NYC neighburhood knowledge

Duffy square in Time Square, New York City. Vintage tones.

There is a great divide between the way clients approach this great metropolis and the way locals live it. Here is the bridge to conquer it

Chelsea

The neighbourhood that once hosted an array of unflattering slaughterhouses alongside a drab rail line has transformed into an area of quaint streets, unique art and a cultural hub for the NYC folk.

What clients know: 

Situated 30ft above the neighbourhood is the ever-impressive High Line, a space of greenery amongst the urban architecture and walkway of contemporary art. Gazing out to the uninterrupted view of the Hudson River while relaxing on the chairs in the sun isn’t a bad option whether it’s morning, afternoon or all day.

If you’re in need of a change of scenery but still wanting the height, head to The Standard’s rooftop bar for a picturesque view of the city –in itself it’s the perfect excuse to stay out of the Upper East Side.

Just below the High Line sits the Chelsea Markets: a bazaar of food, trinkets and flowers. More than 2-dozen vendors line the walkways inside, luring their buyers with French pastries, Cambodian sandwiches, Aussie pies, Japanese ramen and Moroccan spices. It’s a cultural wonderland amongst the chaos of American life.

What locals know:

The Chelsea Markets may have be the spot for some of the best food in Manhattan – but you don’t have to stop there to enjoy quality cuisine in this neighbourhood. Around every corner is a new place to discover whether it be an extravagant dinner or a low-key brunch.

The art doesn’t stop on the High Line, either. Meander your way into the Ruben Museum of Art and find yourself within ancient Himalayan and Indian cultures. Their thought-provoking installations of art, films and on-stage conversations will inspire as you experience life worlds away from NYC.

 

West Village

West village historic district of New York

Although from the outside it might look a bit grim, step inside the West Village and the street art and music culture will explode and you’ll be in a world of colour.

What clients know:

The riches of Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors Marc Jacobs and Burberry line Bleeker Street, the main hub that runs through the heart of the neighbourhood. They lure in willing shoppers and tourists alike, creating a rich atmosphere amongst the cultural bustle.

This isn’t to say that the high-fashion boutiques have ruined the creative atmosphere of the area, though. The West Village is boarded by Greenwich Village and the vibrant NYU student scene which flows over to the unofficial square of the area, Washington Square Park. Musicians and street performers gather here, and in the warmer months it’s a green patch perfect for escaping the city and kids can even splash in the fountain or play under the iconic Washington Square arch – the replica of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe.

What locals know:  

The area’s Native American heritage can be found in the bohemian vibe that flows throughout the streets, despite the first impressions that may come from the rich atmosphere of Bleeker Street.

Instead of fighting the bustle of Broadway, why not journey to the longest continuously running off-Broadway theatre for a taste of NYC’s art and cultural life on stage. The Cherry Lane Theatre is home to some of America’s ground-breaking productions that illuminate contemporary issues so education has not gone astray.

No cultural area is complete without food, and the West Village is the perfect neighbourhood to experience New York eateries. New York style pizza, hotdogs, falafels and Magnolia bakery’s cupcakes are easy finds in the West Village – even easier when you take a walking food tour of the neighbourhood.

 

Nolita

New York City Summer Scene People Sitting Out in Garden

For some Nolita (which literally sits ‘North of Little Italy’) might seem like just a route to get from Greenwich Village to Chinatown, but within the tree-lined streets lies an old-worldly neighbourhood with no shortage of character.

What clients know: 

The Elizabeth Street strip that runs through the heart of this small neighbourhood is like a quieter version of 5th Avenue, with many designer boutiques mixed among independent stores. The more meticulous travellers can meander in and out of the vintage shops to pick up collectors items.

This neighbourhood doesn’t have much as to typical tourist spots, but if you’re visiting in summer then no one can go past without wandering through the street food fairs.

What locals know:  

With access to the rest of downtown Manhattan just a subway stop away; Nolita carries all the charm and convenience of city life in quiet sophistication. Around every corner you’ll find taco shops, quaint cafes, art galleries and a new painting on each concrete wall. The locals find themselves drinking coffee in the watering hole of Café Giante or enjoying a health kick at The Butcher’s Daughter.

The hidden attraction in Nolita is St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, a historic basilica that adds to the unique charm of the neighbourhood. While it might not have the awe of the Empire State Building or the views from Top of the Rock, the peacefulness and history held inside certainly makes it worth a visit.

 

Brooklyn

Deserted Brooklyn DUMBO Cobblestone Backstreet Sunset Lens Flare

The quaint streets and unique, picturesque locations scattered throughout the borough are even better than what you can find in Chelsea or the West Village. Not only do you not have to worry about the crowds of people taking over the walkways, but also there’s the perfect view of the Manhattan city skyline right on the doorstep.

What clients know: 

Walk across the old architecture of the Brooklyn Bridge and enter into another world that will make you forget you’re in the city that never sleeps. Despite the crowds of tourists and busy New Yorkers, taking the half-hour or so stroll across the bridge that connects the bustling city to the industrial borough is worth it for the view in Brooklyn Heights. The area is the perfect spot to gaze across the water and capture the typical shot of the Manhattan skyline.

Brooklyn’s Botanical Gardens are a must visit, especially in April when the cherry blossom festival is in full bloom. It is also home to a floral arcade of tulips and orchids, and even a Japanese garden to enhance the peacefulness.

If travellers are more inclined to inside art, visiting Brooklyn Museum will certainly spark the creative inside of you. With unique exhibitions and artists to showcase regularly, this museum is one you won’t find in uptown Manhattan.

What locals know:  

There’s a certain atmosphere in Brooklyn that makes you feel at home, wether it be the welcoming strangers or the open spaces that offer freedom amongst the city life.

Down in Williamsburg sits another park, McCarren Park, but instead of flowers it’s abandoned pools and film festivals that people meet to see. The warmer months welcome SummerScreen, an annual free film and music festival for locals to gather with food, drinks and picnic rugs to binge watch classic movies through the years.

Stting on the edge of Prospect Park is the former home of Army Lieutenant Pieter Lefferts, built in 1783. The house is now a museum for family life in Brooklyn in the 1820. Despite not being a household name, it’s these unusual finds in Brooklyn that just add to the unique character of the neighburhood.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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