Monthly Archives: June 2010

Planes, Trains, and Horse-Drawn Carriages

FIFTH AVENUE BETWEEN 50TH AND 59TH STREETS
Madeline Lieberberg

It’s no secret that Manhattan is as much a community for its urban dwellers as it is for out-of-town tourists.  Whether partaking in the awkward “shuffle dance” to move passed each other on the street, or cozying up next to another’s shopping purchases on a crowded 6 train, each kind of New Yorker is impossibly unavoidable to the other. When walking in the 50s along Fifth Avenue, I could not help but notice the odd ways that those less familiar to  New York moved around the city. To anyone who is looking for a rip-off around midtown, here are a few of recommendations:

The Pedicab. There is an undeniable buzz to the traffic along Fifth, a sound that eventually becomes immune to one’s ears within minutes of roaming around. One noise in particular, a little “ding-ding” sounds too distinct to blend with the rest of the pleasant cacophony. It belongs to the Pedicab, an allegedly “greener” (and faster) mode of congestion-inducing transportation. The shrill “ding” from its bell and in-your-face advertising by the pedicab driver convince many to forgo a claustrophobic taxi or underground subway ride for a memorable trip through the streets of midtown –without helmets, seatbelts, and remotely reasonable fair. That being said, the passengers in these pedicabs always looked happy (and blissfully unaware).

The Double Decker. What could be better than a spending a beautiful day and hefty sum to be stuck in traffic -in one of the greatest walking cities in the world? The smartest of tourists simply walk through the city, guidebook–in-hand and megaphone free.

The Horse-Drawn Carriage. Central Park is the oasis within a city of pollution and grime, even possessing the bucolic smell of nature.  That would be the smell of horses and everything that comes with them. As the iconic horse-and-buggy ride may seem, ever wonder how the horses were treated?

By all means, Fifth Avenue midtown is worth exploring, not for one particular place or experience, but for observing one of the city’s most extravagant buildings and exciting street attractions. Even in the most trafficked tourist spots like Fifth Avenue midtown, it is always safest, cheapest and pleasurable to do what everyone else does and just go by foot.

A better method of transportation?

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Madison Square Park

If you are ever looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city you might find Madison Square Park the perfect getaway. Located just past the Flatiron building, a landmark you can’t possibly miss, the park starts on E 23rd St. sandwiched between 5th Avenue and Madison. The relaxing oasis allows for a relatively quiet spot to catch up on some reading, work on an assignment or even just soak in some sun. I know I am always looking for a great place to tan and after a day in the park you are practically guaranteed to leave bronzed and beautiful. While there are plenty of young people to interact with on the grassy lawn, there are also shaded spaces underneath the surrounding trees to sit undisturbed. The best part about being in Madison Square Park is the insulation provided by the towering buildings that align the street wrapping around the edges. This blocks out much of the noise generated from the outside traffic and city sounds, giving the park a more peaceful feeling.

However, what I recommend even more so than laying out is indulging in a treat from the famous “Shake Shack”. This shiny tin dining venue is located at the south entrance of the park and is well known for its burgers, fries, hot dogs and of course, milkshakes. City regulars and tourists flock to the stand creating a line that could stretch the length of the park’s perimeter. If you have time though, the food is definitely worth the wait-especially the french fries. The unique snack bar type eatery brings a pleasant simplicity to compliment the laid back atmosphere of the park. Madison Square Park is the perfect place to relax on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and a great way to experience the city in a low-key setting.

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79th Street Boat Basin

Although all of Riverside Park is beautiful and worth visiting, the one place I would suggest above all is the 79th Street Boat Basin. The walking path is right next to the Hudson River and there are great views of the river, George Washington Bridge, and the coasts of Manhattan and New Jersey.

If you have a day off from work during the week, I’d recommend grabbing lunch to go in the Village and taking it up to the Boat Basin. There, you can walk out either on the Trump Pier, which extends fairly far into the water and has a lot of room to sit, or go to the docks where the boats are tied up. I enjoyed sitting on the wooden dock and watching both the visitors and the houseboat residents.

View from the docks

Hanging out on the piers is a good way to feel like you’ve escaped the city. During the day it’s quiet enough that you could get some work done or simply read for pleasure, write, listen to music, or sit with friends. Spending some time by the water in the unexpected atmosphere of a houseboat dock helped me relax and see the city from a much different angle.

If you’re looking for a place to unwind or to get away from Manhattan for a while, bring something to eat and something to do (or nothing to do, that works just as well) and head up to the 79th Street Boat Basin.

-Becca Scheuer

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The Highline: Not Your Typical City Park

When people in the City are in search of a brief escape, certain green spaces come to mind: Central Park, Bryant Park, Washington Square Park. The Highline, however, is typically not among them. Maybe it’s because there’s no “park” in its title. Or maybe it’s because it doesn’t actually contain much green space at all. But it certainly offers an escape, and one sure to bring a unique experience in the heart of West Chelsea.

The Highline is a park recently constructed on an old, aboveground railway track, and establishes an atmosphere that showcases the new alongside the old. It has neither expansive lawns nor manicured flowerbeds, but instead offers a taste of nature through unkempt tall grass and sporadic patches of wildflowers. The flora has a very natural appeal, setting it apart from other parks in the city that often have a manufactured, man-made feel. Even more notable are the views The Highline offers of Chelsea’s skyline, modern architecture, and the waterfront – all particularly stunning after dark. Sitting on one of the numerous benches that line the park’s narrow, horizontal layout, one can achieve a sense of calm by taking in the city’s shabbiness and beauty all at once.

Aside from providing a place for relaxation, the section of The Highline between 13th and 14th Streets offers free fitness classes on Tuesday mornings through Shape Up NYC. The same area of the park hosts Stargazing with the Amateur Astronomers Association on Tuesday evenings, where telescopes are set up and experts offer free tours of the sky. For nature lovers, a monthly “bloom list” and bloom forecast can be found on the park’s website and provide a guide to the plant life visible in any given season.

Even if your trip to The Highline is as simple as using it for a convenient shortcut down West Chelsea, it’s a park that shouldn’t be ignored.
-Allie Prater

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Madison Avenue: Sophisticated Style, Elite Elegance and Luxurious Leisure

If you’re craving an afternoon of pampered style and high-quality leisure, a stroll up Madison Avenue will quickly quench your thirst. While returning home with a $200 shirt stuffed in a brand-named shopping bag is your own prerogative, simply friendly window-shopping and overtaking dressing rooms can sometimes be more entertaining. Perusing the clothing racks with your friends, it is worthwhile not only to check out the price stickers on the sole of shoes but also the people around you. Expectations of high-class, tidiness and eloquence are indeed met by the facades of many fellow shoppers; however, not all the Madison Ave onlookers exemplify superior wealth. Many, if not most, of the onlookers are merely window-shopping or socializing with friends as they walk up and down the avenue in a leisurely style. While unfazed by the overpriced jeans and jewelry for sale in the beautifully decorated windows, it is highly probable that they bought their oversized sunglasses and floral dresses at the discounted Forever 21 in Union Square or Soho. The women who are not empty handed as they walk in and out of stores like Dior, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors or Yves Delorme are a fashion show on their own. Housewives rummage through hangers while talking into their iPhone headsets (although it looks like they’re talking into thin air). Teenage girls’ mouths water as they hold expensive dresses up to their bodies, modeling the apparel for their schoolmates. Boys hurry passed the shoe stores and into E.A.T Café between 80th and 81st. The restaurant offers a relaxing break from what can be a very tiring day of shopping and decision-making. I highly recommend the cafe: it serves your typical salads, sandwiches, and coffees, but is not too expensive relative to its neighboring Upper East Side venders. Overall, I suggest you visit the upper reaches of Madison Avenue for a vista of splendid luxury and a taste of sophisticated Manhattan class.

– Nicole Sales

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The Secret Garden: Conservatory Garden in Carnegie Hill

The culminating point of interest on my walking tour of Carnegie Hill was Central Park’s Conservatory Garden located on 104th and 5th Avenue. The garden is absolutely beautiful with a variety of hidden places to get lost in a novel or enjoy the bewitching nature of the fountains and flowers. 

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Upon entering through the wrought-iron, golden tipped gates you are immediately transported into an enchanting land of flora. I came across three amazing spots within the garden itself. The first being a lovely walkway, lined with wooden benches and faintly shaded by the leaves of the ivy-trimmed trees. The still and quiet was  enough to make me want to stay on this hidden pathway to enjoy the noiselessness and calm often not found in the city.  The second spot I found was the french-style garden featuring a halo of boxwood and pansies centered around the enticing Three Dancing Maidens fountain. The best part of this garden were the beautiful flowers featured all throughout this part of the garden and the arches lined with foliage and flowers. The sound of rushing water the fountain makes could honestly lull you into a summer nap, if it weren’t for the enamoring beauty of your surroundings. Lastly, I found an amazing place to read was in the wisteria pergola tucked almost unnoticed behind the garden’s main fountain. The wisteria shaded walkway overlooks the 12 foot high jet fountain and the main lawn decorated on either side with twin allées of white and pink crab apple trees. The benches within the pergola are backed by cool, limestone and walls of ivy and vines lace the iron structure. Overall the beauty of the garden is undeniable and of the three sections of the garden there is certainly one place where each person can find to escape away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.

-Symone Snowden-Wright

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Why Tudor City is Worth Your Time by Meaghan Hynes

Tudor City is a tucked away treasure for those who wish to simultaneously enjoy the manmade and natural wonders of Manhattan. This small residential neighborhood all at once boasts a plethora of green trees and vibrant roses, a breezy overlook of the nearby East River, and picturesque view of 42nd Street’s finest architecture. In fact, Tudor City’s view of the Chrysler Building is far superior to the ground level angles along 42nd Street, making this location the perfect spot for photographs of the famous building. A passerby might interpret the pristine black gates enclosing Tudor City, and this enclave’s seclusion in general, as signals to the public that this is a private, residents-only community. But don’t be fooled. The atmosphere inside these gates is more than inviting: when I visited, small children and their nannies said hello as they passed, and the multiple people walking their pets were as friendly as they get in the city (one woman even asked if I wanted to play with her dog).

So what is there to do in Tudor City? As previously mentioned, this location is wonderful for site seeing and taking photographs. Opposite the view of 42nd, a balcony between two apartment buildings looks out to the water and provides an eagle-eye view to the beautiful white United Nations Headquarters below. The apartment towers themselves are quite gorgeous, charming in their authenticity and adorned with stained glass windows and green awnings. You can also eat here at the upscale Italian restaurant Convivio, which offers both indoor and outdoor seating in warm weather. This spot would be ideal for a business lunch or dinner date. Tudor City is also a wonderful place to get lost in a book. When I was there, many people occupied the spotless benches in the gated gardens, which are kept quiet by “No Honking” signs on the periphery. Stopping by Tudor City even for just a half-hour is a great way to escape the city shuffle.

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