New York is the most written-about, sung-about, studied, chronicled and filmed city in America — maybe the world — and its stories, monuments and attractions are too numerous to count. So where do you start? Just go for a walk.
Author LAYLA SCHLACK
DAY THREE | Today is a little more laid-back. You start off in nearby Chinatown, which, well, actually is a bit hectic: Stores selling everything from diamonds to fake designer handbags to fish heads line narrow streets, and residents haggle with shop owners on the sidewalk. Underneath it all, you catch a faint garlicky aroma. You follow it and take a seat at Dim Sum Go Go, where the minimal red-and-white décor is a stark contrast to the flurry of activity outside. You nibble on succulent duck dumplings and turnip cakes served in bamboo steamer baskets.
After a post-brunch stroll through the labyrinthine Chinatown streets, you walk north and check into the Maritime Hotel, a historic building in its own right in Chelsea. It was built as the shining, silvery headquarters of the National Maritime Union and has a lot of nautical touches, such as metallic porthole-shaped windows. A nap calls, but having caught the history bug over the previous two days, you decide to take a pleasant walk along 12th Street, heading east, to visit the Strand Book Store. Famous for its 18 miles of books, the Strand opened in 1927 as one of 48 bookstores on what was known as Book Row. Today, it’s the only one left, and its unending sprawl of books and flannel-clad intellectuals endear it to locals. You pick up a copy of E.B. White’s slender classic Here Is New York and take it to a bench in nearby Union Square to relax and read for a while.
You get back to your room at the Maritime just in time to watch the sun set over the Hudson River, and then head for Marble Lane, a trendy, newish steakhouse. You walk past overstuffed metallic chairs in the lobby and take a seat under the hand-blown glass bubbles hanging from the ceiling. As you dig into your prime American kobe steak, you reflect on how funny it is that last year this now well-established restaurant wasn’t even here. Not long ago, in fact, this whole neighborhood was devoted to butchering and packaging meat. It’s always changing, this city, and the ceaseless flow of new people, new buildings and new ideas are what make it such a breathlessly exhilarating place. Calling for another glass of wine, you can’t wait to see what will happen next.
To her mild shame, New York–based writer LAYLA SCHLACK has never been to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
CONCIERGE OF THE RITZ-CARLTON NEW YORK, CENTRAL PARK
“The Cloisters, a medieval monastery and museum, is definitely worth the trip to northern Manhattan. The building was reconstructed out of architectural elements that date back to the 12th century, and the gardens are treasures unto themselves.”
CO-OWNER OF THE MEATBALL SHOP, LOWER EAST SIDE
“Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Queens. If I have an afternoon to spare, I’ll make my way to the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City. I pack a picnic lunch to enjoy by the river in the nearby Socrates Sculpture Park.”
“There are moments when I still learn new things about this city, like that I can ride my bike 20 miles to Rockaway Beach. What a remark able thing: to see the sand, ocean and open sky and know that this is part of my New York City, too.”
LOMBARDI’S PIZZA: The first pizzeria in the U.S., and a Little Italy landmark since 1905, when Gennaro Lombardi started selling tomato pies wrapped in paper in his grocery store. They still turn out thin-crust pies baked in a coal-fired brick oven. No slices.
TOTONNO’S PIZZERIA NAPOLITANO: “Totonno” Pero worked at Lombardi’s, but once the subway made it out to Coney Island, so went Totonno, who opened this spot in 1924. Get there early, because the shop closes when that day’s fresh dough runs out. No slices.
JOHN’S PIZZERIA: John Sasso opened his West Village restaurant in 1929. His crispy crusts and low prices got him through the Depression, and the shop is still going strong. No slices.
PATSY’S PIZZERIA: Patsy Lancieri opened his pizzeria in 1933 in East Harlem, where he had an interesting new idea: selling slices. His thin, chewy pizzas have since become favorites of everyone from Joe DiMaggio to Francis Ford Coppola.
DI FARA PIZZA: Opened in Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood in 1964, Di Fara’s pizza is still hand-slung by owner Dom DeMarco and sold by the slice.
GRIMALDI’S: This Brooklyn eatery next to the East River is easily spotted by the line stretching around the corner for the homemade mozzarella. It was started by Patsy Grimaldi, who grew up in the kitchen of Patsy’s Pizzeria. Even so, no slices.
It might be a cliché that one can spot visitors to New York City because they’re the only ones walking around looking up, but that doesn’t stop it from being true. The Skyscraper Museum, located in the same building as the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, spares the necks of visitors and architecturally inclined locals alike with a comprehensive overview of towering Manhattan buildings past and present, as well as others around the world. Learn about the architecture of, and engineering behind, monoliths such as the Burj Dubai, the fast-rising One World Trade Center and many others at this sleek gallery.
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