June 20, 2019
A tried-and-true New Yorker, multi-gonged travel journo Peter might have visited more than 50 countries, but his favourite moment of any trip is glimpsing the Manhattan skyline on his way home – read on to find out why.
Forget hot dogs – the triangular slice of pizza is the true New York street food, perfect for that post-work hunger pang – or post-barhop attack of the munchies. You’ll see a pizza joint on seemingly every other block of the city, but the sad truth is that many of them use frozen dough, canned sauce and subpar cheese. For a classic slice – thin-crust, not too cheesy, just enough grease – I gravitate to a few favourites, like Joe’s Pizza (corner of Carmine St and Sixth Ave, West Village), Two Boots (Ave A and 3rd St, East Village), Famous Ben’s (corner of Spring St & Thompson St, SoHo) and Little Italy (1. E. 43rd, just west of Grand Central).
I often join the chorus of lamenters who decry the corporatisation of this once-edgy neighbourhood. But I live nearby, and secretly love it. I love jogging past the handful of surviving meat plants to hop on the High Line for an early-morning run. I love browsing the Palm Springs-style swimwear at Mr. Turk, the overpriced sneakers at Jeffrey, the rocker-chic clothes at The Kooples. I love that the Whitney Museum of American Art moved to my backyard. And I love that Pastis, the brasserie that defined the 2000s for me, has reopened after what seemed like an interminable hiatus.
Still overcrowded – despite expanded hours and a now-mandatory $25 entry fee – The Met remains my favourite museum in New York for its never-exhaustible, always-surprising collection of treasures. I usually go for a specific show (the Costume Institute’s current exhibit Camp: Notes on Fashion is at the top of my list) and end up wandering for hours. The jumble of hallways, wings and galleries makes it easy to get lost, literally, but I always make a new discovery: a 16th-century Persian rug, an Egyptian amulet, a quattrocento Last Supper. Beauty, in all its infinite forms.
Central Park is always a delight, but New York is dotted with parks, playgrounds and other pockets of nature where you’ll find residents (myself included) escaping the concrete jungle. Hudson River Park extends nearly the length of Manhattan’s western shoreline, its former shipping piers turned into grassy swards, mini golf courses and ball fields. Madison Square Park has revolving art installations – and the original Shake Shack. And keep your eyes open for unexpected treasures, like the East Village’s New York Marble Cemetery, an 1831 burial ground turned leafy garden tucked between buildings on Second Avenue and open only on occasional weekends (check the website for schedule).
Even as the terrorist attacks of September 2001 fade further into memory, this downtown monument to the lives lost never fails to move me to tears. To those of us who lived in New York on that day, the two vast voids, which stand in the square footprints of the Twin Towers, mirror the darkness that remains in our hearts. And the names of the victims etched into their perimeters remind us of what – and who – was lost. At the same time, the skyscrapers and shopping malls that have since risen around the site are testaments to New York’s spirit of perseverance and unfailing optimism. A must-see, as is the museum, which recounts the attack in sometimes overwhelming detail.
For more of Peter's insider tips and tricks...
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