Local traditions and culture in New York City

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  • apbeaches's Profile Photo

    What Not to do In NYC

    by apbeaches Written Sep 4, 2014

    At the Virtual Tourist Forums; all New Yorkers have been saying this. NYC can be very expensive and crowded there are ways to see more, do more, have a real NYC experience and save some money too. Conde Nast Traveler just ran an article "What Not to Do in NYC" and I had to share:

    1 - DON’T STAY IN MANHATTAN. For many people, “New York City” is synonymous with its most famous island, so of course that’s where visitors often choose to stay. But prices in Manhattan are still quite high—the average hotel room is around $250 per day—and unless you’re determined to sleep at a famous spot like the Waldorf-Astoria, you can get better deals off the island.
    INSTEAD: Stay in Brooklyn. The borough has experienced a boutique-hotel boom in recent years, and many of the options—including Williamsburg’s chic Wythe Hotel, and the Aloft Hotel in Downtown Brooklyn—offer stylish, comfortable rooms for a lower price than their Manhattan counterparts. Plus, both of those options are no more than 20 minutes from the city’s center (by subway, of course).

    2 - DON’T TAKE TAXIS. Yellow cabs may seem like a convenient way to get around, but they’re remarkably inefficient (you will get stuck in traffic). Plus, yellow cabs technically aren’t allowed to make pick-ups outside of Manhattan, and the city’s pilot program of green outer-borough cabs aren’t always easy to come by.
    INSTEAD: Get acquainted with public transportation. The subway will take you just about anywhere you’d want to go, and contrary to popular belief, it’s easy to figure out (be sure to familiarize yourself with routes to and from your destinations beforehand). If the weather’s nice, you also have the option of using Citi Bike, New York’s new bike-sharing program.

    3 - DON’T GO ON AN OVERPRICED BUS TOUR. You can’t miss the guides in Midtown hawking tickets for hours-long jaunts on those huge red tour buses that circulate throughout the city. But don’t get sucked in: They give you only the briefest overview of tourist attractions.
    INSTEAD: Book a spot on a bike or walking tour. Get Up and Ride cycling tours aren’t cheap, but they’ll take you to areas of New York that you may not have visited—plus, some tours (such as its brunch jaunt) offer food as part of the ticket price. For history buffs, the Municipal Art Society offers walking tours that show off the city’s architectural gems and hidden spots, often for less than $20.

    4 - DON’T GO SHOPPING ON FIFTH AVENUE OR BROADWAY. Out-of-towners clog the sidewalks in Midtown and SoHo while indulging in window-shopping along the areas' main retail thoroughfares. But those stores aren't particularly unique; they’re the same chains or designer brands you’ll find in Anywhere, U.S.A.
    INSTEAD: Seek out boutiques in the Lower East Side. The downtown neighborhood is filled with indie and vintage shops that cater to both ladies and gents. Orchard Street has a particularly high concentration of hip shops, including the Dressing Room, a hybrid vintage shop-bar, and the Tenement Museum Store, a museum shop that offers books, New York-Centric gifts and more.

    5 - DON’T WAIT ON LINE FOR A CRONUT. Dominique Ansel’s hybrid pastry—a cross between a flaky croissant and a doughnut—debuted last spring and quickly became the Next Big Food Thing, inspiring crowds to queue for hours to sample the snack. But while Ansel’s creation is tasty, it doesn’t live up to the hype—and it’s certainly not worth planning an entire day around.
    INSTEAD: Sample a gourmet doughnut. There are plenty of shops selling fancier versions of the humble fried-dough snack, but without the four-hour wait. Doughnut Plant, in business since 1994, was at the forefront of the upscale-doughnut trend and still does it better than anyone else. We like the moist, dense cake doughnuts, in over-the-top flavors like dulce de leche and carrot cake.

    6 - DON’T COMPETE WITH THE CROWDS AT THE MET OR MoMA. Don’t get us wrong: These institutions are among the city’s best, and offer a cultural experience like no other. But you’ll also contend with lots of tourists—especially on weekends—which makes much more difficult to check out the amazing art on view.
    INSTEAD: Visit one of the city's amazing but underrated museums. The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, is a pop-culture fiend’s dream, with exhibits covering filmmaking history, video games and movie-related artifacts. The Morgan Library and Museum is also a must: It’s beautiful, located in financier J.P. Morgan’s one-time abode, and visitors can explore his two-story library, among other opulent rooms.

    7 - DON’T GO TO THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING. The views from the top of this landmark are breathtaking, sure. But to experience them, you have to pay nearly $30 for a ticket, wait on a crazy-long line, and battle through groups of other people—all for a quick peek at the skyline from above.
    INSTEAD: Get a skyline view from Brooklyn Bridge Park. If it's views you're after, these ones can't be beat. The waterfront space offers multiple vantage points from which to enjoy sprawling Manhattan skyline vistas. Claim a spot on a bench in Pier 5 to gaze upon Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, or walk over the Squibb Park Bridge to see Midtown, the Brooklyn Bridge, and more.

    8 - DON’T GO TO TIMES SQUARE. Yes, it’s one of the city’s most iconic tourist attractions—and that’s exactly why you should avoid it. Unless you’re passing through to go to a Broadway show, there isn’t much to do in Times Square other than get stuck in a crowd of tourists gawking at… other tourists.
    INSTEAD: Go to the High Line. You’ll still encounter plenty of out-of-towners snapping photos along the elevated park, which attracts thousands of visitors per day. But, unlike Times Square, there’s plenty to see, from public-art projects to beautiful urban greenery.

    9 - DON’T GO TO A “SUPER TRENDY” BAR IN THE MEATPACKING DISTRICT. Unless you’re keen on waiting around for hours just to pack into an overly loud space with scenesters, or really enjoy shelling out hundreds of dollars for bottle service, it’s best to avoid the once-trendy, now-mostly-reviled "MePa" bar scene altogether.
    INSTEAD: Have a drink at one of the city’s best cocktail bars. In addition to being a beautiful space, the NoMad Hotel bar features excellent libations crafted by Leo Robitschek. Or head to Attaboy, a spin-off of the trendsetting Milk & Honey, where bartenders will craft a custom drink for you based on your tastes.

    10 - DON’T CHOW DOWN ON A STREET DOG OR DOLLAR SLICE. Have you ever seen the water that a street dog is kept warm in? We have. It’s not pretty. And while a dollar slice might seem like an attractive option—it is cheap, after all—what you’ll end up with is a rubbery, lukewarm bread triangle that barely resembles real New York pizza. Which is awesome.
    INSTEAD: Head to Smorgasburg. The Williamsburg food market is home to dozens of local vendors serving gourmet eats. Stuff yourself silly with savory dishes—including, yes, hot dogs (from the excellent, inventive Asia Dog) and pizza (from Pizza Moto)—and be sure to check out stalls slinging locally-made artisanal foods, such as pickles and granola.

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  • machomikemd's Profile Photo

    New York City Fridge Magnets

    by machomikemd Written Jul 14, 2014

    yes, I'm an avid collector of refrigerator magnets too besides the shot glasses and when visiting a destination, The first thing that I would buy are the shot glasses and the refrigerator magnets and here in Manhattan and New York City, it is no different and the variety and kinds of ref magnets here in Manhattan are varied and are numerous. You can buy them everywhere, at the Hotels and at Canal Street, Battery Park, Time Square, Central Park and more and they range from the plastic type to the aluminum or magnetized and porcelain type and they typically costs from $ 3.99 to $ 9.99 a piece, depending on the style or the materials and the designs used. buy them now!

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    New York City Shot Glasses

    by machomikemd Written Jul 14, 2014

    Having been an avid Collector of Refrigerator Magnets and Shot Glasses, I must buy a shot glass of New York City to be a part of my extensive colection of Shot Glasses at home and here, you can buy a variety of Shot Glasses as souvenir items and they are available in different types and themes like frosted glass, pewter, aluminum, tempered glass and more and have a number of designs. they retail from $ 3.99 to 9.99 a piece, depending on the type and design you want and are available everywhere in New York City, like in Time Square, Battery Park, Central Park, etc

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  • gwened's Profile Photo

    Thanksgiving in NYC and al.

    by gwened Written Jan 21, 2013

    yes its crowded but if it is your dream trip then by all means try it; it will a treasure.

    For Macy's
    http://www.marching.com/events/macys-thanksgiving-day-parade/

    For Thanksgivings
    http://www.nyctourist.com/thanksgiving.htm

    and al, the tourist office link above.

    for dining out, its been a while for me after living 13 yrs off it, but you can check destinations here for NYC, and this site that I am told its pretty good
    http://www.concierge.com/travelguide/newyorkcity/restaurants

    hope it helps

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    A veritable melting pot of cultures!

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Oct 28, 2012

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    (work in progress)
    To note that New York City is a veritable melting point of cultures is hardly an original observation. However, what I find so fascinating is to see how people adhere to traditional practices from their home cultures, even if they seem incongruous against the backdrop of NYC's ultra urban, 21st century cityscape.

    Take this elderly Chinese lady whom I happened to be walking behind in Greenwich village late one Sunday evening. She needed to carry two (very modern) black plastic refuse bags, and reverted to the age old practice of suspending them from either end of a pole which she then carried across her shoulders. East meets West, ancient meets modern - New York in microcosm.

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Voter registration underway

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Oct 27, 2012

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    (work in progress)
    My recent trip to New York took place in October 2012, less than a month before the Presidential election, and it was encouraging to see that voter registration was underway in a number of locations I passed.

    Democracy is something that most western countries hold dear, and is particularly significant for someone who lives in a relatively new democracy which tens of thousands of people sacrificed their lives over decades to make the right to vote a reality. So it always amazes me how many people either aren't on the voter's roll and/or don't exercise their democratic right to have a say in how they are governed. The way I see it, if you have the right to vote but don't, you have forfeited the right to criticise the way that the country is governed.

    Unfortunately I have yet to see a ballot slip that includes the option, "I consider all of the above to be blithering idiots and wouldn't vote for any of them in a pink fit"" ... probably for fear that said blithering idiot would win by a landslide!

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  • mrdarius's Profile Photo

    Check it out

    by mrdarius Updated Apr 4, 2011

    I never noticed this until recently, but many New Yorkers check each other out but never make eye contact. After you notice it for the first time, you will see it happen all the time. The checking out part isn't really as sleazy as it sounds. I think many New Yorkers are hyper sensitive when it comes to fashion, and they constantly analyze what's hot and what's not.

    As for the eye contact, it can be considered an aggressively hostile move to look someone in the eyes in New York (especially if you mean it). Don't worry if you happen to look someone in the eyes, but just be careful who you look at and how you do it. I'm making New York sound like a terrible place, but it's not. New York ranks 39th safest state (11th most dangerous), with N. Dakota as safest, and Florida as most dangerous with regards to violent crime (according to website listed below).

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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Chocolate Egg Cream Soda

    by richiecdisc Written May 24, 2010

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    This was something I had to try and was happy to find it at 2nd Avenue Deli. It's basically just seltzer, milk and chocolate syrup in it so not sure where the egg part of the name comes from. I wonder if back in the day it had egg yolks in it. At any rate, it's quite tasty and if you like chocolate syrup, you're bound to like these. Try one. It's a trip back to the time when soda fountains ruled.

    the eggs cream soda: a NYC institution
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  • Jenniflower's Profile Photo

    Pleasantly surprised with US Customs!

    by Jenniflower Written Aug 26, 2008

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    When we got to Newark there were terribly long queues as a flight from Asia had arrived at the same time as us.

    There were hundreds of people needing to get through customs, the majority being foreigners, needing the full customs check!

    We had sat next to a friendly Welsh couple on the plane and chatted with them in the customs line too, sharing funny stories.

    Even though we had heard that American Customs Officials are very tough and unfriendly, we found that they were thorough and friendly enough, even at 3am in the morning!

    We got through easily and continued on our way.

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  • Bunsch's Profile Photo

    Pharmacies...one of the pleasures

    by Bunsch Written May 24, 2008

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    Although I've lived in several major American cities, all of which had sufficient drug stores, it is only in Manhattan that I've become a devotee of the pharmacy. Here in New York, with rental prices at a premium, these emporia (Duane Reade, for example) somehow manage to include virtually everything that you'd find at a suburban shop. But like the old Ginsu knives advertisement, I hasten to add, "But wait! There's more!"

    Items -- specialized shampoos, unusual cosmetic lines, even handmade cards or things like loofahs in the shape of various aquatic animals -- can often be found in pharmacies which are just not available elsewhere. Since these places are everywhere, you need to check on the special qualities of the one closest to your hotel. Recently I've been quite fond of Gideon's Drugs, located at Broadway and 38th Street, which carries Kerastase (great hair stuff) and the aforementioned loofahs, and even has a second floor which was just too much for me to handle. Oh, and they've got great hair brushes, too! Information below is for Gideon's. They will deliver anywhere in New York.

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    Tribeca Film Festival

    by TexasDave Updated Apr 29, 2008

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    Started in 2002 by Robert De Niro after the WTC terrorist attacks to help revitalize the neighborhood, this is now a highly attended yearly event. At the main theater in Tribeca as well as other venues in the Lower East Side dozens of movies (documentaries, full-feature and low budget arthouse films are shown. Generally the director, producer and/or actors are present to have audience discussions after the screening. It normally lasts about 10 days at the end of April and into May each year.

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  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    New York City Water Tanks

    by von.otter Updated Apr 10, 2008

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    “Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.”
    — St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) ‘Canticle of the Sun,’ circa 1225

    When walking about low-rise areas, such as Greenwich Village or the East Village, you can look up too. Not to see the tall office towers, but a unique New York City fixture: the wooden water tank.

    New York City water tanks have been a fixture on this town’s skyline since the mid-19th century. It is estimated that there are between 10,000 and 15,000 wooden tanks in the city’s five boroughs. Their design has changed little from the 1800s; they are a vital element in the city’s water system.

    Beginning in the 19th century, New York City required all buildings taller than six stories to have a water tower on the roof to prevent the need for water high pressure at lower levels, which could rupture pipes.

    Water is pumped to the tanks and then it is fed by gravity into the building. When levels get too low, a valve in the tank signals the building’s basement pump to send water to the tank. The tanks store between 5,000 and 10,000 gallons of water. Water at the top is for everyday use; and the water at the bottom of the tank is reserved for fighting fire.

    Although there are some steel tanks, wooden ones are more common because they can be put together and taken up to the roof in stages and are less expensive.

    NYC Water Tank, Greenwich Village NYC Water Tank, Greenwich Village NYC Water Tank, Greenwich Village NYC Water Tank, Greenwich Village NYC Water Tank, Greenwich Village
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  • King_Golo's Profile Photo

    Have lunch at Herald Square

    by King_Golo Written Jan 17, 2008

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    Herald Square is a small island of green among the traffic noises of East 34th Street, 6th Avenue and Broadway. A square of maybe 20 x 10m, this place is very popular for lunch among those who work close by (e.g. at Macy's, which is just next door). I enjoyed sitting in all the hustle and bustle of Midtown, eating my lunch and watching people passing by. You could easily write a whole book by retelling what you overhear and oversee while sitting there...

    Herald Square

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  • Gypsystravels's Profile Photo

    New York is a cultural melting pot

    by Gypsystravels Updated Sep 29, 2007

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    Venture out to one or all of the other four boros (Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens or Staten Island) and you will reward yourself with so much more than the average tourist/traveler sees. The four boros along with Manhattan make up New York City and its where the majority of the New Yorkers call home.

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    Pride In The National Flag

    by Mikebb Written Jul 30, 2007

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    Wherever I went I noticed the "National Pride" of the American people, you cannot help but notice the number of locations the American Flag is flying, always in a prominent position.

    It is a magnificent flag , a large flag looks outstanding when completly opened by the breeze.

    Congratulations.

    National Flag at NY Stock Exchange
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