As a center of culture, it should come as no surprise that some major literary names have called New York City home. From natives to visitors, there are plenty of different kinds of NYC authors throughout history, and many neighborhoods make up a vital part of their histories. These are just four of the many acclaimed writers who inhabited some of New York’s most beloved neighborhoods.
From the Mississippi River to Salt Lake City, there’s almost no corner of this country that the famed writer and humorist didn’t at least visit during his 74 years on Earth. His first visit to NYC at age 17 sparked a lifelong love of the Big Apple, and later in life, Twain lived in different addresses across the city: in the West Village, Gramercy, and even Riverdale in the Bronx, overlooking the Hudson River.
For a certain generation, the story of New York City is found in the words of this Park Slope-born author, whose memoir A Drinking Life recalls his youth and misspent adulthood in Brooklyn during the 50s and 60s. Hamill, whose brother Denis is a regular columnist for the Daily News, cut his teeth in regional papers like the News, the defunct New York Herald Tribune, the New York Post, Village Voice, and Newsday. He now calls Prospect Heights home.
This Catcher in the Rye author was famously reclusive, so it’s no wonder his time on the Upper East Side was somewhat brief. Salinger rented an apartment at 300 East 57th Street right after Catcher was published, and stayed in his sparsely furnished pad for only a year before he moved to obscurity in New Hampshire. He would remain there until his death in 2010, never seeing the city again.
The Moby Dick and Billy Budd author fed his nautical passions on merchant ships out of New York Harbor in the early to mid 1800s. Born into wealth in Lower Manhattan, his family suffered during recessions and Herman was forced to find work as a crewman, giving him the inspiration to write his beloved masterpiece in 1851. Unappreciated in his time, Melville died in his borough of birth in 1891 and was buried in the Bronx.
Temperatures are dropping, but that won’t give New Yorkers any excuse to stay in this winter. The 2018 calendar is already chock-full of great events and activities and these are just a tantalizing few of what the city has to offer in the coming cold months:
David Bowie is – Brooklyn Museum
He left us behind in 2016, but the Starman’s memory still lives on into 2018 and beyond. Celebrate the artist’s multifaceted legacy at the Brooklyn Museum starting on March 2, when the David Bowie is exhibit returns stateside for its final display after a worldwide tour of 11 countries. The show will last into the summer, but die-hard fans will be bundling up to make the trip down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn to pay their respects and celebrate a career that touched the outer reaches of the universe.
Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – Madison Square Garden
Every year, the floor at the World’s Most Famous Arena is ceded to the most celebrated collection of four-legged competitors this side of the Kentucky Derby. An NYC tradition since 1877, the Dog Show features feats of agility and discipline that put most dogs to shame, with plenty of intrigue and suspense as the awards are handed out. Will terriers continue their reign of dominance over Best in Show? Is this the year we see a Golden Retriever finally grab the crown for the first time? Get your tickets and be the first to find out!
Madison Street to Madison Avenue Lunar New Year Celebration – Midtown East
January 1 is hardly the end to the fun of ringing in the New Year in NYC. This year’s Lunar New Year falls on February 16, and a week earlier on the 10th in Midtown East, a 20-block cultural celebration will commemorate the occasion, running from 54th to 77th Street. Welcoming the Year of the Dog means revelers are encouraged to bring their (perhaps award-winning?) four-legged friends to enjoy the food and festive performances. Participating retailers will be sharing proceeds from the festivities with The Animal Medical Center of New York, so even those pets who couldn’t make it will enjoy the benefit of this great event.
Winter Jam – Central Park
If you’re looking for something a little more hands-on, head on over to Central Park’s Bandshell Area near the East 72nd Street entrance. That’s where you’ll find Winter Jam, the now-annual celebration of winter sports you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the Big Apple. An artificial snowfield from the experts at Gore Mountain is the setting for skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and even arctic golf. Even if you’re not feeling so athletic, expert ice sculptors crafting spectacular works and the Taste NY Winter Market will give guests something to look at, eat, and enjoy without breaking a sweat. The fun happens on January 27th, so have your coat and gloves ready.
Restaurant Week – Citywide
Starting January 22, foodies and casual diners alike will take part in 2018’s first Restaurant Week, where a curated selection of restaurants open their doors for fixed-price 3-course meals that amount to a sumptuous discount over their usual prices. This year features $29 Lunches and $42 Dinners at what promises to be the most tantalizing collection of fine eateries in the country. If previous years are any indication, even the hardest-to-please eaters will leave with stomachs (and wallets) satisfyingly full. Can’t wait to dig into the city’s best eats? Read up on some of the international favorites you’ll find around the five boroughs any time of year in our Food Enclaves series.
There are few NYC images more iconic than the ball dropping in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. It’s been happening since 1907, and some say the first partygoers there are still waiting to get on the train home. If standing in the cold crowds for 5+ hours isn’t your thing, these are a few fantastic options for ringing in 2018.
This New Year’s option will have you burning calories rather than packing on the hors d’oeuvres. New York Road Runners’ “Midnight Run” starts once the ball goes down, so you’ll want to speed through the 4 miles if you’ve got another party to get to. This run through Central Park’s inner loop counts towards credit to run the NYC Marathon next fall, so get the jump early on the competition with the first race of the calendar year.
Got nobody to plant a kiss on when the clock hits 12? You’ll be in good company at Stitch Club’s annual New Year’s Singles Party. Put on your finest and get ready to mingle with NYC’s most eligible professionals, with icebreaker games and an open bar at the Midtown West nightspot. Complimentary champagne at midnight will assure you’ve got something to hold no matter what happens.
This summer destination lights up the wintertime for one night only, with free rides and ice skating to satisfy children of all ages. You might not be up for taking a dip, but dress warmly and the fun of Coney Island comes alive without the summer sun. Bring a blanket or just sit on the boardwalk under Brooklyn’s premier fireworks display, with live sideshow performances and entertainment to keep you thrilled up until the main event.
What’s better than watching the fireworks in a sea of people? How about watching them on the sea! The Circle Line hosts this city-spanning trip with some unbelievable views of the night’s revelry. Not to be outdone, the boat itself is a floating fete with DJ, food and open bar included with your ticket.
Summer weather is a distant memory by now, but NYC’s best museums have tons of great exhibits to get us through the winter. In a city with a huge range of things to do and see, these presentations show why these museums are cherished by New Yorkers old and new. Check out some of the featured collections that will make trekking through the cold well worth it in 2018.
New York’s premier Modern Art museum can always be relied upon for a look at the most cutting-edge and thought-provoking works, and this exhibit running until April 8 is no exception. Thinking Machines gathers artworks designed by computer software and even formulated with artificial intelligence. This collection promises a fascinating look at the implications of computer learning-if they can create art, what else are machines capable of?
What better way to ring in the year of the dog than an artistic tribute to our four-legged friends? Humankind’s best friend for millennia, dogs have inspired artisans and artists throughout history, appearing in everything from practical metalworks to regal earthenware statues. Visitors to the collection are sure to gain a newfound appreciation for their loyal pooches. This exhibit gathers a wide spectrum of East Asian canine pieces from the Met’s extensive archives just in time for the Lunar New Year on February 16.
In their heyday, video arcades were the premier place to discover the latest and greatest games. While that action has moved to our living rooms, visitors to the Museum of the Moving Image can step back in time into a faithful recreation of the fun centers of the 1980s (minus the cigarette smoke). Games ranging from early classics like Defender and Frogger sit here alongside 90s favorites Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam, making this interactive exhibit a mecca for gamers of any age. Arcades like this are a thing of the past, and this exhibit will be the same at the end of January 2018. So gather up those quarters and hop the R train to Astoria before it’s too late!
1960s counterculture lives in NYC in 2018, thanks to this exhibit featuring the fashions that shocked one generation and thrilled another. The Mod look, originating in London, hit its stride on these shores with even First Lady Jackie Kennedy (she of Hamptons high society) trying on the revolution in self-expression. In addition to an extensive clothing collection, talks and film screenings bring the spirit of the anything-goes 1960s to the Museum’s Upper East Side address through April 1.
The evolution of New York City is an endlessly fascinating subject for many, and this exhibition gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of those changes. Curated by historian and author Katherine Harmon, Picturing the City promises an illuminating look at the entire history of Manhattan’s growth from Dutch trading post to the cultural capital of the world. A special emphasis on creative maps adorned with rich illustrations and the character of the city makes what could be a dry presentation to a fun and engaging survey of shifting attitudes and the unique character of the streets of NYC.
One of Brooklyn’s most appealing neighborhoods for its proximity to Manhattan and relative affordability compared to it’s neighbor to the south, Williamsburg, Greenpoint is home to some of the most intriguing food options in NYC. Long a beacon for Polish immigrants, this area is home to some of the finest pierogies, kielbasa, and other favorites this side of Gdansk.
Polish and Slavic Center Cafeteria
Untouched by the new wave of residents, this old-fashioned ethnic hall serves up untouchable ethnic favorites in a declasse, cafeteria setting. The prices are nearly as pleasing as the food, with affordable options in old-country comfort food to rival any hipster cafe. The stark decor and still atmosphere mean you might not be coming here on a first date, but this is the kind of place you bring them once you’ve got someone special. These pierogies are so good, you’re not going to want to share them with just anybody.
Looking for something a little more modern? Opened in 2007, this popular rustic-looking Polish restaurant brings to mind an old country farmhouse, with the sumptuous dishes that could have come straight out of your babcia’s kitchen. Garnering praise from locals and tourists alike, Karczma stands out for having a friendly, knowledgeable staff and a wide array of menu options. If you’re looking to come by on a weekend, get here early! The only downside to the great food and atmosphere is that the place fills up quick.
Kiszka Meat Market
If you came to Greenpoint looking for a piece of Polish heaven to bring home, look no further than this deli and meat market in the heart of the neighborhood on Manhattan Avenue. Regulars come here to fill their freezers with the best fresh sausage, bacon and pork cuts at throwback prices. Even your vegetarian friends will love to come by Kiszka, with the city’s most tantalizing cabbage rolls on order.
Loved this culinary round-up? To see more great NYC food enclaves, check out our trips to Jackson Heights in Queens, the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue district, and Caribbean favorites in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 the 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 routes 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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!
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.