Hey, where's Poochie?

Open House NY weekend is a once-a-year chance to explore some NYC rarities.

Best plan ahead!

I’ve plugged this before, but anyone interested in checking out Central Park’s normally closed-off Nature Sanctuary (toward the south end), they’re having open hours every Tuesday afternoon through mid-December.

The Old Forts of Queens

This Labor Day weekend, I decided to explore two of Queens’ old military forts, now open to the public as parks. Much like Governors Island, these spaces are no longer in (primarily) military use, and make for great historical viewing… or just great picnic space.

The first was Fort Tilden, on the western end of the Rockaways. This is the least developed of the two, but it’s worth a trip if you were headed to the Rockaways already. The battery ruins are probably the most interesting area, and the high point contains amazing views from a unique vantage point of the city.

The second fort visited was northeast Queens’ Fort Totten, closer to the neighborhood of Bay Terrace. Like Tilden, the park has a lot of abandoned structures and buildings to explore, but also has more in the way of recreation… a public pool in the summer, biking paths. The views here are of the area where the East River turns into the Long Island Sound… in various directions, you can see Great Neck, SUNY’s Maritime University, City Island, Hart Island, and the Stepping Stones Lighthouse.

There are no subways that serve either fort/park, so look into driving, or for city buses.

Checking out Fort Totten in northeast Queens. It’s like a really quiet, landlocked Governors Island.  #queens #forttotten

Checking out Fort Totten in northeast Queens. It’s like a really quiet, landlocked Governors Island. #queens #forttotten

Exploring Fort Tilden national park  on the Rockaways. #forttilden #rockaway

Exploring Fort Tilden national park on the Rockaways. #forttilden #rockaway

Forest Hills

Some Brooklyn friends had recently expressed interest in a walking tour of Forest Hills, my favorite neighborhood in Queens. I’m definitely planning that soon, and will post an update on that after the fact. If any locals have some areas they want to see shown, covered, let me know!

Upper Upper East Side

I recently did a walk that involved my exploring a part of the city that was mostly new to me… the upper Upper East Side. The shape of Manhattan means the East Side ends earlier than the West Side (around 130th St versus around 218th St). So while exploring the upper Upper West Side often feels like leaving the city, its lower East cousin is still very New York.

To start this walk, take the 4, 5, or 6 trains to 125th St in Harlem. Walk up to 128th St, then all the way east to Harlem River Dr… there you’ll find the uniquely-named Crack is Wack Playground. The highlight of this park are the murals on the handball court done by artist Keith Haring in 1986. The art has been preserved by the city since, and the playground re-named accordingly. Across the Harlem River, you can see the South Bronx to the north, and Randalls Island to the east.

From there, head down to E. 124th St., and walk west to Marcus Garvey Park. The highlight here for many is the old Harlem Fire Watchtower, at the highest point in the park. If you’ve never been to Harlem, take a detour and explore the surrounding area.

From there, head down Park Avenue. There’s nothing super-scenic around here— but experience the neighborhood flavor!— until you reach E. 106th St, where you’ll find the so-called “Graffiti Hall of Fame””. This is housed in a schoolyard, so it may not be accessible to you, depending on day and time. Keep heading south after this, then turn east on E. 85th St, and turn south on 2nd Avenue. On the block, you’ll find the MTA’s Second Avenue Community Information Center, a great space with info and models on the city’s largest ongoing transit project (first phase set to open in late 2016).

Turn east on 84th all the way to the water, and you’ll find Carl Schurz Park. Besides being one of the nicer parks along the East River, the park also houses Gracie Mansion, the home of NYC’s mayors. If you walk to the riverfront promenade, you can look just northeast, and see the edges of Astoria, Queens. Straight ahead, you can see the northern tip (and lighthouse!) of Roosevelt Island. This concludes the tour, but feel free to keep heading South along the river!

Yorkville, Carl Schurz Park, & Gracie Mansion. #nyc

Yorkville, Carl Schurz Park, & Gracie Mansion. #nyc

It’s Summer Streets in NYC again! No cars on Park Avenue all morning! #summerstreets

It’s Summer Streets in NYC again! No cars on Park Avenue all morning! #summerstreets