NYC Advice

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NYC Advice

Postby Highlander » Sun May 19, 2013 10:35 am

Heading to NYC later in the summer. I've never been. I admit I want to do the tourist stuff but want to get a pretty good overview of the city as a whole. Any advice on good restaurants, things to do, and places to stay would be appreciated. Not looking for budget; but something affordable but in the thick of things in Manhattan if that is possible.

Is it worth getting out into Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx? Or is there just too much to do in Manhattan for a 5-6 day trip?

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby mean » Sun May 19, 2013 4:30 pm

There's a lot worth seeing in Manhattan, although some of it is very P&Lish, particularly Times Square. I feel like there's still plenty of "Real NYC" (whatever that is) to be had in Manhattan, but I've always found Brooklyn to be more interesting to just hang out, have a beer, and people watch. There's so much to do in New York that it's hard to nail down any particular things that aren't stupidly obvious. I regret not having made it to The High Line yet, it looks pretty cool. Central Park is soooo obvious, but definitely worth a stroll. MOMA and the Guggenheim are equally obvious but totally worth it. Honestly, one of the most fun things I've done in NYC is just walk around, hop on the subway, get off somewhere, walk around some more, find a funky little place to eat, etc.

The only place I've stayed that wasn't with friends in NYC is the Grand Hyatt on 42nd, and I can't really recommend it. It's super convenient to Grand Central Station, but that's about all it has going for it.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby brewcrew1000 » Mon May 20, 2013 10:23 am

I think the Staten Island Ferry is a nice ride, its a free ferry, you can get some nice views of the city and the Statue of Liberty.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby mean » Mon May 20, 2013 1:37 pm

Yeah, I enjoyed the ferry. Particularly being escorted by DHS speedboats with mounted machine guns.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby phuqueue » Mon May 20, 2013 2:25 pm

Can't really help you on places to stay, I always stay with friends -- only stayed in hotels twice and I wasn't the one paying on either occasion. If you're there for five or six days I would definitely take a day trip over to Brooklyn to get a little different flavor. I usually stay with friends in Cobble Hill when I go there, so that's the area of Brooklyn I'm most familiar with -- Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights, etc. It's a really pleasant area, still bustling but decidedly more down tempo than most of Manhattan. That whole area is also really easily accessible from Manhattan, since those neighborhoods are along the water and a whole bunch of trains run there (A, C, F, N, R, 2, 3, 4, 5, probably others too -- also the G if you want to do a combined Queens/Brooklyn day). Both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges land over there too, around the upper part of Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn, if you favor a walk across instead of taking the subway (personally I prefer the much less crowded Manhattan Bridge for this, but most people prefer the Brooklyn Bridge, so maybe don't listen to me). If you head over that way, I would mostly just say walk around the neighborhoods and check out the area with nothing specific in mind, except I do have a couple of more specific recommendations. First, if it's the sort of thing that would interest you, the MTA Transit Museum is over there. Then if you work up a bit of an appetite, you'll be right next to Mile End Deli. Mile End is one of my favorite places in the city but if it doesn't really do it for you, you'll be surrounded by all kinds of other options anyway.

I've spent much less time in Queens, but the neighborhoods I've been to the most (Astoria and Rego Park) are both nice enough. Rego Park is a bit inland so probably not really worth the time to get there (it is on a major subway line served by the E, R, and a bunch of other trains, so maybe it's not so far out of the way). Astoria is right on the water, so you could probably get there relatively quickly.

In Manhattan I don't really have any go-to restaurants or anything, I usually just wander around. If I were you I would just start walking along one of the avenues and go toward whatever looks interesting. I don't venture up beyond 59th very often, but when I do I personally find the Upper West Side a more pleasant walk than the Upper East Side (no particular reason why, though -- they're both perfectly nice areas, so do whichever is more convenient for you). Manhattan gets a lot more interesting once you get below 4th and the street grid starts getting a little more chaotic. The skyscraper canyons in Midtown are pretty cool to see, but the neighborhoods farther south -- Greenwich Village, SoHo, the Lower East Side, etc -- are at a much more human scale (which eventually disappears as you go even further south and eventually hit the Financial District). The High Line was already mentioned, that's really cool and it's up by Chelsea, slightly further north but also a good neighborhood.

I don't know, I don't really have any money so when I travel I tend to do whatever I can that doesn't cost anything, which is typically just walk around and look at stuff. New York is a pretty good city for that though.
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Re: NYC Advice

Postby earthling » Mon May 20, 2013 2:27 pm

For a first visit, one of the best ways to see a wide variety of Manhattan is to walk from Central Park to Wash Sq Park to Battery Park and cab or subway back to hotel. Is worth dedicating a day to this as you get a feel for what NYC really is. Brooklyn is where the coolness is now as Manhattan has become ultra gentrified but for first few days, stick with Manhattan.

In Manhattan check out..
- High Line walk (also meat packing district and Chelsea park piers at S end of high line)
- Ferry around island (touristy but doable) or to Staten Island and back from Battery Park
- Empire State roof worth doing if not long line
- Happy Hour on a street near Wallstreet that is shutdown every evening (don't recall name of street)
- Walk down Canal through Chinatown, ask where to get good 'soup dumplings' - opposite what you'd think. Little Italy overly touristy IMO (no good food)
- Take a ferry to Hoboken if wanting to get a taste of Jersey

There were so many cool places 10-15 years ago I'd recommend but every single one is gone, especially the functional grimy venues of lower east side to E Village that have since moved to Brooklyn. Manhattan lost almost all of its underbelly soul but is still amazing to check out. There is a dive bar in Tribeca called Nancy Whiskey Pub I hit often but it could be gone too.

If hitting Brooklyn, check out Brooklyn Heights promenade and pier parks with the great Manhattan view. Coney Island is worth checking out if you have time, Williamsburg too if into more raw gallery scene. The journey itself to Coney Island/Brighton Beach on Q line and boardwalk is as mesmerizing as the destination if in the right mental mode to explore for the whole day with no expectations and not worry about time - needs to be dedicated day trip and not rushed.
Last edited by earthling on Mon May 20, 2013 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby brewcrew1000 » Mon May 20, 2013 2:38 pm

I once took the subway and just randomly got off at a stop, we ended up in Jackson Heights queens, its a pretty cool area, its very diverse. I remember all kinds of Indian shops/restaurants as well as a bunch of South American restaurants and shops, we ended up eating at some Argentinian restaurant.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby chaglang » Mon May 20, 2013 7:59 pm

Nobody every gets up this far, but the wife lived off the 103 & B'way stop, near the Columbia campus. Riverside Park is lovely.

Obviously, Central Park is must-see.

Aside from that, wandering is good advice. The West 60's and 70's are beautiful.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby pash » Mon May 20, 2013 9:03 pm

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby Highlander » Sat May 25, 2013 12:38 pm

Thanks for the help. We opted for a place in midtown Manhattan that, while more expensive than I wanted, isn't so bad considering we are flying for free. I really like that Google maps is converting their NY maps in the 3D view. Hope they get further along before we go --- I've been taking virtual trips where I can in the meantime.

pash wrote:New York is one of the world's great cities, and the thing about the truly, truly great cities is that they give you everything you ask for. The way to do New York, in my opinion, is to put down a list of things you want to do—wherever—and do them in New York.

You like classical music? Go listen to something at Carnegie Hall or the Lincoln Center. You like to dance? Do it all night in some basement on the Lower East Side. You like chicken and waffles? See you at Amy Ruth's. You like basketball? Rucker Park. You like wine? Go to a tasting at Chambers Street or Italian Wine Merchants. ...

And, yes, wander around. Figure out the subway (or don't—getting lost works just as well) and you'll find lots to do going to and from your destination.


This is a HS graduation trip for my daughter who is dying to do all of the above (although she's not old enough to taste the wine at Chamber's street). Above all - see a musical or 2 or 3 on Broadway.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby GRID » Sat May 25, 2013 10:52 pm

Have stayed in Midtown, Downtown, Jersey City and Brooklyn (among others in the burbs). All work well. The Hyatt in Jersey City is perfect because it's across the street from PATH. You can often stay in lower Manhattan for much cheaper than midtown on weekends. There is a new Hilton downtown that tends to be pretty cheap. Last weekend, we ran up there for the weekend and stayed at a brand new SpringHill Suites by Marriott which is just off 5th Ave in Midtown. Great location.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby FangKC » Wed May 29, 2013 2:53 am

I lived in NYC for 10 years. I've found that people mostly want to have their photos taken at various places, so these are on my list. The things that seem to satisfy my visitors the most were:

Times Square. Better at night with the lighted billboards. If you stay at a hotel in this area, you can also get the day and night photos easily. Times Square at night always overwhelms out-of-town visitors. My mother was almost catatonic, so it will please your teenager.

Empire State Building. It's the best view in the city--north, south, east, and west. Again, timing is everything. Go when there is still daylight, and try and time it as the city gets dark. If you can't, go in the morning before the lines get long.

Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Staten Island Ferry. Great views of Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan. If you time it right, go in the evening while it's still light, and cross back at dark when the City lights up. You can also opt to do the tourist ferry that goes all around Manhattan.

Having a picnic in the Sheep's Meadow in Central Park. Go to some deli and buy supplies. Enter around Columbus Circle. My visitors enjoyed this experience a lot. The casual picnic gazing at tall buildings and people-watching was enough. Walk over to Bethesda Fountain and watch the boaters in the pond. If you've been walking a lot, it will also give you some time to rest.

A teenage daughter will also enjoy a trip to Serendipity on the Upper East Side. One goes for the desserts. Jackie Kennedy-Onassis used to take her kids there.

http://www.serendipity3.com/

Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Everyone likes to have their photo taken there, and the view from the Brooklyn Heights promenade is lovely. You can combine this with a walk through the labyrinth of narrow, chris-crossing streets around Wall Street, and go look at the construction at the World Trade Center site.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=mulberry+and+grand,+nyc&hl=en&ll=40.705163,-74.010016&spn=0.000343,0.000774&sll=39.091919,-94.57572&sspn=0.714127,1.586151&t=h&hnear=Grand+St+%26+Mulberry+St,+New+York,+10013&layer=c&cbll=40.705163,-74.010016&panoid=XtyasgRbPWlgIIpau6ZcoQ&cbp=12,226.06,,0,-3.93&z=21

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=mulberry+and+grand,+nyc&hl=en&ll=40.711675,-74.010553&spn=0.002745,0.006196&sll=39.091919,-94.57572&sspn=0.714127,1.586151&t=h&hnear=Grand+St+%26+Mulberry+St,+New+York,+10013&layer=c&cbll=40.711943,-74.010376&panoid=D36FlXlNA3Uv-HJ767hJZg&cbp=12,258.79,,0,-36.9&z=18

Having dinner in Chinatown / Little Italy in the evening (Mulberry and Hester streets). One does this mostly for the outdoor dining / street experience. The tourist gift shops are generally cheaper than those around Times Square.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=mulberry+and+grand,+nyc&hl=en&ll=40.718229,-73.997898&spn=0.001362,0.003098&sll=39.091919,-94.57572&sspn=0.714127,1.586151&t=h&hnear=Grand+St+%26+Mulberry+St,+New+York,+10013&z=19&layer=c&cbll=40.718146,-73.998028&panoid=_MjgBs_9mVdYYfBCCx8k4Q&cbp=12,59.39,,0,-0.87

While in Little Italy, walk over the old Police Station building at Centre and Grand--one of the loveliest and most-overlooked buildings in the City. I've always been partial to Vincent's at Hester and Mott. But there are several other long-time restaurants, and good ones along Mulberry Street.

http://www.10best.com/destinations/new-york/new-york/restaurants/little-italys-best/

Vincent's

http://02de1be.netsolhost.com/fame.htm

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=mulberry+and+grand,+nyc&hl=en&ll=40.72087,-73.99782&spn=0.001362,0.003098&sll=39.091919,-94.57572&sspn=0.714127,1.586151&t=h&hnear=Grand+St+%26+Mulberry+St,+New+York,+10013&z=19&layer=c&cbll=40.720825,-73.997717&panoid=uXuWbyeyd2alOEkk0xZf5Q&cbp=12,192.52,,0,-8.91

Taking the subway out to Coney Island and lounging on the beach in the afternoon. Go to Nathan's hotdog place. There's not much else to do at Coney Island than lounge on the beach and eat at Nathan's. The subway trip out there is interesting visually. Get up early and go in the morning. If you and your daughter could care less about going to the beach, then nix it for something else. My visitors were mostly from places that didn't have beaches, so they enjoyed it.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=mulberry+and+grand,+nyc&hl=en&ll=40.575524,-73.981166&spn=0.00275,0.006196&sll=39.091919,-94.57572&sspn=0.714127,1.586151&t=h&hnear=Grand+St+%26+Mulberry+St,+New+York,+10013&layer=c&cbll=40.575544,-73.981347&panoid=AHSGpHQwZt3PLrV30OT-wg&cbp=12,203.52,,0,-8.54&z=18

Taking in a play or musical in the theatre district. Buy tickets at the TKTS place in Times Square. Keep in mind you are entertaining your teenager and not yourself. A serious play might not cut it.

http://www.tdf.org/TDF_SupportPage.aspx?id=97

You will do a lot of walking, so be sure to divide activities up to allow breaks. Wear your most comfortable shoes. People who don't live in New York City are not used to doing so much walking, so you will be tired. Wear your most comfortable shoes. Also remember that in the summer, the subway stations are hotter than hell. The train cars are air-conditioned, but you have to wait in sweltering tunnels until they arrive. Another trick that might help. You might try changing shoes during the day and it will relieve stress on your feet. So take two comfortable pairs of shoes. Don't haul around a backpack or a heavy camera. It will kill your back and neck. In the hot summer, you will sweat, so drink lot of fluids. Getting dehydrated will wear you out, and you will become a bummer to your daughter. Don't let your wife or daughter wear flimsy sandals. Don't do it. They will complain all day about how their feet hurt. Plus, in crowds and on mass transit, people might step on their toes. No purses with long straps either. Preferably, no purses.

For long jaunts fast, take the subway. For short jaunts, take a city bus. The buses allow a side benefit was mini-tours because you can look at things while the bus moves about. Buses are also less disorienting than subways for newbies.

The double-decker sightseeing buses are fine for the first day because they move slowly through the City and allow visitors opportunity to gawk at things. They stop at all major attractions, and come regularly, so you can get on and off for as long as you want, and then continue when then next bus comes. You can also opt to not get off and just ride around getting a feeling for things, and then come back to those you want. Young people see them sort of like an amusement park ride.

Also, if you are in need of public bathrooms. Major hotels, hospitals, Barnes and Nobles, Borders, Starbucks, and Virgin Megastores are good places for clean bathrooms, or try and time it around eating in restaurants.

You don't always need to eat at fast-food places, or fancy restaurants. Neighborhood diners are good for that, and that's where New Yorkers eat.

A note on the Statue of Liberty. It's okay to go to the island and gaze at it. However, the trip to the top is long, and mostly disappointing because it's very cramped, and the windows in the crown are very small, and you have to bend over to look out of them. One gets as good as a view of the statue from the Staten Island Ferry.

The South Street Seaport is mostly a letdown.

The Intrepid Sea and Space Museum will probably bore your daughter. Wife and daughter will probably rather walk down Fifth Avenue looking at store windows instead. Of course, you will be bored.

Save the museums for last after you have already hit the major sites. They are more expendable if you are running out of time and energy. The museums take up a lot of time to go through, and may be better left for a later trip. Teens tend to get bored in museums.

An odd little sidebar. My visitors always seemed to enjoy taking taxi cabs. It's part of the experience, so think of it like an amusement park ride. You can always take other forms of transportation during the day, but at the end of the day, when you are tired, opt for a cab ride back to the hotel. My 18-year-old nephew thought taking cabs was fun.

The other thing is your teenager might also enjoy a horse-carriage ride in Central Park. It's more extravagant, but something she will remember. A boy might not care so much, but girls have this fairy princess vibe inside their heads, even if they don't admit it.

Small things. Eating at a sidewalk vendor stand. Eating at a busy sidewalk café. Seeing the crazy end-of-the-world soapbox types in Times Square. Feeding the pigeons. Seeing a rat running along the tracks in the subway. All of my visitors seemed to like going to the FAO Schwarz Flagship toy store on 5th Avenue. Mostly because they haven't seen such a big toy store in all their lives. It's good for a quick looksee and it's close to St. Patrick's Cathedral and Rockefeller Center. It's in the General Motors Building at 58th and Fifth Avenue.

http://www.fao.com/shop/index.jsp?categoryId=3810526

Finally, keep a journal of all the places you go, because over the years, your daughter will start to forget some of them. Attractions, names of restaurants, etc. It will all fade into a blur. If you are resourceful, you might Google map them and make a scrapbook with the photos showing the places and addresses--however minor. Include ticket stubs, playbills, transit maps, takeout menus, etc., as well as the photos your take. This might be a job for the wife.

The thing to remember is you are giving your daughter a lifelong experience and memory, which is a better gift than anything physical you can give. You might be surprised what her favorite memory will be.
Last edited by FangKC on Wed May 29, 2013 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby earthling » Wed May 29, 2013 9:28 am

^Great stuff. Entirely on target. I make it to NYC once/twice a year. Is funny how locals are about cabs too. It's the ultimate walking city and yet even many locals will take a cab a few blocks, am also surprised how many avoid subway/bus if they can - maybe not most but many will take cab over other options. Suggest using bus for E/W crosstown over a cab but with 3+ people, cab it.

For first walking trip, I'd say Central Park down Broadway to NYU/Wash Sq Park then to World Trade Center to Battery Park, though do agree see Times Square at night. Check out E Side/5th Ave/Mad another day - good time to go to Empire State, Grand Central and Library. High Line to Meat Packing/Chelsea Piers is the hot new strolling thing to do - as well as Brooklyn Park Piers/Promenade. They did a great job turning piers (and old railway) into parks - engineering marvel in itself.

BTW, you should shorten your links with text links or tinyurl. It formats the page oddly.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby Highlander » Sat Jun 15, 2013 7:31 am

Some great info here. Fang, We came to the realization that the crown of the Statue of Liberty isn't worth the investment in time so while we are going to the island, we won't be going to the crown. Unfortunately, the Ellis Island museum will be closed still from the aftermath of Sandy - one of the places I wanted to go since my grandfather went through Ellis Island coming into the US. The info you provided Fang is fantastic. My daughter is a pretty curious young lady in that she tends to take an interest in just about everything she engages so I don't see her getting bored by much (in fact she loves history, natural history and art). One thing we are noticing is that if you want to avoid lines, you have to reserve in advance which tends to take away from spontaneity and force us to plan our days out in advance. We will spend most of our time in Manhattan although we do plan to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge as some have suggested and spend some time in Brooklyn. I've also been reading about the High Line walk as Earthling suggested - may need to put that on the itinerary also. The thing we cannot miss, however, is getting to a couple of Broadway plays - that's my daughter's primary reason for wanting to go.

Staying in Midtown Manhattan - just a couple of blocks from the Empire State Building. More expensive than I wanted but hotels we checked out were either dumps (according to reviews - and still not cheap), good deals but no vacancies, and prohibitively expensive. We went for one on the bottom end of prohibitively expensive - but affordable since flying for free.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby FangKC » Sat Jun 15, 2013 6:00 pm

A couple of suggestions about new shows on Broadway.

Bette Midler in I'll Eat You Last: A Conversation with Sue Mengers

http://www.broadway.com/shows/ill-eat-you-last/

Ann, a play about former Texas governor Ann Richards

http://www.broadway.com/shows/ann/

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby Highlander » Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:07 am

FangKC wrote:A couple of suggestions about new shows on Broadway.

Bette Midler in I'll Eat You Last: A Conversation with Sue Mengers

http://www.broadway.com/shows/ill-eat-you-last/

Ann, a play about former Texas governor Ann Richards

http://www.broadway.com/shows/ann/



Looks like its going to be "Chicago" but there's time for more than one.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby Highlander » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:26 pm

Fang - your comments were right on the money. We followed your recipe pretty closely. We had a great time and probably averaged 5+ miles per day taking the subway increasingly towards the end of our trip. We spent most of our time in Manhattan (plus a little in Brooklyn), the outer boroughs will have to wait for another trip. Manhattan is a pretty small place. The maps make Chelsea look like its own small secluded entity but you can stand on 7th avenue in Chelsea and look directly past Penn Station into Time Square. I did love how every street had it's own quality and that quality changed from district to district. One thing I noticed is that you kind of need to know where are you going when hunting down a restaurant, they seem to be concentrated in discrete districts like Hells Kitchen (which we frequented), Lexington (Curry Hill) and on 53rd between 1st and 3rd avenues (among many, many other places) but they aren't just found anywhere. What's the deal with all the scaffolding. It's everywhere - even where there is no construction.

The first day we walked from our hotel near Madison Square Garden to Battery Park (and pretty quickly), caught a boat out to the Statue of Liberty (alas, Ellis Island still closed down from Sandy) and then meandered back stopping at Katz Deli in the lower east end. Restrooms were an issue on these long jaunts and we took advantage of your suggestions. Next day was the Empire State Building and a walk up to the Natural History Museum (could have skipped that), Lennon memorial stuff, walked across Central Park to Bloomingdales. The rest of the days were similar. We did spend some time in the art museums, my daughter is really into art, and we could have spent a couple of days alone at the Met - a half day was enough though. The Guggenheim, on the other hand, was a bit of a waste but the building itself was worth the price of admissions.

We did walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and the myriad of scaffolding and construction drapes and enjoyed a brief walk through downtown Brooklyn and the waterfront. Wasn't too crazy about Lower Manhattan. Massive construction around the WTC site funneled the sizable crowds into very small areas and made it very uncomfortable although the WTC memorial is well done - even moving. Did all the other neighborhoods too - Soho, Chinatown, Tribeca but Little Italy was a huge disappointment - just isn't much left of it.

Anyway, great trip - took over 1000 pictures. Will try to post a few.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby FangKC » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:20 pm

Highlander, I'm glad all had a nice time.

Yes, there is always a lot of scaffolding around Manhattan. They are always replacing windows and doing tuck pointing on brick facades. The scaffolding can be up for weeks and months.

Yes, Little Italy has been shrinking for years, being over taken by Chinatown. It's really just about two blocks on Mulberry now. Most of the Italians left years ago for the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby pash » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:42 pm

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Re: NYC Advice

Postby earthling » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:20 pm

Did you manage to do the High Line walk? Sounds like you got a good taste of THE City for a first visit. Katz is a to do institution for sure but is disappointing (though not unexpected) what has happened to the lower E Side. All the grit and soul and dive joints have been gentrified and inhabited by people with money who have no appreciation of its past. I really miss Tonic, Mars - and CBGBs turned into yuppie condos.

Am heading out again in a couple months. My younger brother just moved to Williamsburg (Brooklyn) after being in Brooklyn Heights for 10 years. Manhattan is and always will be an amazing place to visit, with constant change of the times, but Brooklyn is something to check out next time for a little more neighborhood depth.


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