In the middle of the concrete jungle, there’s a quaint getaway. The Thomas Paine Park on Lafayette and Centre streets is small but features some impressive attractions. To start, there’s a year-round farmer’s market. Secondly, the park is home to the iconic Foley Square Fountain. A number of other landmark monuments is scattered about the park as well.
There’s another great little park that holds vast importance in the city’s history. The City Hall Park, located at the entrance to City Hall, remains one of the most significant open spaces in New York City. The triangular park was created in 1653 and surrounded by a plethora of powerful government buildings. During the pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary eras, it was a stage for many rallies and political movements. Today, you decide to just sit on the bench and soak in the sights and sounds of the city.
Another unique feature located right beneath the City Hall – is the remains of the old IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit Company) subway station. This was the precursor to the current subway system and the station remains intact, even though it was made inactive in 1945. With elegant architecture, and hanging chandeliers, it is actually considered one of the most beautiful subways in the city.
You have made the move to the Civic Center area in perfect time. The area’s newest hotspot for lunch opened just recently and is not to be missed. The Harlem longtime mainstay Harry & Ida’s Luncheonette has made its way south to the East Village and now Civic Center. The smoked brisket and pastrami is out of this world. Today, your lunch will be their famed pastrami sandwich, served on a cracked rye berry and topped with buttermilk fermented cucumber kraut and anchovy mustard. The deliciousness comes in two sizes: The Pops (1/2 pound) and The Ida (1/4 pound).
All of the major headquarters of New York City’s governmental departments are in Civic Center. Many municipal buildings here house the city’s housing authority, social security offices, US Treasury Department, the IRS. The Supreme Court and lower courthouses are also in the area. The FBI building and the NYPD headquarters stand out with their own bold buildings.
Living in the epicenter of the Big Apple calls for a great morning meal. The guys at Delimarie put together a pretty darn good one. The atmosphere at Delimarie is surprisingly laid back and the spot is filled with locals. The food is served buffet style – but don’t get the wrong idea: all of it is great – from the fresh fruit to the frittatas. Even though it’s early, you can’t leave without trying the spot’s beignets. They are as close to the originals in New Orleans.
There are many City Halls in the country but there’s nothing like NYC’s City Hall. The French Renaissance Revival building was erected in 1811, and it houses the offices for the city’s Mayor and administration. The interior of the building is executed in Georgian Revival style. Steeped in history and recalling the vintage New York is the Blue Room, which is where the Mayor stages his official press conferences. As you walk into the building, you come across an ornate coffered rotunda, reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome, with the grand marble stairway. The rotunda is a revered site of many national events, and several Presidents – Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant – have been laid to state here.
As you finish your tour of the landmarks on the City Hall campus, the next logical stop is the City Store. This is essentially New York City’s gift store, and you can shop at either one of its two locations in Lower Manhattan. The store features some hard-to-find gifts such as genuine taxicab medallions and NYPD horseshoes. There are other great city-themed gifts like NYC subway map socks, or the World’s Fair jumbo tote bag.
Shortly after the invention of the steam press in 1835, a wave of newspaper companies flooded New York City. Today, remains of the old newspaper buildings dot Park Row — aka Newspaper Row. The first New York Times building was located at 113 Nassau Street, prior to the news behemoth moving to 41 Park Row. The defunct New York Sun had its office in a converted department store at 280 Broadway. The New York Tribune’s original stomping grounds were at 30 Ann Street, until the paper’s move to Park Row. The New York World, a former publication owned by Joseph Pulitzer, built the New York World Building on Park Row before it was razed in 1955. The New York Journal and New York Press also helmed production offices on Park Row. Several smaller publications, such as The Revolution, The Daily People, and the New York Clipper, were also here.
There’s one unique museum in the area that will certainly pique your attention. The art exhibits at Mmuseumm are pretty darn cool. The small museum displays modern-day artifacts or technological objects from recent centuries that you may not remember. The artifacts are both large and small, and include any variety of curiosity, from newsstand paperweights from across the globe to hand-modified Russian watches. Consisting of only one room, Mmusseumm is – to say the least – ttinyy. The exhibition space only fits three at a time, making the experience quite quaint.
Your dinner selection is quite easy on your first – and maybe your second and third – nights in the neighborhood. You have a table at Atera. The restaurant is a Spanish-inspired, high-end culinary destination that has quietly become one of the most under-heralded restaurants in the city. The chef, Ronny Emborg, once worked for the famed El Buli Restaurant in Spain, and has designed his tasting menu to inspire the senses through colors, sights feels, smells and tastes.
There’s nothing quite like Apotheke. The cocktail bar is inspired by the old European apothecaries of the 19th Century, a concept that comes across quickly. The vintage décor surrounds the room, and the bar adds a bit of prohibition-style speakeasy flair. The preparation and presentation are as dramatic as the interior of the drinking spot. For instance, there’s unique-shaped Austrian crystal glass that is carefully selected for each cocktail. The menu is also beyond original, and separated into categories: stress relievers, stimulants, painkillers, euphoric enhancers, aphrodisiacs and health & beauty. Tonight you go for the “Tainted Love” under stress relievers, a mixture of gin with beets, pomegranate shrub, Ruby Peychaud’s Bitters, lime and agave. A friend of yours is thinking of kicking the night up a notch, and they opt for one of the Apotheke’s 13 types of absinthes, prepared traditionally with sugar and ice water drip.