Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New York over Christmas

So, I've been working on a few epic New York ideas, one is my own personal hotel-guide, since, working for Time Out New York and then living abroad for years, I've stayed in a lot more NYC hotels than the average New Yorker. But what occurs to me at the moment would be most useful is some guidelines on things to do in NYC over the holidays, if you're visiting, since, I'm sorry, but this is the world's worst time to be in New York. If you want to go to one of the big museums, it's going to be hectic. New York is COLD over the holidays, and to go to MoMA, for example, you'll have to stand in a long line for admission outside, and then more to check your coat inside, and then it will be so crowded you'll barely be able to see the art. When I lived in Moscow, I'd arrive home for the holidays with big plans of art I wanted to see, and then would train it up to midtown all mellow and delighted, and then....would see the lines and get upset and just go back to Brooklyn. I realize locals are always more indignant to see things they *expect* to be quick and easy overrun, and for art fans who really want to see the Met or the MoMA, of course it may be worth it. But....I wonder if people would be interested in making their NYC visit less touristy by totally avoiding Midtown, Macys, the Empire State Building and Central Park. I'm going to do a few posts on this in the coming weeks, but the first suggestion is: The Lower East Side.

Even when the rest of the city is overrun, the Lower East Side, during the day, is pretty relaxed. You have to be open to grunge, to some extent, but there are lots of restaurants and little galleries and to me, this kind of grubby-deli, old-school, street-level New York is what New York is all about, anyway. Unfortunately the new New Musuem ( space on the Bowery has a very hot, hot, hot show right now, Urs Fischer: Marguerite De Ponty (through Feb 7), and is overrun, at least, I can testify, on the weekends. If you did happen to go by there midday and it was possible to get in, I'd hit it, but wouldn't stand in line for 20 min. There's also a cute, hip place to have lunch around the corner, Freeman's Alley (, but that's also jammed when the crowds are out. If you keep walking several blocks on Rivington Street, away from the New Museum, you'll cross a cool old park (Chrystie St) that I really recommend a wander through the community garden there (The M'Finda Kalunga Community Garden!), and eventually come across 'inoteca ( at the corner of Ludlow, which is a hip, delicious Italian restaurant that is often crowded at night but open for lunch every day and has great service and a surprisingly friendly, non-snobby attitude, considering the location. Other galleries in the LES: 11 Rivington ( And a list here: Though, the art down here tends to be a bit too fashionable, if you know what I mean, it can provide a nice structure for a wander through a neighborhood that's all bars and restaurants and indie boutiques.....

Also, here's this article in Time Out New York on "top 10 out-of-the-way galleries". I would say these are lesser-known even to New Yorkers, so might be a bit far afield for tourists, but FYI.

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