New York City Vacation
This February school vacation, we went to New York. Why would I go anywhere else? It’s very close to where I am, it’s a great city for kids, it’s a quiet week because New Yorkers are out of town and there are relatively (loose term) few tourists, and the weather was perfect. (40s to 60s). I went alone with the kids. Atlas, 6, had a little cold, but he was a trooper. We were in Brooklyn, near Prospect Park, so day one we went to the cute little zoo there. The highlight is the baby baboon and his mom. The baby kept trying to wander, and the mom just held onto his tail. Then the baby would just jump on her back and they’d go ambling around. Lots of other cute things happened in the baboon area. Like teenage baboons playing and jumping from branches and landing in ninja fashion. That occupied us for at least 30 minutes.
I am not too familiar with the park, and I loved it this week. But I can only imagine how amazing it would be in Spring, Summer and Fall.
We spent a lot of time in Bryant Park. Why, because that’s where my 15 year old was spending a lot of time. (Don’t ask why.) We watched jugglers, ping pong players, ice skaters. Atlas went on the carousel and read books. They have a reading area for kids there. We both had colds so we didn’t partake in too many activities other than that. We spent a lot of time at Kinokuniya, a mostly Japanese bookstore. It also has lots of stationery, paper and gift items from Japan. One of those places that isn’t too too crowded and you think to yourself, “I sure do hope this really cool place stays open.”
And, there was the new 43,000 square foot Whole Foods……. which could be better organized. It took us a few tries to figure out how it all works. I know people who work around there who can’t stand the layout and refuse to eat there. C-.
I also took Atlas to our neighborhood on the Upper East East East Side, with the amazing secret Carl Schurz Park, and beautiful Promenade along the East River. Having stayed in Brooklyn, I can say that my neighborhood wins in convenience, beauty and peace and quiet. It’s also missing the overpriced band-aid retail establishments that are adhered over former working class neighborhoods in Brooklyn. In short, it seems to have changed less, which is a good thing. Not heartbreaking to see an affordable neighborhood gone bad, like in Brooklyn. Gentrification certainly did happen on the Upper East in areas, but earlier and not as badly as in Brooklyn. It’s still “affordable.” The fancy areas were always fancy.
It’s even easier to get downtown and around from the UES, relative to Brooklyn. Believe me, I did it from Brooklyn with a very easily bored child all week long. On the UES, you have the the Select Bus, the new 2nd Avenue subway, and the 6 train that is hands down the most reliable line in town.
It’s luxurious, compact, and super convenient.
You get Central Park and the Museums and even the Upper West Side is walkable.
In Brooklyn, people are tempted to have cars and get Costco Memberships. (I have friends there who do that.) On the Upper East, there’s none of that. (Unless you are an incorrigible car person and enjoy the thrill of alternate side parking — what a waste.) To top it off, there are great, new protected bike lanes, which mostly benefit delivery people. (I boycotted getting delivery orders a long time ago because of how dangerous is was for cyclist delivery people.) Lastly, there is the proximity to Harlem. You can walk there. With a shopping cart if you want. And you can get your suburban fix there: There’s a Costco, Target, Old Navy and Aldi. Most importantly, you are near the Heart of the city. Harlem.
Yes, it goes without saying that you get less space on the Upper East Side than pretty much anywhere in Brooklyn. Small spaces are the thing now, right?
We visited the new-ish Whitney. Emile had been there. I did a professional headshot of someone there and on the extended Highline. We had been on the Highline during Christmastime. This time was much less crowded. Even when it was overcrowded, the Highline is one of my favorite things about NYC. Such a cool perspective. I would love to be able to walk around the entire city among flora, looking at buildings at eye level, without a care in the world about a car or bus.
Atlas played in mulitple playgrounds, including the one on Bleecker Street, and around Brooklyn. We brought his Spaldeen and we played inside handball courts. Emile’s favorite neighborhood is the West Village. He says, “It’s so pretty, like Northampton, only bigger!” Sort of.
Speaking of, it’s always fun to come back to the beauty of Western Mass. I had met with some clients at Woodstar Café yesterday, and on the way home (walking) I picked up some bread from The Hungry Ghost Bread that we ate with soup for lunch. Now I know why so many of my friends from Brooklyn are moving out here. It’s a relief to live in a place that bans plastic bags, has municipal composting, a recycling center, bike kitchens, and bike trails. I share a car and only have one about 3 days per week and on those days I drive less than 5 -10 miles, if that. I can get groceries, work, meet clients, all on bike. I can even walk on a trail along a creek to get to the downtown.
Emile is obsessed with Copenhagen (He did a report and made a beautiful pop up map with watercolors.) and the bike lanes there. He dreams of a NYC that looks like that. With the Highline, and the Citibikes, and the bike lanes, it’s getting closer every year, and not a minute too soon.