping. Historical note: The first ever Labor Day celebration took place here, so next time you’re sitting in the park enjoying your lunch from the Whole Foods salad bar, give thanks that the legal days of working 14-hour shifts are behind us. Or so they say.


Over the years, the area around Union Square gradually filled with the kind of chains that you can find across the country, but if you look very carefully, you’ll find a couple of good shopping options in these parts. High on the list is The Strand (828 Broadway), the iconic bookstore that keeps on truckin’ (thank goodness) with discounted books and literary readings, and don’t forget Alabaster Bookshop (122 4th Ave) just around the corner. There’s also Forbidden Planet (840 Broadway), a comic book nerd’s heaven. For the sports nuts Paragon Sporting Goods (867 Broadway) is the place to get any kind of racquet, ball, or bat you can think of. If you must choose a big name, the Barnes & Noble (33 E 17th) at the north end of the park has an amazing magazine selection and of course an incredible selection of NFTs. But the main draw is the Union Square Greenmarket—one of the original NYC greenmarkets dating back to 1976, this is one the best spots in the city to stock up on produce, cheese, baked goods, meat, and flowers. Fantastic.


For a true splurge make reservations at Union Square Café. Established in 1985, this is restaurateur extraordinaire Danny Meyer’s first restaurant, not only has it stayed strong and fresh over the years but many New York chefs have spent time in the kitchen there. For a quick bite that won’t break the bank, Republic (37 Union Sq W) serves up noisy noodles. To eat really cheap you can’t beat Maoz (38 Union Sq E) for fast food vegetarian. Or do what it seems most everyone in the universe seems to be doing and make a trip to the Whole Foods’ (4 Union Sq E) hot and cold food bars. In the warmer months you can sit in the park, but on colder days walk up to the second floor cafeteria and enjoy an amazing panoramic view. For dessert, try the hot chocolate by Max Brenner Chocolate by the Bald Man (841 Broadway).


Ready for a stiff drink? Old Town Bar (45 E 18th St) is the prime choice. It has character, cheapish cocktails, and the crowd isn’t totally ridiculous (yeah, it’s that tough of a neighborhood to find a decent bar). Just west of Union Square is Park Bar (15 E 15th St), a perfect place to meet up for an after work blind date—it’s small enough to force conversation with your new friend. Or try Lillie’s (13 E 17th St) just up the block if you have a Irish-Victorian bar décor fetish. You’ll know what we’re talking about the second you walk in. And for live music, the Irving Plaza (17 Irving Pl) is a staple on the New York rock scene.

Just Plain Weird

See that giant smoking magic wand clocky thingy on the facade on south side of the square? It’s actually got a name—The Metronome. Installed in 1999, artists Andrew Ginzel and Kristen Jones created something that’s supposed to inspire reflection on the pace of time in the city…or something like that. Unfortunately, every time we glance up at it, we feel even more on edge than we already are. The strip of numbers is a sort of clock: the left-hand side counts the hours in the day wile the right-hand side subtracts the hours left—the two numbers crash in the middle. On the right side is a moon with the current phase. Somewhere in the middle at the top is a hand, a riff on George Washington’s directly across the street.

Just Off The Map

The post-work rush at Trader Joe’s (142 E 14th St) is a special kind of torture that we will gladly submit to in order to save a few bucks on Wasabi-Ginger Almonds and Organic Fair Trade Italian Coffee. Ditto for the “Two Buck Chuck” (add a dollar or two in Manhattan) at the adjoining wine shop (138 E 14th St). And those dryer chairs seem to be in good working order over at Beauty Bar (231 E 14th St), which features smart cocktails in a repurposed hair salon.

Parks & Places ✵ United Nations


General Information

NFT Map:



First Ave b/w 42nd & 48th Sts


212-963-TOUR (8687)


Visitor Information:

Guided Tour Hours:

Monday-Friday 9:15 am-4:15 pm.

Guided Tour Admission:

$18 for adults, $11 for seniors, $11 for students, and $9 for children ages 5-12. Children under 5 not admitted.


The United Nations Headquarters building, that giant domino teetering on the bank of the East River, opened its doors in 1951. It’s here that the 193 member countries of the United Nations meet to fulfill the UN’s mandate of maintaining international peace, developing friendly relations among nations, promoting development and human rights, and getting all the free parking they want. The UN is divided into bodies: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice (located in the Hague). Specialized agencies like the World Health Organization (located in Geneva) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (located in New York) are part of the UN family.

The United Nations was founded at the end of World War II by world powers intending to create a body that would prevent war by fostering an ideal of collective security. New York was chosen to be home base when John D. Rockefeller Jr. donated $8.5 million to purchase the 18 acres the complex occupies. The UN is responsible for a lot of good—its staff and agencies have been awarded nine Nobel Peace Prizes over the years. However, the difficult truth is that the United Nations hasn’t completely lived up to the ideals of its 1945 charter. Scandals involving abuses by UN troops in Haiti and other countries have certainly not boosted the UN’s reputation recently.

That said, this place is definitely worth a tour. After all, the people in this building do change the world, for better or worse. The UN Headquarters complex is an international zone complete with its own security force, fire department, and post office (which issues UN stamps). It consists of four buildings: the Secretariat building (the 39-story tower), the General Assembly building, the Conference building, and the Dag Hammarskjöld Library. Once you clear what feels like airport security, you’ll find yourself in the Visitor Centre where there are shops, a coffee shop, and a scattering of topical small exhibits that come and go. The guided tour is your ticket out into important rooms like the Security Council Chambers and the impressive and inspiring General Assembly Hall. Sometimes tour groups are allowed to briefly sit in on meetings, but don’t expect to spy the Secretary General roaming the halls. Take a stroll through the Peace Bell Garden (off limits to the public, but it can be seen from the inside during the guided tour). The bell, a gift from Japan in 1954, was cast from coins collected by children from 60 different countries. A bronze statue by Henry Moore, Reclining Figure: Hand, is located north of the Secretariat Building. The UN grounds are especially impressive when the 500 prize-winning rose bushes and 140 flowering cherry trees are in bloom.

Parks & Places ✵ World Trade Center


General Information

NFT Map:



National September 11 Memorial

& Museum:

One World Observatory:


After years of delay, the neighborhood’s ongoing rehabilitation now continues apace. One World Trade Center opened in 2014. The National September 11th Memorial opened in 2011 and its accompanying museum opened in 2014. Further afield, Chambers, Fulton, Hudson, and other downtown streets have been structurally improved, downtown parks have been revitalized, and various initiatives have welcomed thousands of new residents to Lower Manhattan.

It remains to be seen how many of WTC’s five planned towers will be built, and to what height they will rise. The various claims are complex, and it’s unclear how much office space is actually needed downtown—tenants are already heavily subsidized and it’s difficult to believe that Port Authority tolls won’t eventually have to be applied toward either the development or upkeep of the site, no matter how much the PA denies this to be the case. Also unknown is how the site will function as both a place of mourning and a humming civic space. In short, this is not your typical public project.

Transit has been restored to pre-September 11th order, with all subway lines resuming service to the area, along with PATH service to a new PATH station designed by architect Santiago Calatrava. Even though the end result was pared back somewhat from the original design, the whole thing still cost a cool $3.8 billion.

One World Trade Center, the epic 104-story, 1,776-foot skyscraper whose exact height is no accident, is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Its footprint matches the footprints of the Twin Towers at 200 by 200 feet. The building itself is the same height as the original WTC 1 and 2 and the spire rises to 1,776 feet (remember the early “Freedom Tower” label), something that caused Chicago boosters much consternation when the spire was deemed an architectural feature part of the building and not just an antenna, and thus higher than the Sears/Willis Tower. The building has 2.6 million square feet of office space, restaurants, an observation deck, and broadcasting facilities for the Metropolitan Television Alliance. Suffice it to say, it was built with security and safety at the fore—some even argue to the exclusion of aesthetics. One World Observatory, the observation deck is open 9 am-8 pm (until midnight during summer and holidays). More than just an amazing view, the three levels include interactive exhibits, galleries, and dining. Admission is $32; buy tickets in advance online.

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum opened in 2011 and 2014 respectively. The memorial, Michael Arad’s Reflecting Absence marks the footprints of the Twin Towers with massive waterfalls flowing down into the ground. The museum, designed by Norwegian firm Snohetta, focuses on not only on the events September 11, 2001 but also the original World Trade Center, the first terrorist attack in 1993, the rescue and recovery effort after 9/11, tributes large and small to those who perished and an extensive oral history project. One wall of Foundation Hall is the exposed “slurry wall,” part of the original WTC retaining wall that held back the Hudson River. Indeed, the museum is an engineering feat, sited 70 feet underground, and with a price tag to match—the museum and memorial combined are said to cost in excess of $1 billion. Admission to the museum is $24 (free Tuesdays after 5 pm) and it is open daily 9 am-8 pm (9 pm Fri & Sat).