5 NYC Neighborhoods with Revolutionary History

5 NYC Neighborhoods with Revolutionary History

You know all about Gettysburg, Bunker Hill, and Valley Forge, but it might surprise you to learn that many important developments in America’s founding revolution took place right here in New York City. These 5 spots are not just great neighborhoods to visit — they’re a living lesson in American history.

Van Cortlandt Park – The Bronx

One of NYC’s largest parks, this patch of land abutted by neighborhoods like Riverdale and Norwood was the site of the headquarters of both sides during the conflict. Both George Washington and British General William Howe would (at different times, of course) use the Van Cortlandt House in the park’s southwest region as a staging area. The Van Cortlandt family land was bought by the City of New York in 1888 and now stands as one of the Bronx’s finest natural attractions.

 

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Fort Wadsworth – Staten Island

This neighborhood, named for the historic battery built to defend New York Harbor from British ships, boasts unmatched views of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan. Sitting directly on the Narrows adjacent to the Verrazano Bridge, riders on the Belt Parkway or the bridge itself have probably taken notice of the distinctive fortress. The structure once known as Flagstaff Fort now stands today as a tourist attraction and educational site.
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Fraunces Tavern – Manhattan

Visitors to the Financial District can drink like George Washington in this historic site where the General gave his famous farewell address to his officers after the war was won. Now home to both a bustling modern bar/restaurant and historical museum, Fraunces Tavern has been restored after years of use as a tourist attraction. Designated a Historic District, the Tavern and adjacent buildings stand as an oasis of Old New York in the ultra-modern FiDi area.
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Old Stone House – Brooklyn

In JJ Byrne Park between 4th and 5th Avenue in Park Slope, nestled among the playground and basketball courts, visitors can enjoy a piece of Revolutionary history. This restoration of the 1699 Vechte-Cortelyou House commemorates the 1776 battle, a major loss for the nascent American military. A small museum inside the modest house contains relics and recounts the long battle, the largest of the war.
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Nathan Hale Statue – Manhattan

While there’s some controversy concerning where he was actually hanged for spying by British loyalists, the most well-known memorial to Revolutionary martyr Nathan Hale is located in the heart of Lower Manhattan in City Hall Park.  The eternal words he’s remembered for (another source of controversy) are inscribed around the base: “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” The statue’s style might look familiar to New Yorkers, as the work of its sculptor Frederick William MacMonnies (a Brooklyn native) is featured across the city, from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch on Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to Civic Virtue next to Queens Borough Hall.

NYC’s Most Haunted Destinations

NYC’s Most Haunted Destinations

As a city with nearly 400 years of history, NYC has accumulated its share of ghosts. Not ghost apartments, but the restless spirits that some say are found wandering the creaky halls of many city buildings. There are plenty of ways to go peacefully in New York, but some spirits are apparently harder to contain than others. Here are a few spots around town said to house some of the city’s supernatural residents.

 

85 West 3rd Street

One of several former Poe residences in NYC and elsewhere, this is where the writer called home as he crafted works like “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Raven.” A once-stately 19th-century rowhouse has been replaced by an NYU dorm, but the historic facade remains. This dedication to preserving the history of the space may have just resulted in certain former residents yearning to stick around, however. Inside, the original banister remains preserved, and students swear they’ve seen the horror writer’s ghost ascending the stairs of their haunted Greenwich Village residence.

 

The Manhattan Well

Now sitting inside of a SoHo boutique (where it’s been preserved, keeping the spooky stories alive), the Manhattan Well was once the focus of the city’s earliest murder mysteries. In 1800, after absconding from her boarding house residence, Gulielma Sands vanished mysteriously until she was found weeks later in the well’s depths (then located in a sprawling meadow, if you can believe it). Her lover, Levi Weeks, was accused of her murder but attained acquittal with the help of an all-star team of lawyers (including future duelists Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton). Sands’ restless spirit is said to still inhabit the building, though boutique prices probably accomplish as much frightening as her ghost does.

 

Lefferts Laidlaw House

An historic Brooklyn Greek Revival mansion sitting a short distance from Fort Greene Park, this regal home was the center of a citywide sensation in 1878. Owner Edward Smith alerted police that he was being harassed, with knocks at his door, his windows being shaken, and loud noises occurring outside, but he never saw a culprit. Even after he convinced police to monitor his perimeter the harassment continued, culminating in a smashed window with no suspects in sight. A credulous account published in the New York Times assured that this legend would live on, and the house still attracts ghost hunters to this day.

 

The Astor Room

The world famous Kaufman Astoria studios has brought some of Hollywood’s biggest names to the Queens waterfront since 1920. From the Marx Brothers’ first films to Orange is the New Black, the filming complex has been a top attraction for a huge variety of film and TV productions. While most come and go in a matter of months, some are said to have taken up permanent residence nearby- even after death. Rudolph Valentino, big screen lothario and legendary thespian of the silent era, shot many films at the studio and was said to be especially enamored with the area before his tragic death at 31. Local ghost-watchers claim his spirit has taken up residence in the Astor Room, a speakeasy-style restaurant opened up at the site of the studio’s old cafeteria. If it’s indeed true, his spirit seems to have found a welcoming home, as his portrait is prominently displayed on the walls, watching over diners in a more tangible way.

 

5 Architectural Styles That Define NYC

In a city that’s constantly changing, one only needs to look up to see hallmarks of the past. Home to a range of personalities, it’s no surprise that New York’s stylistic diversity extends to its buildings. Here are a few of the more prominent examples of the architectural movements that have found a home in New York City over the years.

 

Beaux Arts

The Beaux Arts-styled Woolworth Building

There might not be an architectural style more closely associated with New York City than Beaux Arts. Built on the foundation of classical architecture, this style combined French Baroque and Rococo influences onto the heralded Ancient Greek framework. Beaux Arts was the preeminent style from the late 19th to the early 20th century, when many of New York’s iconic buildings were taking shape. The Woolworth Building, Grand Central Station, and the New York Public Library on 42nd street are just a few examples of this regal style.

 

Art Deco

NYC's Art Deco Chrysler Building

Born in Paris, Art Deco took the entire world by storm in the early 20th Century, and New YOrk was no exception. This distinctive style most closely associated with the futurism of the 1920s and 30s survives today in a few NY landmarks like the Verizon Building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and most famously, the iconic spire of the Chrysler Building. Outside of Manhattan, Brooklynites can spot Art Deco stylings on the outer pillars of the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza.

 

Italianate

The Italianate storefronts of SoHo

This style, inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture, came to be in early 19th century England and eventually came to the U.S. in the 1840s. Italianate design, found in mansions and ornate halls in Europe, was instead incorporated into low-cost rowhouses in Manhattan and Brooklyn, thanks to newly refined techniques allowing for ornamentation in cast-iron and stone that was previously reserved only for the most luxurious homes. These qualities prominently feature in the building facades seen in SoHo’s Cast Iron district, as well as the brownstones of Brooklyn.

 

Postmodern

NYC's iconic Modernist Lipstick Building

The Postmodern style is hard to nail down, but it’s often described as a response to the uniformity of prefabricated, “modern” buildings of the first half of the 20th century. Works under this genre feature expressive shapes and features, with flourishes of personality aimed at representing the building’s use and location. Some NYC-based examples of this style are the Sony Building on Madison Avenue, said to resemble a Chippendale cabinet and the so-called “Lipstick Building” of Midtown East.

 

Deconstructivism

41 Cooper Square in NYC

A distinct style of the 20th and 21st Century, the Deconstructivist approach often takes the form of buildings that push the idea of what a large-scale structure can look like to the limit. Shapes beyond the traditional, allowed by cutting-edge building materials and techniques are transforming cityscapes worldwide, and NYC is no exception. 41 Cooper Square, home of Cooper Union’s School of Engineering, and Frank Gehry’s 81 Spruce Street are two examples, both built in the last ten years, of this style that adds a future-facing touch to some of the old world streets of New York City.

 

From Prewar to Junior 4: NYC’s Top Apartment Styles

From Prewar to Junior 4: NYC’s Top Apartment Styles

In New York City, no two apartments are created equal. Whether you’re new to the city or relocating within the 5 boroughs, you may have found yourself a little overwhelmed by all the variety of living options. Read on for a guide to some of the more popular choices for apartment living in NYC.

Studio

While not unique to this city, these one-room apartments are particularly attractive here for newcomers looking to live in trendy neighborhoods without breaking the bank. A studio apartment’s main quarters consist of one room; if you want partitions, you’ll have to supply your own. Creatively decorated studios can be made to resemble a more expensive multi-room place at a fraction of the cost.

Prewar/postwar

While these names strictly refer to the period in which they were built, prewar (pre-1945) and postwar (1945-c.1970s) apartment buildings have their own distinct qualities. In general, prewar buildings are known for their hardwood floors, non-standardized floor plans and classical architectural touches like crown molding, so they’re considered to have a little more personality. Postwar buildings, on the other hand, built during a rise in housing demand, are more cookie-cutter in some respects but will have more modern amenities like central heating and air conditioning.  

Garden Apartment

These bottom-floor dwellings can differ wildly by floorplan, but they get their distinction from access to a backyard or garden, generally in the back of the building. A rare amenity for an NYC apartment, these spaces can be found at a premium thanks to the excess of greenery you’ll find in them. Be warned, though, that their low placement can be an issue in flood conditions, and they’re more likely to contain pests that won’t make their way to higher floors.

Railroad

Similar to the “shotgun” houses found in New Orleans, these apartments follow a straight-line floorplan, with every room arranged in a row. This means if you’re in the back bedroom, you’ll be walking through your roommate’s stuff every time you come home. This may be a negative for some people, but that means you’ll be able to find a good deal on these places if you’re willing to live with it.

Lofts

These highly-sought after apartments are mostly found in converted warehouse space but have become popular enough that many purpose-built loft spaces exist. They’re distinct for their high ceilings, elevated spaces and frequently, exposed brick walls. Prized among artists in formerly rundown areas, lofts have become prized living spaces and are now among the higher-priced options in the market, though those high ceilings generally make them worth it.

Junior 4

These smaller apartments are named for their four rooms: bedroom, living room, kitchen, and a smaller, usually windowless room that can be used as a dining area, a smaller bedroom, or an office (don’t worry, there’s a bathroom, too). While technically one-bedroom apartments, that extra room can be pretty versatile. While it’s not exactly a full bedroom, it’ll allow you to get creative with your living arrangements for less than a full-fledged two-bedroom.

How to Work Around Subway Delays (Until the MTA Fixes Them)

How to Work Around Subway Delays (Until the MTA Fixes Them)

As noted by anyone who’s attempted to use public transportation in New York these past months, the subway situation is problematic, to say the least.

Especially frustrating, challenging, and persistent are the train delays. According to the New York Times, the delays are due to overcrowding and are worse at rush hour, and in Midtown (no surprises there).

But New Yorkers are nothing if not persistent, and creative, which means there are ways to work around the subway delays. Until a concrete solution to overcrowding is implemented, there are several ways commuters can take the matter into their own hands — and smartphones, as it were.  

First, try the basics. Use a trip planner.

Despite its faults, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is trying to help. There is a trip planner available on its website as well as a (clunky, alas, and bug-filled) mobile trip planner.

It’s fairly simple to use, and once a commuter enters starting and ending point multiple routes are presented as options.

While every New Yorker who’s a regular rider thinks they know all the options and routes, in today’s packed-cars and station-under-repair world it’s good to check with the Authority.

Stay on top of delays.

Fortunately, there’s an app for that. There are, in fact, multiple apps, but Transit is well-reviewed and seems to have a particular drive to help New York subway riders.

The team at Transit recently began to translate the M.T.A.’s “The Weekender” (a list of all the trains and stations undergoing weekend service changes) into data that their app can use, so weekend trips can be as hassle-free as possible.

At the very least, travelers should check with Google Maps or similar. While the real-time information isn’t always as up-to-the-minute as desirable, some information is better than no information.

There’s also the old-school but still effective local news option. In an era of 24/7 coverage, serious problems or delays will be broadcast as soon as a reporter can make the announcement and get a quote from an official or an irritated rider.

Get seriously creative.

Given that the delays are worse during standard rush hour times, it might be time to renegotiate job and work parameters. For instance, does the possibility of telecommuting several days a week exist? It also might be possible to change schedules, maybe working a 4/10 (ten hours a day, four days a week), or even changing “standard” work hours from, say, 9 to 5 to 7 to 3, or 10 to 6?

Ride sharing is another option. As problematic as Uber has been at the top, the ability to coordinate with neighbors, or colleagues on your route, and schedule a shared vehicle can be cost effective and relatively convenient. Savvy Manhattanites are also turning to Via, a relatively cheap subway alternative that zips along the avenues for as little as $5 a ride.

For a longer-term ride sharing options, check out companies like Skedaddle. While it promotes itself as a service that gets groups of people to parties, concerts, beaches and tourist destinations, creating a “regular route” is do-able. According to the website, anyone can create a public route, from the Upper West Side to Wall Street, for instance. As long as there are at least 10 reservations for that route, it’s a go. Because Skedaddle users can view public routes, the need to coordinate a group is eliminated.

Finally, if the frustration and anger all become too much, there’s always the option of joining the group Buddhist Insights which suggests that a meditative “street retreat” is possible anywhere—even a crowded subway platform.

The Best Chefs You’ve Never Heard of in New York City

The Best Chefs You’ve Never Heard of in New York City

You probably wouldn’t be wrong if you said we’re living in the golden age of restaurants in New York City. Every week there’s seemingly another new must-try place with an intriguing gimmick or back story. Celebrity chefs are popping up faster than we can keep track of them. To be a serious eater in New York means keeping up with all the latest comings and goings in the industry.

Despite all this, there are still some hidden gems around Manhattan and Brooklyn. These 6 chefs might not have their names in the marquee blogs and magazines, but they undoubtedly will be before long. If you want to be ahead of the curve, here are the names (and the restaurants) you’ll need to know.

Emily Yuen – Bessou

Emily’s Bessou on Bleecker Street serves up the comfort food of her mother’s native Japan with a modern aesthetic. Growing up in Vancouver, she started her career early, pounding rice alongside her sister for their mother’s sumptuous dumplings. After perfecting her craft worldwide, from London’s Le Gavroche to Vue de Monde in the heart of Melbourne, Emily has come back stateside to bring the home cooked meals of her family kitchen to NoHo.

Florian Hugo – Maison Hugo

Another young up-and-comer with a wealth of experience, Florian cut his teeth in the bistros and brasseries of Manhattan before opening his own classic French eatery Maison Hugo on the Upper East Side. A protege of the legendary Alain Ducasse, Florian’s expertise in French cuisine comes through in must-try dishes such as his pork chops cooked on the plancha and his homemade pasta with braised artichokes. Book a table now, before midtown finds out.

Roxanne Spruance – Kingsley

She might be young, but Roxanne is far from a newcomer. After becoming a restaurateur at the ripe age of 22, Roxanne has moved on from her resort town Wisconsin bistro Sopra to bring her expertise to Alphabet City. Kingsley serves up locally sourced French-American fare and craft cocktails that have earned the out-of-the-way joint a robust local reputation. If you’re into fine dining without the pretension,  Kingsley is sure to become an instant favorite.

Olivier Palazzo – Loosie’s Kitchen

Born in the Ivory Coast, Olivier cut his culinary teeth in Paris under the legendary Cyril Lignac at his le Quinzieme before setting off around the globe. After stops in St. Tropez, Abu Dhabi, and Marrakesh, Olivier landed in the Big Apple. Working for Jean Georges at ABC Kitchen was all the local education he needed, and his Loosie’s Kitchen on the southside of Williamsburg shows the breadth of his experience without losing his unique personality. Casual but exceptional, Loosie’s is far enough from the hoity-toity crowd that you can enjoy Olivier’s creole fare without elbowing your way past a crowd (for now).

Jaime Young – Sunday in Brooklyn

Another Williamsburg favorite, Sunday in Brooklyn’s New American menu and attached market make the place a must-see, worth the trip from anywhere in Manhattan. A veteran of TriBeCa’s high-end Atera, Executive chef Jaime has curated a more relaxed space where one can take in an unpretentious meal of old favorites just a stone’s throw from the Williamsburg Bridge. Once you’re done enjoying the food, you can pick up some of Jamie’s ingredients in the downstairs market and try your best at home.

Angie Mar – The Beatrice Inn

Angie might not be a big name yet, but she’s got the pedigree for it. The niece of Seattle legend and restaurateur Ruby Chow, she has made her own name after leaving her corporate job and apprenticing under Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec, perfecting her take on the art of butchery. Incorporating her European and Asian influences without overwhelming the meat, Angie runs the kitchen at The Beatrice Inn in Greenwich Village with an undeniable flair. Angie has already garnered some acclaim, so get the “the Bea” soon if you want to be the first on your block to take in her masterfully prepared steaks and duck dishes.