Travel article: New York New Yoooork!

Travel blogger: Christelle & Cedric

Trip story: Discovering The Americas in 6 months!

Image for blog article: New York New Yoooork!

New York, NY, United States

United States 7 days

Friends or family


€0/person/day


€0/person


€14/person/day


€12/person/day


 

First stop of our World tour : NEW YORK! We’ve picked this destination to meet our little cousin Clara, visit Cedric’s cousins Marc & Elise and also because having lived there 6 months back in 2009 it represented a safe and easy adventure for us. At least it’s what we thought until we’ve managed to avoid an epidemic  gastro and we’ve survived (and little Clara as well!) a 24hours crash course on “how to take care of a 3 months old”!

As usual NYC didn’t disappoint! It looks like there is room for everybody in the city. Whatever your job, background, taste is there is something for you in the city that never sleeps! Be just prepared to walk a lot :) (108 kilometres in 7 days!)

 

Itinerary suggested:

 

Day 1: World Trade Centre, ferry to Staten Island & Statue of Liberty , Wall street, Downtown.

 

Day 2: Brooklyn bridge, Dumbo, Brooklyn heights, Bushwick, Williamsburg

 

Day 3 & 4: South of Central Park, Times Square, Midtown, Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Centre, Grand Central, SHopping on 5th

 

Day 5: Harlem and Central Park North

 

Day 6: SoHo, Greenwich Village, Chinatown and Little Italy

 

Day 7: Chelsea, Meatpacking district, The High Line



Day 1: World Trade Centre, ferry to Staten Island & Statue of Liberty , Wall street, Downtown.

 

Our lovely hosts moved recently to Jersey City - a 10 minutes ride to Manhattan; the latest gentrified suburb. We’ve started the trip discovering the famous NY skyline that changed so much since 2009. Now the Freedom Tower dominates the city being the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere- and for me the best way to locate myself into this big city. The whole World Trade Centre area has been redeveloped in the past 10 years with a New Observatory (One World Observatory), a memorial & Museum and many new towers and shopping centre. Even if we couldn’t shop as we can’t afford to have an extra gram into our 12 kilos backpack, we’ve been amazed by the architecture of the Oculus Shopping Centre.

Besides in Downtown you discover  Wall street and the views on the Statue of Liberty. Make sure you take the ferry to Staten Island, it offers amazing views on the Statue and the skyline. Ideal at sunset! (and it’s free !)

 

         

 

 

Day 2: Brooklyn bridge, Dumbo, Brooklyn heights, Bushwick, Williamsburg

 

From the WTC we’ve headed to the Brooklyn Bridge, to me the icon of NYC and my favorite bridge (after the Sydney harbour Bridge of course ;). One of the oldest and longest suspended bridge in the world, it has been built over 14 years by 2 generations of a family and inaugurated in 1883.

Fun fact 1: the Chief Engineer and many workers got sick (Caisson Disease, they didn’t decompress after working deep underwater) and he had to supervise the work from its apartment overlooking the bridge and assigned his wife to be on site transferring his directions to the workers. Team work!

Fun Fact 2: 6 days after it opened, a rumor of Brooklyn Bridge collapsing sparked fatal stampede causing 12 dead. The Chief Engineer has to cross it the day after to prove it was not near to collapse at all...

We’ve crossed it back and forth during this trip (and can confirm it won’t collapse!) and the best time was at sunset with interrupted views on the beautiful skyline (the Freedom Tower still dominating the city!)

 

On the other side of the Bridge is Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights.  What makes Brooklyn Heights special is that it’s the first commuter suburb in American History. Developers developed a ferry connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn (prior the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge) allowing Manhattan middle class and affluent workers to enjoy a “country retreat” just an hour away from Manhattan. The resulting ease of transportation into the neighborhood- after the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 and the train in 1908 - and the perceived loss of the specialness and quality began to drive out the people who lived there and started fleeing the suburb. These two neighborhood then became home to warehouses before being considered wastelands after the deindustrialisation of the city. In the 70s a group of artists moved there followed later on by developers and professional workers from Manhattan seeing potential in these neighborhood just a short walk or train ride from Manhattan. Today many tech startups moved there as well as fancy galleries and shops.  Brooklyn Heights was also home to many Abolitionists. The many brownstones houses and the promenade on the water makes the  walk beautiful and we realised we could easily live there (if we could afford the rent !)

 

Keeping up with Brooklyn, we’ve also visited Bushwick and Williamsburg. The latest is now the trendiest suburb in Brooklyn- home of many designers, galleries, vegan restaurants and street art. It’s interesting to see the different groups (Italians, Young Artists, Jewish, Puerto Ricans) all sharing the neighborhood.  A bit further there is Bushwick- probably what Williamsburg was 30 years ago.We’ve done a street art tour among the warehouses. A bit disappointed by our guide and by the street art which was not really political. Indeed we saw more protestations against Trump back in London in March 2017 than in Bushwick, weird! We’ve also enjoyed the best pizza in Brooklyn- Roberta ! We could eat some everyday easily ! (I’ve discovered Pepperoni Pizza in Philadelphia in 1993 and it was love at first sight ;) )

 

                           

 

Day 3 & 4: South of Central Park, Times Square, Midtown, Top of the Rock, Rockefeller Centre, Grand Central, SHopping on 5th

After a few days walking so many kilometres we’ve decided to see the city from above and we’ve picked Top of the Rock to have views on Central Park and the Empire State Building (something you wouldn't see from the Empire State Building Observatory).

Built by Rockefeller in the 1930’s , the observatory offers amazing views on the city. From there you can see how big and dynamic everything is in NYC! A must-do!

From there we walked in Midtown, Bryant Park, Grand Central and the famous Times Square! Definitely a touristy spot but the lights, the musicals and the crowd make it unforgettable !

We also spent some time window-shopping on the 5th avenue. We couldn't walk 10 metres without seeing an American flag!

Make sure you try the best burger in town: Shake Shack. And make it double please ;)

 

                    

    

Day 5: Harlem and Central Park North

 

On another day of our busy week, we took a trip down memory lane to Harlem. Indeed 8 years ago we spent 7 months living here!  We took another free walk tour to discover how the neighborhood developed over the years and how it became home to the Black power. Originally a Dutch suburb, Harlem as we know it today all started during the 1929 recession when nobody had money anymore and White American started leaving Harlem as it was too expensive. Seeing that they couldn’t fill in the apartments some real estate agencies started renting to Black people (at that time Black people were not able to live in the same suburb as White people…) At the same time a lot of Black Americans moved from south of the USA to NYC and settled down in Harlem as well. The following years, Harlem saw a renaissance with artistic and cultural expression. Unfortunately with NYC deindustrialisation and many crises, poverty peaked.

Home to the Black Power movement lead by Malcolm X, we’ve spent 2 hours following his journey and movement. We’ve also discussed soul music and jazz and the Black American heritage and integration to today’s society. A great afternoon, we can’t recommend more the tour: http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-tours/walking-tours/harlem/

Harlem starting on the 110th street we also walked some time in Upper Central Park and Upper west Side. So impressive to have such a big park in the middle of the city! Perfect to relax, jog, ride your bike, feed the ducks etc !

          

 

Day 6: SoHo, Greenwich Village, Chinatown and Little Italy

 

In the 1870s and 1880s, when industry came into town, wealthy residents of the area flew to the North of Manhattan. Cast-iron buildings were built to erect new factories. Cast iron was used as cheaper than stone or brick and easier to mould. It gives today SoHo its distinct appearance. From the 1910s to 1950s, SoHo’s beautiful buildings housed cheap, wholesale textile companies known as sweatshops (as it was so hot in these Iron buildings) Many factories illegally employed minors and immigrants who just arrived. Due to the deindustrialisation SoHo became an abandoned industrial wasteland and artists moved there to enjoy huge spaces, cheap rents and great lights. Andy Warhol was part of them.

Seeing the potential of this area and beautiful building developers bought buildings and rents increased pushing artists to move to Brooklyn. We loved the area and it's atmosphere !

Close to SoHo is Chinatown and Little Italy. These suburbs coexisted peacefully over 100 years old but Chinatown slowly took over Little Italy. I felt just like in China there. Food, shopping of unknown vegetables, all signs in Mandarin, fish sold on the footpath , biggest Chinatown we ever saw!

 

Finally we headed to Greenwich village. Historically, Greenwich Village was known as a Bohemian Suburb in early 1900’s. Home to avant garde and many political and social movements and especially the LGBT movement. David Bowie moved here when he moved to NYC. I used to spend my Saturday afternoons at the Washington Park in 2009 listening to the many musicians.


  

       

Day 7: Chelsea, Meatpacking district, The High Line

If you have one thing to do in Chelsea it's the High Line (ok 2 things the Chelsea Market as well)

An old train line, the High Line has been converted into a 2.3kms long walk among the building and offer good views on the many streets, yellow taxis, brick houses of Chelsea. Exhausted by our night babysitting our Little cousin, we took a nap away from the busy streets. A must-do!

 

      

  

We’ve loved being back to NYC. Many times we considered looking for jobs and stay there but Cedric would never bear the cold (and it was not even winter yet!). It deserved its name “the City that never sleeps” and we loved the different suburbs so different from each other. We could have spent many more days wandering around the city (and walking walking and walking again!)

Thanks a lot Marc & Elise for hosting us. See you next summer in Europe !

Some Recommendations:

# Jersey City (Grove Street stop on the PATH) is a short 15min metro ride from World Trade Centre area and 20min to Midtown. A really good option if you are on a budget as Airbnbs are cheaper there.

# We’ve picked Top of the Rock over the Empire State Building or One World Observatory to have views on Central Park, the Empire State Building and the Freedom tower, views you won’t get from the other two observatory

# Do not hesitate to walk as there is also something to see in the streets (108kms in 7 days for us!)

# Try Roberta’s pizza in Brooklyn and Shake Shack. Best pizzas and burgers we had during the trip!

# It can be really cold! If you can go during Autumn or Spring

# We did a lot of pay-what-you-want tours with this company: http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-tours/ Best way to know more about the city!            

# Don’t miss the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem

Leave a comment