I am a huge NYC fan even though I don’t live there. Yet. There is just something about that noisy, filthy city that tugs at my heart. I go there as often as I can when I am in the States. I love everything about the city that never sleeps. And yes, it is THE CITY (all caps). I love the the food variety; I love that everyone is in a hurry and a little bit bonkers; I love that you can walk down the street and hear 5 different languages; I love that you can find anything you could possibly want; I love spotting real New Yorkers; I love the sarcasm; I love all the neighborhoods and the logical way the city is set up; I love people watching on the crowded, stinky metro; I love New York in summer; I love that New York never sleeps and is unlike any other city in the world. I don’t love the mutant rats though. Those can go.
To say that NYC is special is a massive understatement and borderline offensive. Hands-down it is my favorite city in the world, and I would move there in a heartbeat if someone would only pay the rent for me. I’m also a snob, and I’ refuse to live anywhere but Manhattan. Offers open, I am an awesome roommate. I spent a good amount of time over the last year getting to know New York better when I was stateside because my last bf lives there. I am not a true New Yorker (yet) but I thought I’d go ahead and share some of my favorite spots in the City with you guys. I hope you enjoy, and I would love to hear what your favorite places are in New York! (This post would be too too long, so I have a second NYC post coming soon about nothing but FOOD!)
1. The Strand: Ok, this may be the best bookstore in the WORLD! Their tagline is 18 miles of books, and they aren’t exaggerating. Located on 828 Broadway (yes, THAT Broadway) near Union Square and E 12th St., it is a must-see if you ever make it to the Big Apple and you love books. If you are a hipster or a book lover, like me, you have to buy one of their famous canvas totes. I go hear every time I’m in New York to pick up a couple of dusty tomes and to savor the bookish, nerdy atmosphere. They have a lot of used books too, which is great because you usually get a pretty good deal, which is RARE in New York.
2. The Museums: if you have ever been to the city before or if you want to hit up a museum or two without the massive crowds of Asian tourists, skip the Met and the MoMA and head to my three favorite museums in NYC, the Frick, the Morgan Library, and the Cloisters. The Frick is located on E 70th St. between 5th and Madison, in the heart of the Upper East Side. Put on your high heels and best dress, pretend like your daddy gives big donations every year, and you’ll fit right in. Originally a private mansion, it was converted into a small museum in the thirties, and now houses an incredible collection of European Old Master paintings, from Goya to to Titian to Renoir to Van Eyck. I love this opulent museum and all it’s treasures. For me it is a hidden gem in NY, with works by some of the most famous artists of all time without the hoards of tourists. Also, free audio guides, the key word being free, is a major bonus.
One of my other favorite museums in NYC is the Morgan Library, located at 225 Madison Ave between 36th and 37th. It was originally J.P. Morgan’s private library, and it houses a grand collection of original manuscripts and prints, such as Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind, 3 Gutenberg Bibles, and drawings by Michelangelo and Raphael, among many other treasures. The reading room is to die for; it reminds me of the Beast’s library in Beauty and the Beast. Make sure you have time to grab a coffee or snack at the cute cafe in the center of the museum. I love everything about this museum, from its architecture, to its awesome exhibits, to the friendly docents. It’s really a great place to visit.
And finally my third favorite museum in the big city is the Cloisters, the medieval branch of the Met. It is way up around Harlem and Washington Heights (yes, unfortunately, THAT Washington Heights) but it is smack in the middle of Fort Tryon Park, which is a really lovely place (in daytime). Overlooking the Hudson River and the park, it easy to forget that you are in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The Cloisters was built from sections from five medieval European Abbeys; yes that’s right, the whole building looks like a monastery, including the herb gardens built according to medieval manuscripts. Walking around this museum, you could easily be back in Europe; the collection is very extensive too and includes the famous Flemish Unicorn Tapestries. If you love anything medieval, like moi, it is definitely worth a long metro ride uptown through sketchy neighborhoods, and make sure you go on a nice day, so you can spend some time wandering around the beautiful gardens and park.
3. Chelsea Market: I just discovered this gem about a month ago, located on 9th Ave between W 15th and 16th streets in the heart of Chelsea. It is housed in an old factory complex, and I love that as you walk among all the little shops you can still see the exposed metal beams, brickwork, old machinery and elevators. Make sure when you visit you go on an empty stomach and with a full wallet. It is full of delicious places to eat like the The Lobster Place (a fresh seafood market where you can sit down and eat or take away home to cook up), Amy’s Bread (not for those with a gluten allergy or on Atkins), Fat Witch Bakery (best brownies in Manhattan), and the Ronnybrook Dairy (only in NYC can you find a dairy bar). Make sure you pop in Posman Books, a cute little independent bookstore with a great selection of notebooks and stationary too.
4. The High Line: One of my favorite parks in NYC has to be the High Line, partly because it is so innovative. It is an elevated railway line converted into a park; how cool is that? 30 feet above ground like the trains in Chicago, it was originally built to bring in cargo and freight trains to the West Side, but it went out of use in the 80’s and was falling apart and overgrown when it converted into a public park 2 years ago. It is a mile long and runs through Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, and you can walk along it, between the buildings and get a different view of the city, along with some views into people’s apartments. It has totally revamped the area, and now there are tons of public works and projects going on and crime has been seriously reduced; the park is still being explanded. There are plenty of benches and places to chill out, as well as spots to get on and off the track.
5. Central Park: Ok, if you ever go to New York, you have to go to Central Park; it is beloved by tourists and New Yorkers alike, and it really comes alive in the summer. It is so big and green and there are so many little places within it, it is easy to dig out a niche for yourself. One of my favorite places is called Sheep Meadow, which is a huge 15 acre field that is overlooked by trees and the NYC skyline, located on the West Side, around 66th to 69th St. And yes, sheep actually grazed here until the 30s. On the weekends in the summer it can be packed with thousands of people picnicing, playing games, sunbathing, and just hanging out. Typical New York, there is also free wifi. I suppose I like this part of Central Park because it reminds me of laying out on the green at Mount Holyoke, where I went to school. I just love laying in the grass and if I hold my hand up to my eye and look under, I could be in a huge field anywhere, and then when I lift my hand, I can see the tops of all the skyscrapers, reminding me that I’m in my favorite city.