Read an Excerpt
Frommer's New York 2004
By Brian Silverman
John Wiley & Sons
Copyright © 2003
All right reserved.
The Best of the Big Apple
New York is the concentrate of art and commerce and sport and religion and entertainment
and finance, bringing to a single compact arena the gladiator, the evangelist,
the promoter, the actor, the trader and the merchant. It carries on its lapel the
unexpungeable odor of the long past, so that no matter where you sit in New York
you feel the vibrations of great times and tall deeds, of queer people and events and
New York is nothing like Paris; it is nothing like London; and it is not Spokane
multiplied by sixty, or Detroit multiplied by four. It is by all odds the loftiest of cities.
-E.B. White, This is New York
Novelist and essayist E.B. White wrote the words above more than 50 years ago,
but his characterization of New York remains accurate today. And though the
grandeur and importance of New York has not changed, the city is in a constant
state of flux. Restaurants and nightclubs become trendy overnight, and then die
under the weight of their own popularity. (Yogi Berra had the perfect comment
for that very phenomenon: "Nobody goes there anymore; it'stoo crowded.")
Broadway shows, exercise fads, city politics, even neighborhoods are all subject
to the same Big Apple fickleness.
But within this ebb and flow lies the answer to why we New Yorkers persist
in loving our city so much, despite the high rents, the noise, the crowds, the cab
drivers who don't know Lincoln Center from the Lower East Side, and the more
stark realities of high-security-alert days and living in the shadow of great
tragedy. Nowhere else is the challenge so tough, the pace so relentless, the stimuli
so ever-changing and insistent-and the payoff so rewarding. It is why we go
on; it is why we proudly persist in living our vibrant lives here.
Come witness New York's astonishing resilience for yourself-it's reason
enough to visit.
1 Frommer's Best of New York: Experiences and Attractions
Best Attraction: If you have time
to do only one thing on your visit
to New York, sail to the Statue of
Liberty. No other monument
embodies the nation's, and the
world's, notion of political freedom
and economic potential
more than Lady Liberty. It is also
the ultimate symbol of New York;
the personification of the city's
vast diversity and tolerance. Note:
At press time, visitors can tour the
grounds only at Liberty Island; the
statue itself had not yet reopened
to visitors. Whether this status
will change is unknown at press
time. Even if it doesn't, standing at
the feet of Lady Liberty makes a
especially in these reflective, patriotic
days. See p. 247.
Best Building: Empire State
Building. Like the Statue of Liberty,
the Empire State Building,
once again the tallest building in
New York, is one of the city's
definitive icons. See p. 239.
Runners up include the chrome-topped
Art Deco masterpiece, the
Chrysler Building, and the oddly
shaped Flatiron Building. See
p. 267 and 268.
Best Street: This was a tough
choice. Fifth Avenue has the reputation,
but has lost some luster the
past few years with the proliferation
of chain and theme stores, so
my pick is Broadway. Beginning
at the southern tip of the island
downtown, Broadway runs from
Wall Street, up through Chinatown,
Soho, and Greenwich Village,
past the Flatiron building at
23rd Street, into the heart of
Times Square and then up to
Columbus Circle, past Lincoln
Center and the Upper West Side,
all the way to the northern tip of
the island. No street captures the
diversity of Manhattan better than
Best Bridge: Manhattan has five
major bridges connecting the
island to other shores and easily
the most historic and most fascinating
is the Brooklyn Bridge.
For a close up look at what was a
marvel of civic engineering when
it was built in 1883, and a true
New York experience, take the
walk across the bridge from Manhattan
to Brooklyn. See p. 237.
Best Historic Building: Despite
all the modern steel and glass skyscrapers
in New York, there are
still many historic marvels standing
and the best of those is the
beaux arts gem, Grand Central
Terminal. This railroad station,
built in 1913, was remarkably
restored in the 1990s to recapture
its initial brilliance. Even if you
don't have to catch a train, make
sure you visit. See p. 241.
Best Museum: American Museum
of Natural History. You can spend
your entire visit to New York at
this 4-square-block museum;
there is that much to see. From
the famed dinosaur halls to the
newly renovated Hall of Ocean
Life, the Museum of Natural History
houses the world's greatest
natural science collection. See
Best Art Museum: Metropolitan
Museum of Art. Not only the
best art museum in New York, but
the best in North America as
well. The number of masterworks
housed here is mind-boggling. See
Best Park: Though New York has
many very wonderful parks, there
is no real competition here. Central
Park is one of the world's
greatest urban refuges; a center of
calm and tranquility amongst the
noise and bustle that is Manhattan.
See p. 273.
Best Place to Take the Kids:
Again it is Central Park. With a
lovely carousel, a zoo, two ice skating
rinks, numerous playgrounds
and ball fields, Central Park is a
Best Neighborhood to Stroll:
Though I'm partial to the Upper
West Side, I have to give the nod
here to Greenwich Village. With
its historic streets, hidden cafes,
cozy restaurants, and eccentric
characters, Greenwich Village is a
constant, but pleasant, barrage on
the senses. See chapter 5.
Best Jogging Path: The Reservoir
in Central Park. Also known
as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Reservoir, this 1.6-mile path is the
preferred path of presidential candidates
among others. See "Central
Park" in chapter 8.
Best Parade: New York is famous
for its parades, most notably the
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
and the St. Patrick's Day Parade,
but the best parade in New York is
the lesser-known West Indian
Labor Day Parade. Held on Eastern
Parkway in Brooklyn, this is
the biggest parade in New York.
The music-calypso, soca, reggae,
and Latin-the amazing carnival
costumes, and the incredible
Caribbean food makes this an
unforgettable experience. If you
are lucky enough to be here on
Labor Day, don't miss it. See
"When to Go" in chapter 3.
Best Street Festival: Held for one
weekend (usually in the middle of
May), the Ninth Avenue Food
Festival is the perfect illustration
of the ethnic diversity in the city.
You'll be able to taste foods from
local restaurants and cuisines from
Afghani to Peruvian. See "When
to Go" in chapter 3.
Best New Year's Eve Celebration:
Fireworks in Central Park.
Avoid the madness of Times
Square and head to Central Park
where, at midnight, fireworks are
set off and a midnight running
race commences. See "When to
Go" in chapter 3.
Best Performance Space: There
are few greater performance spaces
in the world than Carnegie Hall.
Visually and acoustically brilliant,
Carnegie Hall regularly attracts an
amazing array of talent. Just never
ask a New Yorker how to get there
(the answer: practice, practice,
practice). See p. 358.
Best Jazz Club: Village Vanguard.
The acoustics and sight
lines aren't great, but you can't do
better for finding consistently
good quality jazz. The Vanguard is
a New York institution. See p. 370.
Best Comedy Club: Gotham
Comedy Club. Comfortable and
sophisticated, this place is much
more accessible than Caroline's.
And the talent's not bad either;
legends Jerry Seinfeld and Robert
Klein have toned their acts here
lately. See p. 372.
Best Underground Musicians:
You can hear a wide variety of
music played by undiscovered talent
in subway stations, much of it
very good. My favorite is Classic
Soul, a melodious doo-wop group.
Try to catch them, or others, at
one of the major subway stations
like Columbus Circle, 34th Street,
Times Square, or Union Square.
For more on underground musicians,
see "Music Under New
York" in chapter 10.
2 Best Hotels
For the details on these and other New
York City hotels, see chapter 6.
Best All-Around Hotel: Le
Parker Meridien, 118 W. 57th St.
meridien.com). The perfect blending
of style, service, and amenities,
this is a hotel that delivers on
every front. It's the best choice if
you want a little of everything:
luxury, high tech, family-friendly,
comfort, and a great central location.
See p. 120.
Best Grand Dame Hotel: New
York has many "grand dames";
classic elegant hotels that have
been around for years and
endured majestically. The best of
these is the beaux-arts beauty on
Fifth Avenue, the St. Regis, 2 E.
55th St. (212/753-4500;
stregis.com). Celebrating their
100th anniversary in 2004, the St.
Regis offers unrivaled luxury-Louis
XVI furniture, crystal chandeliers,
and silk wall coverings-and
impeccable service, including
personalized butler service. Even if
you are not staying at the St.
Regis, take a walk through the
lobby or have a drink at the
famous King Cole room to soak in
some of that rarified atmosphere.
See p. 133.
Best for Classic New York Elegance:
301 Park Ave. (800/
com), is a glorious throwback to
old New York glamour-and
often surprisingly affordable, considering
the pedigree and the top
quality of the accommodations.
See p. 140.
Best for Classic Old World Elegance:
Hotel Plaza Athenee,
37 E. 64th St. (800/447-8800;
feel you are closer to the River
Seine than to the East River when
you stay at this hideaway on the
Upper East Side. That European
feel pervades the hotel from the
old-world design to the first-rate
concierge service. See p. 149.
Best Trendy Hotel: The Mercer,
147 Mercer St. (888/918-6060;
Still the choice among visitors
who have an eye for style and
pockets deep enough that they can
afford to stay anywhere. The Mercer
is the unrivaled epicenter of
downtown chic. See p. 110.
Best New Hotel: Ritz-Carlton
New York, Central Park, 50 Central
Park South (212/308-9100;
excellent Ritz service, spacious
comfortable rooms, an
incredible location overlooking
Central Park, and understated
luxury makes this a very welcome
addition to the New York hotel
scene. See p. 120.
Best-Kept Secret of the Theater
District: With artistic interiors and
anticipatory service that makes
every guest feel like a VIP, The
Muse, 130 W. 46th St. (877/
692-6873 or 212/485-2400;
themusehotel.com), is the
hidden jewel of the Theater District.
An adult ambience and a
stunning restaurant that's a star in
its own right, Sam DeMarco's District,
only adds to the Muse's luster.
See p. 123.
Best for Business Travelers: The
Regent Wall Street, 55 Wall St.
hotels.com), is the best hotel in
the Financial District, with an
ideal location, gorgeous rooms,
and first-rate amenities, including
a full-service spa. See p. 106.
In Midtown, The Peninsula-New York,
700 Fifth Ave.
sula.com), is the ultimate address
for power brokers; each room has
a terrific L-shaped executive workstation
with desk-level inputs,
direct-line fax, and dual-line
speakerphones, plus other high-tech
amenities for ladder-climbing
execs. See p. 132.
Best Romantic Inn: If you're
looking for something ultra-romantic,
book into the Inn
at Irving Place, 56 Irving Place
irving.com), an Edith Wharton-era
jewel with some of the most
beautifully outfitted B&B rooms
you'll ever see. See p. 117.
Best for Families: The Double-tree
Times Square Guest Suites,
1568 Broadway (800/222-TREE;
boasts an entire floor of childproof
suites, complete with living rooms
for spreading out and kitchenettes
for preparing light meals. And
your young ones will love the Kids
Club (for ages 3-12), which features
a playroom, an arts-and-crafts
center, and computer and
video games. See p. 122.
If you have baby in tow, there's
hardly a better choice-especially
at the moderate price level-than
The Gorham, 136 W. 55th St.
hotel.com). Parlor suites have
alcoves that are perfectly suited to
cribs, and the hotel's Baby
Concierge will make sure Mom
and Dad have everything they
need-including a stroller, so you
don't have to cart your own. See
Best Moderately Priced Hotel:
The Hotel Metro, 45 W. 35th St.
metronyc.com), is a Midtown
gem that gives you a surprisingly
good deal, including a marble
bath. See p. 127.
Excerpted from Frommer's New York 2004
by Brian Silverman
Copyright © 2003 by Brian Silverman.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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