"This is Fitzgerald's "Valley of Ashes""
This is a lower middle class area where the guy from King of Queens is supposed to live. If you are out in this area, you should stop by the Corona Plaza, which is central to the residential neighborhood and representative of the chaos that goes on in Manhattan. There has been a huge decrease in crime here in recent years, and the many of the residents here claim the Dominican Republic as their nationality.
Fun facts: the lyrics “goodbye to Rosie, the queen of Corona” was a reference to this neighborhood (and not the beer), and this is the wasteland that F. Scott Fitzgerald described in The Great Gatsby as the “valley of ashes.”
"Used to be an enclave slightly seperated from the rest of the borough, but no more"
This neighborhood juts out into Flushing Bay and is a working class/ middle class area. This is a pretty residential area that is in no way a tourist destination. The neighborhood has experienced some development recently, as is inevitable for all New York neighborhoods as the population swells, and the neighborhood has begun hosting summertime street fairs and other community-friendly events. Developers love this area because they can acquire cheap property and flip it or make rental profits.
"Nice area, with its own golf course"
This neighborhood sits next to the Clearview Golf Course, which is something that I absolutely cannot appreciate, though I’m sure there are many who can. This is a pretty expensive place to buy a home (as is usually the case with neighborhoods on golf courses), but since the neighborhood also has a bit of waterfront property one can expect to have to shell out a bit of extra cash for real estate. There aren’t very many interesting eateries out here, not that you would travel miles to see anyway – unless you consider Applebees to be such a place. (And if you do, you can be sure to find one a bit closer to your hotel, anyway.)
"Nice neighborhood but a far trip to Manhattan"
This neighborhood is pretty far from civilization; it borders on Long Island at the southeastern most part of the borough of Queens. It may be appealing to some are dying to buy a home that fits their entire family, but I would not recommend this neighborhood to anyone, tourist or potential resident alike solely based on the fact that there isn’t much to do out here. There are of course restaurants and delis, like in any neighborhood, but nothing that is worth the commute all the way out to this no man’s land. The atmosphere of this neighborhood is one of any suburb – it’s a middle/upper middle class neighborhood, mostly populated by African Americans.
"Next to JFK is a big minus"
This neighborhood borders on the JFK airport, so there is obviously a bit of an issue with noise from air traffic (which can be annoying). On the upside, there is a huge park that borders the neighborhood (and what can I say, after years of concrete I’ve become a sucker for the anything green). This park is only a plus for residents who are forced to be subjected to the noise pollution from jetliners, rather than an enticing place to visit for tourists. Don’t get me wrong, the park is beautiful – it’s just very far from the places one should visit as a tourist in NYC.
"So close to the city... yet so far"
Broad Channel is a neighborhood out in the middle of Jamaica Bay, a feat cool in itself. However, waterfront property isn’t as high of a demand in New York City as that of say the Upper East Side (unless of course we are talking about a river view from Manhattan), so what you find here is a residential neighborhood set completely apart from the rest of the city. It seems a really bland place to live, and the sort of place a teenager would dream of escaping (so close to the city, and yet so far!). Of New York City it’s really true that the further you get from Manhattan the further you get from the city’s stereotype.
- Families with kids
"Move here if you can't live without your car"
This is a neighborhood lodged deep in Queens, and as expected, it’s pretty residential. It doesn’t even resemble the New York that people come to know through television and movies, so if you are a tourist prepare to be heartbroken. However, if you are looking to raise a family outside of the confines of a concrete jungle, this area has more grass than the usual NYC neighborhood, and is more car-friendly, if for some reason you actually have a car. (I take that back, if you live out here, you may find that life is somehow easier with a car than without.)
Breezy Point Roxbury
"Wouldn't live there, but visiting is nice"
Tourists don’t come to New York City to view natural seascapes out on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, but plenty of New Yorkers feel the need for seascapes after spending the winter months in their concrete jungle. This is a good place to visit to relieve yourself from the stress of the city, though I wouldn’t recommend living way out here if you need to make a daily commute to any of the city’s business districts on a daily basis.
The neighborhood is home to a surf shop, and a beach bar – which seem strange bedfellows to the city of New York for a tourist, but are a welcome change if you’ve been in the city too long.
"Residential spot that features family friendly park"
Bowne is a park in Flushing that recently underwent massive renovation. It’s not the biggest park in the city, but it is a refreshing expanse of green lawn that sort of reminds one of a certain park in London. The area around the park is pretty residential, and the park itself isn’t enough of a draw to leave your precious tourist hot spots. For residents, however, the park is pretty cool – especially for people with young children, as the park hosts all kinds of playground equipment (the usual slides, swings, but also a “community room” that is also a nursery).
Bellerose Floral Park
"Standard stuff suburbs are made out of"
This area doesn’t even look like it is part of the rest of the city. It looks like a suburb you would find in New Jersey, or anyone of the ones on Long Island – which this neighborhood borders on. The neighborhood is so small that it shares a zip with the one nextdoor, Glen Oaks, so that all of the residents here receive mail that is addressed to them in Glen Oaks, which gives you an idea of the quaintness of this suburb-like neighborhood. This is no place where you will ever find a red blooded tourist worth his salt, but it is a nice place to live in New York if you want to be away from New York – if you get my drift.
"Bland vanilla residential neighborhood"
It isn’t often that you get to say “there really isn’t much to say about this New York neighborhood,” but, unfortunately, this is one of those times. Bayswater is, obviously, on the water down near Long Island and the neighboring Queens neighborhood of Far Rockaway (which, I’m pretty sure, is where the train ends). Don’t worry, though, the A stops through this neighborhood on its way to the end of the line. This is, however, the only line that goes all the way out here, and this is quite a commute for anyone who needs to get into Manhattan on a regular basis.
"Nice residential spot"
Though it may bear the same name as the high school that Zack Morris attended, this neighborhood is way way out there – certainly no place that any living tourist has ever ventured (save those going to the city to visit grandmothers who live out here). The neighborhood is therefore super residential, though it does (obviously) have some waterfront property. If you like the fact that it is so far from the city while still actually being a part of the city, then take extra comfort in the fact that this is one of the safest neighborhoods in Queens – indeed, the numbers concerning crime are pretty impressive.
"Incredibly residential / boring"
The library seems to be the main attraction of this neighborhood, located way up in the northern area of the borough of Queens. Just from that statement, you can gauge that this is a mainly residential spot – even if there were the most amazing tourist attractions way out here it seems unlikely that many tourists would trek all the way out to see them. The library, however, offers up a decent selection of multi-national literature in Greek, Korean, and Chinese. Unlike most (or all others besides this one) New York neighborhoods, it doesn’t really seem as if Auburndale has a strong sense of community pride. Maybe because there’s not really much going on here.
- Families with kids
"Interesting neighborhood for all"
This is the area just north of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, with a long long history, though it is mostly a residential spot. This is an area where there are larger real estate options (i.e., if you are looking for a two bedroom or a studio you should look elsewhere), and is a great spot for families. There is a lot of development in the area as far as apartment buildings and two-car garage homes are concerned as well. This neighborhood is actually a good spot for tourists to stumble around – and everyone should definitely check out Arepas Café, a Venezuelan restaurant that is recommended by just about everyone who makes recommendations.
- Families with kids
"Nothing special, seems like a lonely place"
This Queens neighborhood is so far from the rest of the city that it may as well be on Long Island (which it almost is). And guess what? There’s nothing here. Well, nothing anyone would be dying to visit. I hear there used to be plenty of things to do here – summer cottages and boardwalks and whatnot, but all of these are no more (and it seems if some had their way, Coney Island would be going the same route). This is a residential spot, and some of the houses here can be pretty pricy, as this is after all waterfront or near-waterfront property.
"Quiet place, lovely if you're 30 and up"
This area is on the southwest side of Prospect Park (the actual park, as opposed to the neighborhood), and is quiet, low-key, and pretty easy on the eyes. It’s not a tourist hotspot though, and I’d advise you not to move in if you are looking for an enclave of artists or your fellow youths.
If you’re planning on getting married and starting a family, then this would be a great place to do it. The area is very residential, and still hosts a lot of Irish- and Italian-American families. A resident has everything they would want here, but a tourist would be left out to dry. The one thing to see in the area is Greenwood Cemetery, which is certainly worth the hike (or train ride) if you’ve never been.
- Families with kids
"Great for the twenty-something scene! And shoppers, young tourists, artists"
Williamsburg rents are on the rise, but a glimpse into Craigslist will convince you that there are still relatively affordable places in this neighborhood. However, you may want to be advised that although this is a very fun place to live (if you are say, 25 years old), many streets on this neighborhood are beleaguered with noisy drunk long after the bars close. That being said, this still may be just your scene – I know I certainly enjoyed living here. Everything is at your fingertips: shopping, eateries, record stores, bars, music venues.
Of these places, I’d recommend Union Pool (a pretty cool music venue that showcases a lot of local bands), and Dumont Burger (it’s small and low key, and they have some good beers on tap and serve delicious giant burgers).
"Fairly nice spot, great for families"
This is a nice neighborhood for couples or people who are thinking of starting a family (or who already have!). Sunset Park gives off an historic vibe with its rowhouses and tree lined streets. The neighborhood is very resident-oriented – and resembles Park Slope in that way, though it is a bit prettier to behold. The neighborhood is an official Historic Place in the city, and that is really apparent when you look at the houses here, which give off such an obvious historic charm – this is a great neighborhood for those who want to avoid chain developers like Chilis or Borders, as you won’t find anything like that here.
"Residential, not an easy commute"
Like most Brooklyn neighborhoods, this one is making a kind of real estate comeback, even if it wasn’t such a hot place to live in recent decades. This neighborhood is way out near Brighton Beach, so it isn’t exactly an easy commute to the city if that is what you require. This used to be the neighborhood where you could find Lundy’s – but that restaurant closed a couple of times and doesn’t seem to be anymore even if residents like to keep the rumors alive. This neighborhood isn’t exactly a tourist hot spot, but it’s a nice quiet neighborhood, close to…the beach.
"Red Hook is a developing neighborhood"
I’ve heard a lot in the past about how Red Hook is supposed to be the new Williamsburg – or rather, what Williamsburg used to be before all of the businesses arrived with their trendy shops, bars, record stores, and restaurants: an enclave of artists living where ever the rent is cheap. I don’t know how true this is – but this neighborhood features a mixture of classes. Many working class people find themselves living beside luxury car owners here. Condo projects and shopping centers are in the works for Red Hook, so its days as any kind of bohemia are numbered.
"Yuppy neighborhood, caters to residents"
This is a middle class residential area – perfect if you’re looking to raise a family away from the chaos of Manhattan, but not so great if you’re a Columbia student looking to commute to class everyday (it’s way down in south Brooklyn). They say that a lot of “yuppies” have moved in to the area, but there are still a number of international eateries maintained by locals.
This area is really a residents-only kind of place, not because it isn’t welcoming, but because anyone who doesn’t live here might find themselves a bit bored – especially if you are in your twenties and looking for a party.
Prospect Park South
"Great for families, quiet spot"
This kind of neighborhood (it’s one of the suburb-ish areas of Brooklyn) would be great for raising a family away from the hustle of Manhattan and the drunken glee of the young artist community in Williamsburg and surrounding areas. There are a lot of classic old houses, so if you are a tourist looking for a picturesque walk this neighborhood offers that, even if it is a good deal away from the limelight of the city. Residents of this neighborhood are pretty gung-ho for the preservation of the area as-is (but many New Yorkers are highly protective over their own neighborhoods). Prospect Park South would surely strike onlookers as a mostly residential place, rather than the sort of spot that would attract tourists or residents of other neighborhoods.
"Okay neighborhood, nice big park"
If you’re willing to make the commute (and many people are simply just forced to commute), this neighborhood is relatively close the twenty-something hot spots in Brooklyn. This is actually as far away from Manhattan as I’d be willing to go if I were looking for a new apartment. The park itself (of the same name) is really beautiful when there is grass on the ground and leaves on the trees – every neighborhood really needs a spot where residents can get away from all of the concrete, and Prospect Park has one of the better options as far as that goes.
"Lots of Caribbean food in this tiny enclave"
This tiny historic district is actually inside of the neighborhood of Flatbush. This is one of those spots that developers are salivating over, as it hasn’t been built on in a while, stimulating the usual reactions of local New Yorkers (some think development is a great idea, while others want to maintain the neighborhood they have now).
Besides plans to erect a Manhattan-esque luxury condo smack in the middle of the area, the neighborhood also features the sort of things you’d expect from an area mostly populated by Caribbean Americans – mainly the assortment of Caribbean style restaurants. This area is low-key and unpretentious.
"Nice neighborhood for residents with money"
There is a variation of residents here – people of a mixture of ethnicities live in the rowhouses on these tree-lined streets. The actual neighborhood is relatively small, and you can have your pick of 1890s brownstones or shiny new luxury apartments if you can afford the rents. Though Prospect Heights borders on some not-so-nice spots, there are actually some pretty cool places to go here, like Flatbush Farm. Local farms supply this restaurant with organic ingredients, which is always reassuring, and even if the restaurant has the word ‘farm’ in the title, this space is actually chic and chill. Oh, and the food is great, too!
- Families with kids
"Park Slope is great neighborhood, close to everything... but not that close"
Park Slope is a great place to live for young people who want to be close to the bars and parties that go on in Williamsburg, but at the same time don’t want to constantly be in the party (i.e, have to listen to screaming drunks tottering down the sidewalks every night).
It’s a really quiet neighborhood, and the rents are relatively affordable for a young professional – and all of the apartments I’ve visited here have been nice and well kept by various landlords. I actually know a lot of people who won’t live in any other neighborhood. There are bars and places to eat around here too, though they are the trendy spots you’ll see in culture-commodity centers like Willliamsburg.
- Families with kids
"Check out Mill Basin Kosher Deli"
Mill Basin Kosher Deli gets a surprising amount of reviews for a deli in New York – there are so many of them, after all. Many people make the claim that it is one of the best delis around, and some go so far as to say it’s the best deli food they’ve ever eaten.
However, this neighborhood is about as far as you can get from civilization in Brooklyn (civilization being, say, the Lower East Side or even just Park Slope). It’s way out there, so chances are that you won’t be in the vicinity of Mill Basin Kosher Deli unless you are planning on moving way out here to this residential spot – and if you are make sure you visit!
"Suburbia in Brooklyn"
This middle-of-Brooklyn neighborhood is a surprising taste of the suburbs (well, not that surprising, as it seems the farther you get from the nucleus of Manhattan, the more likely you are to live in a house rather than an apartment). There isn’t much out here by way of tourism – so if you’re a tourist, don’t even bother. If you’re a potential resident, though, then you can take your pick of some pretty big living spaces, and this neighborhood may be suburb-ish, but it isn’t a dead zone, like many of the outer-borough neighborhoods tend to be. The neighborhood is charming and has its own train stops – what more can a resident ask for, really, except to be a bit closer to the city.
- Families with kids
"Okay, but far from city life"
The population here is less than number of student that attended my state college, and the area is relatively calm, cool, and collected – as New York neighborhoods go. There is a pretty spacious park in the vicinity (the aptly named Marine Park), and in New York parks are to be treasured, and this one is relatively large and worth a look if you’re in the neighborhood. The neighborhood is populated by local delis and hardware stores – businesses that would be associated with residents rather than tourists. If you’re looking to be in the midst of the action, this is not your neighborhood – no trains even stop here, so you’d be finding yourself walking from neighboring ‘hoods everyday if you don’t have a car (and why would you want one in this city?).
"It's a real beach, sort of"
There is a park here that actually resembles a sandy beach – it’s not Puerto Rico or anything, but this might be as close as it gets inside the city. There’s a boardwalk for strolls (if you are not the type to just go barefoot in the sand – which can be work), and there is a bit of a crowd during warmer months. This is a park, so don’t expect the usual American commodities (hot dogs or whatever) – pack a picnic instead. Surrounding the park is a residential neighborhood that has long been populated by a Jewish community. There are a lot of huge homes out here that offer waterfront views – if you don’t mind the constant crowd that pours in from the rest of the city to utilize that strip of sand.
- Families with kids
"Lots of pretty rowhouses in this area"
K-town is fun to walk through, especially if you find rowhouses admirable. It’s sort of in between some good neighborhoods and some that you wouldn’t want to hang out in late at night (Prospect Park).
There is a stable that goes by the name of Kensington Stables, and it’s the only remaining stable of what used to be more – however, it is close to Kensington but is located in what would more aptly be Prospect Park. In any case this is the only thing around that has any semblance of a tourist attraction. Riders can get instructions, etc, and horseback ride till they drop.
- Families with kids
"Pretty area for peaceful walks"
It’s still pretty unbelievable to me that this gorgeous cemetery exists in Brooklyn, which is part of a city that is not exactly known for its greenery. But during the warmer months this place really flourishes, and as long as you’re not creeped out by the fact that you’re walking among the dead, this is a really beautiful spot for a spring or summer stroll. There’s a pond here that looks like something straight out of a Monet painting, and there are various little water spouts and falls throughout the property – it’s as if a cemetery decided attempt to be a garden.
"Awesome neighborhood, close to nightlife"
Greenpoint is a really great area. Sure, the hipsters are moving in to be near (but also a bit distanced from the debauchery) Williamsburg, but the Polish community here still makes itself pretty known through little delis, bread shops, and restaurants. I really like this area, and recommend it to tourists who despise Times Square and other Disney World-like attractions. It’s also a great place to live – I know a lot of young people who live around here, especially girls who want to be close to Williamsburg but can’t afford to live there, and don’t want to live in a less safe place like Bushwick. This neighborhood is clean and safe and pretty bustling during the daylight hours.
- Families with kids
"Quiet neighborhood, far from everything"
If you’re a tourist chances are the only reason you would be in this neighborhood is to pass through it on your way to Coney Island. However – if you are a resident, then there are a few pretty good restaurants to be had in the area. One of these is the kosher eatery, the appropriately named Kosher Hut of Brooklyn. Also in the neighborhood is Fiorentino’s Ristorante, which gets mixed reviews from the locals – but the critics keep insisting that it’s pretty good stuff.
There is some prime real estate way out here, though – if you’re looking for a fancy home that is relatively far from city life (but closer than New Jersey), and you can shell out the cash, then this is your spot.
"I'm not sure why anyone would come to NYC to fish, but..."
This neighborhood seems more like a quaint little town than a neighborhood in the big city. It is located on the water, obviously, but that is the neighborhood’s best quality. If you head over to the shore you can see what resembles, or passes for, a nature scene in the city. There is fishing to be had here too, apparently, if that’s what you’re into. I myself like to stay dry and warm and go shopping before eating out – so if you’re anything like me, then this is not the place for you. If you’re looking for a ritzy beach scene, you won’t find that here either.
- Families with kids
"Industrial spot - one of many in Brooklyn"
This neighborhood is in the area between Red Hook and Park Slope, and is a pretty big industrial area. If people live here, it is usually because they are residents of one of the housing projects, of which there are two. I can’t imagine why either tourist or New York native would wander into this area – and I’d be willing to be that many New Yorkers don’t even know this neighborhood exists. There are always rumors that this area will be developed into…something, but so far no progress can be seen. Right now this area consists mainly of a polluted canal and other industrial wastes.
"Nice residential spot for all"
This neighborhood is different from many others in the city in that it is very racially diverse, even in the face of recent gentrification worries. The area is a historic district of the city, and it has long been a place where music and art flourished (though it is not exactly a trend-setting neighborhood – for such a place see Williamsburg). There are some bars in the area that are generally lounge/pub sort of places that cater to their neighborhood crowds. This is a nice place to live if you are looking for a mixed place, though I wouldn’t recommend it to the younger crowd.
- Families with kids
"Strangely secluded NY neighborhood"
I have to admit I’m pretty confused as to how this neighborhood actually has residents – unless they all have cars. In order to even get here without a car you have to catch a bus from a train station – and who wants to do that after a long day at the office. Not me, which is why I will never live here and am unlikely to be a frequent visitor. It’s true, though, that residents here love their neighborhood – they say there’s hardly any crime, which is probably because it’s tough for criminals to even get there.
Flatbush / Ditmas Park
"Working class neighborhood"
Like the eastern end of this neighborhood, Flatbush is also chock full of Caribbean immigrants who’ve installed plenty of island-friendly restaurants. The residents here are mostly Black and West Indian, and many of them are middle class, though the majority seems to fall in the working class slot. I don’t care if it was once the home of Shaggy or Busta Rhymes, I have absolutely no interest in going to this neighborhood, and I won’t make any recommendations for it. I have a friend who is from this neighborhood, and it may sound funny, but his brother was once robbed by a gang of eighth graders – not something I would want to happen to me.
East New York
"Tourists just don't bother"
Low income residential neighborhoods like this one aren’t exactly known for bringing in the tourists – or bringing in much of anything, for that matter. This neighborhood is way out by the airport, almost at the end of the train line, so it would be quite a trip into the city for anyone without a car. It’s generally a place for commuters into the city (who, obviously, are advised to get a car). The area has quite a few public housing projects – which just goes to show you that the people who live in these sorts of residencies get the short end of the stick (meaning they get stuck way out in the boonies, forced to commute for miles to make any money).
"Yes, there's culture, but safety still questionable"
This neighborhood is thriving with Afro Caribbean culture – if you can dream up an island cuisine, you can probably find it here. People have it out over whether this neighborhood is safe or not, since culture whores want to promote it as being “thriving.” Let me put it to you this way: I’m not dying to go there for any reason, especially not when its dark and definitely not if I am alone. If you love rap, then you’ve probably heard mention of this neighborhood more than once – and there is history here, but not the kind of history that old white couples with cameras around their necks would be interested in. Steer clear unless you’re with someone that really knows the area, and even then be careful.
"Unique neighborhood, but pretty far out there literally"
This is a super residential neighborhood way down on the Gravesend Bay, in the southwest corner of Brooklyn. Some of the neighborhood’s original homes are still there today – cottage-like buildings with peaked roofs. I’m not sure if that’s something anyone would venture so far from civilization to go see, though. I wouldn’t recommend this neighborhood to any of my friends who were planning to visit the city, so I won’t recommend it to you, either. But if you are looking for tree-lined streets and want to invest in a fancy historic home, you should go down there and check it out.
"Clean but somewhat boring business district"
It may seem strange that New York City has so many downtowns, but this one is just what you’d expect from any area labeled with a “downtown,” it’s Brooklyn’s business district. It’s not as all-encompassing as the Financial District, located in Manhattan’s downtown, but it features some interesting examples of architecture, like the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tour and the MetroTech Center office park. This area isn’t exactly teeming with tourists, though, and probably for good reason – no one is going to care to see a picture of you in front of the Chase bank building at the office park!
"Questionable neighborhood - but it has vegan food!"
For some strange reason, this random neighborhood in the middle of Brooklyn is very, very vegan friendly. Being a vegan, I can pretty much vouch for New York as generally pretty supportive of vegans – but there seems to be a plethora of them here. However – this isn’t exactly a neighborhood that you’d want to be a tourist in after daylight hours, or possibly even at all. That being said, the neighborhood is full of Caribbean vegan places, though they tend to be very small and usually feature bullet-proof windows. My recommendation would be for D’Ital –though you should get your food and make a run for it.
"Go to Coney Island, and peer through the gates at Sea Gate"
Sea Gate is a fancy-smancy Brooklyn neighborhood on the waterfront – it’s gated, so don’t go unless you know someone or you’re looking into real estate. That being said, it’s actually a lovely neighborhood, but nothing anyone who’s been to any waterfront gated community hasn’t really seen before. It actually is a little weird to see a New York neighborhood that features sand.
Coney Island used to be the Disney World of NYC – before Astroland closed. There are still a few tourist attractions open, though, like Wonder Wheel (the ferris wheel) , the Cyclone (the wooden roller coaster), and the sideshow. It’s still an interesting place to see (as well as do), even if a bit of its history was put to rest recently.
Columbia Street Waterfront District
"Don't go looking for places to spend your money here"
South Brooklyn has its share of middle class neighborhoods, and this one is certainly not much different. This area is bordered by some industrial piers on the Upper New York Bay – which makes for an interesting site if you’re into cranes, but not exactly something anyone would write home to mother about. The residents here have a bit more money than their southernmost Red Hook neighbors (which by the way is where all the artists are currently moving in for the cheapest possible rents). Actually, many people in this area are confused as to whether they are actually in Red Hook or not.
"Not really for me, but you might like it if you never plan on ever leaving"
This neighborhood is an actual hill of sorts – and it’s also the highest point in Brooklyn, if you wanted to know. Clinton Hill may border on less splendid neighborhoods, but don’t let that deter you from taking a peak. No one really keeps late hours here – you might find the public transportation a little lacking with only one train line after hours – so this is a great neighborhood for retirees or families. There are a couple of neighborhood icons: the Royal Castle apartment buildings (of the Beaux-Arts style) and the Roman Catholic Queen of All Saints Church (a grand Gothic building). Tourists, beware, though – like I said before, this place is a pretty residential spot.
"I really like the atmosphere here"
Carroll Gardens is a beautiful and historic neighborhood that is sort of like an expansion of the loveliness of Brooklyn Heights. A tourist who has already seen the banalities would do themselves a favor to check out this area, which is especially pertinent for anyone who can appreciate historic sites like Nino’s (a token Italian eatery) and St. Mary's Star of the Sea Church (made from marble and European stones). The nineteenth century is still apparent in this neighborhood, which, rather than take away from the neighborhood, only adds to it. The neighborhood went from a working-class residency for Irish immigrants to the home of many first-generation Italians early in the twentieth century, and their influence over the community is still around now.
- Families with kids
"Not for tourists, but maybe for loner New Yorkers"
If you want to live in New York City, but in a sort-of residential area that also happens to be on the water, perhaps this is your future neighborhood. This is mostly a commercial neighborhood featuring a lot of warehouses and industrial buildings, but families must live here as evidenced by a high school and a bunch of elementary schools.
If you’re a tourist then I would genuinely have to wonder how you could possibly have wandered way out here – this neighborhood is not even on the way to any tourist attractions.
"It's up-and-coming, I swear"
At first glance, Bushwick appears to be a pretty confused place. Perhaps this is because it is smack in the middle of the ongoing gentrification process, what with neighboring Williamsburg becoming too expensive to house the artists and young people that once thrived there (and, okay, still pretty much do). Some of my guy friends were really loathe to let me wander around by myself at night in this neighborhood, even if more and more 20-something girls are moving into the area and they do just that every day. There are some pretty cool things to be found here – like random record stores, and a Life Café on Flushing Ave. (You may recall the other Life Café, which is in the East Village, being mentioned in the Broadway musical Rent.)
"No one goes here unless they have to"
This neighborhood’s nickname (well, one of them) will give you a great picture of it: The Wasteland.
Oh, are you still reading? Well, this neighborhood offers plenty of low income housing projects, if that’s what you’re into (or, more likely, what you’ve been forced into), and there’s, um, a park that features a sculpture dedicated to the fallen of World War I (the Zion Triangle of Zion Park)…
This area has had its share of crime and violence – the kind of things that are usually associated with poverty and drug abuse, both of which you can find here.
Just don’t go.
Brooklyn Navy Yard
"Commercial Park - Industrial Boredom"
This area sits in the little inlet between Williamsburg and Brooklyn Heights, and it’s home to an industrial park that houses just about any business you can think of. The Navy sold this yard to the city of New York during the sixties, so don’t expect to see a bunch of hot sea men hanging around.
Unless you find yourself working here, I can’t really think of any other reason why anyone would be here. Oh! You can visit the old Navy quarters or Commanders’ quarters, if you are feeling unusually bored. If you’re interested in seeing the remains of cranes or parked Circle Line boats, these can also be viewed here.
"Charming neighborhood, picturesque"
Brooklyn Heights is the neighborhood you hit as you come off of the Brooklyn Bridge (which heads out of the downtown Manhattan/Financial District area). This is a pretty cool neighborhood to visit if you are looking for some Brooklyn charm that doesn’t really involve hipsters and their sharply angled haircuts.
A walk down the Promenade that borders the East River gives a beautiful view of the Manhattan skyline (and it’s from an angle that isn’t often seen in pictures). The neighborhood’s original red brick townhouses are another gorgeous sight – this neighborhood is really worth a look if you finish up your tourist itinerary early and feel like seeing something off the beaten track.
"Interesting scene, lots of Russian food"
This neighborhood is home to more Eastern European restaurants and even more Russian restaurants than you can count. But you’d have to really be craving the Russian food to journey way out here to get it – more likely you’ll have come to Coney Island to check out the amusement park, and if so feel free to venture to Café Glechik in Brighton Beach for some pretty good Eastern European fare. The main attraction at this restaurant is their dumplings – they are pretty (locally) famous.
This neighborhood is ethnically diverse, even if it was once termed “Little Odessa” because of its plethora of Ukraine immigrants. It’s not even close to Midtown, so if you are planning on traveling to the city for work or with any kind of frequency, look for a neighborhood a little closer to the island.
"Expensive place to live"
If you happen to be roaming this neighborhood and you also happen to be into Turkish food, then you should really check out Elite Turkish Restaurant on Eighth Ave. It’s in an area that may be construed as Sunset Park, but the two are close enough together that if you are in either one, you should take the time to eat here. It’s relatively inexpensive, less than twenty dollars per head, and it has a pretty low-key and cool atmosphere.
In general, this is a residential neighborhood far from the thick of things. There is a big Jewish population that resides here, one of the largest outside of Israel, and the rents here are pretty high.
"Nothing special, far from the rest of the world"
This small residential area near Canarsie that doesn’t offer much besides real estate, and it doesn’t even offer the best of that. As a general rule, the further you get away from Manhattan, the further you get from anything enticing to a tourist (meaning no attractions, restaurants, shops are way out here). The neighborhood therefore caters only to the people it expects to be there – its residents. The area could probably use some renovation. Not really recommended for anyone who wants to go into Manhattan on a daily basis – the strain of travel might be too much for anyone.
"Tourist attraction for lovers of the Mafia"
Besonhurst is so far from the city (“the city” being how Manhattan is often referred to) that tourists are pretty unlikely to ever be in the vicinity, unless they pass through it on their way to Coney Island. You may have heard of it as being Brooklyn’s Little Italy, and a famous car bomb intended for John Gotti once exploded there. The one tourist attraction that the neighborhood does boast is the Santa Rosalia Festival, which is also called the Feast by residents. It takes place at the end of each summer, usually either late in August or early in September.
"Rapidly changing neighborhood"
This is where Biggie Smalls grew up, and if you’ve ever listened to any of his music that will give you a rough picture of this neighborhood, even if times are a changin’. Gentrification began here in the beginning of this century, as hipsters, artists, and hangers-on began clustering around the cultural epicenter that is Williamsburg. These white kids are just looking for cheap rent, and they found it here (and it continues to be less what what you would pay in the Lower East Side). Since Americans have cut down on the crack, the crime rates in this neighborhood have been on the steady decline.
It’s here that you can find “the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Brooklyn” – the Imhotep Health and Vegan Restaurant. It’s inexpensive and charismatic, and they serve Caribbean versions of breakfast and lunch.
"Good luck finding me out here"
Hmmm… I’m not so sure I should direct this review at tourists, as it’s highly unlikely they’ll end up in such a place as Bath Beach. However, if say, either your Aunt Marie or Anastasiya lives here and you’ve decided to stay with them during your vacation, then you should check out Pino’s Italian Restaurant on Bath Ave. You can pick up a pizza, and you will hardly be disappointed.
If you’re thinking about moving here, it might be a good idea if you have a family with young kids or even if you want to retire in a New York neighborhood that somehow resembles suburbia.
"Exactly the quality you'd expect from the Upper East"
This is one of those Manhattan neighborhoods that seems to be slowly melting into its surroundings – a phenomenon that is not unusual in New York. The neighborhood is full of shiny new apartment buildings that were never tenements and so won’t make you feel claustrophobic, and Yorkville is generally peopled with the non-artist young professionals who can afford such places, though there is a bit of a mixed population.
Yorkville is historically a German neighborhood, but all of that real estate development put its identity in the mud. However, if you are looking for a quiet stoop to smoke your cigarettes on, or just a nice quiet, tree-lined street, this is a good place to start.
- Families with kids
"Too far away...not resident or tourist-friendly"
I had a friend who lived in Washington Heights to take advantage of the (relatively) inexpensive rents. But she worked with me on the Lower East Side at a club that wasn’t exactly running legal hours, and so sometimes we didn’t leave work until 4 or 5am, which isn’t exactly an opportune time to hop on the train and ride it for a couple of hours until you get up there. A cab ride home ran her about $40, which if you ask me is not worth the inexpensive rent, seeing as how a few cab rides plus her $500 rent equaled a nice place in a more downtown location. There are a lot of people who live up here because of the low rents, but just beware your distance from the rest of the island, and certainly don’t expect any tourist attractions way up here unless you want to take a picture of a boulder between two apartment buildings. (Hey, they call it the Heights for a reason….)
Upper West Side
"Great scene for retirees, rich people"
I worked briefly in a restaurant in this neighborhood (indeed, this neighborhood is full of restaurants that cater to retirees with plenty of money to spend), but ultimately had to call it quits because the journey from the Lower East Side was just too time consuming. So, if you are a twenty-something looking to party (and want to do it downtown), don’t move here. Chances are you can’t afford it anyway. This neighborhood is nice, don’t get me wrong, but seems far removed from what a young person would find deserving of time in the city.
If you want to spend as much money as possible on fine dining, then check out Tavern on the Green in the Upper West Side area of Central Park. The place wins all kinds of awards, and rakes in about $38 million a year.
- Families with kids
Upper East Side
"Both tourist and resident friendly"
This neighborhood is the stereotypical New York location of the well-to-do, who wait out the rain under their fancy overhangs and are escorted into their own apartment buildings by doormen in uniform. There is plenty to do for anyone here, though – there are shops and restaurants all along Fifth Ave as well as on Park Ave. Tourist will also be able to locate an orgasm of museums in this neighborhood – most prominently the Met. (And if you’re on a budget, don’t be fooled into paying the full “suggested” price – you can obtain entry to the Met for any price you are willing to pay.)
- Families with kids
"The Upper East meets Midtown"
This is Midtown Manhattan – tall buildings and (relatively) clean streets with bustling traffic. Midtown is certainly not completely overrun by tourists, especially in a neighborhood like Turtle Bay, which is a bit off to the side and close to the East River and FDR Dr. This neighborhood resembles its neighbor, Sutton Place, in that it features picturesque (and expensive) historical townhouses. If you’re just wandering, you won’t find a whole lot of trend-setting action, but you might feel like you’re in the New York you’ve always seen in movies with happy endings. The usual pubs and delis exist here, but as far as recommended eateries for your vacation – seek them elsewhere.
- Families with kids
"Cool neighborhood, close to downtown assest"
The Triangle Below Canal Street is a pretty cool little slice of Manhattan; it’s close enough to the World Trade Center to have suffered some financial hits after the planes hit, but it certainly maintains its picturesque charm. It’s a fairly residential neighborhood – and it’s close to all the wonders of the twenty-something sect (it’s not far from the Village or the Lower East Side). It’s also close to the downtown area, so if you work downtown but want to be close to the party, then this is a great neighborhood for you.
This is also where you can (obviously) catch the Tribeca Film Festival, one of this country’s biggest film fests.
"Great place...for tourists"
If you’re a tourist, I’m sure I can’t convince you to skip out on this horrible hell hole – but if you’ve been once, you’ve been as much as you’ll ever need to go. I guess if you like crowds that move at about four feet per minute, this is your place. The same goes for people who love shiny objects and flashing lights. But Times Square, to me, is just a place where tourists go to buy corny I heart NY t-shirts or stare up at the windows of the MTV studios (though I don’t know how much that goes on with TRL no longer on the air).
I can’t imagine living here and I feel deeply sorry for anyone who actually does. The area is filled with expensive hotels, though, if you’re looking for a location that offers plenty of chain restaurants and hoards of photo-snapping tourists.
"Beautiful place, not much for nightlife"
This neighborhood is pretty close to the FDR, so expect to hear traffic buzzing along just about all of the time if you move in to an apartment above sea level. However, it’s a pretty lovely neighborhood if you can shell out the cash for it. The neighborhood also features all the comforts of Midtown, but it’s far enough from the tourists that you won’t feel like crying yourself to sleep at night. This neighborhood is where Marilyn Monroe lived with husband du jour Author Miller, and it resembles what you would expect from a place that has been graced with such old Hollywood glamour – richly tree-lined streets and fancy townhouses galore.
- Families with kids
"Great place to live, boring place to visit"
Also known (perhaps better known) as Peter Cooper Village, this huge private residential complex is home to the lucky few who obtained one of its rent-controlled spaces. This is a gated community that is pretty unique on the isle of Manhattan, and as it is rare to see a middle-income housing development at all, it’s pretty hard to miss this community if you’re in the neighborhood. This is a perfect place for families or retirees on fixed incomes, if you can somehow stick your foot in the door.
In 2006 these apartment buildings went up for sale, and there were some issues with the rent stabilization, though it appears they have been resolved – at least until the year 2017.
"Many say this neighborhood is overrated - I disagree"
SoHo is one of my favorite neighborhoods, because it offers the two things I love to spend my money on most: food and clothing. If you’re going shopping in the area, you can’t really go wrong, because the neighborhood offers something for everyone: Aldo for the mall girls, and Eleven for the more vintage-minded. As far as food goes, you can find an awesome (as well as trendy) selection at Balthazar, a seafood icon of SoHo.
A word to the wise, though: if you hate crowds, avoid this neighborhood during busy hours, during regular rush hours and all day on weekends. The sidewalks get pretty packed with shoppers, especially when the street vendors open up on the weekends.
"Don't bother yourself, tourists"
If you’re a tourist, I’d imagine that the only possible scenario in which you’d find yourself here is if you accidentally took the train in the wrong direction (you have to be careful when getting on those trains – make sure you know which borough is where, as they are often used to gauge the trains’ directions. This island is pretty weird because it’s about two miles long, and 800 feet wide at its widest. It’s a residential island that basically sits underneath the Queensboro Bridge, which is interesting to see from the N train, but less interesting to see from the actual island, seeing as how you’d be stuck there with nothing to do.
"In-between tourist hot spots"
This is a pretty cool neighborhood – it basically picks up the shopping where SoHo leaves off (though the shops up here may be leaning a bit more to the NYU crowd and a bit less toward the more affluent SoHo sect). Lafayette Street in NoHo was once one of the most fashionable streets in town, though it’s pretty hard to tell now. There is a Crunch on this street, though, where I used to haul my athletic shoes after work – they have an awesome facility, though I don’t know if I would pay those prices again before checking out other gyms in the area.
"Good place to stay slightly removed from the cloud of tourists"
There are plenty of hotels in this neighborhood, if you happen to be looking for a place to stay that is close to the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Plaza. This neighborhood is relatively residential, and seems to offer only the basics to its residents. That is, if you are looking for plenty of places to indulge yourself by eating or shopping, you won’t find too much to do in Murray Hill. However, if you just walk south a bit you will find that the neighborhood begins to cater to tourists more and more as you get closer to the tourist attractions mentioned above.
"AKA "White Harlem" - pretty boring"
This neighborhood is full of college kids, as it is also full of colleges (Columbia University, the Manhattan School of Music, Barnard College, and Bank Street College of Education). It’s way up above the Upper West Side, but just below Harlem, making for an interesting in-between demographic. The neighborhood is home to many professional African-Americans (presumably to stay close to Harlem), who share the enclave with the local students.
If you are looking for fun times or just a Morningside Heights tourist attraction, then check out the West End Bar. It was formerly a cool place for Beat artists to meet up in the forties which has updated to modern times by incorporating a Sunday brunch into their repertoire.
"Has a few attractions, but not many"
There’s not really much going on up here – which is part of the reason most visitors to the city never make it further north than 96th street (unless of course they’re heading to a Yankees game). This neighborhood is home to City College, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the Harlem School of the Arts… and that’s about it.
The apartment buildings in the area tend to be lovely brownstones, and they were once home to an affluent white community, and then an affluent black community, and now the population in the area is generally of a Hispanic nature. But whenever there is a neighborhood in the city that features relatively low rents, you can expect the city’s bohemians to flock there, and that’s what’s been happening in very recent years. (And after the bohemians get to a neighborhood, it’s only a matter of time before the shops and restaurants follow).
"Tourists unite to shop and eat and marvel!"
One of my friends has a theory that all cities make a point of designating certain parts of their property as tourist attractions, and in this way the tourists stay out of everyone’s hair. I’m not sure how true this is, but if there was any neighborhood in Manhattan that attracted the most tourists, it would certainly be Midtown. Midtown is the tourist’s dream – particularly the Broadway theatre-going tourist. International tourists can get their fill of American chain restaurants (because certainly any U.S. citizen must be bored of eating at Hard Rock Café or Chilis), and admire the sparkling glass that lights up the sidewalks of Times Square. During my entire New York residency, I think I have graced this neighborhood with my presence all of two or three times. If you want to go see the Broadway show In the Heights, by all means check out Midtown. But if you’re looking for something that resembles real New York culture (besides a Broadway show), then run far away from Midtown.
"Residential, great for middle aged people, families on a middle class budget"
There is not much in the area by way of tourist attractions, other than streets that sometimes offer a lovely view of the city. Site seeing could include the former New York Cancer Hospital, which was constructed in 1887 and is a grand castle-like building with pointed silver roofs. (It now houses luxury condos rather than cancer patients, but it’s an interesting historical sample of the neighborhood.)
In recent years the neighborhood has been shedding its reputation as a nondesirable, mostly due to the fact that rents have been lowering slowly, and drawing upwardly mobile residents who are seeking bargain rents.
"Beautiful view of the city"
This is generally not a name you hear much anymore – I had to look into myself, because, well, I’d never heard it. It turns out that Madison Square was formerly the name of the northern end of the Flatiron District (did you learn something new, too?).
It is also the name of an actual park, and it was formerly the site of the original Madison Square Garden, though that building is no longer there, and the current Madison Square Garden is located elsewhere. The park itself was renovated about seven years ago, and it’s a beautiful place to sit and view the neighboring architecture, which includes the Flatiron Builinds and the Met Life Tower.
"Feels less authentic all the time"
If Little Italy was once an enclave of Italian immigrants, now it seems more like an enclave of Italian flags, checkered tablecloths, and tourists. If you can bear walking down a street to have car salesmen-like hosts shout at you to come to their restaurant, then perhaps you have the stomach for this neighborhood.
Little Italy is shrinking all the time as its streets melt into the surrounding neighborhoods and become more recognizable as staples of Chinatown and Nolita.
I honestly am not the biggest fan of this neighborhood, but there are many people who flock here to fan its dying embers. It certainly has a Disney World-esque charm: its restaurants deliver exactly what you would expect of an ordinary Italian eatery, but not much more.
"Filled with stages - a high school drama club's dream"
This area is less like a neighborhood and more like a cluster of buildings that house various artistic performances and schools – Julliard School, Lincoln Center Theatre, New York City Ballet, Film Society of Lincoln Center; the list goes on. This is exactly the type of place that an arts-appreciative tourist would find themselves, whether or not it’s been recommended to them as a must-see or not.
The compilation of facilities here is actually a 16.3 acre collage collectively known as the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. None of these facilities lacks the modern comforts or grand atmosphere that you would expect of such esteemed theatres, but if you had to chose just one to marvel at, I would suggest the Metropolitan Opera House.
"Old New York charisma"
Lenox Hill is an Upper East Side neighborhood that stays pretty clean and pretty quiet, as tourists don’t seem to venture too far from the jewels of Fifth Avenue or the trees of Central Park. The best food in the area seems to be offered by Restaurant Daniel, which has no shortage of good reviews. The food they serve is unfathomably gorgeous, if you’re into that sort of thing, and if you can bear to deprive your eyes of its beauty and swallow it you will not be disappointed. I myself always veer toward the vegetarian options, and I can highly recommend this restaurant as catering to my tastes: the pommes lyonnaise dish is amazing, and I can vouch for the basmati and wild rice pilaf as well (and I admit it – I have a weakness for any menu item that claims to contain black truffles).
"Not exactly a tourist hot spot"
The hideous Kips Bay Towers may be this neighborhood’s most prominent landmark. The buildings seem to sum up the area: overbearing, square, boring. Don’t even bother yourself with this place – most New Yorkers don’t, either.
If you’ve wandered off your main tourist course and you also happen to be looking for a moderately expensive French meal, then you happen to have come correct – you can check out Les Halles in the neighborhood. The décor has a bit to be desired but you are not exactly in the fashion district, so just concentrate on the food and you’ll be okay.
"You might as well move to the burbs, or Staten Island"
If Manhattan is the world (like they seem to suggest on several episodes of Sex and the City), then the neighborhood of Inwood is at the top of it, at least geographically speaking. This is a residential area, and some of the streets here resemble those in Queens or the Bronx more than their fellow Manhattan streets. There is a definite separation from the rest of Manhattan in Inwood. This neighborhood displays the same sort of hilly terrain you start to see in Washington Heights, and you certainly feel like you’re not in Kansas (I mean Manhattan) anymore. Sometimes this neighborhood is actually identified as being part of the Bronx, and walking around, it’s not difficult to see why. If you’re a tourist, don’t bother. If you’re a future resident of the city, don’t even consider it unless you’re looking for public housing as far away from the bustle as possible.
Clinton / Hells Kitchen
"The frat bros have taken this neighborhood"
When I think of Hell’s Kitchen I think of this place my friends and I used to go every week for Sunday brunch, because the atmosphere was sunny and white (being in that restaurant felt sort of like being white-washed) and because they offered unlimited mimosas and belinis for $12. The restaurant is H.K. Café on 9th Ave – and the food is fine, nothing special, so it’s only recommended if you need to keep your party going on Sunday morning.
The neighborhood seems to be more and more populated with fancy apartment buildings with doormen, even if they are right across the street from former Irish tenement buildings.
Fun fact: this neighborhood served as the inspiration for West Side Story, which told the story of the racial tensions between the Irish, Italians and Puerto Ricans who came to live in the area together.
"Rich in history, crime has seriously been reduced in the past decade"
Harlem is famous for that Renaissance they had back in the twenties and thirties, but don’t expect to find some bursting bohemian bubble. When my old roommate and I were looking for apartments, she claimed she couldn’t move there because she wouldn’t feel safe walking around at night.
There has been gentrification going down in Harlem since the middle of the previous century, but the area remains predominately black. That is certainly not to say this neighborhood equals some kind of certain death – the crime rates in the previous decade have improved almost nine fold in some cases. No, there aren’t any crack wars in Harlem currently, but it’s not as safe as a more affluent neighborhood.
That being said, there is plenty in this neighborhood that would appeal to a visitor, especially one with an appreciation of the neighborhood’s varied and rich history (Sylvia’s Soul Food restaurant certainly comes to mind).
"Great for 20-something tourists on an average budget"
Greenwich Village is a great place to wander if you happen to be young and have a little money you want to get rid of. There are plenty of bars to hit up, and though they aren’t the trendy hipster bars you’ll find just a bit south of the East Village, they are still alright places to get sloshed (like, say, Mars bar).
For daylight shoppings, you absolutely must check out St. Marks Place – the street vendors offer inexpensive versions of style, and the street is pretty well stocked with t-shirt shops and places where you can get inexpensive skinny jeans. It may not be a place where you can stock up on high fashion, but it’s great for the hipster-wannabe on a budget.
"Everything a tourist can dream up is here (besides the Statue of Liberty)"
I always get lost wandering around this side of the Village, because it’s not on the same grid as the East Village – once you hit Sixth Ave, the streets have names that aren’t numbers and I lose all sense of where I am. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – getting lost in the West Village can only be entertaining (unless you have somewhere else you desperately need to be). There are endless shops and bars and restaurants here, and the neighborhood is nothing but charismatic. This is where the outside of the Friends building was shot – which I have seen even if the connection didn’t mean much to me.
"One of my most nostaligic favorite places"
Greenwich Village is the New York neighborhood with which I was most familiar before ever even setting foot into the city. Its reputation certainly proceeds it – and perhaps it was most appealing to the younger version of myself because of its history as an artist bohemia early in the twentieth century, as well as being the scene of the Broadway musical Rent (along with Alphabet City).
The Village’s Bohemia days are certainly long gone – mostly what you find now in the area are cultural commodities in the forms of restaurants and various places whose main money-maker is alcohol. The rent rates are up and the area is mostly host to middle-aged former(and current) bohos who broke down and got professional jobs in order to maintain their apartments.
The Village spans practically the entire width of Manhattan, and is divided into two parts: east and west. The two different parts of Greenwich subsequently come with two different stereotypes: the West Village is a bit trendier, and offers more of a gay scene, whereas the East Village is a bit younger (home to the NYU student crowd) and less trendy.
"Beautiful, Quiet - not much for nightlife, but good strolling envirornment"
I once worked with a spoiled (and arrogant) young guy who moved into this neighborhood because his dad was an architect and he wanted to sit around and admire the local neighborhood buildings. Oh, did I mention his dad was also paying his rent? If you have a similar trust fund and a lack of ambition, this is a good neighborhood to sit around and admire, as there is much to admire. Much like the Upper East Side, these streets offer the kind of old New York charm that is mostly supplied from movies. The part of the neighborhood around the actual park (that is, around Gramercy Park) is very quiet around the clock. This is certainly a rare quality in any neighborhood in this city, and should not be taken lightly.
"I could take it or leave it"
When I was a young newly inducted New Yorker, one of my roommates was a budding young assistant designer who worked in this neighborhood, and she said she often saw needles littering the sidewalks here. Not that the street isn’t safe – it isn’t the South Bronx or anything, but it’s not exactly the Upper East Side either.
This city is the one and only fashion capitol of the United States, and this neighborhood is where the art form is churned out. Of the clothing manufactured in the U.S., a huge percentage of it comes out of this neighborhood. However, it’s not so popular as it once was to manufacture clothes in the U.S. (as labor is cheaper elsewhere), and many of these factories are being converted into apartments. (And if I had my pick of New York apartments, I’d most likely go for the converted factory space – the size of these apartments usually exceed the New York standard shoebox apartments.)
"Blink and you'll miss this neighborhood - but worth a visit on many levels"
Obviously, this neighborhood was named after its most famous landmark, the Flatiron Building, and incredibly slender building fit into the intersection where Broadway meets Fifth Avenue. Everyone has seen this building pictured – but it’s definitely worth a look in real time if you have the opportunity. Also worth a visit (for the twenty-something sect) are the Gershwin Hotel (which doubles as a tribute to pop art innovator Andy Warhol with its hooker red bricks and its crooked phallic window dressings) and the somewhat recently opened Museum of Sex – where the history, evolution, and culture of the act are on display.
"Wouldn't recommend moving in, but there is culture to be had for visitors"
East Harlem borders on the affluent Upper East Side, but the two neighborhoods are worlds away from each other – not just because of the differences in residents’ incomes, but in the architecture of the apartment buildings (and housing projects), and outward appearance of shops and restaurants as well.
It’s no secret that neighborhoods that have their share of poverty also have their share of crime, and though the crime rates around here have dropped incredibly in the past decade or so, this neighborhood is not as safe as its neighbor the Upper East Side.
If you are a tourist looking for the scenes of Woody Allen films, you won’t find them here. But you will find a certain charm in these worn-out streets, and you will certainly find some pretty good comida latina at places like Don Pedro’s or Camaradas El Barrio (though don’t expect too much in the way of supermarkets).
"Nice, but don't expect to find anything exciting unless you're looking to fulfill lunch break needs"
The Civic Center neighborhood is relatively tiny, and chances are that if you pass through it you will hardly know that you did (unless you were already aware of it). The little patch of concrete in downtown Manhattan doesn’t offer much to do unless you are a church-going sort. There is a plethora of coffee houses (probably to cater to the great demand they receive from the local business men who show up in the area to go to work). The restaurants in the area also cater to business men/women on their lunch breaks, and are generally stop-and-shop delis.
"Crowded, but you can find some great eats"
I openly admit to having a serious love-hate relationship with this neighborhood. Chinatown (especially on the weekends, but not limited to) is often incredibly crowded – the sidewalks literally fill up with people, so much so that sometimes when I walk down Canal I almost wish I was in Times Square (another intersection with incredibly peopled sidewalks).
Anyway, besides the crowds, another thing I hate about this neighborhood is the line of cheap vendors on Canal. These attract the horrifying crowd, and they offer little more than overpriced plastic, knock-off (and illegal) Louis Vuitton, and imposter perfumes.
So what do I like about the area? Chinatown offers a truly unique taste of, well, China. Everyone will tell you that the Chinese food you encounter in New York is unique to other strains of Chinese cuisine, though I’m not sure how much truth is in this, having never been to China myself. If you love Chinese food, you have to check out the neighborhood, and especially look into Big Wong King on Mott Street, as well as Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Bayard.
"Plenty to see and do"
Chelsea is a hodge-podge of culture, but the neighborhood is perhaps best known for the incredible number of art galleries that line its streets. One of the more interesting art spaces in the neighborhood is the Graffi Research Lab, which, obviously, is dedicated to the writers of graffiti (a seriously underrated art form).
Chelsea has enough action to keep a restless tourist busy for weeks, especially those tourists of a theatre persuasion as they can visit the epic People’s Improv Theater, which offers original comedy shows every night. Also in this location is the Hotel Chelsea – famous to my generation as the place where Sid killed Nancy, and to others as the hotel where Dylan Thomas died. This hotel has been the subject of many artistic endeavors, most likely because it has housed so many artists in the past.
"Get to the Park for a bit of relaxation (though probably not a break from the crowds)"
I feel like I almost don’t even need to encourage everyone and their mother to head over to Central Park at least once, because it seems like everyone does so regardless of whether they’ve been told they must.
Central Park is the ultimate desert oasis – it offers a break from the wall-to-wall concrete and traffic overflow contained in the rest of the city. The Park is populated with everyone from the homeless to the business elite on their lunch breaks. Young people can be seen sipping lattes and sporting ankle boots, and there are often outdoor weddings held in and around the boathouse. If you’re into biking, jogging, or just want to row a boat around a tiny lake overpopulated with row boats, you can do all of these things here.
Central Park is truly gorgeous, and being located in the midst of all that concrete only makes it seem that much better.
"Great place for a slow walk, nice retirement scene"
Just about any neighborhood you hit in the Upper East Side is beautiful to behold and generally offers the stereotypical “Old New York” kind of charisma, and Carnegie Hill is no exception. If for some reason you’re looking for a nice long walk where you won’t find too many trendy restaurants or shops, this is a good place to start. If you’re an incredibly wealthy doctor or lawyer or trust fund baby looking for the perfect place to retire, you’ve found it here.
Generally the buildings in this neighborhood are pretty old, which is part of the neighborhood’s extensive charm. Though the neighborhood’s affluence is apparent, it does border on East Harlem, which is a neighborhood that is the opposite of affluent. This kind of juxtaposition of very rich residents and very poor in a city is relatively rare, and offers an interesting (depending on your point of view, I suppose) kind of tension.
- Families with kids
"Great place for the 20-something sect"
The Bowery is a great area if you happen to be less than thirty years old and can’t decide what you love more: the East Village or the Lower East Side. (The neighborhood also borders Little Italy, a neighborhood best left to tourists.) This neighborhood is right in the center of the twenty-something action, and offers such historic (well, historic if you love music and appreciate the former bohemia that was the East Village) sites as the Bowery Poetry Club (which offers open mic nights, a poetry slam, and regularly featured writers) and the former space where CBGB used to stand (and, if you didn’t know, CBGB is often credited as the place where punk was born via the Ramones).
Battery Park City
"Visit this neighborhood during good weather"
A little tree clustered enclave of downtown Manhattan, Battery Park City is really worth a trip for anyone (be you a tourist, bored city resident, or really adventurous Hoboken dweller) who has never been before. An actual park, joggers and walkers can travel the sidewalk that lines the very tip of the island, and offers a beautiful view of the waterfront and the city beyond the park’s treetops.
If you’re searching for a hotel and have plenty of money to spend, consider checking out the Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park, especially if you want to be close to the ferries that route such tourist spots as the Statue of Liberty.
- Families with kids