The complete guide to Shakespeare in the Park in NYC

All the world’s a stage this summer at the time-honored tradition of Shakespeare in the Park in Central Park

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Every summer, the Public Theater produces a beloved NYC democratic tradition and one of the best free things to do in NYC: Shakespeare in the Park, presented at the open-air Delacorte Theater in Central Park. There’s nothing quite like hearing the Bard’s immortal words performed outside in New York, with a backdrop of natural splendor and the Belvedere Castle looming in the background like the world’s most impressive set decoration. But Shakespeare in the Park’s popularity means that tickets aren’t easy to come by. Only the most perseverant will be able to secure seats. Here’s our guide to navigating the system.

What is Shakespeare in the Park?

Created by the late Joseph Papp in 1962, the Public Theater's series offers free, large-scale productions of works by William Shakespeare (as well as the occasional musical or non-Shakespearean drama). The productions often feature some of the most talented actors of our day. Past casts have included including Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Al Pacino, Blythe Danner, Philip Seymour Hoffman, George C. Scott and Denzel Washington.

What is being performed this season?

Othello is playing May 29 through June 24, 2018, in a production directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Twelfth Night is playing July 17 through August 19, 2018, directed by Oskar Eustis and Kwame Kwei-Armah.

When is Shakespeare in the Park?

Shakespeare in the Park runs from May 29 through August 19, 2018. With few exceptions, performances are Tuesday through Sunday at 8pm.

How do I get there?

The easiest way to get to the Delacorte Theater in Central Park is to enter at 81st Street and Central Park West. Take the B or C train to 81st St–Museum of Natural History.

When should I go?

If possible, shoot for the first week of performances—seats are always in greater supply early in the run of a show, before reviews and word of mouth have pushed up demand for tickets. Another good way to increase your odds, paradoxically, is to attend on days when bad weather is predicted. The Public hates canceling Shakespeare in the Park, so the show will go on even if it is drizzling; often, performances will take breaks if it gets too rainy, then resume when the downpour subsides. Open umbrellas are not allowed during performances, so be sure to bring a poncho. (Tickets for rained-out shows are not exchangeable.)

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How can I get tickets?

Check out our handy instructions on how to get free tickets to Shakespeare in the Park.

Are there other productions of Shakespeare in New York parks?

Indeed there are, all over the city. For details, check out our guide to free outdoor theater in the summer.

Venue name: Delacorte Theater

Contact: 

 VISIT WEBSITE

Address: Central Park, enter at Central Park West and 81st St
New York
10023 

Transport: Subway: B, C to 81st St–Museum of Natural History

Price: tickets are free (two per person) and may be picked up after noon on the day of performance. Some tickets are also distributed via online lottery

Event website: http://shakespeareinthepark.org

 

The best pop-up food markets coming to New York City BY DEVIN GANNON

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Although it seems like winter may never end, the opening dates have been released for many of New York City’s seasonal pop-up markets, finally signaling the start of warmer weather. This spring, try standbys like Smorgasburg, Broadway Bites, and the Hester Street Fair. Or check out under-the-radar, but just as tasty, pop-ups like the Red Hook Food Vendors and LIC Flea & Food. To make it easy to taste test the endless options offered up, we’ve put together a list of 11 pop-up food markets coming to the city this season.

Manhattan

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 Broadway Bites
Greeley Square, Midtown

Summer market runs May 2- June 15

Urbanspace NYC operates both public year-round food halls (like Urbanspace Vanderbilt and Urbanspace 570) as well as a few pop-up food markets in Manhattan. Wedged between 32nd and 33rd Street, Broadway Bites opens daily during the summer and fall and includes some of the city’s most beloved vendors. Last season, the pop-up brought Jicama California Street Food, Red Hook Lobster Roll, Domo Taco, and more. While the market squeezes onto a small parcel of land, there is definitely no shortage of high-quality, yummy snacks. The summer market kicks off May 2 and will be open from 11 am to 9 pm.

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 Mad. Sq. Eats
Worth Square, Flatiron District

Spring market runs May 5- June 1

Mad. Sq. Eats, a semi-annual culinary market, will pop up just in front of the Flatiron Building between 24th and 25th Streets starting May 5. Operated in partnership between the Madison Square Park Conservancy and Urbanspace, Mad. Sq. Eats brings classic vendors like Roberta’s and Gotham Poké to the historic neighborhood, as well as impressive newbies. Last fall, flavorful favorites like Chick’n Cone, KBBQ by Korilla, Renegade Vice Parlour and Gumbo Bros set up shop. This spring we’re expecting the same, if not even tastier, goodies. Mad. Sq. Eats operates daily from 11 am to 9 pm.

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 Urbanspace Garment District
Broadway and 40th, Midtown West
Spring market runs June 4- July 13

This spring foodies in Midtown will be able to enjoy Urbanspace’s Garment District pop-up, a market serving up delectable goodies beginning June 4. Last summer, the market, located between 39th and 40th Streets, featured a beer garden as well as well-known vendors like Croton Reservoir Tavern, Coney Shack, La Sonrisa Empanada and more.

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9th Avenue International Food Festival
Ninth Avenue between 42nd Street and 57th Street, Midtown West
May 19 & May 20

Stretching fifteen blocks along Manhattan’s Ninth Avenue, this international food festival calls itself the oldest and largest food market in the city. The two-day only event will feature food from around the world, more than 60 booths of artwork, children’s rides and live performances. This year, vendors will sell jerk chicken, cheese curds, fried Oreos, empanadas, pot stickers and much more. Check out the endless dining options on Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 from 10 am to 6 pm.

 

Brooklyn

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Smorgasburg
90 Kent Ave in Williamsburg and East Drive at Lincoln Road in Prospect Park

Opens March 31 in Williamsburg & April 1 in Prospect Park

As the largest weekly open-air food market in the U.S., Smorgasburg has evolved into a real institution in Brooklyn. With two locations, Williamsburg on Saturdays and Prospect Park on Sundays, the market offers something for all taste buds, with over 100 vendors and plenty of Instagram-worthy dishes. Last season, Smorgasburg welcomed new vendors like Baked Cheese Haus, Ube Kitchen and Destination Dumplings.

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Red Hook Food Vendors
Red Hook Recreation Fields, Red Hook

Runs from the end of April to end of October

Craving authentic Latin American food? Head to the seasonal pop-up run by the Red Hook Food Vendors, a group of Vendy Award-winning food truck chefs and merchants that set up at the ball fields in the Brooklyn neighborhood. As the marketplace’s 44th year of operation, expect perfected traditional dishes like pupusas from El Olomega and horchatas and aquas frescas from Vaquero. At the end of April, the market will open every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm until the end of October.

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Queens International Night Market
New York Hall of Science, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Saturdays, April 21st- Aug 18 and Sept. 29- Oct 27th

Since 2015, the Queens International Night Market has celebrated the borough’s diversity with over 100 independent food and art vendors. Even better, food is capped at $5 or $6. Mouth-watering offerings include pork and duck buns at C Bao, ramly burger from the Malaysian Project and Japanese rice flour crepes from Tswirl. There is also a fenced-in beer and wine garden. Held at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the spring market starts up Saturday, April 21st, from 6 pm to 12 am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manhattan’s population pulse over 24 hours

 By Dana Schulz

 All animations and screenshots courtesy of Justin Fung/ Manhattan Population Explorer

All animations and screenshots courtesy of Justin Fung/Manhattan Population Explorer

There are two million people who reside in Manhattan, but during the workday, thanks to the overwhelming number of commuters, the number of people on the island doubles to four million. This is the highest ratio of daytime-to-nighttime population anywhere in the country. To show how this population pulses over the course of a day, data visualization designer and researcher Justin Fung created the interactive Manhattan Population Explorer. First picked up by Fast Co. Design, the map highlights just how many people fill each city block for 24 hours. The height of crowdedness comes between 12 and 3pm, during which time, unsurprisingly, Midtown and Lower Manhattan show populations nearing 13,000. During the day, these ‘hoods see their populations jump by 10 and four times respectively.

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Justin Fung first became interested in studying Manhattan’s population after Hurricane Sandy. At the time, he was a graduate student at Columbia studying operations research and wondered if such data could help with emergency planning. To gather the estimates for his project, Fung used 2010 Census data, the MTA’s turnstile database, and a population study from NYU Wagner.

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Fung told Fast Co., “When I look the visualization, I do see an organic, breathing being that is the sum of all of us (a ‘beautiful,’ humbling thing)–but one that also brings back a sense of coffee-induced tension from having to experience that firsthand in crowded subway cars. [It’s] probably one of the reasons I moved out to the ocean in Rockaway Beach.”

Try the Manhattan Population Explorer here >>

 

Harlem Eat Up

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Welcome to Harlem EatUp!, a festival offering an exciting sampling of Harlem's sights, flavors and sounds, from artists of the kitchen, canvas, stage and streets. Enjoy Dine In Harlem, an EatUp! signature multi-room dinner party experience, featuring Harlem's hottest restaurants and chefs hosting some of the biggest national culinary stars in their kitchens. Get your eat on as you spend the day Uptown at The Harlem Stroll, where food, art and culture will converge all in the backdrop of one of the neighborhood's most beautiful parks. Watch Harlem and national top chef cooking demos on the EatUp! Main Stage. It's a celebration of culture and good eats you won't want to miss!

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Free Shakespeare In The Park

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OTHELLO

Delacorte Theater

May 29 - June 24

Tony winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Jitney, The Piano Lesson) returns to Shakespeare in the Park to direct a sumptuous new production of OTHELLO. Set amid war and palace intrigue in the 17th-century Mediterranean, this classic drama about a noble Black Venetian general whose marriage is sabotaged by theater’s most infamous villain, Iago, remains Shakespeare’s most urgent and relevant tragedy today. A lush, romantic vision gives way to the violent tangle of love and jealousy, race and revenge in this must-see production of Shakespeare’s great tragedy, OTHELLO.

Join our e-mail list for the latest casting updates and news about Free Shakespeare in the Park.

 

TWELFTH NIGHT

Delacorte Theater

July 17 - August 19

In celebration of five extraordinary years of Public Works, a Public Theater initiative that invites diverse communities across New York to create ambitious works of participatory theater, Free Shakespeare in the Park presents a re-imagining of Public Works’ 2016 musical adaptation of TWELFTH NIGHT for a full five-week run in Central Park. Professional artists and two rotating ensembles of community members from all five boroughs will perform together on the Delacorte stage in this enchanting comedy about Viola (Nikki M. James), a young heroine who washes up on the shores of Illyria, disguises herself as a man, is sent to court a countess, and falls in love with a Duke. Featuring music and lyrics by critically-acclaimed songwriter Shaina Taub, this very special TWELFTH NIGHT is a unique partnership between two Public Theater programs that exemplify The Public’s commitment to radical inclusion. Oskar Eustis, The Public’s Artistic Director, and Kwame Kwei-Armah, incoming Artistic Director of London’s Young Vic, helm this unforgettable musical about love in all its many disguises.

Join our e-mail list for the latest casting updates and news about Free Shakespeare in the Park.

 

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On each public performance date, a limited number of tickets for that night's performance will be distributed via mobile lottery through our digital partner, TodayTix.

FREE TICKETS VIA DIGITAL LOTTERY

Step 1: Download the TodayTix app in the App Store or Google Play Store.
Please note: Lotteries can only be entered from the TodayTix app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

Open the app and scroll down to find Free Shakespeare in the Park. 

Step 2: Enter the lottery for two free tickets.
On the confirmation screen, you may double or triple your odds by sharing your entry via Facebook and Twitter.

Step 3: See If You Won!
Make sure your name and e-mail address are correct and that TodayTix push notifications are turned on, so you can receive confirmation of lottery status. You will be notified if you've won between noon and
2:15pm on the day of the show.  You must confirm your winning tickets in the TodayTix app within 45 minutes of being notified. Winners may begin to pick up their tickets at 5:00 pm at the Delacorte Theater Box Office, but tickets that are not claimed by 7:30pm will be forfeited to the standby line.

You can enter the lottery between
12:00AM and 12:00PM (noon) on the day of each public performance. Each winner will get two (2) tickets to that night’s performance.

FREE TICKETS VIA EMAIL LOTTERY

More information on other digital entry methods will be available at a later date. 

Check out this video on How To Get Free Tickets with helpful tips with Rebecca Naomi Jones. 

Secrets of Your Favorite NYC Landmarks

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Sure, pretty much everyone living in New York City is familiar with Grand Central Station, Central Park and some of our other more notable landmarks, but these well-known locations still hold secrets that even born-and-bred New Yorkers may be surprised to learn. We’ve gathered together just a few to get you started, but in a city this size, with a history this long, there are many more that await your discovery. How many of these secrets were you aware of?

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The New York Public Library: Oh, Give Me a Home…..

Just as the proposed $300 million renovation for the magnificent Beaux-Arts building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street has not been without its share of discord, there was also some controversy at the time of the library’s original construction. Patience and Fortitude, the famous marble African lions standing guard at the main entrance, weren’t particularly popular when they first arrived; Teddy Roosevelt wanted buffalo statues instead. But the lions prevailed – and were unveiled in 1911 at the library’s dedication ceremony.

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Grand Central Station: Can You Hear Me Now?

A whisper is something you’d most likely associate with the aforementioned New York Public Library, not one of the busiest places in all of New York City. But rest assured we’ve got a doozy of a secret for you in a spot you’ve possibly passed through dozens and dozens of times. Most commonly referred to as the Whispering Gallery or Whispering Walls, an area on the way down to the lower concourse, right in front of the Oyster Bar where four Guastavino-tiled archways converge, is the home of a pretty cool sound effect.

You’ll need a friend to check this one out; you each need to stand at opposite ends of the underpass (one of the arches) and face the wall. If one of you speaks into the wall in a normal volume the other will hear what was said with surprising clarity–even though you are about 30 feet apart and in the middle of GCT’s typical hustle and bustle. No one is sure if it was designed that way intentionally, but it’s definitely something to try the next time you’re passing through the terminal.

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Central Park: Is a Hidden GPS an Oxymoron?

Who wouldn’t want to get lost in Central Park, with its winding pathways, lovely bridges, stunning gardens and of course that wonderful lake? It’s no wonder it’s the most visited urban park in the United States. With all those visitors someone is bound to take a wrong turn every now and again. If that someone happens to be you, then rest assured this next secret will come in handy: The park has a built-in GPS–of sorts.

Simply make your way to one of its 1,600 lamp posts and you will find a secret code that will set you in the right direction. According to Roadtrippers.com, “on each post there are four numbers, which are indicators for the street nearest the post and whether you’re on the east side or west side. The first two numbers are the street and the second set of numbers will either be even or odd (even numbers indicate east, and odd numbers indicate west).” For those of you who need a little more detail, the city has been adding metal plaques that provide the name of the cross streets as well, though we prefer the less obvious DaVinci code method.

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The Empire State Building: This is For the Birds

Last month the city council weighed an energy-saving bill aimed at reducing the city’s environmental footprint by requiring commercial buildings to limit internal and external light use when empty at night. While it remains to be seen whether the measure will be put into effect, many skyscrapers like the Empire State Building have been turning off their lights for years, not to save energy but to save birds. New York City Audubon is behind the dimming, which occurs at midnight during migration season to prevent birds from crashing into the buildings. The Audubon executive director told Untapped, “The birds are drawn in by the glow of the city and are unable to see the miles of concrete and glass stretching into the sky.” Believe it or not, about 90,000 birds were killed in this manner during the course of only two migration seasons.

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The Bronx Zoo: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

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The Bronx Zoo: Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Italian artists and sculptors like Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Botticelli have produced some of the world’s greatest artistic treasures–but a lesser-known sculptor unintentionally wound up giving the Bronx Zoo one of its own, the Rockefeller Fountain. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors admire the beautiful three-tiered marble fountain, decorated with sea horses, dolphins, caryatids, mermaids, mermen and a swan. And the reason they are able to do so? Italians found the fountain, which was built by Biagio Catella in 1872 and originally stood in the Piazza Cavour in Como, Italy, unappealing. Truth be told, pretty much everyone there hated it. So off it went to a salvage yard until William Rockefeller rescued it in 1902 and graciously donated it to the zoo. Declared a landmark in 1968, the fountain now presides gloriously over the center of the Bronx Zoo’s Rainey Gate Concourse.

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St Patrick’s Cathedral: What Lurks Beneath

 

St Patrick’s Cathedral: What Lurks Beneath

One of the most recognizable buildings in the city, its tall spires and ornate façade have recently been restored to their original magnificence. And the inside is just as breathtaking. But beneath all that splendor you will find eerily beautiful crypts–enclosed tombs made with brick and cement that bear the remains of prominent industry leaders from the 18th and 19thcenturies such as General Thomas Eckert, Pierre Toussaint and Countess Annie Leary. In addition, the Archbishops of New York are buried in a crypt under the high altar and their honorary hats, called galeros, hang from the ceiling over their tombs.

Welcome to Harlem EatUp!

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Welcome to Harlem EatUp!, a festival offering an exciting sampling of Harlem's sights, flavors and sounds, from artists of the kitchen, canvas, stage and streets. Enjoy Dine In Harlem, an EatUp! signature multi-room dinner party experience, featuring Harlem's hottest restaurants and chefs hosting some of the biggest national culinary stars in their kitchens. Get your eat on as you spend the day Uptown at The Harlem Stroll, where food, art and culture will converge all in the backdrop of one of the neighborhood's most beautiful parks. Watch Harlem and national top chef cooking demos on the EatUp! Main Stage. It's a celebration of culture and good eats you won't want to miss!

May 14 -20, 2018  4TH Annual Harlem Eatup! Festival

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NEW YORK -- 

Harlem EatUp! is back, and tickets are now on sale for the fourth annual festival! Co-founders Marcus Samuelsson and Herb Karlitz are pleased to announce a full slate of events, with tickets ranging from free and pay-as-you-go to ticketed "Dine In" dinners.
Tickets and complete information can be found on harlemeatup.com.
Below is much more information about the festival from its organizers.

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"Harlem EatUp! combines the spirit of a block party and a family reunion where everyone is invited," says co-founder Marcus Samuelsson." "We created Harlem EatUp! to celebrate what makes this the most vibrant neighborhood in New York City, from food and drink to music and culture," says co-founder Herb Karlitz.
This year's Dine In Harlem dinner series will again showcase local and guest chef culinary mash-ups at some of Harlem's most beloved restaurants, featuring menus paired with wines from Bordeaux. Harlem EatUp! will also include the annual Harlem EatUp! Luminary Award Dinner honoring Dapper Dan & Bevy Smith. New to the HarlemEatUp!
line-up is a free, early-morning yoga session, Mantras, Mimosas & Bellinis, presented by Caviacchioli 1928 and featuring Harlem's own Land Yoga and DJ Taela. Guests can meditate to a funky beat and enjoy delicious Prosecco cocktails.
The festival will also showcase The Harlem Stroll, a two-day outdoor event at Morningside Park, one of the neighborhood's most celebrated parks, consisting of the Ultimate Grand Tasting (ticketed), and the Harlem Marketplace (free admission). Harlem restaurants and culinary stars will welcome their peers from New York City and across the country for a delicious, dynamic and memorable week. Citi is the preferred card of Harlem EatUp!
"Harlem is one of the most vibrant, culturally diverse and delicious communities in the country," says Andrew Zimmern. "I can't wait to cook alongside some of the neighborhood's pioneers and most iconic culinary voices, including the inimitable Melba Wilson, and eat my way around the globe without leaving the island of Manhattan."
This year's Harlem EatUp! line-up includes: Yvette Leeper-Bueno (VINATERlA); Carlos Swepson (BLVD Bistro); Karl Franz Williams (Solomon & Kuff Rum Hall); Melba Wilson (Melba's); Leticia "Skai" Young & Chef Raymond Zamanta Mohan (LoLo's Seafood Shack); as well as Janine Booth & Jeff McInnis (Root & Bone); Laila Ali (cookbook author); Daniel Boulud (Restaurant Daniel); Josh Capon (Mercer Street Hospitality); Floyd Cardoz (Top Chef Masters winner, Bombay Bread Bar); Maneet Chauhan (CHOPPED judge); Dapper Dan (Dapper Dan's Boutique); Leah Cohen (Pig & Khao); Jose Garces (Ortzi); Stephanie Izard (Girl & The Goat, Chicago); Bevy Smith (SiriusXM Radio Andy); Jacques Torres (Jacques Torres Chocolates); Jernard Wells (The Chef of Love); Jarobi White (chef and founding member, A Tribe Called Quest); Andrew Zimmern (TV personality and author); and more.
Among the many restaurants to be featured this year include: BLVD Bistro, Chaiwali, Clay, Ginny's Supper Club, Harlem Shake, Harlem Tavern, Lady Lexis Sweets, LoLo's Seafood Shack, Melba's, Settepani, SpaHa Soul, Tastings Social presents Mountain Bird, The Edge Harlem, and more. Participating local vendors from the Harlem Park to Park Local Vendors Program and Harlem Business Alliance include Aromas Boutique Bakery, Clean Plate Co., Essie Spice, Limation Beverages, Mama's One Sauce, The Egg Roll Queen, The Little Hot Dog Wagon as well as Uptown Grand Central (NHEMA) and East Harlem Community Alliance members AFineLyne, Sprinkle Splash, Uptown Roasters and more.
As part of its mission and dedication to Harlem, net proceeds from the festival will be donated to Harlem Park to Park, Citymeals on Wheels and Historic Harlem Parks, and will be disbursed by the Harlem EatUp! Foundation, whose mission is to strengthen the community by supporting the people, cultures and non-profit organizations that empower Harlem. Harlem EatUp! is a celebration of Harlem's rich and rapidly expanding culinary, culture and art communities.
For a list of all free and ticketed events, please visit  www.HarlemEatUp.com. Additional festival programming announcements will be made throughout the spring.

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DINE IN HARLEM DINNER SERIES
Guest chefs from New York and around the world will be taking part in the "Dine in Harlem" dinner series. Each Dine In will offer a collaborative, multi-course culinary experience featuring a breadth of cuisine, from Northern Italian to Southern soul. Each course will be paired with wine from the Bordeaux Wine Council, beer
and cocktails. Dynamic performances from Harlem artists will round out the experience.
Tickets for the various events in the series are priced individually, available via www.harlemeatup.com.
The schedule includes:


Wednesday, May 16: Chef Gustavo Lopez of Clay (553 Manhattan Avenue at 123rd Street) with guest chef Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao
New to the Harlem food scene, Clay is serving seasonal, locally sourced food in a modern and monastic space that was formerly Harlem's Perks Jazz Club. Chef and co-owner Gustavo Lopez
welcomes chef Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao and Piggyback Bar into his kitchen for a Spanish-Italian-Southeast Asian collaborative menu.


Wednesday, May 16: Chef Melba Wilson of Melba's (300 West 114th Street (114th Street and F. Douglass Blvd) with guest chef Andrew Zimmern
Melba Wilson, who was "born, bred and buttered in Harlem" hosts Andrew Zimmern of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods to throw down in the kitchen at Melba's. This Dine In promises to offer delicious and unconventional comfort food... with a party that only Melba's throws. Bring your dancing shoes!


Wednesday, May 16: Chefs Nino Settepani & Leah Abraham of Settepani (196 Lenox Avenue, New York (at 120th Street) with guest chef Floyd Cardoz of Bombay Bread Bar
Two originals walk into a kitchen... one from the Lenox Avenue contemporary Harlem food scene, the other a legendary Indian-American chef. Settepani owners, chef Nino Settepani and Leah Abraham, welcome chef Floyd Cardoz of newly opened Bombay Bread Bar into their Northern Italian kitchen. Come taste what happens when these dynamic cultures collaborate!


Wednesday, May 16: Host Karl Franz Williams, owner & chef Christopher Faulkner of Solomon & Kuff Rum Hall (2331 12th Avenue at 133rd Street) with guest chef Maxcel Hardy of Detroit's River Bistro
The West Indies meets West Detroit at this Dine In when Solomon & Kuff Rum Hall owner Karl Franz Williams welcomes Motor City's finest, chef Max Hardy of River Bistro. Together with S&K chef Christopher Faulkner, the evening promises to deliver a pan-Caribbean soul-food-filled meal. It might be "so cold in the D," but it will be red hot in Harlem!


Wednesday, May 16: Hosts, Chef Carlos Swepson & Markisha Swepson of BLVD Bistro (239 Lenox Avenue at 122nd Street) with guest Chef Maneet Chauhan, CHOPPED Judge
If you are a fan of Food Network's Chopped and wondered what it would be like to meet a judge AND taste their food, this Dine In at Harlem's BLVD Bistro is your jam. Owners Carlos and Markisha Swepson are hosting Nashville chef Maneet Chauhan at their intimate brownstone soul food eatery. No need to yell, "get it on the plate!" These chefs promise that each dish will show up just right!


Thursday, May 17: Chef Jelena Pasic of Harlem Shake - East Harlem (2162 Second Avenue at 111th Street) with guest chef Josh Capon, Mercer Street Hospitality
Harlem EatUp! Grand Tasting favorite Harlem Shake joins the Dine In series for the first time at the East Harlem location. Owner Jelena Pasic welcomes guest chef Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar and Bowery Meat Company to create a classic all-American menu, with that Harlem twist!


Thursday, May 17: Host Leticia "Skai" Young & Chef Raymond Zamanta Mohan of LoLo's Seafood Shack (303 W. 116th Street between F. Douglass Blvd. & Manhattan Avenue) with guest chefs Janine Booth & Jeff McInnis, Root & Bone
It's couples night in the kitchen when LoLo's Seafood Shack owners Leticia "Skai" Young and chef Raymond Zamata Mohan host chefs Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis of Root & Bone. This foursome will be talking shop and creating a menu fit for everyone from the northeast to the south to the Caribbean.


Thursday, May 17: Host Yvette Leeper-Bueno of VINATERlA (2211 Frederick Douglass Blvd. at 119th Street) with guest chef Stephanie Izard, Girl & The Goat
Vinatería is the only
Dine In restaurant to have participated every year of Harlem EatUp! This year, proprietor Yvette Leeper-Bueno blends her Italian-Spanish perspective with that of Top Chef winner, chef Stephanie Izard of Girl & The Goat in Chicago. Together they will create an experience filled with bold, globally influenced food and the je ne c'est quoi of Vinatería that we can't get enough of! Salud! Saluti! Cheers!-*-

And there's more Harlem Eatup! fund to be had, including:

 
HARLEM
EATUP! LUMINARY AWARD DINNER
On Thursday, May 17, join host chef Marcus Samuelsson with guest chefs Adrienne Cheatham (Sunday Best Pop-up and season 15's
runner up on Bravo's "Top Chef") and Geoffrey Zakarian (The Lamb's Club), for the third annual Harlem EatUP! Luminary Award Dinner at Ginny's Supper Club honoring legendary fashion designer Dapper Dan of Dapper Dan's Boutique and Bevy Smith, host of SiriusXM Radio Andy. The Luminary Award was established to recognize
and thank distinguished culinary, arts or cultural leaders in the Harlem community.
Ginny's Supper Club (310 Lenox Avenue, between 125 & 126 Streets) will host this intimate and magical celebratory dinner. Tickets are $250 per person and available at www.harlemeatup.com.

FREE YOGA IN MORNINGSIDE PARK
Enjoy a morning of yoga, mantras
and Prosecco, presented by Cavicchioli Prosecco 1928 and Land Yoga, at HEU's first-ever Mantras, Mimosas & Bellinis on Friday, May 18. Start the day with an energetic class in Morningside Park led by Harlem's own Lara Land of Land Yoga and accompanied by a guest DJ Taela. Mimosas and Bellinis created with Cavicchioli 1928 will be served throughout. This event is free and open to the public but pre-registration is required at www.harlemeatup.com. Limited capacity and all guests must be 21 years or older.

THE HARLEM STROLL featuring the Marketplace & EatUp! Performance Stage + the Ultimate Grand Tasting
Experience the best of Harlem in one place at The Harlem Stroll on Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20. This outdoor event brings together a wonderful sampling of the sights, flavors
and sounds of Harlem from artists of the kitchen, canvas and stage. On Saturday, May 19, The Harlem Stroll is presented by Citi.

The Harlem Stroll offers the following:
The Marketplace (Free Admission with pay-as-you-go options) features an a la carte selection of food from notable Harlem restaurants, food vendors, a wine and beer garden and the EatUp! Main Stage presented by Macy's, where you can catch local and visiting chefs cooking up live demos, as well as performances from musicians; and a Kids Zone presented by Whole Foods offering fun and games for the family.
Attendees will have the option of purchasing a Marketplace Package for $25 (a $30 value) good for food and beverages
purchases at the Marketplace. The Marketplace Package is available for purchase onsite and does not give guest entry to the Ultimate Grand Tasting. Food and beverages are subject to availability.

The EatUp! Main Stage presented by Macy's: 
Join an eclectic and acclaimed group of culinary and musical artists for interactive demos on the EatUp! Main Stage presented by Macy's, located in the Marketplace (free admission) at Morningside Park, including: Leticia "Skai" Young & chef Raymond Zamanta Mohan (Lolo's Seafood Shack) with guest chef Jose Garces (
Ortzi); chef Darryl Burnette (Belle Harlem) with guest chef Stephanie Izard (Girl & The Goat); Melba Wilson (Melba's) with guest chef Jacques Torres (Jacques Torres Chocolates) on Saturday, May 19. On Sunday, May 20, catch demos from: Jernard Wells (The Chef of Love) and Melba Wilson (Melba's); Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster Harlem, Ginny's Supper Club) with Jarobi White (chef and member of A Tribe Called Quest); and Adrienne Cheatham (Sunday Best Pop-up) with cookbook author Laila Ali.
And, the Ultimate Grand Tasting (Ticketed $85-$110) is a taste-around of over 20 of Harlem's favorite restaurants accompanied by an assortment of fine wines, beers
and cocktails, in an all-you-can-eat format. 21+ years required to enter.
The Harlem Stroll is located at Morningside Park (112 Street & Manhattan Avenue). General admission runs 12:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Citi offers early access at 12:00 noon each day exclusively for Citi cardmembers and one adult guest. Guests must have admission tickets to enter the Ultimate Grand Tasting at the Harlem Stroll. 21+ years required to enter The Ultimate Grand Tasting.

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For a list of all free and ticketed events, please visit HarlemEatUp.com. Additional festival programming announcements will be made throughout the spring.

 

A Speakeasy Hides Behind This Upper East Side Ice Cream Shop, the UES

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If you took a stroll on 2nd Avenue in the Upper East Side, the bright pink storefront decorated with a neon ice cream cone would naturally catch your eye. However, the UES on 1707 2nd Avenue isn’t your typical scoop shop: this ice cream parlor doubles as a speakeasy.

Hidden behind a door covered by 180 empty ice cream cartons is “Storage,” a secret bar inspired by ones found during the Prohibition era. The atmosphere of the shop quickly changes as you leave the cheerful scoop shop and enter the dimly lit and trendy Storage Room.

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“I wanted to open a Speakeasy on the Upper East Side because we don’t have anything like that up here,” said Cortney Bond, the owner of the shop. “This was exactly what the Upper East Side needed — we needed a new, hip bar and we needed good ice cream.”

Her predictions weren’t wrong: in just two days after opening this past fall, the shop sold out of ice cream completely. Even with absolutely no marketing or press in the first couple months, the UES Scoop Shop quickly became a neighborhood hot spot. With fun and delicious ice cream flavors including banana brownie, salted caramel, and peanut butter mudslide, it’s not really a surprise that the shop took off quickly.

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Staying true to the roots of a traditional speakeasy, the knowledge of what was hidden behind the ice cream carton door remained largely a secret. “I was inspired by the prohibition era when creating my shop, I wanted it to gain popularity through strictly word of mouth when we first opened,” said Bond. “When people would ask if we had a speakeasy, we would deny it. The only way into the speakeasy was when customers asked if they could see the Storage Room.”

In addition to the unique flavors at the scoop shop, the bar also offers unique cocktails with names inspired by the UES, like the “2nd Avenue Subway,” “1040 Fifth Avenue (Jackie O’s famous address),” “Meet Me at the Met,” and “the Devil Wears Prada.” Each drink is designed and decorated to emulate the name. Some of its offerings even come with an additional treat to go with the drink. For example, the “El Lado Este Superior” is made with stolen spiced rum, fresh lemongrass stems, Kaffir lime leaves, housemade Galangal honey, strained through heat activated cigar leaves and poured over a coconut oil & turmeric powder washed ice cube. The drink is served in a cigar box with a chocolate cigar.

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Another popular cocktail offered includes “the Lenox,” which includes beef jerky washed redemption rye, roasted cocoa black dirt Applejack, mint jelly, choya, housemade brown mustard honey served with smoked jerky.

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Then there’s the “Community Board 8,” which features pig’s nose peated scotch whiskey infused with pine resin tears, braulio amaro, smoked “pine-apple” juice, housemade juniper & rosemary honey, apple jalapeno jam, lemon, Q Ginger beer served with SoCo blood orange sorbet in a bamboo cone. And for those with a sweet tooth, the UES offers “UES is Happy To Serve You,” made with four roses bourbon, chocolate lab chocolate wine, luxardo maraschino liqueur, campari, orange bitters topped with a warm coconut crema and beet root powder.

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The-UES-Upper-East-Side-Ice-Cream-Speakeasy-NYC-Untapped-Cities-Alyssa-Ciardi1.jpg

Following the trend of other speakeasies around the city, the UES has a semi-strict dress code, banning athletic wear, hats and sneakers. This doesn’t deter the wide range of visitors it gets on a regular basis.

“On any given night, we have an older business man enjoying wine or a group of young college girls enjoying a girls night out,” said Bond. “Who doesn’t love cocktails and ice cream? We offer something fun to do for all ages.”

While the neighborhood still remains largely residential and is often dubbed “the suburbs of New York City,” small businesses located on the UES are currently trying to disprove the myth that there’s nothing fun to do uptown.

“So many people forget that the Upper East Side can be just as cool as downtown, small businesses up here are helping generate more business in the neighborhood,” said Bond. “I opened the shop because I wanted the UES to flourish and change the fabric of the community. I want the UES to be something really cool that everyone can enjoy.”

 

The Real MTA map shows only the subway lines that are currently functioning

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There’s been a lot of recent attention about the deterioration of the New York City subway, both in ridership and service. And, in the past, the subway map has done little more than inspire some cool art. Real-time information that could be very useful to riders, like a major delay or line shutdown, is only accessible “live” once you have already swiped your card and arrived on the subway platform. What good is it then? Now, thanks to web developer Eric Markfield, from Unfounded Labs, the Real MTA map, “a realistic subway map,” provides an up-to-the-minute, visual representation of any delays, service changes or planned work.

 

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Any line that is experiencing delays disappears from the map. A clickable side panel links to an official MTA status report that details the problem.

Speaking to his inspiration, Markfield said, “As a New Yorker, I experienced the usual subway frustrations mounting in the recent years. I figured, I’m a web developer and the MTA publishes this open data and although there are good apps out there, I wanted to do something simple, playful and instantly understandable to give an idea what would the subway would look like if it would really working.”

Markfield points out that there are often many ways from point A to point B in NYC. He believes many others would follow his lead and be happier to find an alternate route if it makes for an easier commute. “I’m happy to go out of my way to have a more pleasant subway experience. I don’t mind adding 10 minutes to my ride, walking a little more, or riding a Citibike to another stop, to avoid being so crammed.”

Only live a few days, Markfield says the response has been great. “It really validates people’s frustrations. It’s part commentary and part tool.”

When asked, Markfield was open to the suggestion to expand the map encouraging rider input, a la Waze, and report other subway issues like stops with good live music or flooded stations.

Explore the map here >>

As of today, the Met will start charging non-New Yorkers $25 for admission

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At the beginning of the year, the Met announced that it would begin charging non-New Yorkers (i.e. those without a state ID) $25 for admission, waiving its pay-what-you-wish policy that had been in effect since 1970. And as of today, that policy is officially being implemented through signs at all entrances, 14 new kiosks in the Great Hall, roaming museum staff with iPads, and a brochure that explains the new fee system, reports the Times.


When the Met put its pay-as-you-wish policy into effect nearly 50 years ago, it was one of the very few museums to do so. However, Daniel Weiss, president and chief executive officer of the Met, said that the new policy is necessary because “people assume that The Met is free when, in fact, it depends on the support of its visitors to open its doors every day.” To that end, over the last 13 years, despite attendance growing from 4.7 to 7 million, those who pay the “suggested” donation has dropped from 63 to just 17 percent. And the average person contributed between $9 and $16, still less than the suggestion. Admission currently makes up 14 percent, or $43 million, of the Met’s $305 million annual operating budget, but the new policy which the Met estimates will impact 31 percent of visitors, will increase that amount to roughly $49 million a year.

The new policy has faced its fair share of disapproval. In fact, shortly after the announcement, a petition went live to keep the museum free for all. It currently has 27,655 of its 30,000 signature goal. Artist Ai Weiwei likened it to “taking the jacket off a poor person.” He said, “I will never go to the Metropolitan. Am I calling for a boycott? No. But I myself will not go.” Chicago-based artist and architect Amanda Williams agreed: “What are we valuing in this difficult political and economic moment? And for young people, especially little black and brown bodies, they are receiving more and more messages that they don’t belong.”

But nonetheless, the Met remains committed to the fact that the change is necessary for its future survival. So far, more than 20,000 Met employees, from the main 5th Avenue location, the Cloisters in Washington Heights, and the Met Breuer, have been trained in “customer service techniques as well as communications and technical issues” as related to the new policy. The new ticket will be good for three days at any of the three locations. Students with a valid ID from a university in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut will still be able to pay what they wish. Students from elsewhere will be charged $12 and seniors $17.

You can now stream more than 30,000 movies from the NYPL for free

By David Goldberg

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Besides serving free literature and gorgeous architecture, the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library are about to give you even more gratis culture. 

Starting today, you can use your library card to create a free login for the Kanopy film database, which features more than 30,000 films, including the bastion of critically-acclaimed films, the Criterion Collection. You'll be able to take out ten movies at a time, with three days to view each. 

Check out some of our picks for the best movies of all time, including A Woman Under the influence, La Haine and more. Finally, you can "Criterion and Chill" without going broke. 

You can get a library card here, and check out Kanopy's selection here

 

Subway stations on the Upper West Side to temporarily close this spring

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Thousands of straphangers on the Upper West Side and Astoria will have to rethink their daily commutes come spring, as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans on closing some stations for up to six months for repairs and upgrades. The station makeovers fall under the MTA’s Enhanced Station Initiative, a plan to improve the reliability and customer experience inside the subway system. Planned enhancements include installing digital countdown clocks at subway entrances, glass barriers, LED lighting and adorning station walls with artwork.

 Rendering of upgraded 110th Street platform via MTA

Rendering of upgraded 110th Street platform via MTA

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In Manhattan, stations at 110th, 86th and 72nd Streets on the B and C lines will close starting in April until September or October. Although more than 30,000 passengers use these stations daily, the MTA has not released a plan to mitigate the effects of the closures.

And all B-C stations between 59th and 125th Streets will be closed on 18 weekends and 40 weeknights. According to the West Side Rag, the MTA will place vinyl signs about the service updates in the stations about two or three weeks before the closure.

The Astoria- Ditmars Boulevard station will undergo a 14-month revamp beginning in April, adding to the number of subways undergoing major construction in the neighborhood. The N and W line at 30th Avenue and 36th Avenue stations have been closed since October for mostly cosmetic fixes, but will wrap up this summer (h/t Curbed NY). Later this year, Broadway and 39th Avenue stations will totally close for renovations. The upgrades to the four Astoria lines will cost $150 million.

Council Member Costa Constantinides, who represents the Queens neighborhood, has objected to the station upgrades at Ditmars Boulevard because the MTA has plans for cosmetic changes only, instead of adding a much-needed elevator to the station. Earlier this month, Constantinides rallied with other public officials, local business owners and community leaders against the planned construction. An online petition is currently being circulated, demanding better accessibility.

In January, the MTA board delayed a vote on construction contracts to renovate two stations in the Bronx and six in Manhattan after a member, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, objected. During the meeting, some members questioned why so much money was being put towards unnecessary, cosmetic improvements at stations that are in decent condition already, instead of funding signal and track repairs.

 A rendering of the revamped 110th St. subway entrance.   Via MTA.

A rendering of the revamped 110th St. subway entrance.

 Via MTA.

Three Upper West Side subway stations and one Washington Heights station will close in the coming months for repairs as part of the MTA’s Enhanced Station Initiative, which was first announced two years ago. The West Side Rag first learned of the upcoming repair work at a Community Board 7 transportation committee meeting last week.

The stations in question are the 110th, 86th, and 72nd Street stations on the B and C lines, and the 163rd Street station on the C line. The first to shutter will be the Washington Heights one, which will close on March 12, 2018, and is expected to reopen sometime in September. 

The 110th Street station will close on April 9, and reopen sometime in September as well; the 72nd Street station will close on May 7, and the 86th Street station on June 4, and both will reopen sometime in October.

Though the repairs will vary slightly at each station, they will include waterproofing, repairs to the floors and walls, the installation of countdown clocks, illuminated handrails, LED lighting, Wi-Fi, and Help Points, among other features.

The enhanced station initiative has previously come under fire from the de Blasio administration, which feels it is a vanity project especially when the subway is in the midst of a crisis. Assembly member Daniel O’Donnell, added his voice to the criticism telling the West Side Rag that “the idea that purely aesthetic modifications will close three important stations is an outrage,” referring specifically to the Upper West Side stations.

 

Though in the case of these latest set of repairs, issues like waterproofing are also part of the mix. What’s less clear right now however are alternate modes of transportation; an MTA representative at the meeting is reported to have said that commuters would likely use buses or other subway lines, according to the West Side Rag, but no announcements have been just yet about increases service on the nearby 1,2,3 lines.

20 underground and secret NYC attractions you need to check out

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While visiting the major, most popular attractions of New York City can be fun, it can also be stressful, overwhelming and full of selfie-taking tourists. However, the great thing about the Big Apple is that plenty of other attractions exist that are far less known or even hidden in plain sight. To go beyond the tourist-filled sites and tour the city like you’re seeing it for the very first time, check out 6sqft’s list ahead of the 20 best underground, secret spots in New York City.

 Doyers Street in 1909 via  RK Chin

Doyers Street in 1909 via RK Chin

 Photos via the  Downtown Project  (r) and  Vanishing New York  (l)

Photos via the Downtown Project (r) and Vanishing New York (l)

1. The Doyers Street Tunnel a.k.a the “Bloody Angle”

At the turn of the century, Chinatown was made up of many alleyways used for gambling, smuggling, and quick getaways. Found between Pell and Mott Streets, the sharp curve of Doyers Street became known as the “Bloody Angle” in 1905 because of the gangs that lay waiting in the street that bent at a nearly 90-degree angle. Two major factions battling for control of Chinatown included the Hip Sing Tong and On Leong Tong. Literally stained red during its most violent years, the 200-foot long street is considered one of the most violent in American history. Because of the street’s shape, gangsters carrying hatchets would wait around one side of the Bloody Angle until their victims turned the corner. Some say this is where the term “hatchet man” originated.

While part of the tunnel is gone now, the half that travels through Chatham Square can still be visited. At the southwestern counter of the alley, is the Chinatown landmark Nam Wah Tea Parlor, the first business to bring Dim Sum to New York in 1920.

 Photo courtesy of  Jason Eppink’s Flickr

Photo courtesy of Jason Eppink’s Flickr

2. Dead Horse Bay

Located between the Marine Park and Jamaica Bay in southern Brooklyn sits a 20th-century landfill known as Dead Horse Bay. Detached from the rest of New York City, the bay is covered with thousands of broken bottles, shards of glass, and other indecomposable remains. The bay first got its name in the 1850s when horse-rendering plants still surrounded the beach. From the 1850s until the 1930s, dead horse carcasses and other animals from NYC streets were used to manufacture glue, fertilizer, and other products at the site. As more people started driving cars more than horse and buggies, the marsh was turned into a landfill. Completely filled with trash by the 1930s, the piled had to be capped. Then, in the 1950s, the cap burst and the trash leaked onto the beach and continues to do so today. While not exactly a scenic harbor trip, visitors of Dead Horse Bay will leave with treasures of New York’s past, some even 100 years old.

 Photo via Wiki Commons

Photo via Wiki Commons

3. Radio City’s secret apartment

Radio City Music Hall, which opened in 1932, is a New York City icon home to the famous Rockettes. Designed by architect Edward Durrell Stone and interior designer Donald Deskey, Radio City is known for its Art Deco decor, luxurious drapes, gold leaf and incredible murals. While millions have visited the music hall since it opened, many do not realize there is a secret apartment, built for Samuel “Roxy” Rothafel, an entrepreneur who owned some of the first successful theaters in Times Square.

Roxy helped Radio City produce ground breaking shows and introduced synchronized orchestral scores to silent films. To thank him for his magic touch, Stone and Deskey gave Roxy a present, found high inside Radio City: A lavish Art Deco-style apartment with 20-foot high ceilings covered in gold leaf. Roxy used to wine and dine celebrities like Olivia de Havilland and Alfred Hitchcock. No one has lived in the apartment since Roxy died in the apartment in 1936. However, the room, now known as the Roxy Suites still features its original furniture and fixtures and can only be rented out for the most luxurious events.

4. Roosevelt Island’s Small Pox Hospital & Cat Sanctuary

In the middle of the East River between Manhattan and Queens sits Roosevelt Island, known for its tram that takes you between the island and Manhattan. However, the land, formerly known as Blackwell’s Island, has a bit of a spooky history. As a way to quarantine people with smallpox from the rest of the city, a hospital was built in 1856 on the island to treat them.

Designed by James Renwick Jr., known for designing St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Madison Avenue, the hospital featured a Gothic Revival style. From 1856 to 1875, the Renwick Hospital treated roughly 7,000 patients per year. In 1875, the building was turned into a nurses’ dormitory and the smallpox hospital was moved to North Brothers Island. The hospital left behind quickly became useless and was abandoned by the city in the 1950s. In 1975, the Landmarks Preservation Commission declared it a city landmark and reinforced the walls. While there are rumors of ghosts evading the ruins, the only creatures taking over include a group of stray cats. Indeed, the site has become something of a feline sanctuary.

 Photo via  narcissistic tendencies  flickr CC 

Photo via narcissistic tendencies flickr CC 

5. The Freedom Tunnel

The Freedom Tunnel, which runs three miles under Riverside Park from West 72nd to West 122nd Streets, was first built by Robert Moses in the 1930s to expand park space for Upper West Side residents. It was used for freight trains until 1980 when its operations stopped and the tunnel became a haven for homeless New Yorkers and graffiti artists. Artist Chris “Freedom” Pape first came to the tunnel in 1974 and started spraying painting artwork throughout.

In 1991, Amtrak reopened the tunnel which led to a mass displacement of hundreds of people that lived there. The shantytowns were bulldozed and the tunnel was no longer accessible. Still, Pape continued his work. His final work was a comic book-style mural, called “Buy American,” in honor of the homeless New Yorkers who lived in the tunnel. It became such an attraction for those curious about the city below them that Amtrak painted over the mural in 2009. While not all of his artwork survived, Pape’s “Venus de Milo” and “Coca-Cola Mural” can be seen today.

For those hoping to get a deeper look into the graffiti culture of New York City, it’s possible but somewhat dangerous to get to the Freedom Tunnel. The tunnel continues to be used by Amtrak, so explorers must stay alert. Find the tunnel’s entrance by taking the subway to 125th Street, slipping through a gap between a fence and following the tracks until reaching the tunnel.

 Photo via  Dia Art Foundation

6. The New York Earth Room

It’s hard to believe 280,000 pounds of soil hides in a random New York room. But that’s exactly what can be found at 141 Wooster Street in a spacious Soho loft. The art installation, known as the “New York Earth Room,” was created by Walter De Maria in 1977 and the same dirt the artist installed 35 years ago remains today. The Earth room contains a 22-inch deep layer of dirt spread across the 3,600-square-foot gallery. Originally meant to be displayed for just three months, the Dia Art Foundation supported it permanently beginning in 1980.

 Image © Emily Nonko for 6sqft

Image © Emily Nonko for 6sqft

7. Track 61 under Grand Central

Hidden in the depths of Grand Central is a secret train platform used by presidents to escape the public and enter the Waldorf Astoria Hotel without anyone seeing them. Known as Track 61, the private railway was first used by General John J. Pershing in 1938 and later in 1944 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who did not want the public to see he was confined to a wheelchair after contracting Polio at age 39. FDR would travel in a train car covered in thick steel and bulletproof glass, with his Pierce Arrow limousine in tow. When the train arrived at Track 61, both the president and his limo were lifted into the freight elevator.

While the hidden track stopped being used in the 1960s and 1970s, some believe Andy Warhol snuck down to the railway to host an underground party. By the 1980s, the abandoned track became home to many squatters. While the station now consists of mostly grime and soot, an antique train car remains parked there. No public tours of Track 61 currently are available, but those trained to be docents of Grand Central are known to be offered tours.

 Photo courtesy of  Marvel Architects

Photo courtesy of Marvel Architects

8. The Elevated Acre in FiDi

Discreetly tucked away between two office buildings at 55 Water Street in the Financial District, there is a secret, elevated plaza. While the public plaza was completed in the 1970s, the current design wrapped up in 2005 by Rogers Marvel Architects. The hidden meadow features lots of gardens and plants, elevated high above the bustling streets of FiDi. Those sly enough to discover the plaza can benefit from an amphitheater, beer garden and sweeping views of the East River. The plaza can be reserved to host private events and programs, or simply be used as a peaceful lunch break spot.

 Image © Diane Pham

Image © Diane Pham

9. Brooklyn Heights’ hidden subway ventilator

Walking through Brooklyn Heights and admiring the historic, beautiful brownstones can be a fun and relaxing way to spend an afternoon. But, while on that Sunday stroll, head to 58 Joralemon Street. This home looks like the all the rest; the big difference is that no one lives inside. The building is a decoy used to hide a subway ventilator and an emergency exit. The Brooklyn Heights home was used as a private residence in 1847, but was later converted into a ventilation building and emergency exit during the extension of the subway from Bowling Green in Manhattan to Borough Hall in Brooklyn which opened in 1908. In order to curb curious explorers, the NYPD is said to have heightened some security measures near the home.

 Photo via  Wikipedia

Photo via Wikipedia

10. Mysterious Toynbee tiles

Like many secret New York attractions, the Toynbee Tiles are hidden in plain sight. Found in about two dozen major cities in the United States, the hundreds of tiles have no clear origin. Roughly the size of a license plate, the rectangular tiles are embedded in the asphalt and have the following vague inscription: “TOYNBEE IDEA IN MOViE ‘2001 RESURRECT DEAD ON PLANET JUPITER.” While a few compelling theories exist (and even a documentary called “Resurrect Dead” explaining them), no one knows for sure why they originated. Some believe a 70-year-old carpenter from Philadelphia, James Morasco, created the tiles, with copycat tiles beginning to spread worldwide. For those seeking to interpret the meaning behind these cryptic tiles, head to 24th Street and 6th Avenue and look down. To find the rest of the Toynbee Tiles throughout New York and other cities, use this map.

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11. The Blockhouse

Lovers of hidden American history should head to the northern section of Central Park. Blockhouse No.1 or the Blockhouse remains the park’s second oldest structure. First built in 1812 to defend against the British, the structure stands on the edge of a high precipice above the lower part of Harlem and Morningside Heights. At its peak, the fort held 2,000 New York militiaman. Since the British never attacked New York City, the Blockhouse never was used during a combat. Currently, the structure sits abandoned. Tours are occasionally given by the Urban Park Rangers, but usually, the building stays locked and solo exploration trips are not allowed.

 Photo courtesy of the  Mela Foundation

Photo courtesy of the Mela Foundation

12. Tribeca’s Dream House

Covertly located off Church Street in Tribeca, the “Dream House” serves as a trippy meditative art space for New Yorkers in need of a deep breath or two. A black door simply reads “the dream house” in white letters. For a small price, visitors can spend as long as they wish in the purple-lit, incense-smelling room. Created in 1993 by modern composer La Monte Young and visual artist Marian Zazeela, this light and sound art installation lets city dwellers relieve stress after a long day. Looped, minimalist music plays throughout the pad, and the music changes based on whether visitors are standing or lying down. The spot is run by La Monte Young’s MELA Foundation and funded by the Dia Art Foundation.

 Photo courtesy of  Craig Cavallo

Photo courtesy of Craig Cavallo

13. El Sabroso

El Sabroso, while becoming increasingly better known, is definitely not easy to stumble upon. Located inside the freight entrance of 265 West 37th Street, you will find a tiny counter serving Latin American food, which makes up the entire restaurant. While simply a counter inside a hallway, the standard Latin fare is some of the best in Midtown and New York. This legitimate hole-in-the-wall, found in between a coffee shop and a smoke shop, takes cash only and offers delicious food for under $10.

 Photo via the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Photo via the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

14. The New York Federal Reserve’s Gold Vault

Found nearly 80 feet beneath the New York Federal Reserve Bank in the Financial District is the largest concentration of gold in human history. It contains a Fed-operated vault that is built in bedrock and includes deposits from central banks from around the world. The vault is a double-story cylindrical space which rotates. Inside, there are 122 separate mini vaults, in addition to smaller vaults for account holders. In total, there are about 7,000 tons of gold bars, five percent of all of the gold ever mined. Surprisingly, anyone can tour the vault with the Federal Reserve Bank. But for security purposes, visitors must register 30 days before the day of the tour.

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15. The Berlin Wall in Midtown

After the Berlin Wall was taken down, pieces of it were sent around the globe, including five pieces that landed in New York City. The concrete hunks include artwork from artist Thierry Noir, who began painting the west side of the Berlin Wall in the 1980s, to make the wall less threatening. A 20-foot section of the wall can be found at 520 Madison Avenue, originally bought in 1990 from the East German government by Jerry Speyer of Tishman Speyer. The five bright panels were visible from the street for many years but recently moved into the lobby of the building in an effort to preserve the historic slabs. Thankfully, the lobby remains open to the public every day.

16. The Houdini Museum

Did you know that over 1,500 rare belongings of Harry Houdini can be found just around the corner from Penn Station? However, most travelers passing by the Houdini Museum walk right by it. Visitors must walk through a nondescript lobby on 7th Avenue and take the elevator to the third floor to find the museum, which first opened in 2012 and sits within the Fantasma Magic shop. Objects displayed include rare publicity posters, unthinkable handcuffs, large escape restraints, Houdini’s secret escape tools and other memorabilia. The most magical part of this hidden destination? It’s free.

 Image courtesy of  Scouting New York

Image courtesy of Scouting New York

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17. 77 Water Street

The 26-story tower at 77 Water Street in the Financial District is not your typical office building. On top of the roof sits a World War I fighter plane and its lobby features a penny candy store. The William Kaufman Organization first built the office tower in 1970 and hoped to decorate the roof with something unique, letting workers be free of their confined office environments. While some speculated the aircraft landed on top of the building, it actually is just an artistic replica of a 1916 British Sopwith Camel.

Another whimsical touch of the building includes a turn-of-the-century penny candy store. The store remains open for business, with signs for actual old-time brands and a striped awning.

 Photo by  Gabriel Pintado

18. The Umbrella House

What started out as squatters taking over an abandoned city-owned building at 21 Avenue C on the Lower East Side, later became a successfully run affordable housing co-op. When squatters first moved in around 1980 they discovered a leaky roof. To stop water from dripping on their heads, the inhabitants used umbrellas, giving way to the building’s name. Almost fifteen years ago, the City of New York granted the squatters of Umbrella House the rights to 11 buildings they had taken over. After many years of renovations and improvements, the building recently built an 820-square-foot urban garden on its roof, run by volunteers. Each year, residents paint old umbrellas and hang them from the fire escape as a way to honor the building’s history.

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19. The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store

Where else would one find a superhero supply store, but in Brooklyn? While the Park Slope store boldly states its business out front, promising all wishful heroes all of the costumes, superpowers and toys needed to succeed, the store has a legitimate secret door hiding their second identity. Behind the door, is a large learning center for students ages 6 to 18 to get homework help and participate in creative writing workshops. The nonprofit, called 826NYC, is part of best-selling author Dave Eggers’ 826 National, an organization that uses fun stores to mask tutoring centers in the back. The manager of the store, Chris Molnar, told Business Insider: “We want people to get lost in the idea of a superhero store. We don’t want to beat them over the head with our programs. We want to keep the magic.”

20. Midtown’s 25-foot waterfall

Squeezed in between Second and Third Avenues on East 51st Street sits a vest-pocket park known as Greenacre Park. While New Yorkers appreciate any tiny piece of greenery, this privately-owned, but publicly accessible park, one of the smallest in the city, stands out from other parks around NYC. Greenacre Park spans just 6,360 square feet but features a 25-foot waterfall. In addition to being a beautiful escape into nature, the roaring waters block out a lot of the car honking and construction work noise of Midtown. The park was first constructed in 1971 by the Greenacre Foundation and designed by Hideo Sasaki. Additional perks of the park include a trellis with heat lamps, plenty of seating and honey locust trees, azaleas and pansies.

100 free things to do in New York City

BY DEVIN GANNON

100-Free-Things-LEad-2.jpg

Despite being one of the most expensive cities to live in, New York City offers many free activities, events and attractions all year round, letting you pinch pennies when the rent check is due. From free lectures at the Met to free group meditation classes, there are tons of activities that don’t cost a dime. To help New York visitors and natives alike, we’ve put together a guide of the 100 best wallet-friendly things to do in the Big Apple.

 The Brooklyn Public Library is free the first Saturday of every month, photo via  NYC & Company    

The Brooklyn Public Library is free the first Saturday of every month, photo via NYC & Company

 

Museums & Monuments

Whether it’s your first time in New York, or you have lived here all of your life, exploring one of the many museums is a must. However, it’s not cheap to visit these incredible institutions, with admission costing upwards of $25 at many of them. Thankfully, a lot of museums offer discounted or completely free days once per week or month. And, even better, some offer free admission every day.

1.  African Burial Ground National Monument
290 Broadway between Duane and Elk Street, Lower Manhattan

The monument, which is the first of its kind dedicated to Africans of early New York, contains the remains of more than 419 Africans buried during the late 17th and 18th centuries in NYC. The indoor center and outdoor memorial are always free Tuesday-Saturday.

2. General Ulysses S Grant National Memorial
Riverside Drive at 122nd Street, Morningside Heights, Manhattan

Known as Grant’s Tomb, the memorial is the final resting place of the 18th President of the U.S. and his wife Julia Dent Grant. The visitor center and memorial are free every day it’s open–Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

3. Green-Wood Cemetery
500 25th Street, Sunset Park, Brooklyn

The 478-acre park is a Revolutionary War historic site and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006. Admission to the cemetery, which operates seasonally seven days a week, is free at all times.

4. The New Museum
235 Bowery, Lower East Side, Manhattan

A home for contemporary art and ideas, the New Museum offers pay-what-you-wish admission on Thursday nights between 7-9pm.

5. National Museum of the American Indian
One Bowling Green, Bowling Green, Manhattan

A part of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum aims to advance the knowledge and understanding of Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere. Admission is always free, open 10 am to 5 pm daily and Thursdays to 8 pm. 

6. Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Museum is the city’s third-largest at 560,000 square feet and contains over 1.5 million pieces of art. Free on the first Saturday of the month only from 5-11pm with a 5-7pm happy hour. 

7. Bronx Museum of the Arts
1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx

The Bronx Museum of the Arts is an internationally recognized contemporary art museum that connects diverse audiences to the urban experience. It is always free, with operating hours 11 am- 6 pm, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and to 8 pm on Thursday. 

8. Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street, Midtown West, Manhattan
At one of the world’s preeminent modern art museums, admission is free every Friday from 4-8pm. 

9. Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria, Queens

This Queens museum remains the only in the U.S. dedicated to the art, history, and technology of the moving image. Admission is free from 4-8pm every Friday. 

10. Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, Queens

Dating back to 1697, the farm museum occupies New York City’s largest remaining piece of undisturbed farmland. The farm grounds are open daily, year-round from 10 am- 5 pm and are always free, except during public events. 

11. Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
26 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan

The museum is the first dedicated LGBTQ art museum in the world. It’s open 12-6pm Wednesday- Sunday and 12-8pm on Thursday. Admission is free, but there’s a suggested donation of $8 per person. 

12. BRIC House
647 Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Daily admission BRIC House, Brooklyn’s leading presenter of free cultural programming, is free. 

13. Museum of Jewish Heritage
Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place, Battery Park City, Manhattan
In memorial of those who died in the Holocaust, the museum features more than 25,000 items related to Jewish history. Admission to the museum is free on Wednesday and Thursday from 4-8pm.

14. Federal Hall National Memorial
26 Wall Street, Financial District, Manhattan

At this spot on Wall Street, George Washington took the oath of office and was the site of the first Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices. The memorial is open all year from Monday-Friday, 9 am-5 pm and admission is free. 

15. Onassis Cultural Center
Olympic Tower, 645 Fifth Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan

The cultural center promotes Greek culture through art exhibitions and events. Its operating hours vary for events, but the Olympic Tower Atrium remains open daily and admission is free. 

16. Tibet House US Cultural Center
22 West 15th Street, Union Square, Manhattan

Created at the request of the Dalai Lama, the cultural center aims to preserve the unique culture of Tibet. Admission to the cultural center is free and open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm.

 The exhibition  Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again  ran until Sep. 4, photo via  Socrates Sculpture Park

The exhibition Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again ran until Sep. 4, photo via Socrates Sculpture Park

 

Art Installation & Galleries

Catching up with the city’s ever-changing art scene is made easy thanks to the abundance of free artwork on display throughout NYC. While digging into the many classic art galleries of Chelsea is always recommended, the outer boroughs also offer their fair share of inspiring installations. Head to the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens or Brooklyn’s Williamsburg Art & Historical Center for free art every day.

17. David Zwirner Gallery
519, 525 and 533 West 19th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
At this acclaimed Chelsea gallery, which opened in 2002, visitors can explore the works of many European and American contemporary artists. The exhibition space is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm and is free to explore.

18. The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
Seventh Avenue and 27th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
The museum’s permanent collection includes about 50,000 garments and accessories ranging from the 18th century to present-day. Admission is free to the public Tuesday through Friday from noon to 8 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm.

19. Japan Society Gallery
333 East 47th Street, Midtown, Manhattan
Since 1971, the Japan Society Gallery has been a premier institution for Japanese art, ranging from classical Buddhist sculpture to paintings from the 21st century. It’s free Friday, 6 pm-9 pm.

20. New York Earth Room
141 Wooster Street, Soho, Manhattan

The spacious Soho gallery features a 22-inch deep pile of soil, weighing 280,000 pounds. See the “interior earth sculpture installation” for free Wednesday through Sunday, 12 pm–6 pm.

21. Socrates Sculpture Park
32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens

Once an abandoned landfill and dumpsite, the waterfront sculpture park supports local artists and is an internationally acclaimed outdoor museum. The park is open and free every day, from 9 am to sunset.

22. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcom X Boulevard, Harlem, Manhattan

Current exhibits at the center, one of the world’s leading insitutions dedicated to the black expereince, include Black Power! and Power in Print, both exploring the art of the Black Power movement. It’s open 10 am-6 pm Monday, Thursday-Saturday, 10 am- 8 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and closed on Sunday.

23. Brooklyn Central Library galleries
10 Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Sitting right next to Prospect Park, the sprawling library presents local and international artists and their work, usually with exhbitions relating to cultural themes and books. The library is open Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm.

24. AIA New York Chapter Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place, Greenwich Village, Manhattan
As the oldest and largest chapter of the American Insitute of Architects, the center hosts hundreds of free, public programs that focus on archiecture, planning and design. Gallery hours are Monday- Friday, 9 am to 8 pm and Saturday 11 am to 5 pm.

25. Pierogi 2000
155 Suffolk Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan
Known for its eclectic and thought-provoking pieces, Pierogi 2000 features the work of both new and mid-career artists. Check out the gallery Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm.

26. Williamsburg Art & Historical Center
135 Broadway, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
This multifaceted art center aims to create a bridge between artists on a local and international scale. The gallery in the WAH Center (“WAH” in Japanese means “peace” or harmony”) is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 6 pm.

 

 A Hell’s Kitchen staple, Rudy’s offers free hot dogs with drink purchase, photo via  Rudy’s

A Hell’s Kitchen staple, Rudy’s offers free hot dogs with drink purchase, photo via Rudy’s

Food & Drink Deals

As most New Yorkers know, the best things in life are free…food. If you’re scrimping on cents until pay day, try heading to one of the bars below. From complimentary-with-a-beverage pizza and Murry’s Cheese to bagels and cream cheese spread, you’ll end the month with both wallet and stomach happily full.

27. Ryan Maguire’s Restaurant & Bar
28 Cliff Street, Financial District, Manhattan

This classic Irish pub offers a free buffet from Monday-Friday, 5-7 pm. 

28. SingleCut Beersmiths
19-33 37th Street, Astoria, Queens
The brewery, which opened in 2012, offers free tours with sample-size pours 5 pm on Sundays. 

29. Alligator Lounge
600 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
At this Brooklyn bar, a free personal pizza comes with every drink purchase every day until 3:30 am. 

30. Brazen Head
228 Atlantic Avenue, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
Complimentary food ranges from free wings on Monday to free plates of cheese and wine discounts on Wednesday. Deals happen almost every night, but varies.

31. Blind Tiger Ale House
281 Bleecker Street, West Village, Manhattan
With nearly 28 beers on tap and free cheese, you can’t go wrong at this ale house. Complimentary cheese from Murray’s Cheese, Wednesday 6 pm. 

32. Huckleberry Bar
588 Grand Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
If you’re in the mood for a night of free mac & cheese and a movie, head to the Huckleberry Bar every Monday at 9 pm. Plus, each month features a different theme for the movies. 

33. The Levee
212 Berry Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
This old-fashioned bar provides life’s simple pleasures like beer, booze, and pool. Oh, and free cheese puffs daily.

34. Machiavelli
519 Columbus Ave, Upper West Side, Manhattan
At this classic Italian restaurant, the purchase of a happy-hour beverage comes with a personal pizza and other finger food, weekdays 4-6 pm.

35. Matt Torrey’s
46 Bushwick Avenue, East Williamsburg, Brooklyn

In addition to that $4 Bloody Mary, enjoy a free spread of bagels and all the fixings at Matt Torrey’s during brunch on Saturday and Sunday starting at noon. 

36. Rudy’s
627 9th Avenue, Midtown West, Manhattan
At one of the oldest dive bars in New York City, free hot dogs accompany every beverage. As Anthony Bourdain once put it, “When you sit down, I don’t know about a free hot dog. But after a few beers, it seems like a good idea.”

37. Astor Wine & Spirits
399 Lafayette Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan

The spacious wine hub in the landmarked De Vinne Press Building provides weekly free wine tastings. Check the schedule for specific wines and other events.

 

 Explore one of the oldest city halls in the country with a free tour, photo via NYC & Company

Explore one of the oldest city halls in the country with a free tour, photo via NYC & Company

Walking Tours

For lovers of beer, architecture, history and everything in between, a walking tour exists. New York City, one of the easiest cities to navigate by foot, is chock full of historic and unique spots. Although some can be expensive, a lot of organizations provide free tours, requiring only a reservation. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes and get a camera ready.

38. Brooklyn Brewery
79 North 11th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
A former matzo factory turned brewery, the famed Brooklyn Brewery offers free tours every Saturday 12:30 pm and Sunday 1 pm.

39. City Hall
City Hall Park, Financial District, Manhattan
Visit one of the oldest continuously used City Halls in the nation that still houses its original governmental function with a public tour run by the city’s Design Commission. No reservation is required for tours on Wednesday.

40. Federal Reserve Bank of New York
44 Maiden Lane, Wall Street, Manhattan
At the Federal Reserve, tours teach visitors about the role of the New York Fed and the Federal Reserve System in setting monetary policy and let New Yorkers explore the gold vault, 80 feet below street level. Tours require a reservation of at least 30 days in advance.

41. Grand Central Partnership
120 Park Avenue (across Grand Central), Midtown, Manhattan

Urban historians Peter Laskowich and Madeleine Levi walk visitors through the terminal’s whispering gallery, the “original” Lincoln Memorial and more. Free tours consist of 90-minute walking tours at 12:30 pm every Friday.

42. NYPL’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building 
476 Fifth Avenue, Midtown, Manhattan
As the flagship building of the New York Public Library, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building boasts Beaux-Arts architecture and world-renowned collections. The library offers free tours 11 am and 2 pm Monday- Saturday, 2 pm Sunday.

43. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
5th Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets, Midtown, Manhattan
Learn more about the famed cathedral’s deep-rooted history in the city and explore its architectural wonders with free tours Monday through Friday beginning at 10 am. There is a suggested $5 donation for admission.

44. Chelsea Craft Brewing
463 East 173rd Street, Claremont Village, The Bronx
Chelsea Craft Brewing, which opened in 1995, can be credited for jumpstarting the city’s brewery craze. Free tours are available Saturday, 2-6 pm, and include a free beer sample.

45. Big Apple Greeter
1 Centre Street, Financial District, Manhattan

Big Apple Greeter’s more than 300 volunteers bring roughly 7,000 visitors a year to over 100 neighborhoods throughout NYC. Reserve tours three to four weeks in advance.

46. Village Alliance 
131 East 10th Street, East Village, Manhattan
The walking tour stretches from St. Marks Place to Sixth Avenue, taking in sites like the residences of Lou Reed and Andy Warhol and the studios where Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan performed. Head to St. Mark’s Church at 11:30 every Saturday until October for the free walking tour.

47. Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation 
232 East 11 Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Free historic tours of the Village are provided by GVSHP, the group that has successfully lobbied for the landmark designation for more than 1,250 buildings in the neighborhood. Walking tours require a reservation.

48. Gracie Mansion 
East End Avenue and 88th Street, Yorkville, Manhattan
On Tuesdays only, visitors can explore the “people’s house,” the official house of the mayor of New York. Free tours are offered at 10 am, 11 am, 2 pm, and 3 pm, but require a reservation.

 

 The Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers free admission on Tuesday and for two hours on Saturday, photo via  NYC Parks

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers free admission on Tuesday and for two hours on Saturday, photo via NYC Parks

Outdoor Activities

As new construction and development projects continue to rise above us every day, it seems as if there’s nothing outside of this chaotic, concrete jungle. In reality, nature-filled, outdoor activities do exist in New York City that doesn’t include walking to your neighborhood’s deli. Plus, most of them are free, like the city’s public pools and parks.

49. The Downtown Boathouse
Hudson River Greenway, Tribeca, Manhattan

The all-volunteer organization is the largest free kayaking organization in the world. Find free kayaking at Pier 26 and Governors Island. At Pier 26, paddling is offered on the weekend from 9 am to 5 pm until October 9. Night-time paddling occurs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights from 5 pm to 7:30 pm through Sept. 14.

50. Staten Island Ferry
4 South Street, South Ferry, Manhattan & 1 Bay Street, Staten Island

Without costing a penny, ride the ferry for 25 minutes from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island for incredible views of the Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline. The fare-free ferry runs every day, making a total of 118 trips per week day. 

51. Brooklyn Botanic Garden
150 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

First founded and designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm in 1910, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is now considered a premier garden in the heart of the borough. It is free Tuesday, 10 am to noon on Saturday and weekdays in winter.

52. Bronx Zoo
2300 Southern Boulevard, The Bronx

The impressive Zoo spans 265-acres free and includes more than 6,000 animals. Every Wednesday, admission is pay-what-you-wish. Open daily from April 1 to November 5 from 10 am to 5 pm. During the winter months, the zoo closes at 4:30 pm.

53. New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard, The Bronx

Visit one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world, as well as the largest in any city, for free all day Wednesday and from 9-10 am on Saturday.

54. The High Line
From Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues, Manhattan

Explore the High Line, an elevated freight rail line transformed into a public park, for free every day. Open Dec. 1- Mar. 31, from 7 am-7 pm; April 1 to May 31, from 7 am-10 pm; June 1 to Sept. 30, from 7 am-11 pm; Oct. 1 to Nov. 30 from 7 am to 10 pm.

55. Moonlight Ride through Central Park 
Columbus Circle (SW corner of Central Park), Manhattan
At 10 pm on the first Friday of every month, take a fun, but relaxing, bike ride through Central Park at night. While the guided bike (or rollerblade) ride is free, participants should bring their own bike, a helmet and light. Moonlight Ride offers tours all year round, but riders must reserve a spot.

56. City Island’s Land Ferry
6 Park Place, Pelham, New York (No. 6 train station at Pelham Bay Park)
City Island is a small, nautical island in the northeastern part of the Bronx. For those who want to learn more about the island can take a free”land ferry” or decorated minibus on the first Friday of the month from the train station to City Island.  The land ferry picks up passengers from the No. 6 train on the first Friday of the month from 5:30 to 9:30 pm every half-hour and provides free tours.

57. NYC pools
Various locations in all boroughs

To benefit from the city’s free public pools, all you need is a swimsuit. Free swim programs for youth, seniors and people with disabilities are available. Pool hours are from 11 am- 7 pm during the summer only.

58. Free fishing
Various locations in all boroughs

The city boasts over 500 miles of shoreline, as well as lakes and rivers, so there’s plenty of opportunities to fish. While it’s free to fish in every borough, city regulations must be followed.

59. Long Island City Community Boathouse
46-01 5th Street, Long Island City, Queens

On selected weekend afternoons, the boathouse, in partnership with the Socrates Sculpture Park, provides free walk-up paddling at Hallets Cove and at Anable Basin for people of all skill levels. While the free kayaking programs are seasonal, the boathouse also has programs that promote awareness about the environment and the New York harbor. 

60. The Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club
2nd Avenue near Bond Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn

The canoe club, a totally volunteer-run organization, offers free canoe tours of the Gowanus Canal while providing a history lesson with it.  In addition to canoe tours, visitors can partake in kayaking and boating in Red Hook, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Long Island City and Staten Island. The free self-guided canoe trips are first-come, first-served, but be sure to check the club’s schedule ahead of time.

61. The Elevated Acre
55 Water Street, Financial District, Manhattan

Discreetly tucked between two office buildings, there is a secret, totally free, elevated plaza. The hidden meadow features gardens, plants, and peace from the chaotic streets below. While eating lunch is free every day, sometimes free programs, like yoga classes, also are available.

62. Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Between Joralemon Street and Grace Court, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn

Just one-third of a mile long, this promenade has been called one of the most romantic spots in Brooklyn. With sweeping views of the Statue of Liberty, Manhattan skyline and iconic Brooklyn Bridge, the spot is priceless. And right next door, the Brooklyn Bridge offers a ton of free events daily.

63. Fort Wadsworth
210 New York Avenue, Staten Island
The 226-acre public park, one of the oldest military sites in the country, guarded New York City for over 200 years. The fort is open and free every day from dawn to dusk. 

64. NYC Parks Urban Park Rangers programs
Various locations in all boroughs

Since 1979, the Urban Park Rangers program has helped New Yorkers connect with nature through public education, lectures and outdoor adventures. Rangers run various free events all year, like canoeing, family camping, hiking and fishing.

 

 Catch a free show every Monday night at  Union Pool  in Williamsburg, photo via  NYC & Company

Catch a free show every Monday night at Union Pool in Williamsburg, photo via NYC & Company

Live Entertainment

In the ‘city that never sleeps,’ live entertainment is never hard to find. And surprisingly, finding free events is easier than you think. There are hundreds of venues across all boroughs that offer discounted or free tickets. Watch talented performers every night of the week for free, whether it’s an improv show, an open-mic night or even a taping of Stephen Colbert’s show.

65. Whiplash at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Chelsea
307 West 26th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan

Head to the iconic UCB theater in Chelsea every Monday at 11 pm to catch a free comedy show hosted by comics Leo Allen and Aparna Nancherla. Make sure to reserve a spot online ahead of time.

66. The Creek and the Cave
10-93 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, Queens

For good food and free comedy, go to LIC’s the Creek and the Cave. The venue’s schedule is jam-packed with great shows, stand up and screenings, so there’s always something. Every day, the restaurant and bar are open late.

67. The Standing Room
4738 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, Queens

An affiliate of the critically-acclaimed comedy club the Stand in Gramercy, the Standing Room in LIC brings free comedy almost every night. Plus, the bar considers itself a premier destination for cocktails and artisan draft beers in the booming Queens neighborhood.

68. The Broken Comedy at Bar Matchless
577 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Catch a free comedy show every Monday at 8:30 pm at Bar Matchless, located across from McCarren Park.

69. The Sherry Vine Show at Industry
355 West 52nd Street, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan

Experience one of the longest-running drag shows in New York, with a full hour of parodies and Broadway tunes. The door opens every Wednesday at 11 pm at Industry.

70. Lucky Jack’s
129 Orchard Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan

Every Wednesday, Lucky Jack’s offers free comedy shows at 9 pm, with no drink minimum required.

71. Otto’s Shrunken Head
538 East 14th St, East Village, Manhattan
With its tropical drinks and tiki bar vibe, the nearly daily free music and comedy at Otto’s Shrunken Head is just an added bonus. Otto’s remains a favorite for punk rock fans and musicians alike.

72. Brooklyn Night Bazaar
150 Greenpoint Avenue, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

The massive club, with four bars, features three levels of live music, stand-up comedy, vendors, arcade games, and private karaoke lounges. Check out the Brooklyn Bazaar’s schedule for free or super cheap nightly events.

73. Knitting Factory
361 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Despite being known more for its eclectic live music, the Knitting Factory also has free comedy every Sunday at 9 pm. Doors open at 6 pm and the show is first come, first served.

74. Daytime or Late-Night talk show tickets
Various studio locations

For free, you can be a part of the studio audience for shows like the Daily Show, Good Morning America, Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver and more. It does take some planning, so be sure to reserve them online with plenty of time before the show.

75. Friends & Lovers
641 Classon Ave, Crown Heights, Brooklyn

In increasingly-hipster Crown Heights, Friends & Lovers has indie and island funk music, political meet-ups and old-school dance parties, most of them free. Every Monday, there’s a free comedy show at 8 pm.

76. Union Pool
484 Union Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Once a pool-supply outlet, Union Pool has multiple bars, outdoor space, a taco truck and free shows every Monday, 10:30 pm.

77. Ear Inn
326 Spring Street, Soho, Manhattan

At Ear Inn, one of the oldest bars in the city, you can attend poetry readings and screenings and listen to free jazz every Sunday, 8 pm-11 pm.

78. Pete’s Candy Store
709 Lorimer St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Pete’s Candy Store, which has always been a free venue, has booked many unknown and unsigned bands who later become famous (ie: Norah Jones). In addition to live music, enjoy weekly open-mic nights, trivia and poetry readings.

79. Gorilla Rep
Various outdoor locations

As an environmental theater, the Gorilla Repertory Theater Company brings free plays to parks all over New York City. Most of the plays produced by Gorilla Rep consist of Shakespeare works, with their most famous being their long-running production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 

 The Sweat Sessions offer free yoga, boot-camps and other classes throughout the summer, photo courtesy of  Ethan Covey via the Meatpacking District’s website

The Sweat Sessions offer free yoga, boot-camps and other classes throughout the summer, photo courtesy of Ethan Covey via the Meatpacking District’s website

Fitness

New York City is a great place to get fit for free. In addition to the city’s own ‘Shape Up’ initiative, which provides free drop-in classes every week, a lot of places offer once a week or once a month classes for nothing but a suggested donation. Whether you’re into running, dancing or de-stressing through group meditation, there’s a free class for you.

80. Shape Up NYC
Various locations in every borough

Shape Up NYC is a free, city-run drop-in fitness program that takes across all five boroughs. No registration is required, just show up. Free classes range from Afro-Carribean Cardio to Sit and Be Fit, for all levels of fitness.

81. Three Jewels Community Center
61 4th Avenue, East Village, Manhattan

Founded by the first American-born Buddhist monk to be awarded the “Geshe” title in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, this community center provides free meditation classes offered every day, at morning and at night.

82. Dharma Yoga Brooklyn
82 Sixth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn
At the Brooklyn Yoga School, classical yoga classes are offered for free, but do have a suggested donation of $10-20 per class.

83. Shambhala 
118 West 22nd Street, Flatiron, Manhattan
If in need of a relaxing retreat, head to Shambhala for silent, public meditation sessions. Public sittings classes are available for drop-ins every Thursday 6 pm – 7 pm, Friday 6 pm-7 pm and Sunday 9 am- 11:45 am.

84. Lululemon
129 North 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

To set off the cost of items at the high-end athletic clothing chain, Lululemon’s new Williamsburg store offers various free events, like yoga, meditation, and cycling. RSVP for the store’s events like Workout Wednesdays and cycling tours through Brooklyn, Two Ambassadors, One Community.

85. Bootcamp at Bryant Park
Bryant Park’s Fountain Terrace on Sixth Avenue,
 Midtown, Manhattan
Rain or shine, every Wednesday from 6:30 am to 7 am, join The Rise NYC, a community- driven pop-up fitness group, for thirty-minute rotations of crunches, planks, burpees and mountain climbers.

86. Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center 
243 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan
This Chelsea yoga center provides free group meditation and devotional chanting, known as Satsang, twice a week. The 90-minute free class is on Wednesday from 7:45 to 9:15 pm and Sunday at 6:15-7:45 pm.

87. NYC Fun Run Club
Meets at a different Manhattan bar weekly

For runners looking for a less solitary experience, the NYC Fun Run club meets at a different bar in Manhattan every Wednesday at 7 pm, heads out for a run, and then meets back at the bar for a few beers. All paces welcomed, you just want to be able to make it back to the bar.

88. Meatpacking Sweat Sessions
Hudson River Park between 14th and 15th Streets

Get ready to sweat it out at Hudson River Park’s 14th Street Park in free 45-minute classes every Tuesday night during the summer. Classes include dance cardio, boxing, pilates and more. Sign up online to reserve a spot.

89. New York Road Runners
320 West 57th Street, Midtown, Manhattan

The Road Runners group, the city’s premier racing club and organizer of the NYC Marathon, offers various free events. Be sure to check out their Eventbrite first to see which running-focused classes are available and open to the public.

 

 The MetSpeaks series features lectures, discussions, films and more,  photo courtesy of the  Met

The MetSpeaks series features lectures, discussions, films and more,  photo courtesy of the Met

Lectures and Seminars

If looking to learn something new or even sharpen a forgotten skill, you’ve come to the right place. Without spending a dime, you can listen to and engage with the brightest and most creative professionals in any field. While New York offers hundreds of readings, lectures and educational events daily, we’ve compiled some of the best that offer free or nearly free tickets frequently.

90. MetSpeaks
1000 Fifth Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan

The largest art museum in the United States provides free lectures through the MET Speaks program. Free lectures, which focus on current exhibitions, conservation projects and the museum’s collection, come with museum admission.

91. Brooklyn Brainery
190 Underhill Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Brooklyn Brainery offers cheap, crowdsourced educational classes on almost everything, from chemistry to embroidery. While most classes cost a few bucks, each month free events are offered, including free food history and science lectures.

92. The Cooper Union
30 Cooper Square, Noho, Manhattan

A historic NYC institution, Cooper Union, established in 1859, offers free lectures and book readings from well-known intellectuals and writers. Registration is usually required, so sign up early for every event.

93. Gotham Writer’s Workshop
555 Eighth Avenue, Garment District, Manhattan

The Gotham Writer’s Workshop is the largest adult-education writing club in the United States. The group provides a host of free classes and workshops for those interested in memoir writing, fiction, screening and everything in between, with no registration needed.

94. Teachers and Writers Collaborative
540 President Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn

The nonprofit offers programs for those looking to sharpen their writing skills, as well as become better at teaching writing as a subject. Educators, writers and students can freely use its resource library and meeting space.

95. Secret Science Club
149 7th Street, Gowanus, Brooklyn

This not-so secret science club gathers monthly at the Bell House for free lectures and experiments by professional scientists. Since the club meets at a bar, the events are 21 and over.

96. Three Lives & Company
154 West 10th Street, West Village, Manhattan

Considered one of the best book stores in all of NYC, Three Lives, in addition to its rare collection, offers free public readings, which are always on a first-come, first-served basis.

97. Unnameable Books
600 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

This mom-and-pop bookstore has free poetry readings, lectures and other literary events perfect for every Brooklyn bibliophile. It’s open daily and operates later than most bookstores: 11 am to 11 pm.

98. New York & Brooklyn Public Libraries
All NYPL and BPL locations

The next time you’re checking out a book at your local library, check out the free events offered at every branch. From children’s programs, to arts and crafts for adults, to language classes, the city’s libraries may have everything you’re looking for.

99. New York Society for Ethical Culture
2 West 64th Street, Upper West Side, Manhattan

The society focuses on ethics, not theology, to encourage respect for humanity and nature. Free lectures, social gatherings, and meet-up discussions are available at their 100-year old building frequently, with some costing as little as $10.

100. Park Slope Co-op
782 Union Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn

Founded in 1973, the co-op provides healthy, affordable produce for members. For non-members who hope to learn more about food and the community the co-op serves, free workshops, classes and events are available.

The Fried-Chicken King of Harlem

 Marcus Samuelsson (left) with Charles Gabriel, the owner of Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, in Harlem.  Photograph by Joshua Bright/The New York Times/Redux

Marcus Samuelsson (left) with Charles Gabriel, the owner of Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, in Harlem.

Photograph by Joshua Bright/The New York Times/Redux

As the reading on a thermometer inched toward ninety degrees on a recent Tuesday, Charles Gabriel, clad in a starched white chef’s coat that appeared to breathe about as well as a person with emphysema, was doing what he always does: pan-frying chicken at his restaurant, Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken, on 133st Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, in Manhattan. The pan in question was custom-made at a North Carolina steel factory and measured two and a half feet across, big-enough-to-wash-a-toddler big. It straddled four blazing burners that were turned up so high that the flames shot out and around. A small deep fryer sat on a shelf behind him, unused, and the vegetal smell of stewed collard greens hung heavy in the air. Gabriel mothered the twenty sizzling pieces of chicken, flipping a few here and nudging a few there, then turned down the flame and dabbed his glistening forehead with a torn paper towel.

“My mother, she didn’t teach me to deep-fry,” he said, giving his tongs a spark-producing thwack against the pan’s edge. “She did it in a frying pan, so that’s what I do.” To people in the know—neighborhood regulars; the chefs Marcus Samuelsson, of Red Rooster, and Elizabeth Karmel, of Hill Country; the actors Whoopi Goldberg and Wesley Snipes; that Connecticut guy who drives down once a year to pick up three hundred pieces just for himself—Gabriel’s humble storefront is home to some of the best fried chicken and Southern sides in the city. There is no sous-vide machine, no battery of line cooks, no farm-raised birds, no special oil. There’s just Gabriel, a few people who help out, his pans, the recipe that he took from his mother, and his devotion to a technique that, by all scientific measures, is** **sketchy. “When you have chicken in a deep fryer, you cook the flavor out of it,” he said, flipping the pieces again. “This here? It can breathe.”

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Well, as much as dead chicken submerged in bubbling, hellfire-hot soybean oil can breathe. But perhaps his fans are responding to more than just the chicken itself, which, with its crispy, light crust, is damn good. With the closure of many soul-food mainstays in Harlem, Gabriel is now running one of the last old-school chicken joints in the city, a humble fifteen-seat eatery with a heat lamp and a fuzzy television in the corner playing talk shows.

“Sylvia’s, Copeland’s, Wilson’s, M&G, Better Crust”—he ticked off the names of the institutions that were part of Harlem’s soul-food heyday, most of which are now gone. “They passed, and nobody picked it up.” And then there’s Charles’. Seven days a week, fifty-one weeks a year (he takes off one week each summer to go on a cruise), Gabriel opens up the store, butchers the birds, fries them, shops at the market, cooks some more, cleans up, and locks up. It’s a no-frills operation that gets him to work at 11 a.m. and to bed more than seventeen hours later. Gabriel estimates that he sells six hundred pieces each weekday and fifteen hundred on weekends. At twenty pieces per pan, we’re talking up to seventy-five pans a day.

Though Gabriel’s chicken has been immortalized in the pages of Lee Schrager’s new book, “Fried & True,” and though Gabriel himself has made appearances on TV and in newspaper articles over the years, the man’s behavior has remained mostly unchanged. One suspects it will remain that way. He is now sixty-eight and has been pan-frying chicken since he was a child outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, where he, his eleven brothers, and his eight sisters grew up on a farm. They raised vegetables and yard birds that were “much better, much fresher than what I can get here,” he said. Gabriel moved up North as a teen-ager, helping his brothers at their fish-and-chips shop by the Museum of Natural History. He then spent twenty-two years as a cook at Harlem’s legendary Copeland’s restaurant before starting to sell fried chicken on the street outside of his house. He soon upgraded to a food truck, then to a storefront on Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

In the twenty years since he opened the doors, he’s had a front-row seat to the neighborhood’s evolution, and not everything is going the way that he’d like. “I see people come in and pay four dollars for two pieces of chicken, because that’s all they can afford,” he said, easing himself into his beat-up 1998 Chevy van for a trip to the market. A boxed set of David Sedaris CDs sat on the dashboard, and crumpled Burger King bags lined the floor. Gabriel has plans to turn the storefront next door, which he currently leases to another restaurant, into a more affordable version of his existing shop. “I’d like them to have a full meal, to take that chicken and cut it up and put it over rice and vegetables for five dollars. That way, they can really eat.”

Gabriel used to own three storefronts on the block; after a teen-ager ran her car into one, he was forced to downsize. “I don’t have any storage space, so every day I go to the market, buy what I need, then cook it,” he said, as his car shuddered over the 145th Street Bridge to the Bronx and sports radio blared fuzzily through the speakers. “Then, the next day, I’m back again!” In the face of what is undoubtedly a grueling, unforgiving schedule, Gabriel simply emitted a happy, high-pitched laugh, grinned, and parked the car at his first stop, a meat market at 134th Street and Brook Avenue—think wholesale, not artisanal.

“Hey, Charlie, baby,” the cashier, Ruthie Varela, said, as he walked in. They’ve been working together, day in and day out, doling out the same greetings, for two decades. Gabriel paid in cash for fifteen birds, each of which he’ll cut into nine pieces (“I get a center breast out of it,” he explained, speaking poultry magic). Then he heaved them into the trunk and headed over to buy eggs at the nearby FoodFest Depot, where the employees greeted him by name and went to gather his order.

At the register, he bumped into Pat Peek, a friend from the neighborhood, and her grandson, Chad. Peek’s seafood restaurant had opened up in the same space where she’d run a bar for years—after a fatal shooting, she’d been forced to recast the space. “Hey, Charlie, what do you think of this cheese?” Two half wheels of cheddar sat in her cart. “You want the shredded kind,” he said immediately. “It’s cheaper, it’s already cut—it’s just better.” Peek seemed unsure. “Look, I’ll get it for you.” Gabriel shuffled into the walk-in refrigerator and returned with a few bags. Peek surveyed the shredded cheese with uncertainty, then asked, “Charlie, you sure about this?”

“Trust me,” Gabriel said. “I’ve been doing this a long time.”

More than six decades, if you factor in helping out his mom and siblings on the farm. A lot has changed. His two biological children (he and his wife have adopted two more and are currently fostering another three) have grown up and moved to North Carolina. (He says he’d never follow them, because he has “a lot of memories” from his youth.) Harlem has gentrified. Beloved mentors have died. Fans have come from far beyond the neighborhood’s edge. There might be another food truck in his future, perhaps that five-dollar-a-plate joint that he mentioned. But his chicken, those pans, they’ve remained a constant through it all.

“I’ve been retired for, what, five years now?” he asked, rhetorically, as he stepped out into the blazing Bronx heat. “Yep! I’m retired. I am. But I can’t give up the kitchen. It’s what keeps me going.”

 

    Rendezvous

     RDV

    RDV

    Our Restaurant

    RDV - Rendezvous is Chef Kfir Ben-Ari's modern French bistro. Located in Harlem, just two blocks from Central Park, Rendezvous serves modern French Mediterranian cooking with a personal twist. His exquisite creations from Foie Gras to grilled salad prepared with the best performed French techniques will leave you asking for more. Our carefully selected wine list includes affordable wines from all over France, as well as New York State. All delivered in a simple yet elegant atmosphere. Come have your next Rendezvous with us at RDV and celebrate la belle vie!

    Kfir Ben-AriExecutive Chef, Sommelier, Owner

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    Born and raised in Israel, Chef Kfir Ben-Ari found his calling to cuisine at an early age so when the time came to choose a career the choice was simple. After graduating from the school of Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France - the culinary capital of the world - Kfir came to New York to work for Daniel Boulud. Working with top chefs allowed him to master his French techniques while discovering a world of produce and flavors. After one year in five star restaurant he decided it was time to take on a more casual and affordable version of high dining. That's when he received an offer to run Paradou in the meatpacking district where he developed his own version of modern French cooking. Ten years after, Rendezvous came to life, a dream came true in his own neighborhood, Harlem. As a Mediterenean born, he leans towards south east France cuisine accented with middle eastern touches and a diversity of products that is trade mark to his New York experience. The result is a modern New York take on French cuisine that will invite you on trip to new undiscovered flavors.

    Our Wines

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    Our Sommelier is passionate about wine and loves to share his knowledge and experience with our guests, proposing wine pairings and telling stories about the history of the wine and the wine making process. His passion took him to wineries around the world, from Europe to South America and the United States. As a result Rendezvous offers a carefully selected yet affordable wine list with wines from France and New York State. Discover Riesling and Gewurtztraminer from the Finger Lakes region and Merlot and Cabernet Franc from Long Island.   If a more traditional wine is on your mind we always carry Chinon and Sancerre from the Loire valley as well as Bordeaux and Burgundy. Next time at Rendezvous, make sure to meet with Kfir, he is looking forward to meet you.

     

    RDV rendezvous Harlem

    2072 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026

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    ‘Black Panther’ and the Revenge of the Black Nerds

    By LAWRENCE WAREFEB. 16, 2018

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    “Black Panther” lived up to the hype. After a yearlong marketing campaign, the superhero film is rightly enjoying enormous success. It broke Fandango’s presale ticket record for superhero films. Movie critics are euphoric. Now one thing is clear: It’s cool to be a black nerd.

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    I wish this had been true when I was in high school in the late 1990s in Oklahoma. I played football because I’m six feet tall and that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. But I would often skip practice to hide in the locker room and read comic books featuring black characters like the X-Men’s Lucas Bishop. I wanted to escape into a world of fantasy populated by characters who looked like me. Full of youthful angst, I spent many sleepless nights wondering whether there was something wrong with me; none of my friends had similar interests. I didn’t know a single black person who read comic books.

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    Now I know that to be a black nerd is by no means anomalous; millions of people who look like me grew up loving comic books. Yet despite our numbers, we were underground for a long time. Today, though, there appears to be a widening cultural appreciation for what black people have always known: There are many ways to be black in America. The 44th president helped.

    Barack Obama meant a lot to black nerds. Jordan Peele, the director of “Get Out,” told NPR back in 2012, “Up until Obama, it was basically Urkel and the black guy from ‘Revenge of the Nerds.’” Mr. Obama showed us that to be black and nerdy could actually be an expression of black cool, what the author Rebecca Walker, who compiled a series of essays on that topic, defines as audacity, resistance and authenticity in the face of white supremacy.

    “What’s remarkable is the way ‘nerd’ is such a badge of honor now,” Mr. Obama told Popular Science in 2016. “Growing up, I’m sure, I wasn’t the only kid who read Spider-Man comics and learned how to do the Vulcan salute, but it wasn’t like it is today.” He added, “I think America’s a nerdier country than it was when I was a kid — and that’s a good thing!”

    New York Times

    10 of NYC’s Best 24-Hour Restaurants

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    In the city that never sleeps, there’s never a shortage of bars to visit, venues to explore and parties to crash. At some point during these late night shenanigans, however, hunger pangs will inevitably kick in — and that’s when you’re left combing the streets of New York in search of a hot, greasy meal and a warm refuge. Luckily, the city is chock full of inviting eateries that will welcome in glassy-eyed patrons with opens arms.  For the purposes of this list, we’re focusing on 10 of New York City’s sit-down restaurants, where you can enjoy a hearty meal at all times of the day. However, honorable mention goes out to low-key, but reliable favorites like The Donut PubGray’s Papaya and Bagelsmith.

    1. L’Express

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    When Greenwich Village’s French Roast shuttered in 2017, New Yorkers mourned the loss of beloved 24-hour institution. Fortunately for us, another French bistro, L’Express, still remains open to fill in the void that was left behind. Located on 249 Park Avenue South in Gramercy Park, the Lyonnaise bouchon merges traditional southern and northern influences of French cooking, and celebrates meat and diary products of those respective regions.

    Zagat calls it one of the “classiest 24-hour operations” around because it harbors a real “Paris bistro feel,” and serves up authentic classics like Escargot and Croque Monsieur. If you’re especially hungry, however, opt for a full-fledged entree like the grilled Scottish Salmon or the Steak Frites, and make sure to check out the daily sausage selection and charcuterie.

    2. Sarge’s Delicatessen & Diner

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    Craving matzo ball soup at 3am? That’s where Sarge’s on 548 3rd Avenue really shines. Believed by most to be New York City’s only 24-hour Jewish diner, the eatery has been around since 1964, offering filling comfort food at its finest. Not only is breakfast, lunch and dinner served around the clock, but the waiters and clientele are also refreshingly down-to-earth.   Inside, you’ll find vinyl booths and walls lined with celebrity photos. Although you might not leave here with an autograph book full of signatures, you will leave with a full belly, stuffed to the max. That’s especially true if you brave “The Monster.” Claimed to be New York City’s biggest sandwich, it’s a beautiful concoction of five different kinds of meats, tomato, lettuce, slaw and Russian dressing on rye. Try it to say you did, then bring the leftovers home to sustain you the rest of the week.

    3. Coppelia 

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    Located in ChelseaCoppelia on 207 West 14th Street is a Cuban and Pan-Latin diner that serves a menu inspired by dishes from across the Caribbean Basin and South America. The colorful eatery is styled like a luncheonette in Havana, and features bright yellow walls, swivel stools, blue booths and shutters.  In addition to an all-day breakfast menu — filled with diner staples like homemade pancakes, burgers and a variety of sandwiches — it offers snacks, including empanadas and cheese croquettes, as well as stomach-busting Latin meals like Lomo Saltado (a Peruvian stir fry dish made of tender beef short ribs) and Churrasco (sizzling grilled skirt steak). The cherry on top is that the restaurant is also home to a bar that focuses on cocktails made from Latin spirits like tequila and mescal.

    4. Odessa

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    If you’re looking for a late-night snack, Odessa is a safe bet on any day of the week. On the weekends, however, the old school Eastern European diner — located on 119 Avenue A in the East Village — keeps its doors open 24-hours, much like the Katz’s DeliNYmag calls it a “gloriously tacky Ukrainian dive,” which is populated by locals, senior citizens and New York University students.  The extensive menu at Odessa is reasonably priced, and portion sizes are huge. The perogies are a staple menu item, but other options include kasha varnishkes, blintzes and borscht, in addition to American breakfast staples. Step inside and you’ll walk into a scene taken “straight from the Polish riviera,” complete with outdated ’80s decorations like flea-market oil paintings and a ceiling that looks like maroon shag carpet, according to one Yelp reviewer.

    5. Empanada Mama

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    Empanada Mama boldly claims to serve the best empanadas in New York City, and the night owls who frequent the restaurant seem to agree. With two locations that are open 24/7 — 765 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen and 95 Allen Street in the Lower East Side — it’s a reliable pit stop for anyone who needs to refuel. Although Empanada Mama mostly focuses on Colombian-inspired dishes, it also offers menu items from all of Latin America.  As for its claim to fame — the empanada — the restaurant offers over 40 flavors, ranging from the classic chorizo to the American-inspired hot dog and cheese. A crowd favorite is the Viagra (stuffed with shrimp, scallops and crabmeat) and the Brasil (ground beef and olive). For those with a sweet tooth, there’s also a smattering of dessert empanadas like the Belgian & Banana (Belgian milk chocolate) and Sweet Plantains (with mozzarella cheese).

    6. Veselka 

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    An East Village mainstay, Veselka on 144 2nd Avenue has been serving traditional Ukrainian food since 1954, when it was established by post-World War II Ukrainian refugees, Wolodymyr and Olha Darmochawal. The cozy coffee shop, whose name translates to “rainbow” in Ukrainian, began as a simple candy store and newsstand that offered sandwiches and soup. Today, it’s evolved into an institution, slinging out “unpretentious” favorites like pierogi, potato pancakes, borscht and goulash. The cabbage soup is said to be a hangover cure, but there’s no shortage of classic diner staples like omelettes, pancakes and waffles.  Since its inception over 60 years ago, Veselka has expanded in size several times. Despite the quick turnover rate of eateries and retail shops, it still remains on the same site it was founded upon, where it stands as one of the last Slavic restaurants in the neighborhood. We also recently learned that it will be a newcomer vendor to The Market Line, New York City’s biggest marketplace coming to the Lower East Side’s Essex Crossing mega development. 

    7. Quesadillas Doña Maty

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    Quesadillas Doña Maty, located on 228 East 116th Street in East Harlem, is another Mexican hotspot, where you can grab tortas, tacos and quesadillas. While the food is reliably good, the interior very much adds to the overall appeal of this cozy eatery, which can only be described as a tiny mom-and-pop shop.  In sticking to the hole-in-the-wall feel, a “sweet, little lady” cooks the dishes outside, and brings them in for her hungry patrons to devour. The interior seating area is located behind the outdoor cooking space. It only has enough room for about eight tables, but it’s so charmingly decorated that you’ll want to grab a seat if you can. While chowing down on your meal, you’ll also have the chance to catch up on telenovelas or Univision, which will most likely be playing on the television set inside.

    8. Hahm Ji Bach

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    Carnivores rejoice: there is a 24-hour grill to satiate the most zealous meat lovers. Hahm Ji Bach, located on 40-11 149th Place in Murray Hill, offers an authentic Korean BBQ experience, complete with traditional Banchan (side dishes). Regarded as a beloved Queens institution, the restaurant offers a selection of meats, including beef, pork, chicken and seafood, which you can cook on state-of-the-art, smokeless grills.  However, the most popular dish is the samgyeopsal, or slabs of marinated pork belly that you can stuff into crisp lettuce leaves and top with daikon radish, kimchi and scallions. In addition to the meaty offerings, there’s also hot pot, Korean entrees and noodle dishes like Gamja-tang (pork neck bone with potato) and Hahmji-naengmyeon (buckwheat noodles in cold broth).

    9. Red Noodle Bowl Shop

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    If a bowl of piping hot noodles sounds like an ideal meal at 4am in the morning, then head to Red Noodle Bowl Shop on 40-52 Main Street in Flushing, Queens. Even if you haven’t had the chance to step inside the restaurant while strolling through the streets of the neighborhood, you’ve undoubtably noticed the giant red bowl perched on top of it. It’s served as a iconic symbol of the area since 1997, and is said to be visible to planes landing at LaGuardia Airport.  Headed by Ollie’s Restaurant group, which operates several affordable Chinese outposts around the city, Red Bowl is a Cantonese-style noodle shop that serves over 200 menu items. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find a wide variety of noodle soups on the menu, but the congee and hot pot are definitely sound options. A window in the front also sells roasted duck, Taiwanese sausages and other take out items if you ever find yourself in a rush.

    10. Grand Morelos

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    Since 2001, Williamsburg’s Grand Morelos on 727 Grand Street has served as an alternative 24/7 hangout for those who want to avoid Kellogg’s Diner. It offers standard American fare — like many of the other eateries on this list — but specializes in authentic Mexican dishes like tortas, burritos, tacos and $2 tamales — all generously filled.  The prices are cheap and the food is simple, which makes this no-frills restaurant a fan favorite amongst the late night crowd. As an additional plus: it’s also home to an in-house bakery, and the Tres Leches is reportedly “out of this world.”

     

    How to celebrate the Chinese New Year in NYC

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    February has finally arrived and with it comes the most famous Chinese holiday: the Lunar New Year. On February 16, we’re celebrating the Year of the Dog — the 11th animal of the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac.  On the days leading up to and following the holiday, worldwide celebrations will take place with traditional lion dances, red envelopes and firecrackers. If you plan on joining in on the festivities, check out our Untapped guide, filled with quirky activities to enjoy Chinese New Year in New York City:

    10. Go to One of the 10 Best Chinese Eateries in the City

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    New York City is known for its thriving food culture, which is as diverse as it is innovative. With so many excellent places to explore, it can be hard to narrow down your options. That’s why we created a handy guide to some of the best Chinese restaurants in the city, where you can ring in the New Year properly.  From quintessential hole-in-the-wall establishments to mouthwatering dim sum experiences, chow down on some of the most authentic dishes ranging from steamed dumplings to fresh seafood — all made by culinary experts all over New York.  

    9. Go to a Chinese New Year Gala With the New York Philharmonic

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    On February 20, you can celebrate the Chinese New Year with the New York Philharmonic. The event starts at 7:30pm, where you’ll listen to Beethoven’s grand Choral Fantasy with 13-year-old pianist Serena Wang and the Farmers’ Chorus of the Yunnan Province, farmers from the mountains of southern China, appearing outside of the country for the first time ever. The New York Philharmonic will also “play” Ricochet, which includes ping pong champions, violin, and percussion.  If you want to extend your visit, another option is the evening gala that includes not only the concert, but also a pre-concert reception and a post-concert seated dinner with the artists. You can find more information here

    8. The MET Celebrates Chinese New Year

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    The Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating the Year of the Dog with a line up of events that includes performances, interactive gallery activities, and artist-led workshops for all ages. It all takes place from 11am to 5pm on Saturday, February 24. The schedule, which includes more than 20 different activities, offers unique opportunities to participate in a bubble tea gathering, a bilingual storytelling event and a drum and fan dance workshop. Check out what’s on the calendar by visiting the MET Museum website, where you can see when and in which rooms the events will be held.  

    7. Make a Chinese Lantern and Enjoy a Ribbon Dance Performance

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    This year, the Museum of the City of New York will offer a traditional Ribbon Dance performance, hosted by the New York Chinese Cultural Center and Dance China New York. A lantern-making activity will also be taking place, where visitors can learn about the holiday and its various traditions.  The performance starts at 1pm on February 16, and is free with admission to the Museum (snacks will also be offered). Head to the MCNY’s website for more information

    6. Go to a Dumpling Making Workshop

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    One of the most traditional and adored Chinese foods is dumplings. In New York City, there are countless of restaurants that specialize in the dish (some of which are included in our aforementioned list). But why not try your hand at learning how to make your own?  The China Institute in New York is hosting a Chinese New Year Family Festival on Sunday, February 25, and one of the activities it’s offering is a Dumpling Making Workshop. You can register online to participate. You might also want to check out the first annual New York Go Expo and competition, where nine teams will battle it out to conquer the classic Chinese strategy board game. The event is free, and attendees can play practice games, attend lectures and learn game playing skills.

    5. Learn About the Lucky Plants of the Chinese New Year

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    Starting at 12pm on Saturday, February 17, the Queens Botanical Garden will be hosting various craft activities and performances. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about the “Lucky Plants” of Lunar New Year, from chrysanthemums to jade plants.  There will also be a sale, where you can buy your own plant to welcome in the next year with the best energy. The event is free and you can find more information on the NYC Parks’ website.  

    4. Chinatown Celebrates Chinese New Year

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    For a more traditional Chinese New Year celebration, participate in the various parades taking place across the city. One of the largest, held on February 25 from 1pm to 4:30pm, winds through the main streets of Little Italy and Chinatown. Nearby, in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, you can watch more than 600,000 firecrackers lighting off in celebration of the Year of the Dog!  Similar festivities will also take place in Sunset Park, Brooklyn; Flushing, Queens and from Madison Street to Madison Avenue, inviting hordes of people and vendors to gather on the streets of New York City.

    3. Make a Traditional Chinese New Year Meal

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    If you want to skip the crowd, here’s what you can do: cook a traditional Chinese New Year meal for your family and friends. Los Angeles-based indoor farm company, The Local Roots, is offering an eco-friendly Chinese New Year edition of its Dinner Party Kit, which comes with fresh ingredients to prepare a hearty meal.  Within this kit, you’ll have everything you need to prepare Soy Sauce Chicken and Tea Eggs, as well as family recipes from the founder (complete with explanations about the symbolism of the dishes), and a red envelope with $5 in Local Roots dollars. 

    2. Enjoy Chinese New Year at MoMA PS1

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    Long Island City’s MoMA PS1 is hosting a one-of-a-kind celebratory event on February 9 at 8pm. Hosted in conjunction with New York City’s “roving dance party,” Bubble_T, Night at the Museum: Lunar New Year will offer art, music and food — all in one place.  The night’s festivities include live performances, DJs, art installations and a variety of cocktails and snacks. While there, you can also explore the MoMA PS1’s current exhibitions with thematic drinks, food by M. Wells, projections of firework events by artist Cai Guo-Qiang in the VW Dome, and much more. For more information and to purchase your tickets, click here.

    1. See Gillie and Marc’s New Artwork

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    #GoodFortuneDog by Gillie and Marc Art is coming to Chinatown. The sculpture, which features Dogman holding a red apple, will be on view from February 15 to January 2019.  “In honour of Year of the Dog, we’ve created this brand new sculpture to help bring good fortune to all of Melbourne and New York this Chinese New Year!,” Gillie and Marc Art write on their Facebook page. “…The word for Apple in Chinese is ‘ping’ — which is also the word for peace! In the face of last year’s unstable global landscape, we created Dogman holding an apple to spread the message of diversity and acceptance for all beings, and inspire the pursuit of a better world.”

    NYC’s First and Only Kakigōri Cafe Is Now Open at the Canal Street Market

    what is kakigōri?

     

    Kakigōri is a traditional Japanese summer dessert with origins dating back to the 11th century Heian Period. Kakigōri is made by carving a block of pure ice using a special machine, and adding toppings to create flavors like mango or melon. 

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    What makes kakigōri so unlike other shaved snow desserts is the combination of the uniquely specific texture of ice with flavors that are made from seasonal fruit and handmade toppings. Each spoonful melts instantly in your mouth, packs a punch of fresh flavor, and leaves you feeling refreshed.

    At Bonsai Kakigōri we place enormous importance on the quality of our flavors and toppings. We believe that food tastes best when ingredients are fresh and in peak season. That’s why each flavor that we create starts with a trip to the farmers market where we pick the best of what’s in season. We add as little as possible to highlight the natural flavor and hand make all our toppings from scratch, never using anything artificial. Using a hand-cranked vintage machine is crucial to create the fluffy melt-in-your-mouth texture that is so unique to kakigōri.  

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    our story

     

     

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    After returning to New York, we tried to find Kakigōri but realized that no one made it. We tried other types of shaved ice and snow but nothing came close to the texture and ingredients that made kakigōri so special.

    Frustrated and determined to have some, we set out to make our own.

    We ordered an original hand-cranked kakigōri machine from Japan, nicknamed it ”humi” after our favorite kakigōri shop in Tokyo, and began testing flavors. We started making some for friends and realized that the best part of making kakigōri was sharing it with others. So, Bonsai Kakigōri was born.

    We decided to name our company after the Bonsai tree. Even though Bonsai trees are Japanese in origin, it's up to the person to influence how it's grown and take shape. That's what we've set out to do with kakigōri. We seek to honor the Japanese roots of the dessert but make our own kind, influenced by our identity as New Yorkers.

    Our mission is simple: Make the highest quality kakigōri possible and share it with as many people as we can.

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    Although we’re still in the chokehold of winter, frosty desserts are a year long fascination for anyone who has a sweet tooth. Ice cream is certainly a reliable classic, but there’s a new kid on the block, Bonsai Kakigōri, New York City’s first (and only) kakigōri cafe, now open at Canal Street Market.

    Make your way over to Bonsai Kakigōri, open at the Canal Street Market on

    Saturdays (10am to 8pm) and Sundays 10am to 6pm. For more information,

    click here

     

    https://www.bonsaikakigori.com