This week, it’s Executive Director Paul Hastings’ turn to share his five favorite spots in NYC!
I moved to NYC in August 2006. I first lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, followed by Harlem, Brooklyn and once again in Harlem, before moving to Maplewood, New Jersey in April 2014. However, my roots in NYC go back much farther. My grandparents lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn for 25 years. They were both ministers at the Union Church of Bay Ridge. My mom and her three sisters grew up in Brooklyn, and I remember visiting my grandparents house on 86th Street as a child.
1. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
In honor of my family, I’ve decided to list Bay Ridge as my top spot in NYC! Bay Ridge is deep into Brooklyn and is often overlooked by tourists. It is a diverse community on the Verrazano Narrows, which is the entrance from the Atlantic Ocean into NY Harbor. There is a great promenade that you can walk along and lookout over the harbor, up to Manhattan and across to Staten Island and New Jersey. Here is a link to an article from the NY Times about Bay Ridge. The article recommends a number of things to do in the community.
2. Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but don’t want to stray too far, there is no better place to go than Red Hook. Brooklyn Crab is a restaurant in Red Hook that looks out over the water. Brooklyn Crab is best on a hot summer day. You feel like you’ve left NY for a beach town, and the crab and other fare are delicious. It gets crowded, so make sure to arrive at 11:30am when it opens. Then, after lunch, stroll up Van Brunt Street and check out lots of little boutiques and art galleries.
3. Able Baker in Maplewood, NJ
I’m cheating a bit with this one. As I mentioned above, I moved with my family to Maplewood in April 2012. Maplewood is a 45 minute train ride from Penn Station in Manhattan, but has a lot to offer if you are seeking to get away from the city for a day. The Abel Baker is one of the town’s attractions. It is simply one of the best bakeries in the United States. The NY Times review describes it much better than I can. There are other little gems in Maplewood, including boutiques, art galleries, cafes, a movie theater, etc. The quaint main street harks back to another time, and the South Mountain Reservation provides ample opportunity to hike and enjoy the outdoors.
4. Bowery Ballroom
If you are a fan of live music, you should make sure to catch a show at the Bowery Ballroom. There is no other place in NY that epitomizes the independent music scene than the ‘Bowery.’ Tickets to hot shows sell out quickly, but there are typically four to five shows per week at the Bowery. You can check out their show calendar on their website. The Bowery itself is a neighborhood in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. For years, the Bowery was home to waves of newly arrived immigrants. We will be visiting the Tenement Museum during the Global Link program. The museum, which is housed in a tenement building, illustrates how difficult life was and is for many immigrants to NY.
5. The Great Hill in Central Park
Central Park is truly amazing, and especially so in the summer. However, what many people do not realize is that one of Central Park’s best kept secrets is walking distance from I-House. The Great Hill is in the northwest corner of the park (see map above), and is a wonderful place to picnic and relax on a warm summer evening. When I lived in Harlem, my wife and I would often spend time at the Great Hill.
About Paul: Paul lived in Japan for 11 years as a child, in Kanazawa, Kobe and Mitaka (near ICU!). He studied abroad in Sri Lanka and lived in India for six months after college. He loves the outdoors, music and food. He lives in Maplewood, NJ with his wife and two young sons.