by Nancy Bestor
New York City has an endless number of outstanding sites. Whether it’s the view from the Empire State Building, the 9/11 Memorial, the lovely Brooklyn Bridge, the Metropolitan Museum, or any of a myriad of other great stops, there are certainly days, weeks, and even years worth of fascinating Big Apple attractions. But for me, New York is also about walking – meandering through different neighborhoods, exploring architecture, and people watching. On a recent trip with my sister, I did just that. I pooh-poohed the idea of any big attractions, and instead just walked and walked, stopping to take in alluring side streets, appealing shops, and gorgeous hotel lobbies, and enjoying the New York scene. Along the way I managed to sneak in a few snacks, some cocktails, and a half priced off-Broadway show.
One morning, after meeting a New York friend for breakfast near Columbia University, I walked back downtown, a 60-plus block journey along Central Park West, enjoying the dog walkers, the attractive apartment buildings with ornate doors and dapper doormen, and the views of Central Park.
On another occasion I trekked to the Chelsea neighborhood, to enjoy its 1.5 mile long High Line, New York City’s elevated park, located 30 feet above ground level on a former train viaduct. I can’t visit New York and not walk the High Line, and even though flowers were not yet in full bloom, High Line Park’s trees and shrubs were beautiful, as was the city view in every direction. The High Line just might be my favorite thing about New York. Well, one of my favorites anyway.
I also walked through the Garment District and stopped in at another favorite, the free museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. One of the current exhibits examines the relationship between the fashion industry and body politics, with corsets and other garments for women of all sizes throughout the ages on display. There was clothing for pregnant women from the 1940’s and 50’s that did everything it could to hide their pregnancy. Fortunately times have changed, at least in some regards. But don’t get me started.
Later that afternoon, I met up with my traveling companions and we taxied to Chinatown, which with traffic took almost as long as a walk would have taken. We were hungry though, and needed sustenance from Vanessa’s Dumpling House (another NYC favorite!) before we could consider walking any further.
When my steamed dumplings and peking duck pancake had filled my belly and given me the strength to carry on, we wandered around China Town and stopped to watch a few minutes of an intense game of handball, a sport that is apparently very popular in New York City. I thought it would be like the handball games I played in elementary school, but I was mistaken, as it’s taken very seriously. Good thing I figured that out before asking to play.
Afterwards we made our way, this time via the subway, to Times Square, where we waited about 15 minutes in the TKTS play line for half price tickets to an evening off-Broadway play. Here’s a secret, if you download the TKTS app onto your phone, you can see in advance which plays and musicals are being discounted for the day. The ticket booth for evening performances opens at 3, and when we arrived at 2:45, the line for musicals was already nearly two hours long. But the play line, on the other side of the booth, was short. We saw Amy and the Orphans that night, for $50 each. It was a great play and a great price. And we didn’t wait in line for two hours either.
If you’re a regular reader of our newsletters, (thank you!), you’ll know I’m a big fan of public transportation. And New York’s subway system does not disappoint. I took the subway from JFK airport, and my total travel time was about an hour and half. My sister and her crew arrived earlier than I, and their taxi ride was only about 20 minutes shorter and $60 split three ways. My ride was $9. Single subway rides in the city are $3, and you can buy a pass if you plan to ride more often, which lowers the per ride cost. I find the NY subway full of fascinating people, and by the time I get off at my station, I’ve made up a whole life story for everyone sitting around me.