Tuesday, March 18, 2014

See NYC Like a Local: A Genuine Slice of New York Life

You've seen Times Square, the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center but you know there is still so much more to explore and experience in New York City. So, isn't it time that you enjoyed an authentic slice of city life? There is one walk I love sharing with friends and family that does just that - it brings you into the fabric of daily life in one of New York's most-beloved neighborhoods. That neighborhood, the Upper West Side, just happens to also be one of the city's most beautiful locations.

The Dakota is an Upper West Side architectural gem. Photo by briannac37.

Ready to take that lively walk on your own? Follow (and improvise along the way!) this self-guided walking tour and you'll be ready to craft your own day of genuine New York moments the next time you have two hours to spare in Manhattan:

Getting Started

Hop on the IRT subway line (you can pick it up in many locations including Times Square) and take the 2 or 3 Uptown Express. One stop later exit at West 72nd Street. This landmark subway station is known as the Gateway to the Upper West Side. Begin heading north from West 72nd Street toward West 74th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

A peek at the West 72nd Street subway station and Verdi Park. Photo: J. Zeldman

In only moments of strolling the area's sidewalks you may begin to realize that while Times Square may be the epicenter of New York to the world, the Upper West Side is the heart of Manhattan to everyone who discovers it or calls it home.

Listen as you stroll between 73rd Street and 74th street - that is the sound of New York quiet: a muted roar interrupted rhythmically by the sound of delivery trucks and cabs bouncing along potholes, their sound magnified into deep, echoing booms by the elegant Florentine Renaissance palazzo landmark building you see to your left, known today as the Apple Bank for Savings, and by the pre-war landmark building standing above you on your right, previously known as The Berkeley.

The Ansonia - scandal, a rooftop farm, a notorious nightclub are only half the story. Photo: J. Zeldman

Peek in each storefront you pass. Restaurants. Elegant shops. An old fashioned barber shop. When you reach the original neon sign of a Chinese laundry, recognize that this family-owned business has been a mainstay of this Upper West Side block for decades - its comforting scent of clean, starched steam has billowed onto the sidewalk for over 50 years hinting at neighborhood continuity in a city of constant change.

Make a right turn at West 74th Street to enjoy two Upper West Side delights - sweets eating and stoop sitting - before we move on toward a Central Park adventure, Columbus Avenue sightseeing, the delights of Lincoln Center and...

This is just the start of your lively walking tour - experience it, complete with images, helpful links and directions to a rewarding, scenic grand finale in my post at Ask a New Yorker. Follow me on Twitter for daily city tips, travel photos and "Best of ..."  updates. Happy Travels!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Experience NYC Like a Local - Let it Surprise You

What I love about New York is how it can take whatever you thought would be the highlight of your day and turn it into just one more event in a string of incredible moments.

The New York Travel Show was supposed to be my highlight one March weekend. Instead New York itself became my main focus.

New York always has a surprise waiting for you on the way to your plans.

A sight that can make you stop in your tracks...

A carriage waits  near the W. 37th St. stables to be readied  for the day.

or a scent that can lift your eyes from crowds and concrete to a piece of old city history.

Tavola is a Hell's Kitchen favorite that stands where landmark grocer Manganaro's opened in 1893.

New York rewards intuitively.

After a day at the travel show walking exhibits from around the world, what luck to find rest and lunch in a quiet little Turkish restaurant.

Deciding between hundreds of 9th Avenue restaurants in NYC is delicious fun.

New York asserts its number one-ness especially when your attention is drifting elsewhere.

After a day of being tempted at the Travel Expo by what the rest of the world has to offer, New York’s mightiest monument to culture drew my thoughts closer to home with an unexpected pleasure - an evening visit to uncrowded galleries and dinner accompanied by live music.

The Met is open until 8:45 PM each Fri. & Sat. eve - ideal for uncrowded galleries, dining and live music.

New York also makes inconvenience irrelevant.

Take a taxi to a train when it’s time to leave town? Not in New York. This city makes it seem reasonable to roll your suitcase blocks out of your way toward transportation  - even in winter cold - just for the pleasure of seeing,

Central Park West is home to architectural gems like The Dakota.


Imagine, catching a wedding in progress. Lovely!

Columbus Circle - a smartphone camera does it no justice.

What do you love most about New York? What makes it the city you just can’t leave or the one you keep returning to over and over again? I’d love to know. Please share your comment below or connect with me @CityGirlWrites on Twitter. Also, treat yourself to Pauline Frommer’s Easy Guide to New York City 2014 – whether you’re a native New Yorker or have never been to NYC, you’ll find it’s packed with useful information and insider-y insights – it's a valuable companion.