Pick & Mix: New York City Introducing
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CITY LIFE writing, the US seemed
Even while, at this
certain to be sliding into an economic reces- 'NYC has gone through
sion, New York City appeared to be holding its
own. That’s because after decades of battling
an impressive renaissance
demons from crime to a failing infrastruc-
ture, followed by the terror and fallout of Sep-
to cement itself as an
tember 11, NYC went through an impressive unshakable, shining icon'
renaissance, managing to cement itself as an
unshakable, shining icon. The year 2007 was
an economic record setter here, bringing about $25 billion in new construction, a 33% home
ownership rate and a whopping 46 million tourists. And the city is setting even higher goals
for tourism in the coming years, ramping up its reach by launching campaigns that specifically
court folks from Sweden, Russia, China and Brazil – as well as gay and lesbian travelers from
across the globe – in an attempt to bring in 50 million annual visitors by 2015.
Luckily, visitors are drawn to new attractions, and a spate of them – the New Museum of
Contemporary Art, the relocated Museum of Art and Design and the new Museum of Chinese
in America among them – are here to help the cause.
The low crime rate – which dropped to a 40-year low in 2007 – doesn’t hurt, either. It’s good
information for the many out-of-towners who still fear they will visit here and find the New
York of the ’70s. Though the city’s major cleanup has been widely flaunted, sometimes you just
have to see something to believe it.
New York is cleaning up its act in other ways, too. It’s been attempting to improve the state
of public health with various programs, fix the school system and turn this city into the lean,
‘green’ machine that it should be, by calling for environmentally sound development and
transportation policies. It’s the city of the future. And it’s here right now.
The magnificently marbled main hall of Grand Central Terminal (p128)
March downtown film fest, held in the first week
of May. The week of screenings, featur-
ST PAT’S FOR ALL PARADE ing world and US premieres, has become
%718-721-2780; www.stpatsforall.com a prestigious, celeb-studded event, with
Held early in the month in Sunnyside, plenty of red-carpet action.
Queens, this festive community affair is
an inclusive answer to the mainstream
St Patrick’s Day Parade, which bans gay CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL
groups from marching. %718-623-7200; www.bbg.org
Known in Japanese as Sakura Matsuri, this
annual tradition, held the first weekend in
ST PATRICK’S DAY PARADE March 17
May, celebrates the pink, puffy flowering of
%718-793-1600 the Kwanzan cherry trees along the Brook-
A massive audience, rowdy and wobbly
lyn Botanic Garden’s famous esplanade. It’s
from cups of green beer, lines Fifth Ave on
GETTING STARTED WHEN TO GO
complete with entertainment, refreshments
March 17 for this popular parade of bag-
pipe blowers, sparkly floats and clusters and awe-inspiring beauty.
of Irish-lovin’ politicians. The event is pro-
tested each year by a small but feisty group BIKE NEW YORK
of LGBT folks, who object to the fact that %212-932-2453; www.bikemonthnyc.org
march organizers specifically ban any gay May is Bike Month, featuring two-wheelin’
groups from joining in. tours, parties and other events for pedal-
pushing New Yorkers. Bike New York, the
main event, sees thousands of cyclists hit
April the pavement for a 42-mile ride, much
EASTER PARADE EASTER BONNET of it on roads closed to traffic or waterfront
FESTIVAL paths through each of the city’s five
This loosely organized tradition brings
mobs of well-clad folks to the stretch of
Fifth Ave (closed off to traffic for the day) in
front of St Patrick’s Cathedral, where they %212-245-0072; www.intrepidmuseum.com
strut in the sun to show off their elaborate For one week at the end of the month,
bonnets, caps and other headgear. Manhattan resembles a 1940s movie set as
clusters of fresh-faced, uniformed sailors
go ‘on the town’ to look for adventures.
HAVANA FILM FESTIVAL
The ships they leave behind, docked in the
%212-946-1839; www.hffny.com Hudson River, invite the curious to hop
Fast nearing its 10th year, this beloved film
aboard for tours.
fest screens shorts, docs and features from
Cuba, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central
and South America. June
PUERTO RICAN DAY PARADE
TAX DAY April 15 www.nationalpuertoricandayparade.org
April 15 is the deadline for Americans to pay The second weekend in June attracts thou-
off Uncle Sam. In NYC, it’s just another rea- sands of flag-waving revelers for the annual
son to dress up and make some noise. Check Puerto Rican pride parade. Now in its fifth
out both the partiers and protestors who decade, it runs up Fifth Ave from 44th to
gather on the grand steps of the General 86th Sts.
Post Office – kept open round the clock as
procrastinators rush to get their postmark –
in a quirky, crazy display of free speech. JVC JAZZ FESTIVAL
More than 40 jazz shows go on in clubs
May around the city for this festival held in
TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL mid-June, featuring big names such as Etta
%212-941-2400; www.tribecafilmfestival.com James, Branford Marsalis, Keith Jarrett and
Robert De Niro co-organizes this annual Eartha Kitt.
(though the accompanying patriotic music
ONLY IN NYC is rather on the schmaltzy side).
Get an only-in-New York opportunity with the follow-
ing events’ unique perspectives:
Open House New York (p24)
HOT-DOG-EATING CONTEST July 4
Hot Nude Yoga New Year’s Eve (p24) www.nathansfamous.com
Howl! Festival (right) This bizarre celebration of gluttony brings
Queens Pride March (below) world-champion food inhalers to Coney
Mermaid Parade (below) Island each Fourth of July. The 2007 winner,
Nathan’s Famous Hot-Dog-Eating Contest (right) Joey Chestnut of California, set a new world
record by downing 66 dogs (and buns!) in
12 minutes – despite a jaw injury, no less.
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL
TRANSGENDER PRIDE PHILHARMONIC IN THE PARK
GETTING STARTED WHEN TO GO
%212-807-7433; www.nycpride.org %212-875-5656; www.newyorkphilharmonic.org
June is Gay Pride Month, and it culminates Free nighttime concerts in the park from
in a major march down Fifth Ave on the last the country’s premier orchestra are among
Sunday of the month – a five-hour spec- the most wonderful treats of summer in
tacle of dancers, drag queens, gay police the city. Grab a blanket, pack a picnic and
officers, leathermen, lesbian soccer-moms choose from Central Park, Brooklyn’s Pros-
and representatives of just about every pect Park or parks in Queens, the Bronx
other queer scene under the rainbow. Vari- or Staten Island; the symphony visits each
ous outer-borough Pride events take place borough, beginning in early July, and
on other June weekends, with the Queens brings a different music program to each.
Pride March (www.queenspride.com) in Jackson
Heights among the most multi-culti. The
annual Dyke March (www.nycdykemarch.org), a
separate and female-only event, heads FRINGE FESTIVAL
down Fifth Ave the evening before the big %212-279-4488; www.fringenyc.org
march, starting at 42nd St and Sixth Ave. This annual mid-August theater festival
presents two weeks of performances from
companies all over the world. It’s the best
MERMAID PARADE way to catch the edgiest, wackiest and
%718-372-5159; www.coneyisland.com most creative up-and-comers around.
Celebrating the sand, the sea and the begin-
ning of summer is this wonderfully quirky af-
ternoon parade, now more than 25 years old.
It’s a flash of glitter and glamour, as elabo- %212-673-5433; www.howlfestival.com
rately costumed folks display their mermaid This week-long celebration, named for Beat
writer Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem, brings
finery along the Coney Island boardwalk.
visual art, theater, dance, film and literature
Held on the last Saturday of the month.
to venues around the artsy East Village.
July PRIDE IN THE CITY
JULY FOURTH FIREWORKS July 4 %718-230-0770; www.prideinthecity.com
%212-494-4495 This black gay pride festival – meant both for
America’s Independence Day is celebrated celebration and education about preventing
with fireworks over the East River, starting the spread of HIV – brings five event-packed
at 9pm. Good viewing spots include the days to various venues around NYC. One
waterfronts of the Lower East Side and highlight is the annual beach-party blowout,
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, or any high rooftop featuring live performances, held at Jacob
or east-facing Manhattan apartment. Riis Park in the Rockaways (see p205).
Roosevelt Island also hosts a fireworks-
viewing festival at its Southpoint Park. The US OPEN TENNIS TOURNAMENT
pyrotechnic display, hosted by Macy’s and %718-760-6200; www.usopen.org
courtesy of the renowned Grucci fireworks Tennis fans turn out en masse for this, one
company, is an impressive sight to behold of the four Grand Slam tournaments of
professional tennis, to see top-ranked men head on over to Eastern Pkwy in Brooklyn
and women compete in singles and dou- for the annual Carnival parade – a colorful,
bles matches. Held at the USTA Billie Jean day-long march and party featuring over-
King National Tennis Center (p328), a sort of the-top costumes, delicious Caribbean eats
miniature tennis universe out in Flushing, and nonstop music.
SAN GENNARO FESTIVAL
WEST INDIAN AMERICAN DAY Rowdy, loyal crowds descend on the nar-
CARNIVAL PARADE row streets of Little Italy for carnival games,
%718-467-1797 sausage-and-pepper sandwiches, deep-
To most New Yorkers, Labor Day is a wistful fried Oreos and more Italian treats than
day signaling the official end of summer. you can stomach in one evening. For more
GETTING STARTED WHEN TO GO
But for two million Caribbean Americans than 75 years, it’s remained an old-world
and other fun-loving onlookers, it’s time to tradition.
HOT SUMMER IN THE CITY
The following organizations present frequent events and series, mainly in the summer months.
Bryant Park/HBO Summer Film Series
Every Monday night from mid-June through August, a mob of New Yorkers bring blankets and picnic dinners to this
patch of green in Midtown, trying to catch a good spot for watching the classic films – Casablanca, Annie Hall, Psycho
and others – that show on the big outdoor screen.
From late spring through summer, the Prospect Park band shell in Park Slope, Brooklyn, presents a stellar lineup of
concerts, films, spoken-word shows and dance performances. The series, going strong for more than 30 years, hosts
shows during the week and on weekends, many of which offer free admission.
Central Park SummerStage
Throughout the summer, the New York City Parks Foundation hosts an incredible series of outdoor performances at its
SummerStage (Map p149) – dance, theater, spoken word and music concerts in all genres – many of which are free.
Recent talents have included Amiri Baraka, the Philadelphia Dance Company, Neko Case, Café Tacuba, Bob Weir and
NewFest: The New York LGBT Film Festival
In addition to hosting this annual gay film festival in early June, NewFest presents LGBT film programming throughout
the year, including NewFest at BAM in Brooklyn, which shows the best of the June fest in one packed weekend, and
NewFest at IFC Center, a monthly series in Greenwich Village.
River to River Festival
Lasting throughout most of summer and offering something to do on almost every night of the week, this is the largest
free arts event in NYC, with hundreds of creators and performers bringing theatre, music, dance and film to a slew of
DUMBO ART UNDER THE BRIDGE watch it come aglow with energy-efficient
FESTIVAL bulbs before it’s taken down and recycled
www.dumboartscenter.org into lumber. It’s a green Christmas!
Celebrating and promoting Dumbo’s local
artist community – with newfound vigor THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE
each year, thanks to the neighborhood’s www.macys.com
growing gentrification – this Brooklyn fest This famous cold-weather event, for hardy
features open studios and galleries, per- viewers only, parades its famous floats
formances and street displays. and balloons (watch your head) along
Broadway, from 72nd St to Herald Sq. For
October an even better view, join the throngs who
BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS gather at the southwest corner of Central
www.stjohndivine.org Park to watch the balloons being inflated
GETTING STARTED COSTS MONEY
In honor of the Feast Day of St Francis, the night before.
which falls early in the month, pet owners
flock to the grand Cathedral of St John the NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDENS
Divine with their creatures – poodles, liz- HOLIDAY TRAIN SHOW
ards, parrots, donkeys, you name it – to be %718-817-8700; www.nybg.org
blessed. It’s a wild and wonderful afternoon Opening the day after Thanksgiving and
for participants and onlookers alike. lasting through January, this annual spec-
tacle recreates New York City landmarks in
OPEN HOUSE NEW YORK miniature using natural materials like pine
%212-991-6469; www.ohny.org cones, cinnamon sticks and poppy pods,
The country’s largest architecture and de- with miniature trains wending in and out.
sign event, held at the start of the month, Come stroll through the Bronx wonder in
features special, architect-led tours, as well the afternoon or – even better – at night,
as lectures, design workshops, studio visits when the display is all lit up.
and site-specific performances.
HALLOWEEN PARADE October 31
www.halloween-nyc.com NEW YEAR’S EVE December 31
The nation’s largest public Halloween www.timessquarenyc.org/nye/
celebration lures all sorts of freaks and In addition to the world-famous count-
geeks into the streets of Greenwich Village down to midnight and dropping of the
for a wild night of parading and prancing Waterford Crystal ball held in Times Sq – a
about in costume. The outfits range from raucous, freezing, alcohol-fueled spectacle
very clever and of-the-moment to over-the- that you’re honestly better off missing –
top raunchy, and the spectators lining the the city has plenty of other celebratory
streets love one and all. events, namely the Midnight Run in Central Park
(%212-860-4455) and midnight fireworks in
Central Park, Prospect Park and the South
November Street Seaport. An unofficial but thoroughly
NEW YORK CITY MARATHON NYC option is the Hot Nude Yoga New Year’s Eve
www.nycmarathon.org (www.hotnudeyoga.com), a spiritual-meets-
Held in the first week of November, this sensual night for men only.
annual 26-mile run through the streets of
the city’s five boroughs draws thousands
of athletes from around the world – and
just as many excited viewers, who line the
COSTS brought along with it a fi-
The year 2008
streets to cheer folks on. nancially disturbing trend for New Yorkers:
droves of ‘weak dollar’ tourists descending
ROCKEFELLER CENTER CHRISTMAS upon the city’s most fashionable shops, eater-
TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY ies and real-estate offices. They were enjoy-
www.rockefellercenter.com ing the sad state of the US dollar, which had
At this traditional mob-scene event, folks dropped 12% against the British pound and
flock around the massive spruce tree to 10% against the Euro the year before.
And so, for the first time in recent memory, Or you can try to be wholesome by trolling
many New York visitors had come to enjoy the city’s vast array of Greenmarket Farmers Mar-
bargains, rather than to grin and bear the act kets (www.cenyc.org) for fresh fruits, breads and
of emptying their wallets. Brits and Europeans: cheeses for in-room backpacker picnics.
congratulations! Enjoy yourselves. Anyone Eating at restaurants will cost you, but still,
else: prepare thyself. A trip to New York could the prices range tremendously. The most
never be described as cheap – even now. budget options can get you hearty ethnic
That said, there are plenty of ways to enjoy meals for under $10, while midrange restau-
the city, with options for just about every rants with table service start at about $10 to
budget. Finding deals, whatever the state of $15 per person for dinner, with the numbers
the economy, usually just takes a mix of fore- going up from there. Head to a five-star din-
thought and creativity. ing establishment, order three courses and
Basic costs for a NYC trip start with ac- throw in a bottle of wine, and you could eas-
commodations (unless you’ve got a friend or ily drop $200 per person. Families looking to
GETTING STARTED COSTS MONEY
relative who’s willing to put you up in their save should head to diners and other low-key
sure-to-be-cramped apartment). An unavoid- spots with kids menus (see Top Picks, p251),
able fact is that the average night in a city hotel which usually offer dishes for less than half of
costs $300, with those on the more desirable the normal price.
end easily going for upwards of $400. The If you want to shop while you’re here – and
best way to find serious bargain rates is by who doesn’t? – then you’ll also find extreme
not being picky about your hotel’s location; in price ranges in all categories. For clothing,
other words, look for beds in non-trendy parts there are bargain spots aplenty, with stores
of Manhattan (like East Midtown) or, bet- like Filene’s Basement (p234), Century 21 (p217),
ter yet, in Brooklyn, Queens and even across Loehmann’s (p233) and HM (p237) high on the
the Hudson River, in New Jersey. If you’re radar screens of local bargain shoppers look-
patient enough to deal with mass transit to ing for knockoffs and discounted labels. You
get you into the heart of the city each day, can also try your luck at designers’ sample
you’ll wind up saving a pretty penny (though sales (see boxed text, p217).
don’t expect your rates to dip too far under Entertainment prices can be sky-high, with
$200 a night). prime opera or theater tickets easily costing
City BBs also tend to be more affordable; over $100 a piece. But there’s plenty for pau-
several in and around the Chelsea area (p354) pers, too. Get your dose of theater for $15
have rooms with shared bathrooms for about a pop at Off-Off-Broadway productions,
$150 – just book far in advance, as they tend or through events like the Fringe Festival
to fill quickly. Another way to bargain hunt (p22) – or try your patience waiting in line
is to book through online resources such as for tickets for Shakespeare in the Park (see
tripadvisor.com, orbitz.com, and hotels.com – p313), which offers top-notch theater for free.
the sheer number of them keeps prices com- Broadway tickets can be bought for half price
petitive. Finally, those who can stomach hostel
aesthetics are most in luck, as there are several
barebones places right in Manhattan, such as
those in the Jazz Hostel group (p365), which HOW MUCH?
offer dorm beds for as low as $30. Bottle (8oz) of water: $1.50
You’ll also have to pay to eat, of course. Bottle of Brooklyn Lager beer: $2.25
The absolute cheapest way to go is to forgo
the foodies’ restaurant-scene paradise and Venti latte from Starbucks: $4.05
stick to making your own meals (if you have Sunday New York Times: $4.50
access to a kitchen) or subsist on packaged Hot dog from street vendor: $1.75
and prepared foods bought at the city’s many
markets. Basic non-gourmet delis, found on Slice of pizza: $2.50
practically every corner, make egg-and-cheese IªNY T-shirt: $10
sandwiches for breakfast ($3 on average), and Movie ticket: $12
a range of other basic sandwiches throughout
Pair of J Brand jeans: $180
the day, whether it’s egg salad on rye for $6 or
roast beef on a roll for $7. Street food, while NYC postcard: 5 for $1
not too healthy, is also way-cheap, with every- Taxi ride from Midtown to the Upper West Side: $13
thing from hot dogs for $2 to gyros for $3.
at the two TKTS booths (see the boxed text, HX.com The online version of the ultimate gay nightlife
p313) in Manhattan. And plenty of venues all guide, complete with bar listings organized by
over the city – music, comedy, cabaret, dance neighborhood.
and theater – frequently offer cheap ($5 to Menupages.com Indispensable guide to New York restau-
$10) and free performances; check local arts rants, organized by cuisine and neighborhood, with actual
listings in publications such as Time Out New menus and locals’ opinions.
York and the Village Voice for daily free and
cheap activities. Also, while museums like the NewYorkology.com Excellent roundup of NYC travel offers,
expensive MoMA (p137) can charge up to $20 events and news items.
for entrance, many have ‘pay-what-you-wish’
days or times, plus generous discounts for
students and seniors. SUSTAINABLE
NEW YORK for travelers who want
GETTING STARTED INTERNET RESOURCES
Here’s some good news
Curbed.com A real estate, business and neighborhood- to leave a small carbon footprint in their wake:
obsessed site and blog with up-to-the-minute links to New New York City makes it pretty darn easy to
York publications. do just that, primarily because of its incredible
mass-transit system. Walking should (and can
Forgotten-NY.com Kevin Walsh’s awesome site about
easily) be your number-one choice here, but
historic NYC, with not-found-elsewhere tales about every-
if you can’t walk, then hop aboard the aging
thing from old subway stations to cemeteries.
but efficient subway system or one of New
Gawker.com Mostly insidery blog for those in the media York’s public buses (the city claims the larg-
industry, but its snarky gossip and detailed celebrity sight- est number of hybrid-electric buses in North
ings (complete with maps) could appeal to anyone. America, with more than 550 pollution-free
GoMag.com Online version of a popular lesbian nightlife vehicles).
guide. Even taxis – not as efficient as subways and
buses, perhaps, but preferable to individually
GothamGazette.com Top-notch source for city news,
owned cars – are going green: more than a
politics and heated issues.
thousand yellow taxis in New York will be
Gothamist.com Cool blog site with quirky news and links hybrids by 2009; by 2012, all of them will
about everything from local politics to entertainment be, according to the pledge made by Mayor
gossip. Bloomberg. Yet another option is to hail a
Procrastinators can do just fine winging it in New York. But if you have specific, must-do goals in mind, being prepared
It should go without saying that unless you have infinite bucks to spend (or no comfort or cleanliness standards to
speak of ), booking a hotel room in advance is a must. The same goes for anything else you might want to be a part
of that’s in high demand, whether it’s dinner at a trendy spot or great seats at a popular theater event. For restaurant
reservations, use the free, online OpenTable.com system; Broadway theater tickets, meanwhile, can be had through
Telecharge.com, Ticketmaster.com or other sites (p310), while ballet and sporting-event tickets are best scored through
the website of the individual venue or sports team.
Other outings you might want to plan for include nightclub forays – emailing or calling ahead to have your name
placed on the night’s guest list could save you from waiting in line behind the velvet ropes; see individual club websites
(p300) for guest-list info. You can also avoid lines at some popular tourist sites by buying and printing out tickets in
advance; both the Empire State Building (p129) and Top of the Rock (p133) allow you to do this.
A less obvious detail that will benefit from some forethought is that of renting a car for out-of-town side trips –
especially on holiday weekends, when it can seem like every rental agency in the city is flat out of automobiles. Just hit
the websites in advance to secure your vehicle (see p394).
Finally, before you leave you can start getting details about what will be happening in the city during your trip – just
sign up for some email lists. One generally useful bulletin comes from Daily Candy (www.dailycandy.com), offering
information on nightlife, shopping and dining. For news about sample sales (p217), sign up to receive updates from
Top Button (www.topbutton.com).