Food Enclaves of NYC: Crown Heights

Food Enclaves of NYC: Crown Heights

 

You don’t have to wait until the West Indian Day parade to get a Brooklyn-based taste of the vibrant Caribbean. Crown Heights might be transforming rapidly, but it’s still home to the best Caribbean food options in the city. These are just a few of the local favorites that bring the sensations of the islands up north to NYC.

 

De Hot Pot

Just a few steps away from the Prospect Park stop on the BQ line, this no-frills spot will work for day-trippers in a hurry and savorers alike. If you’re on a budget, satisfied visitors recommend their under $2 doubles (two flatbreads filled with curried chickpeas) for a Caribbean delicacy that won’t stretch your wallet. Wash them down with a Solo soda for the full island experience.

 

Silver Krust

Don’t let the name fool you, because the patties here are often better than the more well-known Golden Krust, with seasonings straight out of Jamaica. The Caribbean nation’s savory national fruit, ackee, can be found here in a crisp, flaky patty that you won’t find in any supermarket freezer. Silver Krust also serves up traditional favorites in portions so huge, you’re really getting two meals. Clear some room in your fridge before you make your way here!

 

Glady’s

If the idea of eating while standing under fluorescent lighting isn’t your thing, this contemporary spot on Franklin Avenue is bridging the gap between old and new. With prices closer to old Crown Heights than new in a modern setting, you’ll be glad to settle in and try out their adventurous takes on traditional classics. The jerk lobster and bok choy take you outside of the usual Caribbean comfort zone while still keeping the essence of that island flavor.

 

The Islands

If glamour isn’t a necessity for you, how does a cash-only joint squeezed between a Key Food and a Chinese takeout sound? The Islands’ interior is not so gritty, though, and once you sit down with a generous portion of perfectly moist stewed oxtail flanked by cabbage, rice, and peas, your surroundings won’t matter at all. Caribbean drinks like sorrel juice are available and offer a nice fruity counterbalance to the savory meats.

 

Cock’s

Rounding out your Brooklyn Caribbean tour, a taste of Barbadian life is on the menu at this Bajan favorite. Come here for seafood favorites like flying fish and the leaner kingfish, both regional delicacies. The polenta-like cou cou is a must, and not only on Fridays (as it’s traditionally eaten in Barbados). More typical Caribbean items like jerk chicken are on the menu here as well, and hold up to scrutiny from even the most discerning island foodie.

 

Loved this culinary round-up? To see more great NYC food enclaves, check out our trips to Jackson Heights in Queens and the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue district.

NYC’s Most Bike-Friendly Neighborhoods

NYC’s Most Bike-Friendly Neighborhoods

Of all the ways to get around New York City, nothing will give you a better appreciation of all the comings and goings of each particular neighborhood than riding a bicycle. While caution (and a helmet) are always needed, more and more areas of the five boroughs are being adapted to safely accommodate those on two wheels. More than 300 miles of bike-friendly paths have been established across the city in the last five years alone, and these four neighborhoods stand out among the best places for cyclists to set up shop in the city.

 

Park Slope

Considered a haven for young families with strollers, this neighborhood has made great accommodations in recent years for people riding on half as many wheels. Picturesque Prospect Park West’s dedicated 2-way bike lane, guarded against traffic by a parking lane, is one of the best stretches of Brooklyn for both weekend riders and daily commuters. Not to mention, there’s a 3.35 mile loop inside Prospect Park itself, great for exercise loops or slower treks to admire the scenery.

 

Battery Park City

This young neighborhood, despite being near one of the city’s worst areas for car traffic, actually offers a peaceful calm during the daytime, along with easy access to the Hudson River bike path. One of the most popular paths in the city, this path leads riders up the entire length of Manhattan’s West Side, making BPC a great staging area for your two-wheeled adventures. Most buildings in the neighborhood offer dedicated bike storage, meaning you won’t have to lug your ride on any stairs or elevators.

 

Alphabet City

On the other side of the island, this locale east of the East Village boasts calm, quieter streets perfect for pleasant bike outings far from sometimes-worrisome crowds. There may not be too many subway stations around, but seasoned bike riders may consider that an advantage. Alphabet City’s proximity to the protected bike paths running along 1st and 2nd Avenues means your trips uptown won’t require a Metrocard, just your trusty bike and your own two legs.

 

Greenpoint

Bike lovers will find themselves right at home in Brooklyn’s northernmost neighborhood, where a low number of train stops and long bike lanes along Kent Avenue and Franklin Street give bike riders a distinct travel advantage over straphangers. For jaunts into the city, the Williamsburg Bridge is a short ride away. If you’re ever in need of a fix, local spot B’s Bikes serves the neighborhood with notoriously knowledgeable but friendly service.

Amazing and Unusual Things to do in NYC

Amazing and Unusual Things to do in NYC

If you’re new to New York, you’ve probably heard a laundry list of things you’ve just gotta do once you’re here. Eat at this restaurant, bike across this bridge, shop at this boutique. While the typical hallmarks of NYC are all, of course, worth experiencing, we want to share with you a few of the more unusual activities off the beaten path.

 

Visit a Tropical Rainforest

The “urban jungle” cliche is a little well-worn, so why not step out of it for a minute into a real one (or the best approximation of one you’ll find in a midtown office building)? The twelve-story Ford Foundation Building’s atrium contains a sky-high greenhouse where the public can step out of the city streets and into a lush, tropical mini-forest featuring towering trees, hanging plants, and a serene sitting pond. For New Yorkers in need of a brief getaway, it’s a tropical adventure minus the bug spray.

 

Play a Subway Station Like a Flute

Cost of admission to this offbeat installation is just $2.75-on your Metrocard, that is. Hidden in plain sight on the 34th Street-Herald Square N/R platform are two long, green metal bars that straphangers have easily mistaken for air ducts if they’ve noticed them at all since they were installed in 1995. In fact, they’re a larger-than-life musical instrument, part of an art installation called REACH: New York. To play a variety of preprogrammed musical tones and sound effects, simply reach up and place your hands over the holes, and the sounds will flow from REACH’s speakers.

 

Enjoy a Beautifully Landscaped…Graveyard

If you’re not easily spooked, a train ride into Brooklyn can take you to one of the city’s most underappreciated and aesthetically pleasing green spaces: Green-Wood Cemetery. Established in 1839 when Brooklyn was mostly rural farmland, Green-Wood has become the final resting place for NYC luminaries from Boss Tweed to Jean-Michel Basquiat. If you’re not into searching for famous graves, the cemetery’s picturesque layout and lack of crowds make it an oasis of solitude in the often-frantic city.

 

Stand on the City’s Smallest Private Property

A curiosity underfoot that most passersby won’t even notice, the Hess Triangle on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Christopher Street is the result of a century-old real estate dispute. Forced out when the city seized property to extend Seventh Avenue, the Hess family refused to give up a 27.5” by 27.5” by 25.5” triangle of land that the city accidentally left out of their plans. The David Hess Estate made good use of the spot, installing a mosaic reading “Property of the Hess Estate which has never been dedicated for public purpose.” Though Hess’ proclamation is still on prominent display, the truth is that the spot is actually owned by adjacent Village Cigars, who bought it in 1938 for a mere $1,000 (that’s $2 per square inch).

 

6 Things You Might Not Know About the NYC Marathon

6 Things You Might Not Know About the NYC Marathon

 

We may be having an unseasonably warm autumn so far, but the most reliable sign of fall in NYC is right around the corner. On the first Sunday of November over 50,000 runners, from weekend warriors to international elites, will gather on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to set off on the 47th Annual New York City Marathon.

The race, the largest marathon in the world, runs through all five boroughs over its 26.2 miles. Competitors will speed (or trot) through neighborhoods like Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, Queens’ Long Island City, and Harlem in Manhattan on their way towards the ending point in Central Park. This whirlwind tour of NYC is one of the city’s most beloved traditions, so whether you’re running this year’s race or watching from your couch, warm up with these fun facts.

 

  1. The First NYC Marathon Didn’t Leave Manhattan

In fact, it didn’t even leave Central Park! The 1970 inaugural race’s 127 entrants ran a series of laps around the park’s main jogging path until the 26.2-mile mark was reached. Out of those competitors, only 55 runners made it to the finish. The marathon didn’t run through all five boroughs until 1976.

 

  1. All 50 States are Represented

In last year’s race, not only were there at least 12 finishers from every state in the union, but over 150 countries worldwide were represented, from the 2700+ member Italian contingent to a lone runner hailing from Afghanistan.  

 

  1. First Prize Has Come a Long Way

That initial year’s winner received a repurposed bowling trophy as their prize. Prestigious, to be sure, but not quite coming close to this year’s grand prize of $100,000. Entry fees have also grown since that first race, multiplying from $1 to $255-350.

 

  1. There’s a Wheeled Contingent as Well

Alongside those running the race, a sizeable number of competitors in wheelchairs participates in the race. Since 2000, this group has set out before the main group and covers the exact same ground as able-bodied runners, with added difficulty over cracks and inclines in the pavement. 5-time Women’s winner Tatyana McFadden will be seeking her 6th gold medal in this year’s race.

 

  1. Clothing Comes and Goes

Each year, runners shed approximately 26 tons of clothing as they begin to sweat in the first few miles. Volunteers gather these clothes and donate them to Goodwill. At least one competitor, by contrast, has created apparel during the race. David Babcock AKA “The Knitting Runner” has gained notoriety for knitting scarves during various races to raise money for Alzheimer’s research, and did so during the 2014 and 2015 NYC Marathons.

 

  1. The Late Founder Still Watches Every Finish

NYC Marathon creator Fred Lebow succumbed to brain cancer in 1994, but his presence still looms large at the end of every running of the race. A statue erected in his honor normally stands on Central Park’s East Drive at 90th street but is moved down to the finish line every year to watch over the celebration, forever in his jogging suit.

Food Enclaves of NYC: Jackson Heights

Food Enclaves of NYC: Jackson Heights

One of the most ethnically diverse regions in the entire country, Queens is unsurprisingly home to many tantalizing food options from many corners of the world. The South Asian enclave of Jackson Heights is no exception. This residential outerborough haven is home to some of the finest Indian, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani cuisine this side of the Ganges River.

If your experience of Indian food starts and ends with supermarket curry, let any one of these eateries be your introduction to a world of culinary delight. This walkable neighborhood (traffic and cramped streets can make driving here a hassle) is easily accessible by the 7, E, F, M, and R trains, as well as the Long Island Railroad.

 

Jackson Diner

This neighborhood institution was originally housed in a former greasy-spoon diner that often had trouble containing the visiting masses, with lines going out the door at times. Ownership has kept the name but moved into a more spacious location in the mid-90s to better suit the crowds their top-notch offerings attracted. For value, there’s no beating their lunch buffet, but anytime you’re hungry, you won’t regret the trip.

 

Samudra Vegetarian Restaurant & Chaat House

Don’t let the “v” word scare you away, carnivores, this eatery’s savory wares will have you forgetting all about those meat cravings. Samudra features high-quality portions at wallet-friendly prices, with rave reviews from locals and visitors alike. Try their Dosa (stuffed, crepe-like pancake with vegetable filling) or palak paneer (fresh cheese in spinach-based sauce) to get a taste of the subcontinent without leaving the five boroughs.  

 

Maharaja Sweets & Snacks

Once you’ve polished off an entree (or two), talk a walk down 37th Avenue to this raved-about sweet shop. Stocked with brightly colored favorites like burfi and galub jamun, as well as homemade ice cream, this spot’s a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Small bites are available too if you feel like grabbing an extra samosa for later!

 

Patel Brothers

If you can envision yourself craving the flavors of India quickly after leaving, but don’t look forward to a subway journey every time, stop by Patel Brothers grocery store before you leave Jackson Heights. This chain has all the cardamom, curry leaves, and basmati rice you need to take a stab at recreating the great meals you’ve had in the neighborhood. Don’t worry, if your homemade approximations don’t live up to your memories of Jackson Heights, these fine eateries will be happy to welcome you back.

Sandy Sidewalks: The Beach Escapes of New York City

Sandy Sidewalks: The Beach Escapes of New York City

This might be the city that never sleeps, but we certainly know how to kick back and relax every once in awhile. For summer sun by the sea, there’s no need to leave the five boroughs. Check out these 8 great beaches and see what the city has to offer at the edge of the land.

BCB Property Management - Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach

Immortalized by the Ramones, you can take the A train, the Q35 bus, or the newly opened ferry line if you don’t feel like hitching a ride to Rockaway Beach. This surfer-friendly span runs adjacent to a beachfront community that wouldn’t look out of place further down the coastline, and the view of the Manhattan skyline on a clear day is the only sign that you’re still in NYC. Recent years have brought a wealth of DFD (Down For the Day-er, a local term for visitors)-friendly eating and drinking options right off the 5+ mile boardwalk.

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Riis Park

Neighboring Rockaway Beach but featuring its own unique charms is Riis Park Beach, named for photojournalist Jacob Riis. For those on four wheels, this beach features a massive parking lot that gets remarkably close to full during summer weekends (parking on the streets in Rockaway is banned from May to September). New eating options at the Beach Bazaar right on the boardwalk have brought this beach into line with the other sandy shores of the area, and a pitch-and-putt golf course offers further reason to give this beach a look.

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Orchard Beach

An oasis in the Bronx, Orchard Beach is the northern borough’s lone public beach. Usually bustling with activity during summer days, you’ll want to get there early for a prime spot near the water. On the weekend, be ready for blaring boomboxes to bring some rhythm to your relaxation. If that’s not your cup of tea, several nearby nature trails offer a quiet respite from the crowds and some enchanting views of their own.

BCB Property Management - Coney Island Beach

Coney Island

NYC’s most famous (and crowded) beach, Coney Island has been a destination for New Yorkers since the 1830s. No longer the resort town it once was, this spot still is home to a wealth of entertainment options including the longtime favorite Cyclone rollercoaster and a wealth of new parks and rides, as well as a newly opened amphitheater that hosts a diverse number of performers from the Beach Boys to Daddy Yankee to the Violent Femmes. For the quintessential NYC beach experience, joining the crowd is well worth it.

BCB Property Management - Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach

For a less busy option just a few subway stops away from Coney Island, Brighton Beach has the boardwalk charm without all the noise. Food options nearby are mostly offered in Russian and Ukrainian, so many traditional favorites like borscht and potato dumplings can bring a touch of local (via Odessa) culture to your Brooklyn beach outing. The dense residential neighborhood connected to this beach makes this a unique place to spend your day by the shore.

BCB Property Management - South Beach

South Beach

Called the “Riviera of New York City,” South Beach on Staten Island was given a facelift after suffering extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Now home to brand-new fountains, playing fields, and a spectacular view of the Verrazano Bridge, South Beach has become a destination for those who make the trip. Anglers can also take note, as the beach is home to an 835-foot fishing pier, one of the longest in the area.

BCB Property Management - Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

Don’t let the name fool you, this sandy spot is one of the furthest points from Central Park in the NYC area. This quiet, crescent-shaped beach at the bottom of Brooklyn, accessible by the B1 and B49 buses, is a destination mostly for locals and is a great spot for a picnic or barbeque. Adjacent tennis and basketball courts are open all year, so don’t hesitate to bring a ball and get a game started.

BCB Property Management - Jones Beach

Jones Beach

To be fair, this one isn’t within the five boroughs, but it merits mention as one of the premier oceanfront spots in the NYC area. The six-mile-long beach on Long Island (accessible by car and the Long Island Railroad) is a fully-fledged destination, featuring golf, restaurants, and Renaissance-inspired architecture just off the sand. Memorial Day weekend brings the Bethpage Air Show to the beach, one of the largest in the United States. There’s so much to do here, you might want to get a room at one of the many nearby hotels and make a mini-vacation out of it.

Food Enclaves of NYC: Arthur Avenue

Food Enclaves of NYC: Arthur Avenue

It’s become a cliche at this point to point out that Little Italy is littler than ever, and while it’s certainly true, that doesn’t mean that NYC is lacking for great Italian food. Those willing to take a trip up north to the Bronx neighborhood known as simply Arthur Avenue (after it’s main drag) are in for some of the finest traditional meals with a local flavor all their own.

Declared New York’s best food neighborhood by Esquire Magazine, the area also called Belmont features a long history of Italian-American culture from immigrants who came here in the early 20th century. Like its more famous equivalent in Manhattan, this cozy neighborhood might seem a little closed to outsiders at first, but after taking your first bite in one of these fine eateries, you’ll feel like family.

Antonio’s

A short walk off of Arthur Avenue, away from the tourists, should take you to this local favorite where the meats are plentiful and cooked to perfection. They might be best known for their falling-off-the-bone short ribs, which come smothered in rich sauce that could have come from any number of area grandmother’s kitchens.

Roberto’s

A favorite of the celebrity crowd, Robert Paciullo opened his two-floor trattoria which features a rotating menu of top-quality, Michelin Guide-approved dishes. Come in one night for tender risotto with cuttlefish, come back tomorrow for the tender braised rabbit. If you’re like most diners, you’ll stick around for one of Roberto’s signature desserts as well, like sbricolata crumb cake with amaretto, or his old country-style tiramisu.

Mike’s Deli

For those days when you’re not feeling as fancy, you can take in a lunch at this marketplace where the eggplant parm is a year-round hit. The owners also run the neighboring Bronx Beer Hall if your group is looking to follow up your sandwiches with some craft suds. Mike’s olives and burrata are a must-try.

Vincent’s Meat Market

For a taste of Belmont that you can take home with you, visit Vincent’s Arthur Avenue storefront for all the smoked meat, sausage, and custom beef cuts your carnivorous heart desires. Open for over 60 years, Vincent’s always-fresh meats, expert customer service, and worth-the-trip prices all make it clear why they’ve been the neighborhood’s top butcher for all these years.

 

How NYC Neighborhoods Got Their Names

How NYC Neighborhoods Got Their Names

Any New Yorker can tell you that this is a city defined by its wide variety of neighborhoods. Across all the boroughs, every distinct enclave has its own character and personality, not to mention history. Making your way in and around the city starts with a working knowledge of its diverse assortment of neighborhoods.

Founded as a Dutch colony, many of New York City’s neighborhood names date back to that time. The Dutch may have left after the British took control of the city and renamed it from New Amsterdam, but labels such as Brooklyn and The Bronx (derived from the Dutch names Breukelen and Bronck) still remain as reminders of the city’s roots. Not surprisingly, many neighborhoods retain the names they’ve had since those early colonial days.

Harlem

A cultural touchstone not just for the city but for the entire United States, Harlem is one of New York’s best-known neighborhoods. This home of legendary artists, poets, and attractions like the Apollo Theater and the Cotton Club was once an outpost for Dutch settlers who needed a space to stay far from New Amsterdam at the southern tip of Manhattan island. This safe haven was dubbed Nieuw Haarlem by Governor Peter Stuyvesant, after the Dutch city a short distance from the original Amsterdam. Once the Dutch left New York, the name was anglicized to just “Harlem.”

Astoria

Many streets of New York, such as Dyckman in Upper Manhattan and Schermerhorn in Brooklyn, were named for wealthy denizens of the area, whose properties defined those surroundings. For someone with the fortune of John Jacob Astor, just a street wouldn’t suffice. The neighborhood formerly called Hallett’s Cove was never actually home to the fur trader or his family, but given the label in order to attract him to invest in the Queens district. It didn’t quite work (he only invested $500) but the name stuck.

Red Hook

This maritime district has always been defined by the port and shipping that made Brooklyn one of the country’s busiest regions. Red Hook comes from the Dutch “roode hoek,” referring to the red clay soil of the neighborhood (long since buried under concrete roads) and the geographical point jutting out into Upper New York Bay. Interestingly enough, the “hook” of Red Hook refers to the Dutch word for “point” or “corner,” not any actual hook-like geographical feature.

Coney Island

It wasn’t only geographical features that inspired Dutch settlers in naming their new territories. This former beachfront getaway, home to the famed Cyclone and Wonder Wheel, got its name from the Dutch word conyne for “rabbit” after the wild rabbit population that lived on what was then an actual island, with a river separating it from the mainland. Shifting sediments attached the island to the rest of Brooklyn while rifle-toting settlers did away with the rabbits, but the Coney Island name remains.

Turtle Bay

Unlike Coney Island, this neighborhood wasn’t identified by any animal population. Rather, Turtle Bay got its name from the Dutch word deutal, or knife. Early settlers of the bay (which was filled in after the Civil War, allowing for further buildings eventually including the United Nations complex) noticed a resemblance to a bent knife and named the bay accordingly. Thanks to its proximity to the UN, Turtle Bay is now home to many foreign consulates, making it one of the more plainly diverse regions of the city.

Rockaway

The Dutch weren’t the only ones who gave names to the various neighborhoods of the city. Several of them, in fact, descend from the language of the Lenape tribe, the area’s indigenous inhabitants. Queen’s beachfront peninsula, a distinct part of the NYC map, got its name from the old Lenape word “rack-a-wakee,” whose meaning is not certain but is thought to mean “place of sands.” Also behind the names of Canarsie in Brooklyn and of course Manhattan, this language is one of many that makes New York City the unique melange of cultures famed worldwide.

6 Iconic NYC Transplants

6 Iconic NYC Transplants

Not every famous New Yorker grew up in the five boroughs. One of the things that make this city special is its ability to attract the best, brightest, and most interesting people not only from across the country but around the world. This city has a powerful draw on people who are looking to make an impact in a variety of fields, from music to fashion to fine art. These are just six of the many transplants who left their hometowns to become a part of it all in the Big Apple.

Bob Dylan

He’s got walking tours dedicated to his New York history, and more than one Greenwich Village venue has become iconic thanks to hosting him in his early days, but Bob Dylan originally hailed from a spot over 1,000 miles away from those vaunted corners. The man most closely associated with the city’s mid-century folk scene was born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, and came to the city in 1961. His music belongs to the world now, but it developed into the voice of a generation here in NYC.

Diane von Furstenburg

NYC’s status as a fashion capital wouldn’t be possible without the global assortment of talents that flock here to make their names known, one of the biggest of which is this former Princess. Born in Belgium, Diane von Furstenberg attended fashion school in Geneva and Madrid before making the big move across the Atlantic. Once she arrived in New York she quickly made a name for herself with her iconic wrap dress, and since then her name has been worn by the likes of Michelle Obama and the Princess of Cambridge.

Andy Warhol

Art is one of New York’s greatest attractions, with countless galleries and museums filled with works of global importance that touch every corner of the mind. Andy Warhol’s ruminations on fame and image defined the pop art movement and made him an international figure and the ultimate New York tastemaker. Warhol was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, earning his degree in design from Carnegie Mellon University before he moved to NYC to start a career as an illustrator. Today, his native town is home to the Andy Warhol Museum, but the streets where he became a legend are right here in New York City.

Sean Combs

The rap impresario who “ran the city” in 2003 and jump-started the careers of beloved artists like the Notorious B.I.G. and Mary J. Blige is one of the foremost musical icons of the city, with his Bad Boy Records headquartered right up the block from Times Square. Although technically born in Harlem, Sean “Diddy” Combs” grew up just outside the city in Mount Vernon. He quickly made his way into NYC with an internship at Uptown Records in his early 20s though, and the rest is hip-hop (and New York) history.

Mike Bloomberg

It’s hard to get any more accomplished in NYC than being elected mayor, but even before that Michael Bloomberg had made a name for himself as a financial entrepreneur, with his Bloomberg financial terminals in every financial office across the country. The billionaire businessman’s origins are north of the city in the greater Boston area, where he grew up before coming to the city to work on Wall Street. Bloomberg famously stood by his guns as a loyal Red Sox fan during his tenure as mayor, taking the ire of Yankee fans in stride.

Frank Sinatra

He might be best known for the famous ode “New York, New York,” but as any true fan of old blue eyes can tell you, he was born and raised across the river in Hoboken, New Jersey. Young Frank spent his days honing his beloved singing voice in clubs across the Garden State before selling out packed houses like NYC’s Carnegie Hall and the Paramount Theater. He’s still a New York icon today, with a performing arts high school in Astoria, Queens bearing his name.

The Bronx Zoo: A History

The Bronx Zoo: A History

In the midst of the country’s foremost urban jungle, an oasis of plants and wildlife collected from around the world has thrived for over 100 years and counting. The Bronx Zoo is one of the city’s crown jewels, attracting over 2 million visitors to the northernmost borough every year. In a city best known for gridlock and nonstop action, the zoo has been a haven of intrigue and discovery for several generations of New Yorkers.

The Bronx Zoo’s story began in 1895 as the brainchild of the newly formed New York Zoological Society (now known as the Wildlife Conservation Society). The society came together with the explicit aim of building a top-quality zoo to complement the city’s celebrated museums and parks. Work soon began on identifying an appropriate site with enough space but not too far for city residents to visit.

By 1898, the newly consolidated City of New York allotted a plot of land in the Bronx to become a wildlife preserve and the following year the New York Zoological Park opened at the Fordham Road site. It was an immediate sensation, attracting thousands of curious guests to see the 843 animals on display. Today, that number has grown to over 4,000 representatives of more than 650 different species, still capturing imaginations of visitors young and old.

The zoo was among the first to consider exhibiting animals outside of restrictive cages, opening their African Plains showcase in 1941, a new kind of exhibit where animals freely intermingled and explored a recreation of the serengeti. This groundbreaking exposition not only offered a thrilling naturalistic display but imparted visitors with an understanding of the importance of preserving animals’ native habitats. The zoo’s Wild Asia did the same thing in an Eastern setting starting in 1977, with 77 acres of roaming space viewable by elevated monorail.

Over the years, the zoo has been home to some truly rare specimens. It’s only one of two zoos in the United States to have exhibited the thylacine, a now-extinct doglike marsupial from Tasmania. Their last thylacine died in 1919, and the species’ last known individual died in captivity in 1936.

Perhaps the zoo’s best known species have been their snow leopards, first exhibited in 1903. Over 70 of the endangered white cats have been bred at the Bronx Zoo, making it their foremost sanctuary in the United States. They’re far from the only rare species to call the zoo home, however, with Chinese Alligators, Kihansi Spray Toads, and Yellow-Headed Box Turtles all calling the Bronx their birthplace over the years.

The successful 20th century effort to revive the American Bison has much to owe to the zoo as well. The zoo’s original director William T. Hornaday cofounded the American Bison Society in 1905, and set about breeding the animal in the Bronx Zoo’s confines. Two years later, the zoo was able to send 15 bison to a preserve in Oklahoma, where a thriving colony exists to this day.

The zoo boasts some remarkable non-animalian features as well. The famed Rockefeller Fountain on the park’s north side, brought to the United States from Como, Italy by oil baron William Rockefeller, is a designated New York City Landmark, as are the bronze Rainey Memorial Gates decorating the zoo’s north entrance. Architectural enthusiasts will also appreciate the historic beaux-arts buildings of Astor Court, including the Elephant house and the zoo’s main administrative building.

In a city that boasts soaring buildings and cutting edge works of art, there’s no experience quite like the thrill and wonder housed in the 250 acres of the Bronx Zoo. Whether a leisurely visit or a lifetime residency, no time spent in New York City is complete without visiting the city’s wildest residents.

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