We have decided to share with you, our readers, some of our favorite neighborhoods in New York City. Whether they be special to us because of a beloved shop, a go-to, home turf restaurant, or simply hold specific memories from an intimate experience, these city blocks resonate with a certain kind of magic for us. Welcome to our blocks.
—The editors of WHERE New York
Central Park West, btw W. 76th & W. 81st Sts.
When I was a little girl, my Uncle Ira would drive into Canarsie, Brooklyn, from Belle Harbor, Queens, to pick me up and take me to the Upper West Side. I loved everything about those day trips: The wide, tree-lined streets and stone hedges bordering Central Park; the dinosaurs and dioramas of African wildlife in the American Museum of Natural History; and, being genetically wired as an eager eater, the warm, crusty pretzels smeared with mustard that we bought from the street carts in the summer (in the winter, it was the half-burnt chestnuts, already cracked open).
Happily, not so much has changed: The dinosaur halls got brighter, their bones repositioned to be anatomically correct and the humongous new titanosaur has made a splash at the museum. The park and streets feel exactly the same to me, and the museum still holds that hallowed essence. Since then, I have also discovered the New-York Historical Society (call me corny, but I love the 18-minute “New York Story” film narrated by Liev Schreiber in the first-floor auditorium). Afterward, a chardonnay and a plate of gnocchi at the sleek Caffè Storico in the museum—possibly, the next best thing to a day with Uncle Ira.
—Lois Levine, editor-in-chief
W. 13th St., btw Sixth & Seventh Aves.
On this quiet residential street in Greenwich Village, where I walk every day, nature, history, culture, pleasing architecture and good food abound. There are apple blossom and magnolia trees, redbrick 19th-century town houses (the Olsen twins lived in one for a spell, their black SUV always idling out front) and a grand 1846 Greek Revival church with white Doric columns that has been converted into a condominium. I love knowing that, before he became an art star, Jackson Pollock was a janitor at the street’s private day school. A plaque on the northeast corner of Seventh and 13th marks the site where another artist, modernist painter Stuart Davis, subject of a retrospective a few blocks away at the Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking District (through September 25, 2016), lived and worked in a now-demolished studio. Students from the New School bunk in a dorm on the block, while the Salvation Army maintains a residence for women across the street. I never go hungry because there are six restaurants here, from seafood (Flex Mussels) and French (Café Loup) to Middle Eastern (Salam) and old-school Spanish at the appropriately named Spain. Completing this mini downtown Restaurant Row are two charming Italian standouts: Gradisca and Sotto 13. Recently, I was walking east when I passed Daniel Day-Lewis walking west. It’s that kind of block.
—Francis Lewis, executive editor
Columbus Circle, W. 59th St. & Eighth Ave.
Some of my most cherished memories were made around these fountains, which encircle the Christopher Columbus statue: Catching a breather after a sauna session and my first-ever barre class at nearby Exhale, savoring a picnic from the veggie-focused buffet at Whole Foods Market, reorganizing my bursting shopping bags after a splurge at The Shops at Columbus Circle and, most preciously, lingering hand in hand with my boyfriend after seeing my first opera, “La Bohème,” at The Metropolitan Opera, on an unseasonably warm night last December.
Now, the recently opened marketplace TurnStyle draws me back for underground shopping experiences, the tasty food from Ellary’s Greens and the smell of fresh blossoms from one of the flower vendors making the subway station almost pleasant. And when I’m feeling indulgent, I order a scoop of decadent hazelnut gelato from Grom, then walk it off around the base of Central Park.
I’m still eager to dine at A Voce. And soon, I’ll have to catch a jazz show at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. But no matter where the night begins, it will surely end with another memory made at these very fountains.
—Joni Sweet, associate editor
Rivington St., btw Chrystie st. & Bowery
On my ideal Saturday, I wander up from my third-floor walk-up in Chinatown to where my favorite restaurant and art museum reside. I first found this eclectic Lower East Side block from a Yelp search for brunch one weekend morning. The winning brunch spot, Freemans, is nestled at the end of an alley jetting off of Rivington St. and lit by Christmas tree lights. Its rustic, hunting-lodge vibe is complete with taxidermy, fireplaces and my favorite cocktail in the city—the Freemans cocktail with pomegranate molasses, lemon and orange bitters. After tipples and Colonial-influenced fare (pork and shrimp sausage in ginger-ramp sauce), I take a walk through the New Museum on Bowery, which, this month, includes the exhibit “The Keeper” (on view through September 25, 2016), dedicated to the act of archiving. Archived objects on view include Swedish artist Hilma af Klint’s 1907 spiritual paintings which she hid up, until her death, for fear that they were so radical. A visit to this museum isn’t complete without a view of the Lower Manhattan cityscape from its Sky Room. Back on Rivington St., I finish off my afternoon with a scoop of coffee crisp ice cream at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream.
—Lorraine Rubio, assistant editor
(All illustrations by Yuriy Ibragimov)