Hi, I think I remember you mentioning a while back that you had a great list for first time visitors of New York City? I happen to be going there and would love some advice. Thanks in advance!
Hi! My favorite things to do that are still a little touristy but also are a little off the beaten path for most tourists who plan things through actual tour guides and their concierges…
The Tenement Museum. One of the best museums I’ve been to. So good and so full of information. You visit an actual tenement building from the 1890s-1930s and go to one or two apartments which are still set up as they would have been back in the day, and you can see the census to see who actually lived there, and it sounds like “why would I want to do that” lol but the tour guides are GREAT and you learn so much about tenement life in NYC with a focus on immigrant families from Germany, Ireland, and Italy. I love it. Truly a fab museum.
Take the Staten Island Ferry for FREE from the terminal in lower Manhattan to Staten Island and back. It goes past the Statue of Liberty, so you’re not spending like $30 on a boat that goes directly by there. The ferry is like a half hour each way and as soon as it gets to Staten Island, another one is getting ready to leave, so it’s like the perfect way to kill an hour. This used to be more low key but now more people are doing it, but it’s still waaaaay less of a crazy rush than getting an actual boat specifically to go see the statue.
Trampoline or trapeze on the pier! TSNY is this awesome trapeze school on the west side with great views of downtown and the river. You spend an hour learning trapeze or trampoline and it’s so much fun. The classes are small (like 4 for tramp, 8 for trapeze) and if it’s nice out, this is a great way to spend some time outdoors.
The Cloisters. It’s an art museum uptown (in my neighborhood actually!) and it’s part of the Met, but less-trafficked so if you want to see medieval/renaissance art but don’t want to be stuck in huge crowds, the Cloisters are great. Plus it’s so freaking scenic up here, and the museum itself is amazing (architecture-wise)…you feel like you’re a million miles and centuries away from NYC.
Take the tram to Roosevelt Island. Perfect if you’ve just walked up Fifth Ave and on the east side…just go a little more east to like 2nd Avenue and for the cost of a subway ride, you can take the tram over the East River to Roosevelt Island. Incredible views. You can either come right back, or spend some time on the island, which is super adorable.
Other things that are more touristy but that you kind of don’t want to miss if it’s your first time in NYC- Fifth Ave window shopping (or actual shopping), Top of the Rock, Empire State Building, see a Broadway show, walk the High Line, Central Park, Natural History Museum, the Met, whatever any guidebook says is a cool thing to do, just do it and don’t worry like “am I being too touristy?” Everyone who goes to NYC for the first time wants to see the main stuff.
We walked from Brooklyn to Columbus Circle, did the Tenement Museum (and everything in between), met @seize-the-davey and @jackkellystories (which was amazing), and ended up at 54 Below with Tommy Bracco (nbd) (the biggest deal actually). Basically @jackcowboyhero and I conquered NYC in 2 days and #newsiesforever is real. ❤️
Since you're the one that seems to be spearheading the Jewish Howard Stark headcanon thing (and thank you, for that), would you say that his conversation with Peggy in the recently released sneak peak supports that? His comments on religion and social class being barriers to getting to a higher place in society and all that?
Haha, sorry. Thanks for the ask, that’s the first time I’ve seen the clip. 616 Howard was born into money—he didn’t start his fortune. Apparently MCU Howard Stark’s origin is very different from 616 Howard’s, so some of the assumptions I made in my first post aren’t accurate.
Let’s break it down:
“My mother sewed shirtwaists for a factory”: for most Americans, the term “shirtwaist” evokes images of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which killed 146 people. The majority of the women working there were Jewish or Italian. The shirtwaist industry was primarily Jewish. I’ll quote Wikipedia here: “The New York shirtwaist strike of 1909…was a labor strike primarily involving Jewish women working in New York shirtwaist factories.”
At the time, 50% of the women working in the garment industry were Jewish. Again, Wikipedia: “In the production of shirtwaists in particular, the workforce was nearly all Jewish women.”
“The press of the day often referred to the garment industry as ‘a Jewish problem.’ The owners were almost exclusively Jewish, as were the majority of the workers.” (source)
he grew up on the Lower East Side: this was a very ethnically diverse neighborhood in the 1910s, but it has always been associated primarily (and very strongly) with the Jewish community. Very strongly. I’m from NYC, and I can tell you that our public schools teach the Lower East Side as a Jewish neighborhood. The Lower East Side is home to some of the most important Jewish cultural signifiers in America.
It was also known as Little Germany for a period, and since, realistically, the only other possible ethnicity for Howard is German, that’s worth examining. However, and this is from Wikipedia, “The neighborhood’s ethnic cohesion began to decline in the late 19th century from the population dynamics of non-German immigrants settling in the area.” In 1904, over a decade before Howard was born, a steamboat chartered by the local Lutheran Church sank, killing about 1,021 of its 1,300 passengers. This greatly accelerated the, at that time rapid, decline of the German population on the Lower East Side. 97 Orchard Street, a major tenement museum and a staple of any public school student’s field trips, apparently serves as a good indicator for ”the neighborhood’s majority ethnic group,” and in 1870 residents of the building were 55% German. By 1910, 100%of residents were Yiddish speaking, meaning they were at least ethnically Jewish. (source)
Statistically speaking, the most likely ethnicity for someone born in 1918 on the Lower East Side was Ashkenazi.
“There’s a ceiling for certain types of people based on how much money your parents have”: The construction of this sentence is interesting. When he’s talking about “certain types of people,” he’s not referring to growing up poor. He’s saying that other poor Americans can get somewhere on their own, but that there’re “certain types of people” who need more than their ingenuity, who can’t just jump into the American dream. That he had to lie to move past his “type.”
“Your social class, your religion, your sex!” Social class is too vague a term, I’m not going to get into it. He says “sex” at the end very pointedly, indicating that Peggy should agree with him. But why bring up religion? When did religion come into this conversation? It was always there. From the moment he said he grew up on the Lower East Side, Peggy knew what that meant.
“The only way to break through that ceiling sometimes is to lie, so that’s my natural instinct: to lie." This one is almost self-explanatory. Why has Howard’s ethnic background never come up? Because he’s Jewish, and he doesn’t tell people that because if he did, his life would be 100x more difficult. Of course, in the context of this scene he’s justifying a very specific lie to Peggy, but he began the conversation with his origins, and he’s still referring to that here. He’s saying, “how did I get past that ceiling for ‘certain types of people?’ I lied about it.” What did he lie about? Not about having money. Not about coming from nothing. Those would be unnecessary and extremely convoluted lies. He lied about his type. And what could his type be, that he had to lie about it?
Hello! I'm a mad creature from Australia who is seeking advice. You posted up an amazing selection of amazingness about NY & London aaaaages back. I don't suppose you know where it is or could give me a snapshot of some of that info again? I'm going to be in London just before Christmas and then going onto NY for Christmas/NYE and you having lived in both cities and generally being amazing I figured you would be the lady to ask. Hope you can help! xx sapph
YES of course boo! here you go:
Restaurants (some highlights)
Uva (Upper East Side)
Caracas (Lower East Side)
Malatesta (West Village)
Buvette (West Village)
Heidi’s House (UES)
Little Owl (West Village)
Dumont (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
Rosa Mexicano (UES, Upper West Side, Union Square)
Sweet Chick (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
Sushi Samba (West Village)
John’s Pizza (West Village, Times Sq)
Palma (West Village)
Penrose (bar with good pub fare, UES)
Momofuku Milk Bar (East Village, Midtown, UWS)
Met and Natural History (UES and UWS, respectively)
Tenement Museum (by appt only, LES)
Museum of Sex (Rose Hill)
Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design (UES)
Historical Society (UWS)
NY Public Library (midtown)
Frick Collection (UES)
Museum of the City of New York (midtown)
Neue Gallery (UES)
NYC Police Museum (Financial district)
Park Avenue Armory (UES)
Evolution (amazing cabinet of curiosities, SoHo)
Brooklyn Flea Market (Ft Greene)
Strand Book Store (the best, Union Sq)
Forbidden Planet (a geek’s heaven, Union Sq)
Trash & Vaudville (birthplace of punk, St Marks)
Search & Destroy (scary, weird, cool, St Marks)
Dressing Room (LES)
Pearl River (all-in-one Chinese/Japanese import megastore, SoHo)
Babeland (18+ only!, LES)
Rudy’s Music (most beautiful guitar shop in the world, SoHo)
Designer Resale (nabbed a Prada trench here for $70 - this place is amazing, UES)
Kinokuniya (Japanese bookstore, midtown)
Rizzoli (one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, bilingual English/Italian, midtown)
Topshop (just as much as a ripoff as it is in the UK, but the venue is cool; across the street from Pearl River in SoHo)
Obscura Antiques (LES)
Toy Tokyo (St Marks)
Shakespeare & Co Booksellers (UES)
Bethesda Fountain in Central Park
English, Italian gardens in Central Park
Basically, Central Park
SLEEP NO MORE
Walk along the Hudson and/or East Rivers at night
And just try to walk everywhere you can. xxxx
BLOOMSBURY/FITZROVIA/MARYLEBONE • british museum (taking tea here is exceptionally good) • marylebone high st is my favorite street for walking in london, especially for cath kidston, conrans, daunt books (my favorite bookshop in the world) and a delightful weekend market at the top of the street near baker street tube called “cabbages & frocks” • the library at RADA (not sure if this is open to the public) • the misc squares and general stunning georgian leafiness of bloomsbury • denmark street is the best street in london for buying musical instruments. i’ve spent hundreds of afternoons at hank’s in a big armchair playing their stunning guitars. • FORBIDDEN PLANET DUH • if you happen to be on mortimer st, the george was my pub when i lived on nassau st. have a pint on me. • roka sushi. so so good. • suka - malaysian fare in the sanderson, an inconspicuous fashion hotel. to-die-for food but pricy. even if you can’t afford the grub, go into the hotel for a drink at the long bar. the elevator gives the illusion that you’re standing in a starry sky.
CENTRAL/SOHO • selfridges natch • carnaby street is a gorgeous little hub for shopping, though it can be touristy; dance around the edges to find hidden gems, like the great frog, which makes fucking awesome jewelry. head into kingly court for amazing vintage finds, five-minute massage parlors, tea emporiums and beauty salons. • ronnie scott’s. brilliant jazz club. • milk & honey. serious bar with serious booze. • go shopping at covent garden. get a cookie from ben’s cookies. for the love of god go get one of those cookies.
NOTTING HILL/WESTBOURNE GROVE • cafe 202. the best french toast i have ever had in my life. ever. • hummingbird bakery. this is a no brainer. go here. do not ever skip here. there is also one in south kensington near the natural history museum so you have no excuse. go. and get the red velvet cupcake and dissolve into a puddle of tears at the fact that you’ve never had anything this good in your life. • portobello market can be insufferable sometimes but it really is worth it. unbelievable treasures everywhere. alice’s at the top of portobello road is particularly strange and wonderful. it has everything from preserved animals in jars to globes to unreturned library books to circus paraphernalia. there’s also an awesome cowboy shop next door. • the portobello star. pub specializing in historical cocktails. awesome little place, don’t go on a weekend though.
KILBURN • very off the beaten tourist path, but a must-visit if you’re young and into music. i went to school here for a year and it was a big stomping ground for me. the entire high street is littered with pubs and open mic nights and live music venues. walk around and explore. the north london tavern is my definitive pub. then there’s the brondes age, ciao ciao, the king’s head, the good ship, and powers - which is the first place i ever did a gig. the area can be a little dodgy at night but use common sense and you’ll be all right.
KENSINGTON/WEST KENSINGTON • i went to drama school here and lived here for a few years. the curtains up near barons court was my pub. (also the albion close by.) i love that place, it’s probably my favorite pub in london, if only for the memories. they make really good food as well. westfield shopping centre is fun if it’s pouring rain and you have nothing else to do. go to kensington palace if you can, and have a drink at the kensington roof gardens. otherwise there’s not much to do except enjoy the lovely park. kensington is largely residential and very expensive.
EAST LONDON • 93 feet east is a fantastic club for people who don’t like clubbing (like me). lots of different musical choices to choose from scattered all over the compound, from live rock to pop to reggae to trance…a lot of fun. but be wary. brick lane is notoriously debauched on weekends. call addison lee in advance for a taxi to come pick you up. do not take the night bus on your own. (this actually goes for most of london, unless you’re right in central - and even then it can be a bit rough on the weekends. the tube shuts at 11 so use common sense if you’re out late.) • brick lane market. amazing treasure trove of eclectic goodies. • the mockingbird. awesome tapas owned by my best friend’s dad and brother. authentic spanish food and the paella is out of this world.
idk that’s like a list of things i really love to do but there is SO MUCH MORE i mean i’ve been there years, so it’s hard to sum up everything, but other areas to check out include:
• camden town (and if you want a fancy night out, go to gilgamesh. a friend’s dad owns it. amazing asian fusion with a fun dance club upstairs.) • knightsbridge (harrods and harvey nics are staples, but only really necessary to visit to say you’ve been there. harrods has a ladurée inside - the legendary french patisserie - so it is worth going there to have a macaron or six. however, signor sassi - tucked away in a little side street - makes the best italian i have ever had, and you will fall in love with all the waiters.) also go to embankment and take a walk along the river. cross the bridge, explore south bank. definitely go see a play at the national.
also GO HAVE PING PONG DIM SUM THEY ARE ALL OVER THE CITY AND IT IS MY FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT ANYTHING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. LIKE THEY HAVE ONE IN DC AND I LITERALLY WENT TO DC JUST TO EAT THERE BECAUSE I MISSED PING PONG SO MUCH. SO GO TO PING PONG.
This 1928 NYPL overdue book slip was miraculously discovered in the 1980s during the construction of the Tenement Museum. The Museum kept the card on display, stating that the title of the book on the card is “one of the great mysteries, we unfortunately do not know.” That is, until yesterday, when the Museum turned to Twitter for help deciphering the handwriting. Within a few hours, the mystery was solved. The book, which may have never been returned, was Israel by by Ludwig Lewisohn. A great example of the power of social media.
Sarah Larsonparticipates in a new public program at the Tenement Museum:
“Varma led us downstairs and outside, where we climbed a few steps to the front door of 97 Orchard. She knocked, and a dark-haired young woman in a high-collared blouse and a floor-length olive-green skirt answered. She held a stiff straw broom. ‘Shalom aleichem!’ she said. ‘We don’t got an apartment to rent. I’m the landlady, Dora Goldfein.’
‘We’re the tenement inspectors,’ Varma said, waving her arm at the group in plaid shirts, shorts, and badge stickers standing on the stairs.”
Lower East Side used to be the most densely populated area in the world, hosting a large working-class immigrant community. From the 1870s through the 1930s, many people began their American Dreams in this neighborhood. But as immigration slowed and social policies changed, especially with the suburban explosion of the 1950s and beyond, this area fell derelict. In recent years, however, young urban professionals looking for affordable housing and conveniences of city life have revitalized and gentrified the area.
Most new immigrants lived in tenements like these. By New York City law, a tenement is defined as any residential building with three or more units, though the term usually connotes old working-class buildings like these. City housing codes have evolved to make tenement living more tolerable and safer, such as requiring windows, running power and water, and a minimum number of toilets per residential units, and banning wooden stairs (fire hazard). Needless to say, landlords grumbled about the cost of compliance, and they gave up on many of these buildings when immigration slowed to a trickle after 1924.
The immigrants who came to this area at first were Germans and Eastern Europeans in the late 19th Century. By the turn of the 20th Century, Italians and other Southern Europeans were taking over. Today, in a more vitalized Lower East Side, the Chinese, spilling over from nearby Chinatown, are the dominant immigrant group, as evidenced by the laundromat sign. Community organizations and services have always existed (and continue to exist) to cater to the needs of the new immigrants, in their languages and cultures.
Also located in this area is the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, which offers guided tours of four preserved tenement buildings on Orchard Street, restored to the period appearance of a given decade and its immigrant resident. I ended up touring a windowless 1870s tenement of a German-speaking Prussian single mother, as well as a much nicer 1930s tenement of an Italian couple, learning their stories. Highly recommended.