Architectural historian Gabrielle Esperdy takes us on a journey from the Manhattan Bridge to Jamaica Bay, revealing the layers of urban history in one of Brooklyn’s oldest and most important streets.
To reiterate, the 9/11 Memorial is in the top three of the most common things we are asked about. The memorial itself is beautiful and tasteful and worth seeing. But for many people, if they only see one thing in New York, it’s the 9/11 Memorial. And that is weird.
The only Queens walk in my City Walks card set was the only neighborhood that most non-Queens New Yorkers are familiar with: Astoria and the Museum of the Moving Image. No complaints there; this is a wonderful neighborhood and worth an afternoon by itself. But I intend to write a series of posts this month on other areas in Queens to explore.
To start, take the 7 train to 103rd St/Corona Plaza. From there, walk down National St toward the heart of the neighborhood. If you’ve hit the Long Island Expressway, you’ve walked too far south.
After wandering the streets for a bit, grab something to eat local (great pizza!). Save (a little) room for dessert, because you’ll want to head over to the famous Lemon Ice King of Corona. On a warm summer day, there’s sure to be lines, but it’s worth it. Afterwards, head across the street to "Spaghetti Park", to watch the local old-timers play bocce and chess. This is a very small park, but a pride of the neighborhood. After this, head east to Flushing-Meadows.
I’d recommend heading in to the park from the northwest corner (111th St & 46th Ave). The New York Hall of Science is there, and is worth checking out (especially if you have kids). You can head down into the park from there, then west under the Grand Central Parkway. Your next stop should be the Queens Museum. The highlight of the museum is the famous panorama of New York City, which their website describes as “a locus of memory for visitors from all over the globe.”
After exiting here to the west, you’ll see several Queens landmarks to both sides, as you enter the main stretch of the park. To your left, you’ll see Arthur Ashe Stadium, home of the US Open. Straight ahead, you’ll be facing the Unisphere. And to your right, you’ll see the famous former World’s Fair pavilion (heavily featured in pop culture, especially the final battle in “Men in Black”).
If you’re a baseball fan, schedule your adventure for a day when the NY Mets have an evening home game, and head on up to CitiField to catch the game, and have some of the best stadium food in the country. You may be in time to catch the neighboring Willets Point in all its “post-apocalyptic” glory before the luxury development begins.
After the game, take the express 7 back to Manhattan, and check ‘central Queens’ off your checklist.
This past weekend, I took a short day trip out of the city for a hike along one of Palisades Interstate Park’s many trails. It’s a quick trip from the Port Authority, so you can be in NYC for breakfast, go hiking, and be back by dinner. The trails are organized by difficulty of terrain, so you can plan your hike by what mood you’re in.
Worth checking out.
The Big Egg Hunt concluded last week in NYC, though the 260+ decorated Fabergè eggs can be seen in and around Rockefeller Center until Friday the 25th. New Yorkers have been cooped up during a long winter, so I jumped at the chance to use the hunt as a way to get out, and explore.
The eggs were hidden all over the 5 boroughs, and I approached the hunt over the course of a week. The interactive map in the app made the hunt easy to plan, taking it neighborhood by neighborhood. I set a goal of 250 eggs, which I met on the last day.
I do a lot of walking around NYC, but through this hunt, I ended exploring neighborhoods and blocks I had never seen before in my 25 years of living in New York. From little, curvy streets in Chinatown to the East Bronx to the diverse streets of Bed-Stuy, I got to cover new ground. Eggs or no eggs, I would recommend long-time New Yorkers think of a neighborhood that they’ve never been in, and spend a Saturday afternoon exploring it. It’s a great way to make an old home feel like a new adventure.
Some of the highlights of my explorations:
*The streets where Chinatown and Little Italy blend together. This area of Manhattan is far away from the bustle of midtown, and has a real energy. Plus, there’s a store on Mulberry St that sells nothing but Christmas decorations year-round. Working there must be pure
*Sunnyside, Queens. People should visit Queens more.
*I got to take the ferry to Staten Island. I don’t think I have done this since I was 12. For tourists, this is a must-do… picturesque views of lower Manhattan, Governors Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Plus, the Staten Island ferry terminal features NYC’s first Dairy Queen.
*I spent an entire afternoon wandering around Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Bushwick. My favorite part was walking along Broadway in Bushwick, by those first few stops on the J/Z trains. So many stores and street vendors… it reminds me of what the Fulton St Mall used to be like 20 years ago.
While there’s no more eggs to find, there’s still lots of New York City to hunt this Spring. Pick a neighborhood, and get walking!
Completed my goal in #thebigegghuntny Here’s my top 5! It was a fun to explore the city, and kill my sneakers !
Every few years, a themed modern art hunt takes place in New York City. There were cows, apples, and baseballs. Now, in time for Spring, there’s an Fabergé easter egg hunt!
Technology has made this newest hunt easier and funner. At the official website, you can find info on the hunt, and how to download the app. In the app, you can use the map to find eggs, and use the QR codes at each egg to unlock it in your virtual basket. It’s very interactive.
Most of the eggs are in Manhattan, though there a few in Sunnyside, Queens and a few in downtown Brooklyn. Still, with the weather warming up, this is a good idea for a fun, themed walk.
Found my first eggs in #thebigegghuntny …. Only a hundred or so left? http://thebigegghunt.org/starthere/
The only Bronx walk in the City Walks cards that I can recall was Arthur Avenue, aka the Little Italy of the Bronx. But there’s certainly much more in the Bronx worth seeing if you have the time. The borough has the world’s largest metropolitan zoo, a 250 acre botanical garden, a connected island with great wildlife and beachfront, and a minor-league baseball stadium.
But if you’re really adventurous, take the 1 train to the end of the line and check out Van Cortlandt Park, which is over 300 acres larger than Central Park. Its northern end sits on the Westchester County border. The park has many criss-crossing paths, and there is no one route that is best. Definitely let yourself wander.
I would definitely make my way to the Putnam Trail, an unpaved path just west of the nearby lake and golf course. Along this path, you can see several abandoned structures, including the shells of the old train stations that once ran north into Yonkers. If you hit Westchester County, turn back… you’ve gone too far!
If you’re looking for some Bronx flavor in your New York walks, this park is a good place to check out.
I briefly touched upon DUMBO in my recent 11-mile walk of scenic Brooklyn. But Ezra felt I go into more details on it because, he insists, no tourists want to go to Red Hook… they’ll just want to go to DUMBO. Okay.
If you have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, congratulations! You are in Brooklyn, which you have heard about on the television. After you exit the bridge, head back west down Jay St, and find yourself in DUMBO. Rather than a detailed walking route, I’ll just use this post to highlight some of the places of interest as you walk around this neighborhood.
*Bridge Park 2, a pretty empty piece of cement that is currently home to a great large art mural by artist Shepard Fairey.
*Zakka, a really cool independent bookstore, focusing on art, street culture, and toys.
*Stewart/Stand, a cool little gift and home goods shop with lots of eclectic items.
*Dewey’s Candy, which has a good selection of hard-to-find candy, including some great imports.
*Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, a nice ice cream parlour housed in an old 1920s fireboat house.
*Halcyon, an indie record shop
*Jane’s Carousel, because who doesn’t love horsies with an unbeatable view?
*Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is not the best pizza in NYC (in my view), but it is one of the more famous. Wait on line outside, be patient, and remember: no slices!
One of my favorite little things about this neighborhood is that, because of historical landmark status, many of the streets close the water are still cobblestone, and tracks from the streetcars can also still be seen.
I would also recommend checking out the neighboring Vinegar Hill area.