Gramercy - Union Square, New York City
Personally I don't think this is such a great Farmer's Market. I have been to some really nice local markets in California and Pennsylvani and find that their goods are quite limited.
It doesn't warrant a special visit, but if you happen to be in the area on either Wednesday, Friday or Saturday from 8am to 6pm, then stop by.
New York City is home to many celebrities, if they don't live in California they seem to live in NYC. Chicago? All we've got is Oprah and Roger Ebert!
My one and only celebrity encounter before this trip (not counting local celebrities Roger Ebert and Dennis Rodman in Chicago) was in Prague when we saw Ric Ocasek from the Cars and his beautiful model wife Paulina Porzikova having a picnic with their children. So as I'm strolling on my walk with Big Onion Tours in Gramercy Park, who do I see? Ric Ocasek (without his lovely wife) snapping photos as he walked down the street. Pretty weird, huh?
In 2007, we were walking into the Toys R Us in Times Square and I walked right past a guy and thought, hmmmm, he looks a lot like Harry Hamlin. Turns out it was, he and his wife Lisa Rinna popped into a black town car (with driver, of course) and drove off. My niece was cursing, well 13 year old cursing that is, that she didn't get a photo or autograph but I figure the poor guy is out shopping with his family, isn't that enough torture? ;-)
This is my quick and dirty orientation to New York City. You need to learn there are 5 boroughs of New York and they are Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn. "With 8 million residents and a land area of 322 square miles (830 km²), New York City has the highest population density of any major city in North America. The city's metropolitan area, with a population of 18.8 million, ranks among the largest urban areas in the world." http://en.wikipedia.org
Now that you have the boroughs right in your head I'll let you know from any high up perch you will also see Jersey City of New Jersey right along side New York.
Now I'll focus on Manhattan the largest of the boroughs, it's so big you are going to have to learn the districts of the city and explore them as your heart desires. Here are some of the districts that are all distinct:
Upper West Side
Upper East Side
Art Gallery District
Lower East Side
Battery Park City
Seaport Historic District
So I think this gives you the idea. I did get to a few of these and have seperate tips on them so you'll have to do your research and pick and area to enjoy!
Fondest memory: Some of my favorite districts were Chinatown, Times Square, Theater District, Central Park
Now that I've given you the boroughs here is how they got their names:
Brooklyn is named after the Dutch city Breukelen. The Dutch you see were the first apparently to come over to this area from Europe.
The name Manhattan derives from the word Manna-hata, which translates into "island of many hills" in Lenape.
The Bronx was first settled by Europeans in 1639, when Jonas Bronck arrived. The Dutch and English settlers referred to the area as "Bronck's Land".
Queens - I am not going to give you this one.
Staten Island - Although the first Dutch settlement of the New Netherlands colony was made on Manhattan in 1620, Staaten Eylandt remained uncolonized by the Dutch for many decades. From 1639 to 1655, the Dutch made three separate attempts to establish a permanent settlement on the island, but each time the settlement was destroyed in the conflicts between the Dutch and the local tribes.
If your wondering about the term "Big Apple" I would recommend this web site at http://www.barrypopik.com/.
I saw Big Onion recommended by someone on Fodors, the walks are $12, last about 2 hours long and the guides all hold history degrees.
The only one I had time for was on Saturday, a tour of Gramercy Park and Union Square. It wouldn't have been my first choice of an area to explore but it was interesting and the guide was very knowledgable about the subject matter.
There's also a book for sale (you can buy on Amazon) if you want to self tour, The Big Onion Guide to New York City-Ten Historic Tours.
Some other walking tours that I've seen recommended but didn't have time for:
Municipal Art Society of New York
Foods of New York tours
Free walking tour of Lower East side
NYC Visit searchable calendar
Walking around East village on our way to catch the metro at Union square we found this cozy little park. It is a pretty small, fenced-in private park accessible only to residents of certain townhouses in the area who have keys to the park. It is the only remaining private park in the Borough of Manhattan.
The center of the park contains a statue of one of the area's most famous residents, Edwin Booth. Booth was one of the great Shakespearean actors of 19th century America.
This picture was taken in early April on a chilly Saturday morning. Philomena, in the red jacket, sells plants in the Union Square market every Saturday. I have been buying flowers from her for ten years. She used to work for the biggest seller in the market and she was always surrounded by three or four customers competing for a moment of her time and expertise, but a few years back she left that stand and took up with a smaller grower who has nothing like the variety of her former employer. Nevertheless she is busy with those, like me, who have been buying from her for a long time and new customers who happen to ask her a question.
She worked as a scientist, but now she gardens in Greenwich Village and sells flowers in the market. She is always in the company of her dachshund, who sits in a box by the truck while she helps people build their gardens. I enjoy listening to her strong German accent as she describes the attributes of a particular plant.
New York is special that way - the accents are many and varied - like the stories of the people they announce.
The Gramercy-Union Square district, in lower midtown, is often called Flatiron as a tribute to its most famous building.
From the 19th century to the first half of the twentieth, it was one of the most appreciated areas in New York. The development of new areas, namely the Upper West Side, stole the spotlight for the Flatiron district in the second half of the century.
Today, the Union Square district is again an appreciated residential area: it's close to the Village and Soho, but it's not as expensive.
The Flatiron building, b the way, was built in 1903.
Walk around. Along 57th street, 5th Avenue, Madison Avenue, in Soho, around Union Square, Washington Square. New York is a city you can enjoy by walking. So walk, explore cafes surrounding you.
Fondest memory: This is not a one time memory. It occurs every time I am in the big apple. Just listening to people. Many languages, dialects. It is truly a world city...
Walk around, take in the sights. One of the great things about New York is all the people around all the time. It's very safe, and the best way to take it in is to be out there. I love the downtown area, below 14th Street: Soho and the Village of course.
Check out the Union Square Greenmarket on the way downtown!
Central Park is great, especially in halfway decent weather. I could go on, but there's so much to do...
See the boats in the picture? Take a walk, jog or ride your bike
on the path next to the East River Walk .
On Mondays, Wednesdays.Fridays and Saturday we go to UNION SQUARE.'the FARMER'S MARKET' to visit our friends who work there and provide us with wonderful foods. For the best
breads and pastries we stop by 'Bread Alone'. Lisa, the Italian beauty who runs the stand, is the networking center and heart beat of the market.
If you want the BEST ITALIAN CHEESE SHOP and see New Yorkers shopping, head to Grand Sreet and seek out Di'Paulo's. He knows cheese. His store is famous, and the whole family is there running the show.
Nothing beats CHINATOWN and the vibrant markets they have with very reasonable prices....the best in the city. Uptown prices are sky high and the quality low in comparison. All the great chefs go to Chinatown for food shopping, and so should you.
If you love fresh cut flowers, get up early (6:00am) and head to the wholesale FLOWER MARKET on 28th street, between 6th and 7th Avenue. The colors alone are worth getting up to see and the smell is divine.
Fondest memory: This story theme happened to me twice!
Once I made a phone call in the lobby of a NY building, and forgot my wallet with a lot of cash in it. Only when I arrived at my next destination did I realize I forgot it. I walked back, and not only was my wallet there, but everything was still in it.
Once again, after shopping I took a taxi home. I had so many packages, that I left my wallet in the back of the taxi. I got a phone call from the next passenger who returned my wallet with everything in it.
The exhibit of Slovak folk craft in National Arts Club at Gramercy Park South, Manhatan, New York.
So many people turned up and such a good atmosphere was created by the people from te club that it shocked me. This was probably my happiest time...
I took a little while to find Washington Square and its monument to George.
Fondest memory: New York feels like a collection of villages collected together.