Dimos' Guide to New York City


Fundamental:
Manhattan is an island. It is divided into Downtown (Wall Street), Midtown (42nd- 59th) and Uptown (59 and above). Specific neighborhoods are: China Town, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, SoHo. "Central Park" is a huge park in the middle of Manhattan (59th-110th Streets).

Roads that go North-South are called "Avenues". Roads that go East-West are called "Streets". Most Avenues have numbers except Lexington, Madison and Park Avenues. All Streets have numbers except those below Houston Street (parallel to 3rd Street) and West Greenwich Village Cars travel in one direction in every street and avenue except for Park Avenue. Park Avenue is the widest Avenue and there is a divider with trees that separate the going-uptown with the going-downtown cars.

5th Avenue divides Manhattan to EAST and WEST. As you are going down on 5th Avenue (same direction with the cars), everything on your right hand-side is WEST and everything on your left is EAST.

It costs the same price whereever you go on the "Subway". You get a special coin called "token" from the cashier and insert this when you enter into the platform area. It will be wise to buy 3-4 tokens at a time so you do not have to wait on lines (what they call "Queue" in the UK).

Try to listen for instructions inside the subway. Some trains are "Express" and you'll find yourself at the other side of Manhattan! Very important to know if you are going "Uptown" or "Downtown"!



Art


Metropolitan Museum of Art [MET] (1000 Fifth Avenue) Huge. Make sure you see their special exhibits. If they rent out audio systems to listen while walking inside the exhibits, GET THEM! They are always outstanding. Check out their gift store. Fantastic ties--most of my ties are from there--and female jewellery are imitations of ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian jewellery. They also got wall-posters but you will find better ones at MOMA.
You do not need to rush and buy if your are not sure what you want. They have plenty of other MET stores around NYC. Ask them for their addresses (there is one in Rockefeller Center and one near Empire State Building on 5th Avenue)

Guggenheim Museum From the MET, walk south on 5th Avenue. On your right hand side, across from the park, is the Guggenheim Museum (looks like a tower, 1071 Fifth Avenue) with really modern art. It has one of the world's largest collections of Kandinsky, as well as major holdings of works by Brancusi, Calder, Chagall, Delaunay, Klee, Miro, Picasso, and many other artists of this century.
There is also Guggenheim in Soho, to visit when you are exploring Soho.

Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) (11 West, 53rd Street between 5th and 6th=Avenue of the Americas) Again, get audiotapes for the exhibits if available.

Must see:
"Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" by Pablo Picasso
(Pablo Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is one of the most important paintings in the genesis of modern art. Both in style and in subject matter, it represents a radical departure from traditional modes of representation. The painting depicts five female prostitutes in a brothel--figures composed of flat, splintered planes rather than portrayed as rounded volumes in space. Arms raised above their heads, they strike seductive poses, yet their looks violate all standard conventions of beauty. The middle figure and the one to her left gaze out with wide-eyed stares...and the two women at the right confront the viewer with threatening masks. Revealing themselves in a very theatrical manner, the prostitutes have pushed aside two curtains, and the space of the brothel, which should recede, seems to come forward like shattered planes of glass. Even in the still life at the bottom right, there is a sense of menace, as a piece of melon slices through space like a scythe. When Picasso painted this work there was great hysteria over the threat of death from syphilis and other sexual diseases. With this anxiety in mind, the distortion and fragmentation of the prostitutes' bodies may be read as an expression of Picasso's fear and ambivalence toward women, and of his association of sexual pleasure with the threat of disease and death. ©1997 The Museum of Modern Art, New York)

"Broadway Boogie-Woogie" by Piet Mondrian
(In 1940, Piet Mondrian moved to New York from London and immediately fell in love with the City. He soon discovered the new craze in American music and began, as he said, to put a little boogie-woogie into his paintings, and into his titles. This one is called Broadway Boogie-Woogie. Tiny blinking blocks of color--the primary triad of yellow, blue, and red--bounce against one another, creating a pulsating vitality that, like boogie-woogie music itself, is pure rhythm. They create a kind of optical vibration, jumping from intersection to intersection like the streets of New York City; but at the same time, when you look closely, you realize how carefully the whole picture is calibrated, colors interspersed with grey and white blocks in an extraordinary balancing act. Mondrian loved the variety of rhythm in boogie-woogie and, in fact, one of his friends tells the story that when Mondrian was on the dance floor and the music switched away from boogie-woogie, he would say, "Let's sit down, I hear a melody." This great hymn to New York and to boogie-woogie music was Mondrian's last completed painting, done in 1942 and early 1943, when he was seventy-one years old. Though it was a radical departure from his classic black lines on white surfaces with planes of color, Mondrian was still not quite satisfied with the novelty of the picture. "There is too much of the old in it," he told a friend.)

"Starry" by Vang Gogh
When Vincent van Gogh was a patient in an asylum at Saint-Rémy in the south of France, he wrote to his brother Theo: "This morning I saw the country from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big." The morning star is another name for Venus, and it may be the large white pulsating form, just to the left of center in this painting. Van Gogh stayed up three nights in a row to paint the view from his window in the asylum, because, as he said, "the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day." But van Gogh was not just painting an image of what he saw. In fact, the church spire here is typical of Holland, the artist's native country. So this is a picture rooted in his imagination and memory as well--a fantastic, apocalyptic vision of the night sky. What others might have viewed as a placid scene, van Gogh has rendered in heaving and churning waves. Each stroke of paint is more than a dab of color--it's a field of energy, as well. The contrast between the chaos of the heavens and the quiet order of the village below is remarkable. The cyprus tree--known as the tree of death for its traditional associations with graveyards and mourning--creates a flamelike connection between the earth and sky. But for van Gogh, a man of strong Christian faith, death was not ominous; it was the path to heaven. He himself said: "...looking at the stars always makes me dream.... Why, I ask myself, shouldn't the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star." ©1997 The Museum of Modern Art, New York)

Visit the Store. Fantastic wall-posters. They will put them in a tube for you so you can take them where ever. I suggest any of the above and the following:
"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt
"Café Terrace at Night" by Van Gogh
various gardens by Claude Monet
"Dance" by Henri Matisse
of course one can find imitations of these at any poster-shop…but only at MOMA and the MET you can find the BEST picture of the original with the true colors.

Whitney Museum (45 Madison Avenue at 75th Street) houses probably the greatest collection of 20th Century American Art. Renowned works of Edward Hopper and Georgia O'Keefe favorably contrast the multisculptural works of Alexander Calder and George Seagal. Interesting, but definitely NOT a "must do".

Other museums:
American Museum of Natural History (huge)
Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum (an old airplane carrier transformed into a museum)
Museum of the City of New York (never been there)
American Museum of the Moving Image (huge archive of movies available through computers)
New York Transit Museum (never been there)



Shopping


Get to EAST 3rd Avenue (between 59th and 60th streets) by Subway to visit BLOOMINGDALE'S (or Bloomie's) store (10min walk). All the elite Brands are there.
Walk WEST to 5th Avenue.
You must be now on the corner of Central Park South (=59th) and 5th Avenue. There are some horse-carriages there for hire that can take you for a romantic ride (at night) around Central Park.
On your right hand-side is the famous PLAZA HOTEL (site of the "Home Alone")...you may want to take a look inside to enjoy the decoration.
Across from PLAZA HOTEL is a famous FAO Schwarz toy store. People wait for hours to get in before Christmas. Check it out.

On the intersection of 5th and 57th you will see a giant snow flake consisting of thousands of lights during Christmas.

Walk south on 5th Avenue. On your right hand side you will see Brand-name stores like Coca-Cola, Warner Bros, Bergdorf-Goodman (clothing), Disney, Harry Winston (Jewellery), Christian Dior etc. Watch out for the Trump Tower (right hand side: glass building with trees ON it). Donald Trump, a very wealthy man, owns a few casinos, a few hotels and a few thousand apartments in New York...go inside the tower (dark marble).

Keep going south. Visit Tifanny's Jewelry…hide your maps and pretend your are there to buy so they can pay attention to you.

Keep going south. On your right hand side you will see St. Patrick Cathedral (Catholic), the largest Church in New York. Go in. Across from St. Patrick's is the statue of Atlas who holds the earth on his hands.

Next to St.Patrick's is the SAK'S FIFTH AVENUE store. Look at their window displays, then go in. Across from SAKS is the Rockefeller Center. You will see the largest tree in the US. Below the tree is an ice-skating ring. In the Spring and Summer the ice-skating ring turns into an outside restaurant. There is usually a long wait for ice-skating…unless you go early in the morning. The gold statue is Prometheus who brought us fire from the gods.

The FASHION CAFE is just around the corner (on the right of Prometheus). As you are facing Prometheus, on your left hand side is NBC's Morning-Show studio with windows and screens for people who walk by to see. If you are there early (by 10-11 I suppose), you will see it in action.
Inside the Rockefeller Tower is the NBC studio Headquarters. They offer tours. If you like fascinating TV equipment, cameras, robots etc, it is a lot of fun. On the top of the Rockefeller Tower is the Rainbow Bar and Restaurant with a magic view during sunset…highly expensive. Go up and just pretend you are looking for some friends! (most of the people there are old anyway)

Walk WEST to 6th Avenue (or Avenue of the Americas). On the corner of 6th Avenue and 50th Street is the Radio City. During Christmas they always have their Christmas Spectacular Show which is a great musical. Afternoon shows are less expensive. It is a great opportunity to see an American style musical.

Walk up to 51st. I used to work on 51st and 6th. HILTON is around 52-53rd. Nothing impressive. Go up to 57th Street. Carnegie Hall (home of the NY Philharmonic) is at 57th and 7th. On 57th look for The Russian Tea Room, The Steinway Piano showroom, Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe, Motown. Find 57th and Broadway (Broadway is parallel to the Avenues after the 7th Avenue at the 57th street level)

Walk south. When you hit 50th Street, you will be approaching Times Squares. Morgan Stanley Investment Bank is between 47th and 48th . Between 47th and 46th you will see an isle in the middle of the road with some kiosks and a sign "TKTS". Here they sell same-day tickets for Broadway shows at discounted prices. Between 46th and 45th is the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Go inside and take the elevators to the very top. There is a bar / restaurant that goes around in a circle so you can see all of Manhattan. The square owns its name to "The New York Times". Dozens of years ago, the owner of the NYT decided to set the officers in this square so it would take equal amount of time for the printed newspapers to reach newspaper-stands uptown and downtown. Later on it become site of sex-stores. Over the last years, the city has given incentives to major companies to move there so they can drive the sex-stores away. This is why Virgin Megastore, Disney, All-Star café are there now.

There is a building with an "electronic news-tape". (there used to be a Police kiosk below). On the top of that building they lower the BALL on New Year's Eve.

Keep walking south on Broadway. You will find MACY's at 34thth Street and 7th Avenue, the largest store anywhere! (so they say). Macy's has lower prices than SAK's and Bloomie's Across from Macy's is shopping-Mall. It used to be called A&S but I think it has a new name now. You will identify it from the lights around it.

You can visit the Empire State Building Observation Desk (34th Street and 5th). It gives you a good view of mid-town Manhattan. You have to buy a ticket. (If you go to the Empire State Building, walk two blocks down on 5th Avenue. Turn left on 32nd Street. I lived in 9 East 32n Street across from a Korean restaurant.)

Keep going south on Broadway…notice how the stores change…go all the way to Greenwich village. This has been a cultural walk!



Downtown

Visit to the Stock Exchange on Wall Street. You need to be there by 10:30-11am to pick up FREE tickets. You will probably need to return an hour or so later depending on the time indicated on the ticket. There is also the Commodities Exchange where they trade Sugar, Coffee, Cocoa, Crude-Oil, Orange Juice, Gold, Silver…they were in the process of moving.

From Wall Street, walk down to Battery Park. From here you will take the boat to the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island. Statue of Liberty. There is no point going all the way up since there is only a view of the Atlantic and not of Manhattan. Ellis Island.

This restored landmark re-opened in 1990 saving the memories and heritage of over 100 million Americans who can trace their immigrant roots here. Between 1892 and 1954, 12 million immigrants entered the United States from this island in New York Harbor, greeted by the Statue of Liberty "next door." The Immigrant museum offers visitors a chance to see what coming to America meant through film, archives, photos, recordings and the aura of the Great Hall. Don't miss the Immigrant Wall of Honor, a circular monument containing 200,000 names commemorated by their ancestors.



Other


United Nations
Guided tours of United Nations Headquarters are conducted seven days a week, including all holidays except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day, from 9:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. (During the months of January and February there are no guided tours on weekends). Please call 963-7713 for current information on the guided tours. Tours last 45 minutes and include information on the functions and activities of the United Nations and an explanation of the various exhibits, architecture and decor of the building.

Greek Parade
Every year on the Sunday close to March 25th, the Greek Community organizes a parade (PARELASI) on 5th Avenue that goes up from 59th street to somewhere close to the MET. Who parades? All the Churches of the area, the Sunday-Schools, the Philoptohos, AHEPA, all the "city" associations (Panepirotic Federation, Panmacedonia, Pan-cretan, Xios, Samos, Kozani,…you name it!). The parade used to last for about 4 hours!!! Now they are trying to shorten it because NYC is still cold at the end of March and not too many people can wait on the streets for 4 hours but then again ALL the community groups want to parade…

NYC food
In every corner you will see a NYC deli! They are like small supermarkets but they also sell cooked food that New Yorkers who do not cook eat like crazy! My favorites:
"Toasted Cinnamon-Raisin Bagel with a little bit of Cream Cheese and a slice of tomato" (not from a Deli!, but from any fine bakery)
"Walnut-banana", "blueberry" and "chocolate-chip" muffins. These are NY style at fine bakeries.
A slice of Hawaiian pizza with ham and pineapple.
"New York City Pretzel" looks like Greek "koulouri" but with big pieces of salt on the top. Sold in corners around NYC by street-vendors.

China Town & Little Italy
Be careful not to get lost. It is better to visit with friends.

SoHo
A Saturday or Sunday afternoon walk on Broadway…(below Houston Street)

Greenwich Village
Home of New York University. Tons of student bars.

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
It is on 60th and 8-9th Avenue I think. There is the Opera Hall, the Symphony Hall and the Theatre. They offer tours but I would not recommend them. They have however fantastic performances.

Barnes and Nobles
These are all-building book stores. Millions of books plus a café where you can browse through magazines and books without buying them while drinking your coffee.

Washington D.C.
Given the time that you have, you may want to go to Washington D.C. for a couple of days. Main attractions in DC are the Capitol (Congress)[tour available], the White House [tour available] and the Smithsonian Museums (Natural History, Science (!), American History, Art etc). There are all close to each other. There are fast trains from Pen Station and Air-planes for $100 or so.

WWW.NYTOURIST.COM

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