New York City is an amazing place for art, artists and art lovers. Not just because of the amazing museums, but also because of the art that’s available every time someone walks out their front door.
So, where to find the best public art in New York City? The answer, everywhere! But, more specifically…
Start with the subway
From whimsical, curious political statues to tile mosaics that can be charming, informative (the actual name of the station!) or both, the subway is an underground gold mine of art.
Two of the best? First, get to the 14th St./Eighth Ave. station (the intersection of the A,C,E, and L lines) for Life Underground by artist Tom Otterness.
The permanent installation features a small bronze alligator eating a well-heeled, corrupt, politician. A woman reading a book sits on a similarly rich businessman.
The statuary is based, in part, on the work of 19th-century political cartoonist Thomas Nast. Otterness told the New York Daily News, in 2016, “I thought not that much has changed in 100 years.”
On the lighter side is the Subway Art Safari, a series of tile mosaics (along the N, Q and R train routes) depicting fun animal families.
Flocks of parrots fly over stairs at the Fifth Avenue and 59th Street stop. Penguins can be found by the exit stairs, also at 59th Street (Central Park South) and Fifth Avenue, as can a troop of monkeys. Not coincidentally, the Central Park Zoo is only a few blocks away from these entertaining images.
Above ground, there’s both a permanent and ever-changing landscape of art to explore.
Fearless Girl, by artist Kristen Visbal was unveiled in the Financial District in March, to both praise and skepticism. It put a distinct new spin on the art in that corner of New York (Broadway and Morris) because of the exact location—facing down the iconic Charging Bull statue. Fearless Girl is currently scheduled to stay in place only through 2018.
New Yorkers being who they are, someone recently put a Wonder Woman diadem on the statue, further reinforcing the strength of the piece.
Speaking of strength and iconic images, south of the Financial District at the tip of Manhattan is Battery Park. A trip there earns art lovers a view of perhaps the most iconic of all New York art, The Statue of Liberty.
Dedicated in 1886 and renovated in 2000, the statue is unique (to say the least) for both its meaning, and its colossal size.
Most recently, four Paparazzi Dogs have appeared in Greenwich Village. The work of Gillie and Marc, who are a husband and wife team, the demands-a-selfie art is on the traffic island at of Sixth Avenue, Greenwich Avenue, and Christopher Street.
There is no end date set for the display.
For further proof that New Yorkers love art, head to the upper west side to see an original Banksys, lovingly preserved by the Zabar family.
That’s right, the founders of the family-owned for three generations market, Zabar’s, preserved a Banksy by putting plexiglass over it several years ago.
The piece, a boy taking a carnival-style hammer to a fire standpipe, is at 79th and Broadway. Incidentally (or not) that’s also the location of the market, which means there’s great food and drink options available to refuel for more public art touring.
Finally, keep an eye out for random acts of art.
Being New York, in addition to temporary and permanent installations, there’s also straight-up street art.
The blog worleygig.com features all things New York, but has a “street-art” tag that highlights the near-graffiti, colorful, often political, art that pops up on walls, posts and construction sites around the city.
A recent post points out face relief sculptures by French street artist Gregos that adorn the facades of buildings and other random objects all along 14th Street.
Worley also keeps an eye on art that could easily fall prey to graffiti, refurbishment, or the elements. According to the blog, Nick Walker’s mural of his signature Love Vandal character in a parking lot at the southwest corner of 17th Street and 6th Avenue, painted in the fall of 2014, “still looks great!”
In short, there’s art around every corner in New York City, and you don’t need to pay for museum entry to see it. One might say the city in itself is a gallery, and given the scale of art it holds, we’re inclined to agree.
Some real estate professionals say there’s no doubt north is the way to go.
With only Manhattan separating them, is it time for the Bronx to admit that it has more in common with Brooklyn than previously thought?
According to some real estate professionals, the answer is a resounding yes. Even if the idea of the Bronx being a great place to live or invest raises eyebrows from hipsters to former-hippies now comfortable in their Manhattan apartments.
Consider this bit of history. When the Sex and the City character, Miranda, announced she was moving to Brooklyn the idea was so abhorrent to Manhattanites that the New York Post ran an article listing all the (real-life!) hip spots that Carrie and Miranda could frequent.
Now, only a decade later, Brooklyn’s average rent for a one-bedroom apartment runs between $1,600 and $2,900, depending on the neighborhood. It costs about $790,000 on average to buy a home, and well into the millions in trendier neighborhoods.
What’s a dedicated middle-class New Yorker to do?
Manhattan? Probably not with rents running $3,000 and buying about a $2 million endeavor.
It may be time to head north.
First, there’s the basic premise that Brooklyn prices are continuing to go up, so the Bronx is a more affordable option given the average rent of $1,200/month.
But consider the other benefits of the Bronx, like great transportation. The subway and other public transportation options are excellent—and traveling from midtown to the south Bronx is a fairly short commute.
For example, it’s only a 24-minute subway ride from Radio City Music Hall to Yankee Stadium. The residential areas just north of the stadium are considered up-and-coming, and affordable, according to multiple sources.
If driving is a must, it’s actually possible in the Bronx. I-87 along the west side of the borough is far easier to navigate than, say, the lower east side or Time’s Square.
For the more green-minded commuters, the recent opening of the historic High Bridge (New York’s oldest standing bridge, originally used to transport water from the Croton River to New York) offers a quick, convenient pedestrian and bicycle route from Highbridge to Upper Manhattan.
Not only are the rents in the neighborhood still reasonable, but the apartments are often in renovated historic buildings, originally constructed in the 1920s and 1930s.
For even more gorgeous, historic, architecture the buildings along the 5-mile stretch of the Grand Concourse are an excellent option. While this area, originally inspired in the early 1900s by the Champs-Elysees in Paris, fell into considerable disrepair in the 1970s and ‘80s, an $18 million restoration and landscaping initiative in 2008 revitalized the neighborhood.
Further north still is Fordham Heights, which is flanked by both the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden, and much more affordable than the real estate near Central Park.
Continuing north (no worries, not Niagra Falls!) recent re-zoning along Webster Avenue has created spaces now open to residential development that is working and middle-class friendly.
While these areas are not all a short commute to the culture and delights of Manhattan, they are still within close enough proximity (about an hour on public transportation) for trips into the city, business meetings, or even daily commutes.
Plus, culture and great food is already a part of the Bronx! In addition to the Zoo and the Garden, multiple colleges and universities offer music, dance and theatrical events.
The food scene? Solid—and growing.
Many New Yorkers believe that the Bronx is home to “real” Little Italy. Practically disdainful of catering to tourists, Arthur Avenue in the Belmont Neighborhood is still lined with Italian shops, markets and restaurants that have been there since Italian immigrants settled the neighborhood in the 1950s.
For the real “foodies” of New York, it’s good to know that there’s a culture of food that’s diverse enough to bring Anthony Bourdain to the Bronx.
In 2014, CNN aired a Bronx episode of Bourdain’s show “Parts Unknown.” Bourdain sampled Arthur Avenue’s Italian offerings, but dove whole-heartedly into Puerto Rican, African and Caribbean dishes.
“If the Bronx were a neighborhood in Manhattan, sort of shrunk down, you’d have hipsters crawling all over this place.” Bourdain quipped.
Affordable, easily accessible by public transportation, and with vibrant neighborhoods and ethnic diversity–in a New York minute the Bronx may beat Brooklyn as the place to live.
As anyone on the planning end of a date knows, breaking away from the typical dinner-and-a-movie narrative can be a bit overwhelming. In a city like New York, where urbanites can find almost any activity available in some corner of the city or boroughs, how do you choose the right activity and set the tone for an impressive date that shows off your offbeat interests? If you’re out of ideas, check out the list below for some novel date excursions for you and your special someone.
For sports lovers
For an unusual venue and unconventional sport, check out the Royal Palms Shuffleboard club in Gowanus. You don’t have to book a cruise to get your deck game kicks: this Brooklyn hotspot features 10 shuffleboard courts, DJs, board games, in-house food trucks, and–of course–bars. If you don’t know how to play, court time comes with a free lesson.
For movie lovers
For an old-timey movie date, buy tickets to Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg. Thanks to its own legislative lobbying, Nitehawk Cinema legally serves food and a wide selection of alcohol–including handcrafted cocktails and local beers–during performances. Short of a drive-in, this may be the most romantic dinner and a movie you can find in the city.
For magic lovers
For a delightful dining experience, book two tickets to A Taste of Magic at Gossip restaurant. Roving magicians entertain diners between courses with sleight of hand and magic tricks.
For meditative lovers
For a truly thoughtful and energizing experience amidst a tumultuous time, take your significant other to meditate at MNDFL Mindful Meditation. Mediation can reduce stress, induce calm, and improve your outlook. Together you and your partner can form a new healthy habit and resolve to live more consciously in the new year.
For dance lovers
For a truly one-of-a-kind experience, head on down to Jebon Sushi in the East Village. The St. Marks establishment is home to a weekly show hosted by Kaeshi of Bellyqueen, a professional belly dancing troupe. Along with drinks and food, take in the Arabic, Turkish, and Flamenco fusion jams, enjoy the performers, and show off your own dance skills on the open floor!
For history lovers
For a look at love out of time and an appreciation of how matchmaking and meeting people has changed, take a trip down to the Lower East side. The Tenement Museum offers a peek into early twentieth century courting rituals and the love stories of boarders at 97 Orchard Street in its Love at the Tenement tours on February 10.
For animal lovers
In a truly unique romantic gesture, the Bronx Zoo lets you name a Madagascar hissing cockroach after your special someone, whether an entomophile or an ex. You can also add on chocolate and a plush cockroach for bonus points. The experience of meeting their unlikely namesake on a trip to the zoo is something your significant other won’t forget anytime soon.