Spooky Halloween Events in NYC

Spooky Halloween Events in NYC

The summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean New Yorkers will be saying goodbye to fun festivities that celebrate the spirit of the city. As temperatures drop and we pull our autumnal fashions out of the closet, a certain chill falls over the city as Halloween gives the seasonal air a certain sense of fun and fright in equal measure. Here are four activities that can color your Halloween celebration this October.

Merchant’s House Museum

For those historically inclined thrillseekers, this preserved 19th century Greek Revival offers up some East Village history along with it’s spooky present. Built in 1832 by hardware impresario Seabury Tredwell, the house has long been home to some scary experiences and sights by visitors who swear they’ve seen the ghastly spirits of Tredwell and his family wandering its halls.  A National Historic Landmark, the museum hosts year-round events and tours, but October brings attractions like a mock funeral of Tredwell where visitors can pose in his coffin!

Boo at the Zoo

The Bronx Zoo is the preeminent showcase of animals in the city, and that wild backdrop makes  for an appropriately family-friendly Halloween celebration every October. A haunted hayride, candy trail, pumpkin carving and more seasonal attractions make the zoo a destination for more than just the creatures on display. They’ll still be there, along with an extinct animal graveyard and haunted forest. There’s also a “Bootoberfest” for older guests, with craft beer, food trucks, and live music.

Nightmare Machine

For the most hardened Halloween fanatics, some extra scares are in store at this Williamsburg, Brooklyn attraction. Creepy clowns, cockroaches, and even a haunted laundromat all feature in this modern, social media-friendly revamp of the traditional haunted house. Each room promises screams and frights more chilling than the last. While the Nightmare Machine proclaims somewhat teen-friendly PG-13 thrills, those who are easily scared–or with younger children in tow–ought to beware. Everyone else, prepare yourselves for a bloody good time!

Halloween Parade

No list of New York City Halloween activities would be complete without this historic Greenwich Village parade. Originally beginning with local artists pulling out all the stops to show off their incredible creativity, the parade has grown to attract artisans and celebrants from all across the city and even the country. With no signing up necessary, anyone in costume is invited to take part, with up to 60,000 entrants in recent years. Whether you’re an onlooker or a participant, this is an iconic NYC Halloween event not to be missed.

The Concrete Jungle: Famous Animals of NYC

The Concrete Jungle: Famous Animals of NYC

Outside of the expected pigeons, bodega cats, and sidewalk pooches, some truly colorful animal characters have captured the attention of New Yorkers over the years. From the city’s multiple zoos to high above Fifth Avenue, these are a few of the most famed feathered and furry residents of the city.

Pale Male

It’s only appropriate that “The World’s Most Famous Hawk” would be a New Yorker. This red-tailed hawk caught the nation’s attention in 2004 when his nest was moved by the building’s co-op board, and famous neighbors like Mary Tyler Moore called for the co-op board to reinstate Pale Male’s home, calling the nest removal “pointless and heartless.”

Returned to his perch, Pale Male’s newfound notoriety made him a national figure, appearing on television shows ranging from PBS’s Nature to Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show. In a city that’s no stranger to pigeons, this wild creature captured imaginations as somewhat out of the ordinary, but not out of place in this unpredictable metropolis.

After his brush with fame, Pale Male continued to quietly watch over the Upper East Side for several years. When he went missing several years later, birdwatchers assumed the inevitable: his time had come and gone. His memory lives on, however, as his progeny survive to this day at his old nest at 927 Fifth Avenue.

Pattycake

The confines of the Bronx Zoo, the city’s biggest and most prominent animal sanctuary, have hosted many remarkable creatures throughout the years. One of its most famous residents, however, got her start in the Central Park Zoo, where she gained fame before moving on to the northern borough’s more spacious confines.

Born in 1972, Pattycake was the first gorilla born in New York and wasted no time grabbing headlines. A “domestic dispute” between her parents (in reality, just an accident) broke her arm when she was just a few months old and made the daily newspapers. Treated at the Bronx Zoo for her injuries, she relocated there permanently in 1982 during renovations to the Central Park Zoo.

Activists utilized her fame to establish the Pattycake Fund in 2002, raising money to stop illegal gorilla poaching in Africa. By that time, Pattycake was the matriarch of a thriving family in the Bronx ape exhibit, where she lived until the healthy age of 40.

Jim, Phil, and Harry: Prominent Peacocks

New York’s pet owners are probably aware of St. John the Divine’s annual Blessing of the Animals, but the uninitiated on their first visit may be surprised to meet the Episcopal cathedral’s three feathered full-time residents.

Jim, Phil and Harry have roamed the Morningside Heights grounds of St. John’s since 2002. They even occupy a mini-cathedral of their own, a specially designed hutch whose silhouette could easily be mistaken for one of the Romanesque Revival building’s stained glass windows.

They continue a legacy carried on since the 1980s when the Bronx Zoo first donated peacock chicks to the church as a gift. Subsequent generations of the majestic birds have given St. John the Divine an ornamentation like no other church, and a uniquely New York twist on a 230+-year-old institution.

Six Fashion Icons of NYC

Six Fashion Icons of NYC

New York City is known for many things: lively streets, exceptional food, a forward-looking culture, and all things fashion. Throughout the centuries, the combination of elegance, edginess, and creativity has made New York a hotbed for fashion–both on the streets and the runway. No two New Yorkers have quite the same style, and true fashionistas have unique interpretations of what is “in”.

From Sarah Jessica Parker to Audrey Hepburn, it’s undeniable that fashionable women have made a home for themselves in New York. Everyone has his or her favorite, but here are six unforgettable fashion icons who have awed, inspired, and set the runway that is New York ablaze.

Audrey Hepburn

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn’s character redefined the modern New York woman on the go. Pastry in hand with oversized sunglasses, chunky pearls, and a chic black dress, this fashion moment has no doubt been replayed by stylish women everywhere. Off screen, she was said to reach for the understated, yet classic garments–like ballet flats, cigarette pants, and simple black tops. But regardless of what fashion persona she donned, Hepburn inspired the rise of black as the go-to color for New Yorkers.

Sarah Jessica Parker

For years she played Carrie Bradshaw on Sex In The City. Her character’s look was a swirl of fur coats, tousled hair, silky slips, rock tee-shirts, designer handbags, and Manolo Blahniks. For Carrie, anything could be high-fashion if you styled it the right way. Sarah Jessica Parker, like Bradshaw, spent the majority of her adult life roaming the streets of Manhattan. She is always on-trend and has a similarly adventurous style as her TV character in real life. To showcase her eye for shoes, she launched her own shoe line in 2014, which quickly became a favorite of celebs.

Grace Jones

No list could be complete without the powerhouse of style who is Grace Jones. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, she was frequently sighted at Studio 54, Andy Warhol’s Factory, and the hippest nightclubs. Her striking androgynous style was a photographers dream, and left magazine editors clamoring for more. While Grace Jones can pull off just about anything, the boxy blazer and crew cut was definitely her signature look.

Patti Smith

Patty Smith burst onto the NYC music scene in 1975 with her album Horses. Her attitude is punk-rock, but her captivating style is casual and effortlessly thrown together. She favors men’s button-down shirts and baggy blazers paired with her signature dark tousled waves and piercing gaze. It’s been more than 40 years since her launch to stardom, but she’s still inspirational to women who aim to be unabashedly themselves.

Edie Sedgwick

Edie Sedgwick is easily recognizable by her dramatic eyeliner, dark eyebrows, and bleach blonde pixie cut which still inspires with many YouTube tutorials. She was a major face of New York party scene in the ’60s and rubbed shoulders with stars and musicians from Andy Warhol to Bob Dylan. Her mod, chic look is one that will inspire high fashion for years to come.

Diana Vreeland

Diana Vreeland was one of the most influential figures the fashion industry has ever seen. She was an editor for Harper’s Bazaar followed by Vogue, and is credited with discovering Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall and ‘It” girl Edie Sedgwick.

She provided style advice to the New York fashion elite, and is credited for making the Met Gala into the star-studded event it is today. Through Vogue and Harper’s magazines, her avant-garde approach captivated women all over the country.

These are just a few New York City fashion icons from a very long list, all with one thing in common: fearlessness. As long as women get dressed in the morning, the New York look will continue to innovate our closets, and inspire us to look a little bit cooler, and be a little bit bolder.

Are New York City Diners a Dying Breed?

Are New York City Diners a Dying Breed?

Much has been written over the past several years about the extinction of what was once a city staple: the greasy-spoon diners and unassuming luncheonettes of yore. It’s true. So many of the idiosyncratic places that used to form the fabric of New York City have been replaced with more stylish, homogeneous versions of themselves. The NYC diner isn’t completely dead, but its heyday has seemingly come and gone.

Recent closures include Chinatown’s nearly 70-year-old The Cup and Saucer, the Lyric Diner in Gramercy, the 40-year-old Del Rio in Brooklyn, the Village’s Joe Jr., the 53-year-old Market Diner in Hell’s Kitchen and, of course, the much maligned closure of Broadway’s 34-year-old Cafe Edison, an absolute institution in the heart of the Theater District.

Diners have been upended for a variety of reasons, usually some combination of lower receipts, higher rent, and competition from ubiquitous chain eateries. Those factors, plus the reality that a new generation of college-educated professionals is proving reluctant to run family businesses that involve long, hard hours and slim margins, are converging in what has felt like a massive diner die-off.

It’s no wonder that city staples have been replaced by glossy alternatives like Pret a Manger and Le Pain Quotidien. In fact, a recent Crain’s article said that while the city had over 1,000 diners and coffee shops 20 years ago, today that number has been whittled down to fewer than 400.

And, while many New Yorkers are lamenting the loss of their favorite spots for affordable comfort food, overall, the population’s tastes have changed. Some diners have struggled to keep pace by switching to upscale ingredients or replacing meat-heavy dishes with vegan and vegetarian options. Champ’s Diner in Brooklyn specializes in vegan fare. The Empire Diner in Chelsea offers upmarket menu items like tuna “poke” bowls, beef carpaccio and antibiotic-free chicken. Some might argue that menu items in the $30-range go against the spirit of the diner, while others are thankful for the cozy, retro atmosphere and the ingenuity.

Thankfully, there are still some old-time diners that grace our great city. More of them tend to be located in the outer boroughs rather than Manhattan, but there are diners to be found in either case. Favorites include the appropriately named Manhattan Diner, Broadway Restaurant, Comfort Diner, Bel Aire Diner, and the Neptune Diner.

For most of us, the days of walking a few blocks to get to our neighborhood diner, a place chock-full of friendly and familiar faces, may be over. But that doesn’t mean that the experience is lost entirely. If we’re willing to travel a little farther and perhaps endure a little anonymity, we can still bask in the warmth and comfort of eating scrambled eggs on a vinyl seat, surrounded by chrome and Formica.

Hopefully, the high-profile closures have generated enough interest to convince a large customer base to patronize our remaining local treasures. Perhaps NYC’s remaining diners can survive against the odds, pouring coffee and grilling burgers in perpetuity.

Looking for a different type of NYC eating experience? Read about ethnic food enclaves in Brooklyn and the Bronx, or satisfy your sweet tooth at one of our most instragrammable dessert spots.

The Most Instagrammable Dessert Spots in NYC

The Most Instagrammable Dessert Spots in NYC

 

If there’s one thing about New Yorkers, we love to stay connected, whether that’s by subway or through the internet. Plenty of dessert spots have taken notice of this, and offer up some incredible fare that seems custom made to be shared online with friends, family, and followers. These are a few NYC locales where you’ll find some of the most picturesque sweet treats anywhere.

 

Serendipity 3

Perhaps the granddaddy of all instagrammable desserts, the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at this Upper East Side cafe is a New York icon. A favorite haunt of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and a pre-fame Andy Warhol, this spot is a classic eatery with timeless treats to satisfy even the pickiest social butterfly. While Serendipity is also known for their headline-grabbing offerings like the $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae, the classic “Frrrozen” delight is how they’ve made their name. Get yourself a reservation and prepare to wait, because a treat this good is always worth it.

 

Brooklyn Farmacy

The treats aren’t the only thing that’s Insta-worthy at this refurbished apothecary in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood. The building carries tons of old-fashioned charm with a delicious blend of classic treats and a retro aesthetic. Try a classic Brooklyn chocolate egg cream or the pineapple upside-down cake, which comes served on a bed of ice cream and fresh pineapples! But take your pic quickly, you’ll want to dig in ASAP.

 

Dominique Ansel

Never again will New Yorkers have to choose between fancy cocktails and flashy desserts. At this trailblazing SoHo sweets spot–creators of the Cronut–their latest cutting-edge confection combines the best of both worlds with their Milk and Cookie Shot. No need for dunking with this one: drink your milk right out of a shot glass made from a chocolate cookie! Break off a chunk and dip, or take a bite right out of the side, it’s completely up to you. Just make sure to share those social media pics first!

 

Holey Cream

Combining two favorites is a winner when is comes to dessert treats, but the Ice Cream Donut Sandwich from this Midtown ice cream shop may well be the peak of the form. Pick from a seemingly endless variety of the circular baked treat to serve as your bread, with two scoops of ice cream sandwiched between them. Throw in some toppings and you’ve got a treat that looks just as good as it tastes. Bring your appetite along with your sweet tooth here, as this unique treat is more than a mouthful.

 

ABC Kitchen

Acclaimed chef Jean-Georges has built a worldwide network of fine dining establishments from Tokyo to Sao Paulo, but New York is home to what may well be his finest creation. This Gramercy restaurant’s ever-changing menu contains lots of seasonal organic favorites, but dessert is where they truly shine: namely, their kettle corn sundae, with caramel-drenched popcorn and peanuts sprinkled all over a delectable ice cream sundae with whipped cream and hot fudge. The toppings put a photo-worthy sheen on this after-dinner classic, since no good dessert should ever be forgotten!

5 NYC Parks Where You Can BBQ, and 3 You Can’t

5 NYC Parks Where You Can BBQ, and 3 You Can’t

As the summer heats up, many New York City residents head for the hills (or the Jersey Shore) for a weekend getaway and fun in the sun. But for those of us staying in the city, there are still plenty of summertime vibes to be found. Strolling the boardwalk at Coney Island, sipping frosé at a sidewalk cafe, rowboats on central park lake and our favorite past-time: Grilling meats in the open air!

An outdoor bbq with friends and family is the quintessential American summer activity. Luckily for New Yorkers, there are 1,700 parks stretched across the five boroughs! Large, small, wooded, or oceanfront, here are just a few of the parks that allow public grilling:

Manhattan

Inwood Hill Park (enter at Dyckman Street & Hudson River)

Inwood Hill Park is a 196.4-acre slice of New York History with sweeping vistas, dramatic caves, valleys, and ridges. The park offers athletic fields, playgrounds, dog runs, and a barbecue area, in harmony with its natural assets and striking views of the Hudson.

Morningside Park (enter at Morningside Avenue & West 121st Street)

Close to Columbia University, the Apollo Theater and the northern tip of Central Park, Morningside Park stretches thirteen blocks through the neighborhoods of Harlem and Morningside Heights. This nicely landscaped community park has playgrounds, jogging and bike paths, ballfields, picnicking, cliff-like hillsides with unique views, and even a waterfall. And the bonus feature: there’s a farmers market on Saturdays.

Randall’s Island:

Randall’s Island Park (enter at the waterfront near the south end of the park).

Randall’s Island Park is a recreation hub in the middle of the East River that has all things that make summertime a beloved New York season! With incredible flora, athletics, urban farming, and fantastic waterfronts, this is a great place to plan a large all-day get-together.

Queens:

Queensbridge Park (enter at Vernon Blvd and 41st Avenue)

Conveniently located on the East River waterfront, Queensbridge Park is a community park with great views from the Queens side of life, and a couple of great spots to grill! This park has a seawall, playgrounds, handball courts, dog-friendly areas, and convenient bathrooms making it easier for the older and younger members of the family.

Brooklyn:

Manhattan Beach Park (enter northeast of the promenade, median adjacent to the parking lot)

This is a popular stretch of beach great for picnicking, swimming (yes, people do actually swim in the water. It’s warm!) and volleyball. Manhattan Beach is a good alternative spot for grilling because it isn’t allowed on the beach at Coney Island. And as a reminder, for better or worse, there is no amplified sound permitted.

Now for the bad news, here is a short list of the parks that do not allow outdoor grilling:

Central Park (with the exception of Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day)

Coney Island (but between the surf, the rides, and the iconic boardwalk, you’ll have plenty else to do)

Washington Square Park

East River Park also disallows grilling without a permit, so be sure to grab one if you’re looking to cook out in the shadow of the stunning Manhattan Bridge!

Don’t forget that there’s plenty more to do in NYC world-class parks system! For even more activity ideas, check out our Summer 2018 events that aren’t to be missed!