A travel journal
to New York by KDKerr
Quote: New York City is impossible to accurately describe because of its rich history and constantly changing landscape. Even if you spent many years living in the city's confines, you would be unable to experience everything it has to offer. Have a game plan ready before you arrive, so you can concentrate on seeing and doing the things that interest you most.
The city is world reknowned for its cultural institutions, but its citizens are also a living exhibit of the world's heritage. The ethnic makeup of the Big Apple is unmatched by any other city. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 2.9 of the over 8 million residents were foreign-born. Of those 2.9 million who are foreign-born, 43 percent arrived in the United States within the previous ten years. And, 46 percent of the city's population speaks a language other than English at home. It's what makes neighborhoods like Little Italy and Chinatown so fantastic.
For 2005, New York City ranked as the 13th most expensive city in the world according to CNN Money. Click here to see the complete list of the World's Most Expensive Cities.
Many years ago, a comedian on MTV's Half Hour Comedy Hour stated his theory about New York City - "If you can touch it, it's been peed on." This is probably true.
The Rough Guide to New York City correctly states that The New York Times crossword puzzles increase in difficulty as the week progresses. However, Sunday is the largest, but not hardest, crossword to solve. Puzzle fanatics know that Saturday provides the most frustrating challenge.
Twenty streets equals 1 mile, and the distance between two avenues equals two streets.
When the "Don't Walk" sign stops flashing, you have 8 seconds to cross the street before being mangled by NYC traffic.
Addresses in Queens are listed by neighborhood, such as Long Island City, NY, rather than by borough name.
Large neighborhood maps are posted at each subway stop next to the 24-hour toll booths. They are especially helpful in areas like Greenwich Village and Soho, where streets don't follow the grid system.
Caveat Commuter - Latin for Rider Beware (not really). An empty subway car usually means a pungent odor emanates within or the absence/excess of air-conditioning/heating.
Subway maps - available for free at all token booths - make excellent wrapping paper for gifts purchased for friends and family
Attraction | "Grand Central's Sky Ceiling"
Renovators left a small black square along the arched portion of the ceiling above Michael Jordan's The Steak House NYC to record just how dirty it was before the restoration.
Stargazers may notice that the constellations are painted in reverse. While the ceiling was being cleaned in the late '90s, a plaque was posted to provide an explanation for the error. The sign says "Grand Central's famous zodiac ceiling depicts a Mediterranean winter sky with 2,500 stars. Said to be backwards, it's actually as seen from a point of view from outside our solar system. You can watch the stars come out as we clean the ceiling in sections with a simple solution of soap and water." In reality, outside of the solar system, the stars will look almost the same as they do from Earth... they are much farther away than any object in our solar system.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 6, 2005
Grand Central Terminal
87 E 42nd St
New York, New York
Attraction | "14th St & 8th Ave Subway Station"
In a New York Times' review for one of Tom's exhibitions, Ken Johnson wrote that "Mr. Otterness can animate public spaces with amusing pudgy bronze cartoon characters acting out parables of modern life without pandering to either sophisticates or ordinary folks."
Many of Manhattan's subway stations feature some type of artistic detail meant to distract riders during train delays. My personal favorite is the collection of Tom Otterness sculptures appearing throughout this station. The man is a unique genius in creating themed figures that perfectly adapt with the public spaces where they appear. Visit the the official Tom Otterness site to learn more about the artist and his current exhibitions. A coloring book and 9-11 poster are also available for sale on the "About Tom" and "Contact Us" pages.
Tom Otterness Display
14th Street & 8th Avenue Subway Station
New York, New York
Attraction | "New York's Village Halloween Parade"
Greenwich Village (a.k.a. the West Village) will always be one of the greatest scene-making neighborhoods in New York City, if not the world. Its residents are a melting pot of ethnicities and lifestyles, as well as a unique blend of personality types. Celebrities, artists, writers, tastemakers, brainiacs, gays/lesbians, bohemians, social misfits, and their hangers-on can all be found within the charming little apartment buildings that fill the neighborhood.
Since its humble beginnings on October 31, 1973, the participants and crowds have grown to make it the nation's largest public Halloween parade. With the creativity and bizarre imaginations displayed by the village people on this evening, you will wonder how Turkey Day's large inflatable cartoon characters remain so popular.
For more information, go to the parade's official site at:
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 17, 2005
Village Halloween Parade
HERE Arts Center
New York, New York
From 3 to 10pm on Thanksgiving Eve, the smart set gathers near the American Museum of Natural History to watch the animated airships getting pumped full of helium gas.
Some people consider this better than the parade itself due to the much smaller crowd and an up-close and personal glimpse of old favorites and new character additions. Plus, inflating these dynamic dirigibles is quite a process to behold.
Professional balloon wranglers and Macy's employees must unfold each of the balloons as carefully as a mother laying out her child's clothing. Then huge nets, weighted down with sandbags, cover the balloons to keep them from floating away once the gas starts flowing into their many segmented compartments.
Once the balloons have had their fill of helium, this is where they will stay before exciting the throngs of parade watchers, the ones, unlike you, who don't know any better than to stand elbow-to-elbow for hours in the freezing cold.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 20, 2005
Macy's Thanksgiving Eve Balloon Inflation
Upper West Side of Central Park
New York, New York
Attraction | "Grand Central's Whispering Gallery"
There is also one located in the dining concourse in front of the entrance to the Oyster Bar in NYC's Grand Central Station. There is no sign marking the gallery or any instructions posted on how to make it work. However, by waiting a few moments, an in-the-know couple will walk up and show you the way.
If that doesn't happen, you and a partner need to stand in opposite corners below the tiled ceiling. You need to be facing very close to the corners, around 2 to 3 inches from it. Speak in a soft to normal tone and your friend should be able to hear you quite clearly, as if you were standing next to one another.
Over the years, Grand Central's Whispering Gallery has become a romantic spot for paramours wishing to quaintly exchange sweet nothings. It's also a popular scene for proposing marriage, especially around Valentine's Day, so be careful what you are getting yourself into.
If someone asks you how or why it works, try to recite some of the following explanation and use lots of the big words. A whispering gallery occurs beneath a domed ceiling constructed in the form of an ellipsoid with a parabolic dish at each focus (usually a corner). When someone faces one dish and whispers, the sound telegraphs from this focus until it reaches an opposite dish, where another person waits to receive the message.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 24, 2005
Attraction | "NY Waterway & West Point"
When I moved to NYC 9 years ago, I began my career within the advertising industry as a media planner. My job was focused on determining the optimal media vehicles to place my account's advertisements.
I realize this sounds fairly boring based on how exciting the advertising industry is usually portrayed. While media planning may be less enticing work than a position within the creative department, it offers plenty of perquisites. It is a position built upon strong relationships between the media planner and various media sales representatives.
To strengthen these relationships, the sales reps would arrange lunch meetings at top NYC restaurants or invite you to attend exclusive events. I was exposed to people, places, and things that I would never have experienced toiling away in another occupation. Of the many things I was personally exposed to, a few memorable activities stand out from the rest. Going on three West Point Football Cruises are some of the most enjoyable experiences that I can remember, even more so than meeting the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models!
For home games during the Army football season, a service called NY Waterway offers a West Point Football Cruise up the Hudson. As football season takes place in the fall, you will thoroughly enjoy the picturesque views of the changing foliage along the Hudson River Valley. Also, the NY Waterway ferries provide a pay-as-you-go snack and cocktail bar to keep you nourished during the trip.
While Conference USA does not showcase the top teams within NCAA Division I football, it is hard not to be taken in by the pageantry of the pre-game parade and the uniformed cadets cheering on their team. The "tailgating" atmosphere on the West Point grounds is also something that shouldn't be taken lightly; it’s more for the affluent picnicker than the shirtless, face-painted, cooler-full-of-beer crowd.
This is not an inexpensive outing, as tickets, which include ferry service to and from the West Point campus and a game ticket, are $80 each. You can order tickets for the West Point Football Cruises through the NY Waterway site. You will find them listed by placing your cursor over "Sightseeing Cruises" and selecting "Full Day Cruises" from the menu on the left-hand side. Please note that, in the past, theses cruises have sold out many weeks prior to the scheduled home games.
2005 Army Football Schedule (Home Games Only)
Saturday, May 17 - Baylor @ West Point
Friday, September 23 - Iowa State @ West Point
Saturday, October 1 - Connecticut @ West Point
Saturday, October 8 - Central Michigan @ West Point
Saturday, November 12 - Massachusetts @ West Point
Saturday, November 19 - Arkansas State @ West Point
Check out the official Army Athletics site for the most up-to-date schedule and game times.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 8, 2005
W. 38th St. ferry terminal
New York, New York
Attraction | "Bike New York's Five Boro Bike Tour"
An estimated 30,000 cyclists participate in the Five Boro Bike Tour, and you will see many unusual, bicycle-esque types of transport. The city temporarily closes major thoroughfares in each borough, so you don't have to contend with dodging NYC traffic, but, with so many riders, you need to be cautious at all times. There are frequent accidents (with injury), and I've even heard rumors of an occasional death.
I participated in the event a few years ago with six other people. With such a large crowd, keeping your group together is close to impossible. About halfway through the ride, I was only in the company of my friend Dana's boyfriend. The rest of my crew was nowhere to be seen among the thousands of cyclists. You can attempt to regroup at the periodic rest areas that provide first-aid, water, and restrooms, but they are an equally chaotic mass of people. I didn't reunite with my friends until we reached the end of the route at Staten Island.
New York City weather can be fickle, so you should be prepared for every condition (with the exception of snow). There was an absolute downpour for 30 minutes during my ride, and one of the tunnels along the FDR Drive became flooded. There is the point where I went "ass over tea kettle." Everyone seemed to slow down to ford the foot-deep puddle, and just then, someone cut directly in front of me. My knobby mountain bike tire got caught in his spokes, and I found myself thrust from my seat and lying in the water. My first thought was of being crushed by an untold number of cyclists behind me, so I quickly remounted and escaped unscathed.
Happily, that was the only danger I faced that day. My new Cannondale bike was a little scratched up, but that gave it some personality. The greatest personal hazard is a sore rump. I'm not a frequent rider, so my posterior was more than a little tender following 42 miles of uneven pavement. I had a gel cover for my seat, but its benefits were negligible. My best advice is, if there is an extremely comfortable saddle, buy it before subjecting yourself to the rigors of NYC's streets.
All in all, it was a great way to see the Big Apple. For additional information, on the Five Boro Bike Tour or other Bike New York events, visit the official Bike New York site.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 5, 2005
Bike New York-Great Five Boro Bike Tour
Battery Park to Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
New York, New York 10004
+1 212 932 2453
The Used Book Cafe provides an intimate setting that evokes a classic, mahogany-paneled library with spiral staircases leading to bookcases overlooking the main floor. Hipster paintings, mixed-media assemblages, and installations are strewn throughout the space to enhance the bohemian feel. For special events, a small stage is set up in the back, surrounded by limited cafe seating and ample standing room. The complete absence of imposing security and nervous handlers offers backstage-type access between the crowd and the featured guests.
Tickets to a music performance are usually $20-25 and typically sell exceedingly fast, especially for big names. The recommended donation to view a live reading is $10. No matter what you spend in regard to the store, 100% of the proceeds go to Housing Works, a non-profit organization that provides housing, health care, job training, advocacy, and other services for homeless New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS. Take comfort in knowing that the more beer you consume from the cafe, the better humanitarian you become.
I've seen two musical performances at Housing Works Used Book Cafe, and the dynamic between the artists and the crowd just can't be replicated elsewhere. I haven't visited the bookstore during regular hours, so I can't describe its ambience during the day. However, the store has a prime Soho location which draws an attractive and trendy clientele of every age.
To view a list of upcoming events, go to the official Housing Works Used Book Cafe site.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on July 12, 2005
Housing Works Used Book Cafe
126 Crosby St
New York, New York
One of this magician's tricks used to gain entry is presenting an official-looking business card promoting himself as Nightlife Correspondent for the aforementioned NY Post. Also, when questioned by anyone about his status as an invitee or presented with a bill (as food and drink are typically covered by event sponsors), he promptly enacts a celebrity tirade before storming off of the premises.
These days, his pseudo-socialite status has earned him a PR rep and the occasional formal invitation. Rumors of a reality show based on his party-crashing exploits are also being bantered about. Two things you will know for certain if you ever spot him in the crowd are 1) he is most likely 99% not supposed to be there and 2) you are at a pretty happening spot, so look for other celebs canoodling in a dark corner.