My New York — insider tips

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Lincoln Center

 

By Caitlin Kelly

Few cities are as iconic as New York — maybe Paris, London, Tokyo — its skyline instantly recognizable, whether the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building, my favorite.

I moved here from my native Canada in 1989, thanks to my mother’s American citizenship which allowed me the right to a “green card”, the legal ability to live and work in the U.S.

Why New York?

For an ambitious writer, it seemed obvious — ready access to editors and publishers and agents and fellow writers, to conferences and parties and events where I can, and have, meet them face to face.

But also for the city itself, with its history, architecture, cultural riches and the beauty of the Lower Hudson Valley, where we live — the glittering towers of downtown Manhattan clearly visible even from our town on the river, 25 miles north.

 

Here’s some of what I enjoy…

 

Fleet Week

Once a year, since 1984, the city welcomes thousands of sailors. It’s so cool! You feel like you’re in a Broadway play from the ’30s as sailors in their crisp whites swarm midtown. This amazing collection of caps lined a table at event I attended — I was even piped aboard!

 

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Keen’s…since 1885

 

Old-school bars and restaurants, some dating back 150 years

My favorite lunch spot is Keen’s, founded in 1885, where I even now have a regular table. The room is long, dark, quiet and full of atmosphere. Linen tablecloths, early portraits and handbills and the ceiling, lined with early clay pipes. The food is very good as is the service; it’s on a nothing-special block, 36th, in a noisy and crowded part of Midtown, a perfect refuge. For classic old school charm, I also love Fanelli’s, Old Town Bar, the Ear Inn, Sardi’s, Bemelman’s, The King Cole Bar and the Landmark.

 

What’s left of Greenwich Village

 

It’s changed a lot, thanks to greedy landlords who have raised commercial rents to absurd prices, shoving out most of its funky long-time tenants selling used CDs or Tibetan clothing. But if you look hard enough, some indies survive, usually far east or west. Two of my stand-bys are Porto Rico Coffee & Tea and McNulty’s, each of which feel like time capsules. For afternoon tea, I like Bosie’s and for a splurge meal, Morandi. East 9th is always worth a wander. The bit of Bleecker running between 6th and 7th is still home to great food shops.

 

 

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Lincoln Center

What a gem! The exteriors, clad in gleaming white marble, and its gorgeous central fountain, make you excited just to be there. Plus the luxurious interiors of the Met Opera, the Koch Theatre and David Geffen Hall — opened between 1962 and 1966.   Unlikely but true, I once performed in eight shows of The Sleeping Beauty, with the National Ballet of Canada and with Rudolf Nureyev in the lead (I was an extra) at the Koch Theater, exiting (!) through its stage door. I began enjoying the Met Opera, finally, last year and feel like the richest woman in the world to be able to walk through those doors on any night there’s an empty seat I can afford.

 

Grand Central Terminal

Commuter trains travel from here north to Westchester county and beyond, and northeast to Connecticut. Built between 1903 to 1913, it serves approximately 66 million passengers a year. It’s truly a cathedral, with a brilliant turquoise domed ceiling, lit with stars, enormous hanging period lanterns, marble stairs and floors and its iconic central clock. It also houses very good restaurants, a lovely food hall, a wine store, multiple bakeries and some great shopping — also (very elusive!) free, clean and safe bathrooms.

 

Smaller, quieter museums

Mad for the Secessionists — Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka — I love The Neue Galerie (with its fantastic cafe). I also like small and elegant Japan Society, the Frick and The Morgan. While the big boys (the Met and MOMA) will always win visitors, they can also be noisy and crowded.  If you love airplanes as much as I do, try the Intrepid Museum. Two truly worth a visit are the Tenement Museum — showing how the city’s earliest immigrants lived in such tiny, cramped rooms  — and the Merchant’s House, a time capsule from 1832.

 

The four B’s: Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdales, Barney’s and Bigelow

Oh, go on! Even for a quick peek. Last June, I watched Ivana Trump, (wife number one), blonde beehive intact, meandering the perfume department at Barney’s; (I was there to treat myself to a Byredo fragrance for my birthday.) These three stores are not inexpensive, but worth a visit to get a feel for New York luxury and BG has a gorgeous cafe with great views. Bigelow Chemists on Sixth Avenue, established in 1838, sells an amazing array of beauty and skin products, including their own line. Cool fashionistas like Dover Street Market, Opening Ceremony and Totokaelo. My two standbys are Ina, (a consignment store with multiple locations and great merch) and Aedes de Venustas, with the best selection of fragrance around, now on Orchard Street.

 

23 thoughts on “My New York — insider tips

  1. Despite being fairly worldly-wise by the time I saw it, Grand Central did make me stop and admire. Not just the physical attributes, but the hustle and bustle. Was just as I had pictured it from the movies:). I still need to make it to Lincoln Center! Sent a group of schoolkids from Harlem there years ago, but haven’t been there myself yet.

    1. It really is an amazing place — it even has (!) tennis courts.

      Lincoln Center is so worth it. It really is a lovely esthetic experience for the price of (or less than) a Broadway ticket.

      This makes me realize I should have included Carnegie Hall….whose prices are subsidized by the city, so even the nosebleed seats are fairly affordable.

    1. It’s very tough — we all have limited time and funds and every time I get back to Paris or London (even after many visits) there are still many many things I have not seen or done like (!!!) The Louvre or the Tower of London…

      I tend to treat the cities I visit as another city I want to enjoy as I do here: eat, drink, shop, see some culture and architecture and nature….Mostly NOT RUSH around. I’m such a nerd that I “wasted” one of my 7 London days in July 2017 going 3 hrs one way by train and taxi to a….paint factory.

      WHO DOES THAT? A girl mad for Farrow & Ball. It was a fantastic experience and not exactly on the tourist track.

      A vacation is only enjoyable for me if I slow down and really savor it which always means missing all kinds of stuff. Hell, I have lived here a LONG time and only in 2018 (!???) did I finally go to the Met Opera. I always feared the prices were astronomical and they are high ($100) but for what you get? A bargain! I never even go to Yankees’ games (which I really enjoy) because tickets are so stupidly expensive. Choices, choices!

      My happiest moments in Croatia were sitting, literally, for 40 minutes at breakfast on the terrace — alone, no screens or anything to read — soaking up the beauty and silence.

      1. I can identify with what you’re saying and I m more of an amble my way through my vacations type of woman too, with a few special things sprinkled in. Whatever those might be, like the paint factory for you )

      1. I had a good trip, with my window seat taking me across a nice crosssection of upstate New York and New Jersey. The bus just came into town a bit late, but I would otherwise recommend it.

      2. If you came down the Buffalo route, which you likely did, upstate NY up there is really pretty….I went north that route for the first time in many years in August 2018 as the friends I was staying with live in Etobicoke. But I stayed overnight upstate one night to break up the eight hour drive alone.

  2. Pingback: [BLOG] Some Thursday links | A Bit More Detail

  3. I wish I had this information way back in 2013 when my wife and I spent 5 days in New York prior to a fall cruise up the east coast and ending in Quebec City. It was a great holiday, with the best parts being our stay in New York and then ending with a three day visit in Quebec City. I am now going to save this post for our next visit to New York which we have discussed doing in maybe a couple of years from now … thanks for this post, Caitlin …

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