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New York Summer 2010

New York Summer 2010

By
Trip Plan Tags: 
arts + culture,
city,
design + architecture,
family,
food
Destinations: 
Chelsea,
Chinatown,
Financial District,
Lower East Side,
Midtown East,
Midtown West,
New York,
New York City,
North America,
United States,
Upper East Side

A classic "tourist" visit for my niece and sister-in-law. I intend to explore the museums while expanding my digital photo collection.

ITEMS

Eating

Katz's Delicatessen, New York

205 E. Houston Street
New York City, New York 10002
Tel: 212 254 2246
Website: www.katzdeli.com

Sure, it's tacky, noisy, and rushed. Sure, the Formica is worn, the service gruff, and the sandwiches way too big. But New York wouldn't be New York without this classic Lower East Side Jewish deli and its kosher-style corned beef, chopped liver, and pastrami. Remember When Harry Met Sally? This is where the "I'll have what she's having" scene was filmed. P.S. Don't forget to tip your carver.

ALT HERE

See + Do

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

1071 Fifth Avenue at E. 89th Street
New York City, New York 10128
Tel: 212 423 3500
Website: www.guggenheim.org

The unique spiral building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright—reluctantly, since he thought New York was too overbuilt—tends to overshadow the collections within. Designed as a reverse version of a Babylonian temple, the Guggenheim completely changed museum-going, sending visitors to the top floor first and then allowing them to wind their way down along a corkscrew ramp. What they see as they go are special exhibitions, like the 2008 installation by Cai Guo-Qiang that saw cars suspended from the central atrium—an exhibition described by Guggenheim director Thomas Krens as one of the "best artistic transformations of the Frank Lloyd Wright space we've ever seen." There are also rooms devoted to selections from the Guggenheim Foundation's eclectic collection, including sculptures by Brancusi and Arp and paintings by Picasso, Pissarro, de Kooning, Klee, and Jeff Koons. There are frequent traveling exhibitions, and since the museum has outposts in other cities such as Bilbao and Venice, pieces may circulate from other locations.

Open Saturdays through Wednesdays 10 am to 5:45 pm, Fridays 10 am to 7:45 pm (admission is by donation after 5:45 pm).

ALT HERE

See + Do

The High Line, New York

Manhattan's West Side, from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, Chelsea
New York City, New York
Tel: 212 500 6035
Email: info@thehighline.org
Website: www.thehighline.org

New York City's newest park, the High Line is brilliantly executed, hugely popular, and has become an instant must-see. Occupying an unused elevated rail line that parallels the Hudson River in lower Manhattan, the 1.5 mile–long promenade embodies the spirit of the Meatpacking District and West Chelsea—a nexus of art, design, commerce, and nightlife. Begin by climbing the stairs at Gansevoort Street or Chelsea Market, a painstakingly restored 1913 Nabisco factory turned gourmet emporium that runs from Ninth to Tenth avenues at West 15th Street. (The park has several other entrances, as well, including two with elevators.) Once up on the walkway, stroll along the concrete and wood pavings, grooved to echo the former train tracks. The park winds its way through and under buildings (including the Standard hotel), past art installations, and at eye level with apartments, billboards, water towers, and other elements of the New York City skyline. (Another ten-block section opened in June 2011; a third phase is planned if funds can be raised.)

The architecture, by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is clever, with benches, walkways, and planters seamlessly flowing together; there's even a set of bleachers overlooking the traffic on Tenth Avenue. Field Operations did the landscaping, using mostly native grasses and flowersa reminder of the weeds that covered the abandoned railway's surface for years before the park opened in 2009. It all comes together perfectly, a feat of engineering, imagination, and gumption (neighborhood residents lobbied tirelessly to get the park built). The High Line is the sort of fabulous project you expect to read about in a Wallpaper magazine story about some small, design-obsessed city in Europe, not in crass, commercial New York. But here it is, and New York couldn't be prouder.—Peter Frank

Open daily 7 am to 8 pm in winter, 7 am to 10 pm in summer.

See + Do

Empire State Building, New York

350 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street
New York City, New York
Tel: 212 736 3100
Website: www.esbnyc.com

With the tragic demise of the World Trade Center, this symbol of New York is again the city's most recognizable skyscraper and, at 1,050 feet, its tallest. Since the 86th-floor observatory opened in 1931, 110 million visitors—including King Kong, as well as Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle—have taken in the panoramic views. On a clear day, this is one tourist experience that actually lives up to its billing. Waits can exceed three hours in peak season, as masses of would-be gawkers proceed through security, ticket lines, and waits for the elevator. You can skip one of those lines when you buy a ticket online; midweek at 8 a.m. (opening time) and between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. are generally the least crowded times. The speediest option, a $40 express ticket, guarantees that you'll be at the top in 20 minutes once you have a ticket in hand (though you still have to clear security).

ALT HERE

See + Do

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Pedestrian access at City Hall Park
New York City, New York 10007

When it was completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was a marvel of civil engineering—the longest suspension bridge in the world. Over 150,000 people walked across the bridge opening day. Today, the number of car crossings per day approaches that number, but the best views of the crisscrossing steel cables, neo-Gothic stone archways, and majestic cityscapes are still to be had by the commuters, tourists, and idling New Yorkers who cross the span by foot or bicycle. Stop under the arches to trace the history of the bridge, including the story of famed engineer Washington Roebling, who inherited the construction project after his father's death, and completed it via telescope from his apartment while suffering from the bends. Access the bridge near City Hall on the Manhattan side, or take the A train to High Street in Brooklyn and look for the stairs to the bridge walkway at Cadman Plaza East and Prospect Street, under the bridge's approach. Always be alert on the path; bicyclists gaining momentum on the way down from the center tend to swerve outside the dedicated lane. Once you're across the East River from Manhattan, use our Brooklyn Insider Guide to find places to eat and shop.

Shop

Midtown

It's no coincidence that when people think of shopping in New York, they think of midtown—the buzzy commercial center of Manhattan harbors some of the country's best, and most expensive, retail space. Upper Madison Avenue is a virtual encyclopedia of the world's finest luxury brands, while tony Fifth Avenue has its own share of gilded names (many top brands have outposts on both). New York's great department stores, including Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, and Henri Bendel, can each warrant full-day excursions in themselves.

There's no such thing as downtime at Tiffany & Co.'s Fifth Avenue flagship. From the moment those hallowed doors open until they clang shut at night, the place is crawling with dazzled tourists, Upper East Side dowagers looking to add to their collections, and starry-eyed couples shopping for the big one. There's no surer way to qualify for parent of the year than by taking junior family members to FAO Schwarz. File past the toy soldier doormen into a cavernous space filled with everything from life-size stuffed animals to charmingly old-fashioned wooden toys. Art and design lovers find nirvana at the MoMA store, with for-sale versions of the high-design exhibits, Alvar Aalto glass vases, wacky Lomo cameras, and plenty of oddball items such as oversize novelty phones that really work and a modernist Flexus glass menorah.

Tom Ford's three-story flagship near Barneys is tricked out like a gentlemen's pied à terre with everything the modern dandy needs, from a tailoring service to a fragrance department. A few blocks north is Christian Louboutin, whose iconic red-soled heels are the cornerstone of many a New York woman's shoe collection. You don't have to be a bride-to-be to appreciate the wares at Vera Wang, a study in understated chic, from the vases of dark purple lilies to the racks of beautifully tailored resort and ready-to-wear at the top of the spiral staircase. (Viewing bridal wear is by appointment only.)

It might not be on the gilded retail strip, but Jean's Silversmiths is a gem worth hunting down—an insider source for vintage and estate jewelry as well as over 2,000 flatware patterns and sterling silver sets from American, English, Danish, and European designers.

Eating

Dim Sum Go Go, New York

5 East Broadway, Chinatown
New York City, New York 10038
Tel: 212 732 0797

Chinatown's most playfully modern dim sum parlor offers the traditional Chinese brunch from morning till night. The red and white facade may scream fast-food joint, but Dim Sum Go Go is a serious restaurant with a serious chef at the helm (Hong Kong– trained Guy Lieu). During the busy lunch rush expect long waits for a table in the spare bi-level dining room—followed by well-worth-it waits for the food, steamed to order instead of paraded on carts. Among the 45 savory dim sum options you'll find traditional offerings like pork shiu mai and plump shrimp har gow along with some of the city's most unusual, and visually stunning, dumpling creations. Delicate wrappers in hues of pink, yellow, and green encase bamboo heart, shark's fin, and roast shredded duck. Overcome option paralysis with the personal-steamer ten-dumpling sampler.

Open daily 10 am to 10:30 pm.

See + Do

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side
New York City, New York 10028
Tel: 212 535 7710
Website: www.metmuseum.org

Philippe de Montebello, who was the director of this epic museum for 31 years, once said that you can tour its highlights in an hour if you look selectively and walk very fast. Not to argue with the man, but we're not sure we believe it. You could spend weeks here admiring the collections. Among the highlights: a European painting gallery packed with masterpieces (Rembrandt, Giotto, Caravaggio, Raphael, Goya, El Greco, Turner, Vermeer, Degas, Renoir, and Cézanne are all represented); a trove of Egyptian art and artifacts, including the showstopping reconstructed Temple of Dendur; an impressive selection of Greek and Roman statuary; American paintings and sculpture from colonial times through the present day; and prehistoric artifacts from all over the globe. Our suggestion is to pick two or three small sections you'd like to see, and then return another day for a few more. Or browse some of the less-appreciated and less crowded—but no less stunning—collections, such as the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, or the smallish but exquisite galleries of Modern Art. The museum's Costume Institute displays portions of its extensive collection of clothing from around the world in themed exhibits twice a year. Also make time to sit and people-watch in the common areas, such as the space by the American Wing Café, overlooking a fountain—you'll rarely hear as many languages spoken in one place. And if you're looking to actually meet one of those people, let us suggest the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden (closed in winter), accessed by the southwest elevators on the first floor. It has amazing views of Central Park, hosts sculpture exhibits, and serves up simple drinks such as beer and wine. The Met is pretty much always buzzing, but the crowds thin on Friday and Saturday nights, when the museum stays open until 9:00 p.m.; members can get into some exhibits half an hour before they open to the public in the mornings.

Closed most Mondays.

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See + Do

Museum of Modern Art, New York

11 W. 53rd Street
New York City, New York 10019
Tel: 212 708 9400
Website: www.moma.org

The world's preeminent museum for modern art reopened in November 2004 on its original site in a new building designed by architect Yoshio Taniguchi. The new structure extensively expanded gallery space and added a soaring light-filled atrium 110 feet high. The walls themselves were designed to seem as if they float in space, reinforcing the idea that the building itself is an attraction. (Curiously, the new design also seems to bring in a lot more ambient noise than before, so on crowded days the resulting roar can be very distracting.) Then of course there's the art: The masterpieces in the permanent collection are too numerous to mention—among them Van Gogh's The Starry Night, Dalí's The Persistence of Memory, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon—and the collections of contemporary architecture, design, and photography could fill museums of their own. There's so much, in fact, that visitors are advised to keep their eyes peeled at all times—a very important piece, Matisse's Dance (I), hangs unceremoniously over the back stairwell, for example. If your schedule allows, avoid the steep $20 admission fee by attending "Free Fridays" from 4 pm to 8 pm (although it can get very crowded); the ever-present crowds dwindle a bit on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Inspired to take a piece of art home but don't fancy getting involved in a heist? The MoMa Design Store (there's also a Soho outpost) is a must-see, with everything from Frank Gehry stools to Banksy books to delicate metal light fixtures by Tord Boontje.

See + Do

Chinatown, New York

New York City, New York
Website: www.explorechinatown.com

The largest Asian community in North America has expanded its territory over the years, reaching into the Lower East Side and Little Italy; Manhattan's Chinatown now extends from Worth St. to Broome St. between Broadway and Madison St., but the main streets are Canal and Mott. The area is packed with markets overflowing with vegetables and fish, restaurants and noodle shops, stores selling everything from silk robes to discount luggage, and basement massage parlors where you can get a good, cheap shiatsu. If you don't like crowds, though, beware: It's a virtual mosh pit of humanity down here, and challenging to negotiate on foot. But there's also a spiritual side, particularly in the Eastern States Buddhist Temple on Mott St., where golden Buddhas are lit by candlelight.

See + Do

Statue of Liberty, New York

Liberty Island
New York City, New York
Tel: 212 363 3200
Website: www.nps.gov/stli

It's hard to imagine a more evocative and familiar symbol of the United States than the lady with the torch, who has been welcoming travelers from across the ocean for more than 120 years. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi's copper statue, which is wrapped around a framework designed by Gustav Eiffel, opened to the public in 1886. The statue's interior was temporarily closed following the September 11 attacks, but it reopened in 2004 with a new addition, a glass ceiling that allows visitors to look into the intricate inner structure of the statue. Visitors can also get a spellbinding view of the city from the observation deck in the crown, now (finally!) also reopened. Time passes are required and can be obtained by calling 866-782-8834 or reserving online at www.statuecruises.com.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.