A day at the park doesn’t have to mean leisure time. Many New Yorkers, eager to make the most of their workouts, hit the city’s many parks to get and stay fit all throughout the year. These are four spots across the city where fitness freaks can get an intense workout while enjoying the city’s best green spaces.
Running Track – Van Cortlandt Park
The Bronx’s showcase (and third largest park in NYC), Van Cortlandt Park is home to a golf course, cricket pitch, bocce court, and even a Gaelic football field, but those looking to work up a solo sweat will find it in the park’s southwest corner, just south of the tennis courts. The Van Cortlandt Stadium on Broadway between 240 and 242nd street is the perfect staging area for cardio at any level, from marathoners to weekend warriors. Test out your speed on the 400 meter track, or run up the concrete stadium steps for a vertical element to your workout.
Swimming – Flushing Meadows Corona Park
If you’re looking to burn some calories and build muscle without getting drenched in sweat, the pool is where you belong. Queens’ biggest park is home to a state-of-the-art aquatics center with an Olympic-sized pool, with all levels of swimmers welcome. A nominal membership fee (much lower than typical gym fees) will get you in for swimming year-round and seasonal ice skating at the attached rink-the best of both worlds in recreation and fitness.
Hanging Bars – Tompkins Square Park
Alphabet City’s green oasis is also home to one of New York City Parks’ most well-known and tough public fitness areas. What at a glance might look like a garden variety jungle gym is, in fact, an adult-ready set of steel frames to test even the most accomplished pull-up champ. Bring your A-game to this array of multi-colored hanging bars in the northeast corner of the park, or risk getting squeezed out by the park’s ultra-toned regulars.
Watersports – Marine Park
If your interests tend a little towards the unexpected (for NYC, at least) a ride down to Marine Park for some kayaking and paddleboarding is well worth the trip. This far-flung Brooklyn neighborhood’s namesake park (reachable by car or bus, but not subway) features not only 530 acres of grassland, but the Gerritsen inlet, a purpose-built launching spot for small boats and watercraft. Bring your own or rent one from a nearby kiosk and get your blood pumping while enjoying a day on the water!
The snow is finally melting and that means one thing across New York City: a multitude of great springtime festivals that cater to every interest. As we look for more reasons to spend time outside, there’s no shortage of great events to plan those longer days around. Here are just a few of the offerings at hand for the warmer months ahead.
Frieze New York
While NYC’s many art museums are generally open year-round, Frieze New York is a weekend-long festival that offers the chance to see high art while simultaneously enjoying the spring weather, a rare opportunity. While it’s primarily a showcase for collectors and dealers, this tented art fair on Randall’s Island welcomes art lovers of every stripe to enjoy the thousands of works on display. More than a simple market, the Frieze Fair features site-specific and groundbreaking new works. For NYC’s rapidly evolving art scene, nothing less will do.
9th Avenue Food Festival
Stretching all the way from 42nd to 57th Street (Times Square-area to Columbus Circle-area, roughly), this long-running food fest has enough room for the best tastes from around the globe. From French Crepes to Indian Curry to South America Pupusas, New York’s international character perhaps sees its best representation in Ninth Avenue’s bustling yearly fair. If the good isn’t enough to entice you, there are vendors and games to keep you around even after you fill up on the goods.
Macy’s Flower Show
March 25 – April 8
Nothing says spring like flowers, and nothing says NYC like Macy’s, so what better way to celebrate the season by enjoying the best of both? Macy’s isn’t just the host of the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade down 5th Avenue, but their cherished flower show festoons the aisles of their landmark Herald Square location with a spectacular array of fresh flower arrangements from floor to ceiling. This parade-worthy display is only up for two weeks, so hop on the train and pay them a visit-no purchase necessary.
Bloody Mary Festival
For 5 years running, this celebration has drawn the crowds looking for the most creative takes on breakfast’s favorite cocktail. Featuring live music, food tastings and more, this event promises the best brunch of the spring. This year’s event will host 17 masters of the Mary at Park Slope’s regal Grand Prospect Hall, so feel free to dress in your Sunday best as you sip the finest vodka-and-tomato juice cocktails the city has to offer.
Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival
Since the 1870s, New Yorkers have shown off their finest at this Easter celebration where too much decoration is almost never enough. This solemn holiday celebration has morphed over the years into a colorful display of creativity with bonnets with every color and ornamentation imaginable, even with live animals festooning some of the more outlandish designs. Centering (naturally) around St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue and 50th Street, the festival is just part of a larger parade that runs up to 57th Street. Even if you can’t make it into Mass, getting to the church is enough to take part in or simply witness the festivities.
Sometimes the greatness of a city can be measured by what we don’t see rather than what we do. The infrastructure of the biggest cities often entail fascinating worlds of their own, hidden completely out of sight for everyday citizens. It might not be something most of us think about often, but NYC generates garbage and waste on a nearly unimaginable scale, requiring a force of nearly 10,000 to take care of everything busy New Yorkers leave behind. Known as NYC’s Strongest, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) is responsible for the estimated 12,000 tons of refuse and recyclables that New York discards every day. Here are 5 fascinating facts about one of the city’s grittiest and most essential agencies.
They Took Over a City Besieged by Trash
Before modern sanitation systems, the city’s streets and waterways were New Yorkers’ sole repository for garbage and waste. This means, yes, that the sidewalks (especially in poorer areas like Manhattan’s Lower East Side) were piled high with unthinkably unsanitary messes. The existing Street Cleaning Bureau was dreadfully inadequate, and a new streamlined Department of Street Cleaning was established in 1881. The current name was applied in 1929.
Their Giant Salt Crystal Houses the City’s Supply
At the western end of Canal Street, adjacent to the West Side Highway, sits one of the city’s most visually remarkable buildings. With no windows, you might guess this 70 foot high jagged, ultra-modern building was an art gallery or cutting-edge condominium rather than a municipal storage facility, but the Spring Street Salt Shed is the rare utilitarian building with high-art aesthetics. This unmistakable structure, completed in 2015, was designed specially to house the 5,000+ tons of salt the city keeps on hand for dispersal when snow strikes.
They’re Not Alone in Fighting Garbage Growth
While the Sanitation Department’s (mostly) white trucks are ever present in the city, it may surprise the uninitiated to know that they don’t collect nearly all of the waste created here. In fact, the Department’s collections are limited to private homes and buildings. 248 private collection companies supplement the work done by the DSNY by picking up the garbage created by private businesses from office skyscrapers to mom-and-pop bodegas.
They’ve Inspired Top Designers
It might sound like someone’s idea of a joke, but the world of haute couture is no stranger to the Strongest’s fashion sense. In 2016, designer Heron Preston introduced a line inspired by Sanitation workers’ uniforms just in time for New York Fashion Week. Eager trend-hoppers lined up around the block for Preston’s unique rollout at the Spring Street Salt Shed, with entertainment provided by the DSNY Pipe and Drum Band.
They’re Unlikely to Remain Underappreciated for Long
The ranks of the Sanitation Department aren’t strictly comprised of office workers and trash haulers. Since 2006, NYU Anthropology and Environmental Studies professor Robin Nagle has served as the agency’s official anthropologist, an unpaid position dedicated to studying the impact and future of refuse collection. Her work includes performing research on the waste-management ecosystem and acting as custodian of DSNY’s culture, with an Oral History and Museum of Sanitation in the works. Soon enough, thanks to Nagle’s work, the Department of Sanitation will have the citywide recognition it so richly deserves.
The history of New York City often lays unnoticed in the names of the streets and avenues that comprise it. From its origins as a colonial trade outpost to its current status as the cultural capital of the world, the oft-traveled thoroughfares of the five boroughs are a living history of the area’s influences and interests. These are just a few of the fascinating street name origins that have probably gone under your radar.
A one-of-a-kind street in Manhattan, the Bowery’s name has meant plenty of different things to different eras of New Yorkers. From the punk rockers of the 1970s and 1980s to the chic types who populate its hip bars and restaurants today, no street’s denizens better exemplify the rapid speed of change in NYC. Perhaps that makes it strangely ironic that the name comes from the first and oldest use of this avenue, which was full of quiet, pastoral farmland. In fact, the name comes from the Dutch word for farm: bouwerij. The spelling was anglicized after the Dutch left town and has remained that way ever since.
Manhattan’s most famous thoroughfare, like the similarly named Bowery, comes from the language of the city’s Dutch founders. Brede weg, simply meaning “wide road,” was an appropriate enough name, and remains so to this day. While it’s best known for being the home of the Theater District, the street doesn’t end on the island. While there are separate Broadways in Queens and Brooklyn, only the Bronx can say their version is truly part of the prominent one in Manhattan. In fact, the street runs even further north than that, extending 18 miles into Westchester County, finally ending in the town of Sleepy Hollow.
Modern visitors to this Chinatown thoroughfare are awash in traffic and aggressive handbag sales but had they visited about 200 years ago they’d more likely be traversing this block in a canoe. Yes, similar to Wall Street to the south, Canal Street got its name from an actual canal, built to handle runoff from the swamps and marshes that occupied this area before urbanization. By 1820, the swamps were gone, and the canal had been paved over to become the island-spanning street we know today.
One of Queens’ oldest and longest roads, Kissena Boulevard connects Flushing and Jamaica while running directly down the center of the borough. The name comes from the Chippewa word meaning “it is cold,” derived by the lake of the same name found in Kissena Park. The street is not only an important landmark for New York City travelers but Rock and Roll historians as well. According to legend, Queens-born KISS guitarist Paul Stanley got the idea for his band’s name by shortening that of the street he traveled on as a child.
Eager for more etymological entertainment? Read our How NYC Neighborhoods Got Their Names or The Most Popular Dog Names in NYC.
New York is truly a city constantly in flux. Among the most exciting recent changes to the NYC landscape have been spaces fallen into disuse and reimagined into homes for the most thrilling music the world has to offer. These are the city’s latest and greatest major music venues, each borne from an old building transformed into something more vibrant and new.
The latest venue opened by Bowery Presents (owners of the Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall, Terminal 5 and others), this former steelworks factory in East Williamsburg has been converted into the mid-sized concert hall of Brooklynite’s dreams. No longer will trips into Manhattan be necessary to see the likes of Elvis Costello, MGMT, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor on their NYC tour stops. The site’s repurposed metal fixtures, exposed pipes, and rugged factory-grade windows and ceiling fans are a reminder of what once was while giving big-name bands the Brooklyn edge they’re looking for when they swing into town.
Forest Hills Stadium
Named for the cozy Queens neighborhood it calls home, Forest Hills Stadium has a history matched by few venues in the five boroughs. Once host to shows by Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, and countless other megastars, the stadium fell into disuse by the 1990s, necessitating a full renovation to get it back to its past glory. That happened in 2013, and reopened with a rousing show by Mumford and Sons to signal that Queens was once again a destination for music’s hottest acts.
The crown jewel of Flatbush Avenue, the Kings Theatre finally reopened in 2015 after a meticulous renovation. Formerly a vaudeville theater turned movie house, crowds came from around Flatbush and surrounding neighborhoods to enjoy the regal building until it was shut down in 1977. A renovation plan approved in 2010 and completed in 2015 restored the Theatre to its rightful place among the city’s finest seated music halls, even serving as host for Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City Address in 2018.
NYC style isn’t restricted to the bands that pass through town. Read our guide to 5 Architectural Styles that Define NYC or Public Artworks that New Yorkers Must See to Believe for more on the aesthetics of the city.