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March 07, 2018


Museum of Natural History and Planetarium.
The Cloisters. The Frick museum. Empire State building for the view and Statue of Liberty.
If she's adventerous, tell her to get out of the city and visit the Adirondacks. Thats my home and it is beautiful!
Welcome to NY state!

MOMA, Guggenheim and The Met!

Slightly off the beaten path: Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

And while she's in the lower realm, night out at the Village Vanguard.

“NY city”? What the heck is that?

If she has some time to herself, and has an interest in poetry, this is cool, and can be done in bits.

“NY city”? What the heck is that?

See, this is the kind of info I need to give my daughter. What should she call it?

What should she call it?

in my upstate NY experience, we always called it "the city"

What should she call it?

"Hymietown" is probably no longer cool...

What should she call it?

She should call it "The Big Apple" every chance she gets. Everyone will think she's very cool and with it.

More seriously, it was mostly the text presentation. It's either NYC or New York City. I guess I wouldn't have balked at NY City, even if it's not how I would write it. The lower-case "c" really put me over the edge.

But, yes, people do just call it "the city" (or "The City") in the surrounding area, often referring specifically to Manhattan. But that's my nearby/outside perspective. I don't know if it makes as much sense for New Yorkers, particularly Manhattanites.

"East Newark" will make a good impression, too.

Ellis Island and Central Park were my faves. Getting to Ellis Island was the dream of decades for me, and not long after I visited it was damaged so badly by Hurricane Sandy that it was closed for several years. It's open again now, though. It may not be high on the list for most people, but a bunch of my ancestors came through there, so it meant a lot to me to see it.


As for what to call the place -- surely it depends on your vantage point, as hsh points out. My daughter bravely went off and lived in Manhattan for 7 months after college, and a good friend who had grown up on the Upper East Side called the Upper West Side "the suburbs." (Kind of reminiscent of the guy I went on a date with during my first week of college: he was from NYC and missed the big city. And here I'd been thinking that Boston was the big city........ Vantage points.)

As for New Yorkers getting in your face -- to my shame, I've spent only 6 or 7 days in NYC in my life, over three short visits. Every time I went I was surprised all over again by how nice people were. No one ever got in my face about anything, store people were helpful, Central Park was stunning in April, and in particular, speaking as a person who has spent a sizable percentage of my life in the Boston area, the dynamics of pedestrians and drivers felt safe and orderly.

Ahh, that was a typo. My vision is getting worse and those mistakes are creeping in more and more. I think I had NYC, and then deleted the C and typed city without capitalizing it.

My daughter is more Japanese than American, so I can't really imagine her getting in anyone's face. I should have added that the thing that inspired Ian Frazier to write that essay was Guiliani suggesting that "We can kick your city's ass!" be NY's new catchphrase, but in fairness, he said it on the Letterman show, choosing it out of 5 possibilities that Letterman gave him.


cleek: "East Newark" will make a good impression, too.

You are an evil person. Well done!

It seems a shame to be there for any length of time and not take advantage of the theater district. Out of the huge (unequaled) variety of shows, surely she will spot something of interest.

So....the south Bronx does not refer to Manhattan?

Circle Line Cruises - sounds incredibly lame, but it's great, done it twice.


And there's a great photography book called "New York from the Air - A Story of Architecture" by Yann Arthus-Bertrand


Theaters, museums, nightlife, an enormous variety of cuisine...

...once your daughter tastes The Big Apple, will she ever want to come home?

Manhattan in 3D

Trump Tower!
666 Wall St! [reality exceeds parody]

How long will she be there?

For nightlife, if she is interested in live jazz, Small's is probably the best hang these days. It's probably past it's "nobody knows about this place" sell-by date at this point, but it still seems to be a good hang to hear what the not-so-famous-but-still-killing cats are doing now. It runs late.

Dim sum in Chinatown. Get some street food and walk around, pretzel, falafel, or a slice. Papaya King for the odd combo of a hot dog and a tropical fruit drink.

Walk the High Line end to end, it'll take you from Soho to Chelsea with a nice view all around. Soho's cool for designer-ish stuff, if that's of interest. St Marks Place for an accessible East Village experience. Washington Square to watch the hustlers play cut-throat chess.

Central Park is worth seeing and walking through, if you're lucky there might be some interesting public stuff going on - music, theater. From there the big museums are a pretty easy walk. Lots of easy low-key local places to eat on either side (east side, west side) of the park.

Times Square if you are interested in Disneyland NY, which maybe she is. It's a hoot, and these days nobody will be asking her if she wants weed, acid, ludes, or a date.

Uptown for soul food and amateur night at the Apollo Theater.

East side mid-town for swanky swanky shopping, or just window shopping.

Hell, now I wanna go.


if you're not actually in the city, "the city" is the most common, or just "New York".

once in the city, use general area ("uptown" "downtown" "midtown") or more specifically neighborhood ("Soho" "Chelsea" "the Village" "Upper East / West side").

If you're venturing beyond Manhattan, broadly by borough or more specifically by neighborhood.

Hell, now I wanna go.

I always want to go.

Next time I go (I hope soon), I'll go to Small's, to break the monotony (not) of the Village Vanguard, the legendary place that I'd read about forever, and finally went there, by myself, while on a business trip. I've made many stops there since, with and without friends and family.

A dream fulfilled.

I had no idea about Small's, but now I do. Thanks, russell!

yeah, forced to endure the sheer monotony of hearing some of the best freaking players on the planet, at the vanguard, every night for the last 80+ years.

fred hersch and billy hart tonight, drew gress on bass.

nothing wrong with the vanguard, it's the carnegie hall of jazz.

small's is just another option.


a lot of their programming is online, some by subscription and some free. worth a look if that's in the neighborhood of being your thing.

janie, no worries, different strokes y'all.

I looked at the Small's website, and can't wait to go there next time I'm in NY. This thread has inspired me to plan a trip for May, maybe.

I offered my Village Vanguard pilgrimage story as a testimony to something about New York that is there for everybody. If you read a couple of things about so many things, you'll probably develop a passion, and something about it may well be in New York.

I fantasized once about retiring there. But now that I'm old, I'm not sure I could live with "green space by appointment." I wish I could afford to give it a try.

Every time I went I was surprised all over again by how nice people were

More than once, I have left my belongings behind in a place in NY where, being gobsmacked, I just listed out the front door.

And, never has anything been stolen from me. I walked right back there, maybe an hour later, and it was there.

Obviously, no one can rely on that.

Ben Lerner's 10:04 is a wonderful novel about what it was like to live in Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy. Worth reading, because of Ben Lerner. But also because of the low-crime community that existed during that literally dark time.

Obviously, I won't shut up. So I'll shut up.

Greetings from Central Newark!

There actually is an 'East Newark, New Jersey' - a borough of eight square blocks or so, containing the derelict factory, whose owners created the municipality as a tax-cut ploy, and Tops Diner, opined by some as NJ's best. Having eaten there, would not disagree.

Prelim reading, would recommend Justin Davidson's _Magnetic City_ https://www.amazon.com/Magnetic-City-Walking-Companion-York/dp/0553394703

The Staten Island Ferry, of course. Strand Books. Maybe the USS Intrepid, depending on her interests...

At some point, get over to the Jersey City waterfront - possibly in early morn, see the towers silhouetted against the sunrise, walk up to see the canyons of 34th or 42nd sts

Have a great trip!

nothing wrong with the vanguard, it's the carnegie hall of jazz.

How do you get there?

It's not just Manhattan, there's the Bronx, and Staten Island too.

(Sorry, I've had a few glasses of wine.)

How do you get there?

Cab? On foot from the Tenement Museum, and lots of dinner afterwards?

How do you get there?

Practice, Practice, Practice...

Suddenly, I love CharlesWT.

But only for a moment.

fred hersch is great - I've discovered him only recently

and i've just discovered him now.

thanks, all!

I was surprised all over again by how nice people were

NY'ers are actually generally really nice and generous people. They can be really blunt and they're usually in a hurry, which can translate as rude. Which is kind of a different thing.

NY'ers, when away from NY, also will often come across as unfriendly, because cues that are really normal in other places - saying "Hello" to somebody you don't know as you walk past them - are really strange behaviors in, for instance, Manhattan, and may be seen as puzzling or even mildly threatening to a NYC native.

New Englanders are the ones who are tough nuts to crack. In my experience. The trick to New Englanders is hanging around long enough for them to forget that you're not from there. Then, suddenly, you're on the inside, one of the gang. This will not result in sudden effusive displays of affection, it will show up as somebody helping you shovel your driveway.

No comment will be made, they'll just do it, as if they had always done it and there was nothing remarkable about it.

People are funny.

"The way to scare a New Yorker to death is to look them in the eye, smile, and say 'Good morning!'" —Jay Leno

(quoted from memory)

I think New Yorkers are at least more upbeat and enthusiastic than people in Philadelphia, if not exactly more "friendly." It's true that it's weird to talk to someone for "no reason" (as though you need whatever qualifies as a reason) in either place. But I find that, once you have something to talk about, you're more likely (not a hard-and-fast rule) to find a gregarious New Yorker than a gregarious Philadelphian. The place just has more spirit and energy. (Philly does seem to be improving on that front, though.)

The Fred Hersch/Kurt Elling/Kat McGarry Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman) production is really something for anyone who enjoys music and poetry collaborations. I have mixed feelings about them generally, but really enjoyed that one.

Philly's looser, though, in a good way. It is IMO overall a funkier city than NY.

NY has more edge, Philly has more grease.

Less stuck-up glam, to be sure.

It's funny. I look at Baltimore like that. I go there and think, "The mfers really don't give a sh1t!" (also in a good way.)

Great post and plenty of good suggestions for things to do and see in New York City.

As it happens, my son is finishing up a Doctorate in Chemistry at Columbia (defends his thesis sometime this summer and then moves on to a post-Doc program at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the Fall), so I've been renewing my love affair with the city twice a year since he moved there in 2016.

Plan to visit again in April and something longer during the summer.

In no particular order:

Walk the city. Take the subway for the longer jaunts because you rub right up against new Yorkers in all their glory on the trains.

I second JAFD's excellent suggestion to buy Davidson's "Magnetic City" and have it with you as you roughly follow his suggested treks.

Davidson provides an excellent primer on the explosion of new architecture up against the old in the city and what to notice and appreciate.

You'll find yourself gazing upward as you walk, and running into light poles and fire hydrants, not to mention other New Yorkers who really don't care to give way, so here are some tips on the difference between walking as a New Yorker and walking as tourist:


In fact, there was a New Yorker cartoon, which I couldn't locate for the moment, from this last year of the footprints of a New Yorker walking (straight ahead, like a foot soldier) and the footprints of a tourist ... meandering, circular .. you get the idea.

If your taste leans to the old street level New York vanquished by decades of gentrification and the full-scale bulldozing of entire neighborhoods by the likes of Guiliani and Bloomberg, visit Jeremiah's Moss' blog for passionate, angry polemics regarding what has been lost:


His book, "Vanishing New York" is a stemwinder. He's has an interesting life too, to say the least.

While you are at it, read about Robert Moses and Citizen Jane Jacobs to get the full drift of the battles over what gets done in New York that have been going on since the Lenape Indians sold the bit and kaboodle for two subway tokens, an egg roll, and a rubber chicken.

Do this. It's a gas:


There are two of them now in the same alley,
two different freight elevators. Near, as it happens, where I ran a freight elevator 45 years ago. "Chonny, kid, run down to the deli and get me a pastrami on rye, with the good mustard, would ja?"

Yes, museums. It'll take several trips through the big ones, so give yourself time. I mean, at MOMA, I was exhausted by the mere presence of masterpiece after masterpiece. They are gloriously unbelievable from four feet away in person.

I want to be an art thief in my next life.

Many of them are near or adjacent to Central Park, so walk the park. Go see the Dakota on the Upper West Side. Hell of a building, not only for its fabled inhabitants.

Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I use to do it decades ago when it wasn't so crowded but it's still worth it. Now, it's like 9/11 every day and seems like everyone is fleeing the city on foot.

Wear sensible shoes. It's a long jaunt to get off the thing on the Brooklyn side, but now that you are there, hike down thru Brooklyn Heights to the Promenade for the incredible views of Manhattan and New York Harbor.

At night is great too.

Same for the Empire State Building. Go once at night and once in the day time for the full effect.

At night, as you look uptown, you'll see Times Square aglow. Russell mentions the big change from years ago, but word to the wise, don't try and take a photo of Mickey Mouse, and Mini, and Goofy and the other adorables who inhabit the space now without asking ... and paying, because inside those charming costumes are Joe Pesci, Robert DeNiro, and George Raft and they will Moe-slap you for the infringement.

Stand a block away from the Chrysler Building and get a load of it. No tours any longer, unfortunately, but watch this:


My Dad worked in the building in the late 1950s, and he was able to get my brother and me up where that guy is.

Inside. But still.

Yes, theater. Just go.

Eat. Everything. Often.

Where to start? Wherever you happen to be standing. But start and don't stop.

Pastrami sandwiches and an egg cream at the famous places.

Stop for a slice on every block.

Great African food and South American in hole in the walls in West Harlem and the South Bronx.

If a place is called the Eel House, take a seat.

Visit Eater New York and Thrillist New York and a half dozen other places on the intertubes to guide you to the new joints and the old ones.

Mission Chinese, Gabrielle Hamilton's Prune, Mario Batali's Eataly*, an indoor market with half a dozen mini-restaurants featuring Italian cuisine, but even the unknown neighborhood joints are damned good.

Batali has stepped back from his restaurant businesses for now because when he wasn't kneading gnocchi, he was needing rude relief from the women he worked with, but that's no reason to starve ourselves.

Visit the Fulton Fish Market if you can, which is not on Fulton Street anymore. It's now way up in the Bronx.

It occurs to me lj's daughter has seen plenty of bustling fish market's in Japan

Make it a twofer and catch a Yankees game, if she likes the game.

Arrange to visit the various Italian Street, some of which are in late summer. They are up against it now with complaints from the new gentry taking over the neighborhoods, so they might be around much longer in the present from, so get that sausage and peppers sandwich while you still can.

See here:


Weave in and out of Little Italy and Chinatown.

Stand still in lower Manhatten and listen to the city thrum.

This just scratches the surface.

Nice to read Ian Frazier. I wish I had lived his life, but since I didn't, I'm glad he took up the slack and went after it.

Good luck and enjoy.

A few typos, some words missing.

So sue me.

Walk the city. Wear sensible shoes.

If you had to boil it down to what would fit on a postcard, that'd do it.

Oh yeah, and eat.

A most excellent post, Count.

This is me in 1974, heading for work:


Stop for a slice on every block.

I was watching a rerun of "The Office" earlier in the week, and Michael's in NYC on business. He makes a special trip to Sbarro in Times Square for some authentic NY-style pizza.

"He makes a special trip to Sbarro in Times Square for some authentic NY-style pizza."

And THAT boils down Jeremiah Moss's entire 20-year long tantrum about corporate and middle suburban America ruining New York City.

And it gets exported to Jersey.


All the big Manhattan stuff that everybody knows about is as good as they say, but you can't afford a steady diet of it. It's worth her while to dig into the smaller venues for whatever she's into: art, theater, music. Natives and, especially, long-time non-natives, will talk your ear off about their "secret" recommendations.
I'll just make a few about the Outer Boroughs. (Even NYC natives often say "the City" when they mean Manhattan -- as when someone from Forest Hills says he or she is "Going into the City.") Astoria, Queens, once an exclusively Greek enclave, is still heavily Greek but becoming one of the most diverse areas around, with lots of different kinds of food and entertainment. Some say it's the new Williamsburg, now that Williamsburg isn't Williamsburg anymore. For Asian food of all kinds, Flushing. Manhattan's Little Italy is OK, but I prefer the Belmont area in the Bronx, also home to an emerging Albanian culture and an excellent Mexican restaurant (which has developed into a small Bronx chain) first opened to feed the Mexican kitchen staff in all the Italian restaurants on Arthur Avenue and thereabouts. Any of those Italian restaurants will be good. My favorites are Dominick's, Roberto's, and Zero Otto Novi. Try the Bronx Zoo, the Bronx Botanical Gardens, and City Island, an ersatz New England fishing village. (Eat at Johnny's Reef at the end of the island, for fried or steamed fish and shellfish, preferably at an outdoor table. We were taking a friend from Baltimore there and she wondered if she needed to get changed. I told her that if she wore pants she'd be ahead of the game. Brooklyn has gotten to the point that its attractions are nearly as well-known as Manhattan's. How about a minor league ballgame in Staten Isalnd? And do make a point of taking the ferry at least once.

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