An Alternative Guide to New York City
As the premier world metropolis, New York City’s allure is impossible to sum up with novel hyperbole. Countless films and songs make the effort but alas, only a personal visit to this oh so cosmopolitan capital will do.
While neophytes swoon under the glow of Times Square and loom of landmark skyscrapers from Empire State to Chrysler, New York, above all else, is a city of neighbourhoods. Manhattan enclaves like Harlem, Greenwich Village, Hell’s Kitchen, TriBeCa, SoHo and the Lower East Side embody the Big Apple’s burly heart and provide the proverbial marrow for tourists to feast on.
With that sentiment firmly in mind, here are five New York City alternatives to consider.
Cross the Brooklyn Bridge
The Big Apple borough of Brooklyn is supreme. While mainstream tourists tend to focus solely on Manhattan, those in the know either stay in Brooklyn or hop on the subway to enjoy some of the best restaurants, nightlife and architecture in New York.
With more than 2.5 million people and 80 distinct neighbourhoods, Brooklyn is a huge, diverse city unto itself. While the borough’s recent hipster overhaul and resurgence is a popular media story gone viral, Brooklyn never had a scarcity of charm. Good P.R. is good for business however and indeed, hot neighbourhoods like DUMBO, Williamsburg, Park Slope and Prospect Heights now swell with some of the most avant-garde and trendy restaurants, cafés and bars in New York. For vibrant ethnic enclaves and meaty points of interest like Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Academy of Music, the borough should be high on your radar.
Let others lament the high cost of a good meal in Manhattan while you venture on a wildly affordable and delicious street food tour of the city. The annual Vendy Awards underscore borough gems like the Dosa Man in Washington Square Park, Jamaican Dutchy on 51st Street and 7th in Midtown and King of Falafel on 30th Street and Broadway. Some of the best gourmet grub on wheels moves from one ‘hood to another however, so consult Twitter for updates on where to find the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, Waffles of Thomas DeGeest and Rickshaw Dumplings of Kenny Lao.
The Other Chinatown
Manhattan’s Chinatown is so yesterday. For a real taste of authentic Hunan, Fujian and even Dongbei cuisine, head to Flushing, Queens. The host of the 1964 World’s Fair, annual U.S. Open tennis tournament and New York Mets baseball team is the new nexus of Chinese culture in New York City. Almost half of Flushing’s population is from Asia, with half in turn from China. For remarkable dim sum and full-scale cultural immersion, take subway line 7 and exit west at Flushing-Main Street terminus.
Head Off Broadway
The Great White Way Theatre District of Midtown Manhattan generates almost $1 billion worth of tickets every year. Big name productions with big names stars lure countless tourists to queue up for hours at the TKTS booth in Times Square to score same-day seats. If you prefer to make better use of your precious time in the city, head Off Broadway for the best bang-for-your-buck entertainment in New York. Apply the same counsel in your quest to score Manhattan hotel deals as well.
While folly to dismiss the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, MoMA, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History and Rose Center for Earth and Space – a nonpareil ensemble to be sure – New York has a superb second-tier of museums to discover.
The Frick Collection, for one, is a premier small art museum with notable works by El Greco, Goya, Rembrandt and Titian, to name just several. The Whitney Museum of American Art has a permanent collection with over 18,000 works and brand new digs courtesy of Pritzker Prize architect Renzo Piano. The Studio Museum in Harlem is diminutive by comparison but elegantly chronicles the vast creative output of a diverse African-American community. Last but not least, the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is a foremost chapter of a little outfit know as the Smithsonian Institution.