The Other Side of the Apple
When it comes to green spaces, Central Park usually takes all the credits. But we recommend getting our of Manhattan and looking for surprises on the other districts. Over the last decade, Brooklyn has been on the rise with various new hotspots and thriving cultural offer.
But you can start with an old site. Across Brooklyn Bridge there’s the district with the same name and one of the nation’s national landmarks: Green-Wood Cemetery, founded in 1838.
A grim suggestion? No! The 479 acres of hills, valleys and ways are an oasis of peace and quiet in the midst of the confusion. And there’s, of course, the thrill of bumping into an eminent name among the more than 500 thousand “residents”, mausoleums and statues. The celebrities of Green-Wood give it a similar popularity to Paris’ Père-Lachaise cemetery.
Entrance is free and guided tours are available to find the tombs of Leonard Bernstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat or Henry Steinway. And many other legends of politics, sports and the american civil war. Stories of scandals, rivalries and secrets are a part of this unusual tour.
Back to Manhattan, we head to the north part of the island and enter Front Tryon Park. It was John D. Rockefeller’s gift to the city of New York and still is one of its most precious natural beauties. With one hundred year old elms, four gardens and classical architecture well preserved remains.
Also, this is one of the highest points of the city. So an afternoon spent here will include for sure the priviliged view over the Hudson river and the other margin. But that’s not all...
Looking for art
When in Fort Tryon Park, you’ll be surprised to see something that immediatlely contrasts with New York’s modernity and edge. The Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) for medieval times and art. The building combines several elements which carry the influence of European medieval cloisters and the collection includes over two thousand works of art from the 12th to the 14th centuries.
Back to Brooklyn, we abruptly return to today. Now in a neighbourhood that constitutes a typically New York phenomenon. In the streets of industrial buildings of Williamsburg, young creatives gather around stores and restaurants identified with an independent sense of culture.
And beyond the art galleries, there’s the Smogasburg food fair, the Flea Market and the mini-neighbourhood of DUMBO (“Down Under the Manhattan Bridge”), making this one of the most desirable areas of New York.
Eating and buying off the circuit
If your goal is to find bargains and unique souvenirs, to spend a relaxed evening and avoiding the high prices of Manhattan’s most packed up avenues, the best is to stick around the other side of the river. On the plural atmosphere of Brooklyn Night Bazaar, there’s everything on fridays and saturdays: art galleries, artscraft, décor, great food stands and live music. BNB sometimes changes location, so be alert!
On a multicultural perspective, Manhattan’s Chinatown naturally comes out as first option. But Flushing, in the district of Queens, deserves our close attention. It’s north to Brooklyn, on a large urban area where immigrant communities of all kind prevail, especially of asian origin. There’s nothing like going to Flushing for an authentic gastronomic immersion – the experience goes from street stands to regarded restaurants.
And there’s hundreds stores of all kinds, literally. Where you’ll find anything, from herbal medicines to Korean clothes and toys.
Great entertainment possibilities are endless and are not restricted to the stages of Broadway, in Manhattan. Close by stands mythical Hell’s Kitchen, which takes some advantage of its old rebelious fame to reafirm present day’s charm. Here you’ll find many alternative theatres and spaces with a more intimate tone, as well as new shows and authors.
Or you can take it to Brooklyn, once again. The working class streets of the Bushwick neighborhood carry, just like Hell’s Kitchen, a difficult reputation. But in recent years, artists and young people have turned to it in search of affordable rents and opportunities. Clubs, galleries and new performing art stages popped up like mushrooms.
One thing is for sure. In New York staying in is not an option. If you’re visiting with time on your hands, make sure you save two days to see this great city from another perspective.