New York City
By Jeremy Pugh
New York. They say that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. But how hard can it be? The streets are numbered, there is fantastic food and drink around every corner, fabulous clothing and home and hearth stores, and it’s all 24-7! (Or 24-6, if you keep kosher.) Jackson Hole in February? That’s hard. New York? Easy!
However, the city—for all its bounty of food, shopping, culture, and even outdoorsy fun—can be intimidating. There are so many choices that it’s easy to lose focus and wander into mediocre tourist traps. Suddenly you find yourself in Times Square at a Bubba Gump restaurant wondering where it all went wrong.
Do not let this happen to you.
For a trip to see what’s new in the Big Apple, we’re recommending you avoid Midtown altogether and stick to three of the city’s coolest areas: the West Side, the East Village, and, gasp, Williamsburg, across the East River in Brooklyn. (And we’ve included one foray to the Upper East Side to check out the new subway line, which is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.)
Get Your Art and Architecture On
Take a walk along The High Line, a 1.45-mile-long linear park above the (increasingly former) Meatpacking District on Manhattan’s West Side. The park, created by a grassroots group called the Friends of the High Line (thehighline.org), is a triumph of urban renewal. Thoughtfully landscaped with native plants and designed with quiet reflection in mind, the easement, built atop an old elevated train line, offers unique train-level views into Manhattan to the east and the Hudson River to the west. Plan your High Line ramble to include a lunchtime visit to the Chelsea Market (75 9th Ave., 212/652-2121, chelseamarket.com). Primarily a food hall featuring a range of delicious options from Australian meat pies to full-on lobster meals, the old brick biscuit factory is also a permanent home for Artists and Fleas, an ever-changing selling space for artists, designers, collectors, and makers from around the city. You may even catch a designer sample sale in one of the market’s rotating spaces.
Since you’re on the West Side, head to the new home of The Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort St., 212/570-3600, whitney.org), with its reassuring Helvetica logos. The new Whitney building is capital “G” Gorgeous, and the art contained within is on the bloody edge of the American contemporary scene. Be sure to take in the views of the city and waterfront from the patio levels.
Although the garishly named Freedom Tower isn’t one of America’s architectural treasures, the two installations at its base—the haunting 9/11 Memorial and the Oculus—are interesting footnotes to a tragic chapter in American history. The Oculus is a stunning (or overblown, depending on your critical eye) $4 billion transportation hub/train station/mall/event space designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
And then that new Second Avenue Subway Line (mta.org): The Upper East Side line, which extends the Q line from 63rd to 96th Streets, was envisioned in 1919 and now, nearly one hundred years later, is finally up and running. How’s that for efficiency? The new stations are filled with lovely mosaics that represent life in New York. The beautiful artworks are almost as amazing as the joy of passing through a shiny and clean subway station. But hurry—all these new-station thrills will soon be worn down by the more than 200,000 New Yorkers who ride the line every day.
Bring It Home (from Williamsburg)
Brooklyn Reclamation (676 Driggs Ave., Brooklyn, 718/218-8012, brooklynreclamation.com) is a family run, custom midcentury industrial and vintage furniture store. Think 1950s bowling alley, from where the design store gathers much of the reclaimed wood used in its retro-styled creations. The storefront in Williamsburg has a mix of both vintage finds and custom creations. The custom creations can be shipped anywhere in the U.S. from BR’s workshop in West Virginia. For a less-curated but still-thrilling dive, visit nearby Mother of Junk (567 Driggs Ave., Brooklyn), a giant pile of unorganized estate sale bric-a-brac at firesale prices. Men will love the custom-designed deliciousness at Robert James (193 Grand St., Brooklyn, 347/529-6392, byrobertjames.com), and women will enjoy a stop in one of Brooklyn’s most fabulous boutiques, Bird (220 Smith St., Brooklyn, 718/797-3774, birdbrooklyn.com), which features a collection of independently designed clothing curated by Jen Mankins, a former big-time retail buyer gone rogue. The Quality Mending Company (705 Driggs Ave., 212/334-5339, qualitymending.co) rehabs vintage clothing into classic as well as new and playful designs. Check out the killer old-school sunglasses behind the counter.
Shipping Your Shopping
You just had to have that beautiful midcentury modern armoire, didn’t you? Now that the thrill of the hunt has worn off, you’re standing in SoHo wondering, “How am I going to get this bloody thing back to Wyoming?”
We spoke to Jackson Hole’s WRJ Design Associates (30 S. King St., 307/200-4881, wrjdesign.com/) inventory manager and shipping ninja David Stanko about solving this bugaboo.
“You really have two options,” Stanko says. “You can work with a broker who can take care of everything and get it here for you, or you can work directly with a freight company and handle it yourself.”
Stanko, hands down, prefers the former option, specifically the services of the third-party logistics firm C.H. Robinson (855/229-6128, chrobinson.com). You have to think about the amount of time and worry you’re going to invest trying to handle it yourself, he says. Plus, brokers have the advantage of being able to negotiate with a range of freight companies and find the right balance of speed and cost for you.
If you are a micromanager, however, Stanko suggests contacting North Park Transportation Co. (1225 S. Gregory Ln., 307/733-5644, nopk.com), which has a freight terminal in Jackson Hole. Boutiques and stores in Manhattan often have some advice on getting your piece to a major city, like Salt Lake or Denver, and NPT can handle the remaining leg of transit.
WRJ also helps its clients with both international and domestic issues arising from their love of fine furnishings (and subsequent impulse buys).
See the city via Citi Bike. The bike share system, prominently sponsored by Citibank (hence the name), has stations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. They are designed as transportation, not tourist bike rentals, so you can only “rent” a Citi Bike for thirty minutes at a time. The trick is to ride from station to station and change bikes every twenty to thirty minutes. This leapfrogging technique provides a scavenger hunt adventure as you plot your path to the next station (using the bike share’s killer smartphone app) and a good workout (as well as some pulse-pounding riding moments in NYC traffic). The best routes run alongside the rivers. For example, you can pick up a bike near The Whitney (consider making a stop at the home of the cronut, Dominique Ansel Bakery, 189 Spring St., 212/219-2773, dominiqueansel.com), and then head from bike station to bike station through Battery Park as you wave at Lady Liberty. Continue past the Staten Island Ferry terminal and ride underneath the Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Williamsburg Bridges to the East Village (about 6th and D Street). This is mostly on riverside trails without cars.
Citi Bikes are also a great way to enjoy Central Park. There are no stations inside the park, but they are located just outside the famous green space and go all the way up to 110th Street. Finally, try riding across the Williamsburg Bridge, with its dedicated bike lane, and weave station-to-station through Williamsburg and Brooklyn to attend Smorgasburg, a weekly foodie paradise on the waterfront (90 Kent Ave., Brooklyn, smorgasburg.com) or Brooklyn Flea, a weekly hipster flea market (80 Pearl St., brooklynflea.com). (Know that the Brooklyn Bridge is not very fun to ride a bike across due to too many slow-walking tourists.)
For another off-the-beaten path excursion take the Tramway to Roosevelt Island (59th St. and 2nd Ave., mta.org). The tramway is part of the MTA system, so the trip costs a mere MetroCard swipe. You’ll soar out across the East River to a teeny island with great views back at the city and the United Nations Building, while you enjoy wandering around a quiet riverside memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Eat (and Drink) Well
Vannessa’s Dumpling House in Williamsburg (310 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, 718/218-8809, vanessas.com) isn’t a five-star restaurant with an excellent wine list, but its gooey, starchy dumplings are the perfect reminder that good food in NYC doesn’t have to break the bank. For something also inexpensive but with a little more style, find a seat at the bar for happy hour at Marlow & Sons (81 Broadway, Brooklyn, 718/384-1441, marlowandsons.com) to enjoy craft cocktails and tray after tray of $1 to $2 oysters. While you’re on Bedford Avenue, stop into the Bedford Cheese Shop (265 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, 718/599-7588, bedfordcheeseshop.com) and spend some time reading the cheeky cheese descriptions and nibbling on samples (since they do ship).
In the East Village, it’s a fried-chicken battle royale between Root & Bone (200 E. 3rd St., 646/ 682-7076, rootnbone.com) and Bobwhite Counter (bobwhitecounter.com). You’ll also need to save a key meal for Porchetta (110 E. 7th St., 212/777-2151, porchettany.com) a walk-up and takeout Italian pork joint. Finally, the best burger (really the best burger) in NYC (perhaps anywhere) is at The Brindle Room (277 E. 10th St., 212/529-9702, brindleroom.com). Call ahead for reservations. Craft beer lovers can stop into nearby Proletariat (102 St. Marks Place, 212/777-6707, proletariatny.com) to quaff a pint from the ever-changing menu. Dress up a little and venture into the Gramercy area for a craft cocktail from (and in) another era at Dear Irving (55 Irving Place, dearirving.com).
On the highest end of funky is The Wythe Hotel (80 Wythe Ave. at N. 11th, Williamsburg, 718/460-8000, wythehotel.com). You’ll have killer views back across the river to Manhattan along with a civilized rooftop bar and ground-floor restaurant (Reynard). Bonus: The Wythe is located across the street from the famed Brooklyn Bowl (music venue plus bowling alley, naturally) in the heart of what’s hot Williamsburg. The Ludlow, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side (180 Ludlow St., 212/432-1818, ludlowhotel.com), is a mash-up of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining and something that would resemble the Chelsea Hotel circa 1978. Basically, spooky-cool. It’s located in the heart of the SIXTY LES and East Village’s thumping nightlife scene. The fact that the LES (190 Allen St., 877/460-8888, sixtyhotels.com/lower-east-side) has an original Warhol design at the bottom of its rooftop pool should clue you in to the pedigree of style you’ll find at this swanky branch of the ultraluxury hotel chain.