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.
The Midnight Run in Central Park
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.
Singles NYE at The Stitch Club
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.
Coney Island New Year’s Eve Celebration
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.
Circle Line New Year’s Eve Cruise
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 many 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.