AROUND THE WORLD IN NEW YORK CITY
—Visitors Can Experience International Flavor in All Five Boroughs&@#8212;
New York, NY (August 1, 2006) – As the World’s Second Home, no place is quite like New York City. With nearly 40 percent of its more than 8 million residents being foreign-born and first- and second-generation New Yorkers making up 65 percent of the local population, New York City is a fascinating global gateway. From Sicilian slices on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to Middle Eastern mezze on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, the Big Apple boasts eclectic neighborhoods full of fabulous food, fun festivals, great shopping, and more.
Travelers from overseas to this multinational metropolis will find that the city is not so foreign after all. New York City is the number-one destination in the United States for overseas travelers, and international visitors to New York City for 2005 are expected hit a record high of 6.6 million. Here’s a look at the activities, attractions, and events that reflect New York City’s rich international communities.
Beyond the Bridge in Brooklyn
New York’s most populous borough has incredible international appeal. Walk along the legendary Coney Island boardwalk to Brighton Beach and explore “Little Odessa,” a thriving Russian émigré community complete with traditional bathhouses, book shops, and restaurants. Or head to Sunset Park, home to one of New York City’s three Chinatowns, a large number of Italians, Irish, and Finns, as well as a huge Latin community.
A celebration of Caribbean culture, the West Indian American Day Parade (718/467-1797, www.wiadca.org), one of the United States’ largest and most colorful parades, takes place on Labor Day weekend along Eastern Parkway. More than four million spectators enjoy a lively celebration featuring reggae and soca sounds, vibrant floats, traditional costumes, and delicious from Trinidad, Jamaica, Haiti, and the other island nation.
See the Middle East via Atlantic Avenue, which is dotted with wonderful specialty shops, markets, and restaurants. Discover this unique destination with Savory Sojourns (888/9-SAVORY, www.savorysoujourns.com).
New York City’s cultural attractions are also extremely international in scope. The Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Pkwy., 718/501-6330, www.brooklynmusem.org) has one of the largest collections of Egyptian art and artifacts in the world, as well as exhibitions such as “The Arts of Asia and the Islamic World” and “The Arts of Africa.” With such a large Italian population, Brooklyn also has great Italian restaurants including Palmiras Ristorante (41 Clark St., 718/237-4100, www.palmiras.com) and Il Fornetto (2902 Emmons Ave., 718/332-8494, www.nycotb.com).
Best Bets in the Bronx
Diversity definitely drives the energy of this destination at the northernmost tip of the city: nearly 50 percent of Bronx residents are Latino, with the highest concentrations hailing from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. It is a place where the traditions of Italy and Ireland continue to flourish, and a growing number of Asian immigrants are calling home.
The Bronx has long been a focal point for artistic expression. From the Latin music jams during the ‘50s and ‘60s to the advent of break dancing and hip-hop decades later, Hunts Point continues to be a vital creative force. Experience the “Original Hip Hop Cultural Reality Sightseeing Tour,” by Hush Tours (212/714-3527, www.hushtours.com).
The spirit of the Boogie Down Bronx is kept alive on Sample Wednesdays, a free evening of hip-hop, film, spoken word, educational panels, and performance art at the Bronx Museum of the Arts (1040 Grand Concourse, 718/681-6000, www.bxma.org), which specializes in works by artists of African, Asian, and Latin American descent.
Generations of Italian-American residents consider Belmont the “Real Little Italy.” SusanSez NYC Walkabouts (917/509-3111, www.susansez.com) offers Arthur Avenue tours and its Blarney in the Bronx Walkabout spotlights the Irish neighborhood of Woodlawn.
Scenic Wave Hill (675 W. 252nd St., 718/549-3200, www.wavehill.org) offers international programming year round. Every Saturday Tai Chi classes are offers; while the summer Barefoot Dancing Series invites you to move to the music of the world.
Now you can explore the Bronx better thanks to the free Bronx Tour Trolley, an initiative by the Bronx Tourism Council (718/590-BRONX, www.ilovethebronx.com) that travels to Arthur Avenue, the Bronx Zoo (2300 Southern Blvd., 718/ 367-1010, www.bronxzoo.com), and the New York Botanical Garden (200th St. & Kazimiroff Blvd., 718/817-8700, www.nybg.org) on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays year-round.
You can’t get more international than the United Nations (First Ave. btwn. 42nd and 46th Sts., 212/963-8687, www.un.org). Multilingual tours include historical background and artwork from around the world; there’s also a gift shop with international crafts and jewelry.
More than 12 million immigrants made their way through Ellis Island (212/363-3206, www.ellisisland.com), past the Statue of Liberty, from 1892 to 1954 to pursue their American dreams. Today, those dreams are documented at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The Lower East Side Tenement Museum (90 Orchard St., 212/431-0233, www.tenement.org) also interprets the area's immigrant and migrant experiences.
New York City’s Chinatown (www.explorechinatown.com) is the largest in the United States. At the triangle of Canal, Baxter, and Walker Streets, NYC & Company’s Chinatown Visitor Information Kiosk, open daily, has information on the area’s rich cultural attractions, shops, teahouses, and restaurants. One such attraction is the Museum of the Chinese in the Americas (70 Mulberry St., 212/619-4785, www.moca-nyc.org). The Chinatown Discovered Tour from the Enthusiastic Gourmet (646/209-4724, www.enthusiasticgourmet.com) explores the neighborhood’s grocery stores, meat and fish markets, and produce stands. If you’re still hungry, head to Jing Fong Restaurant (20 Elizabeth St., 212/964-5256) or Jaya Malaysian Restaurant (90 Baxter St., 212/219-3331).
Traditions run strong in Little Italy, located primarily on Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal Streets. The Sorrento Cheese Summer in Little Italy, produced by the Little Italy Merchants Association (www.littleitalynyconline.org), offers family fun on summer weekends; for 11 days in September more than one million people enjoy the Feast of San Gennaro, a street festival with food, rides, games, and parades; and the neighborhood holds celebrations around the holidays called Christmas in Little Italy.
Many of New York City’s museums reflect the fact that they’re in such an international destination. The Asia Society and Museum (725 Park Ave., 212/288-6400, www.asiasociety.org) showcases the diversity of more than 30 Asia-Pacific countries and the Japan Society (333 E. 47th St., 212/832-1155, www.japansociety.org) offers insight into all things Japanese.
The Hispanic Society of America (Broadway and 155th St., 212/926-2234, www.hispanicsociety.org) focuses on the art, literature, and culture of Spain, Portugal, the Philippines, and Latin America and has works by Goya, El Greco, and Velasquez. El Museo del Barrio (1230 Fifth Ave., 212/831-7272, www.elmuseo.org) is a cultural center for Spanish Harlem and displays work by Puerto Rican, Caribbean, and Latin American artists.
The Neue Galerie New York (1048 Fifth Ave., 212/628-6200, www.neuegalerie.org) focuses on German and Austrian art; the Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in North America (58 Park Ave., 212/879-9779, www.scandinaviahouse.org) has a full calendar of art exhibitions, lectures, and special events. Through its extensive collections, the Ukrainian Museum (222 E. 6th St., 212/228-0110, www.ukranianmuseum.org) demonstrates the scope and beauty of Ukrainian culture.
The new Rubin Museum of Art (150 W. 17th St., 212/620-5000, www.rmanyc.org) showcases Himalayan culture. Tibet House (22 W. 15th St., 212/807-0563, www.tibethouse.org) increases the awareness of the art, culture, and heritage of Tibet.
New York City is also a world stage for the performing arts, with Carnegie Hall (881 Seventh Ave., 212/247-7800, www.carnegiehall.org), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (212/721-6500, www.lincolncenter.org), Town Hall (123 W. 43rd St., 212/840-2024, www.the-townhall-nyc.org), and the Joyce Theater (175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St., 212/242-0800, www.joyce.org) attracting internationally acclaimed orchestras, dance companies, and more. The Irish Arts Center (553 W. 51st St., 212/757-3318, www.irishartscenter.org) celebrates all things Irish.
Queens: An Ethnically Diverse 112 Miles The residents of this New York City borough are one of the most diverse groups in the country – so diverse that the local subway line, the number 7, is called the “International Express.” Home to John F. Kennedy International Airport and La Guardia Airport, Queens is often the first entryway for millions to New York City and the United States.
As home to the largest Greek population outside of Greece, Astoria is the Athens of the United States, with authentic restaurants and markets on Ditmars Boulevard. Move onto India and the rest of South Asia with a visit to Jackson Heights, which has an array of restaurants, sari shops, and video stores with the latest Bollywood offerings.
For greater appreciation of South Asian art, spend an afternoon at the Queens Museum of Art (Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, 718/592-9700, www.queensmuseum.org). Afterwards, explore Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, home to the Unisphere, the giant steel globe structure that serves as a symbolic reminder of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs.
Queens is also home to a big Latin community with a strong presence in Jackson Heights, Corona, East Elmhurst, and Astoria. The work of local Latino artists is featured at the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (161-04 Jamaica Ave., 718/658-7400, www.jcal.org). The Queens Theatre in the Park (718/760-0064, www.queenstheatre.org) hosts an annual festival that is an international showcase of artists from 17 nations who will perform genres including Andes folk, flamenco, and Latin jazz.
More world music can be enjoyed at Flushing Town Hall (137-35 Northern Blvd., 718/463-7700, www.flushingtownhall.org) with summer concerts that include salsa, reggae, soca, and calypso. In addition to music, the neighborhood of Flushing is a big draw with Chinese and Korean restaurants, herbalists, and other Asian businesses.
For an active look at this area consider the tour by Bike the Big Apple (877/865-0078, www.bikethebigapple.com) called Satchmo and More -- The Queens Quest Bike Tour. Stops include the house of jazz great Louis Armstrong, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the Unisphere, a Hindu temple, and a taste of Italian ice in Corona.
The free weekend Queens Culture Trolley, which can be picked up at the Queens Museum of Art (718/592-9700, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, www.queensmuseum.org), takes you on a weekend journey every Saturday and Sunday at 3:30pm through Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to Northern Boulevard’s Restaurant Row, Corona and the Louis Armstrong House, Jackson Heights and the flavors of South Asia.
Entertainment and dining are exciting – and authentic – experiences. Spend an evening at a Spanish theater production or a Romanian night club, hear traditional music at an Irish pub, or join in Czech songs at an authentic Bohemian beer garden. Restaurants reflect residents’ backgrounds from Italian to Indian and Turkish to Thai. Try Korean barbeque in Flushing, Brazilian churrascuria in Corona, an Indian smorgasbord in Jackson Heights.
Surprises in Staten Island Long a haven for Italian-American and Irish-American populations, Staten Island’s population is changing. According to the 2000 census, this borough’s population is diversifying and has grown by 17 percent in the last decade. Hispanics account for 12 percent of the population, while six percent of Staten Island residents are Asian.
Staten Island’s international-themed cultural gems include the cliff-hanging Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art (338 Lighthouse Ave., 718/987-3500, www.tibetanmuseum.org) whose buildings resemble a Himalayan mountain temple.
In June Snug Harbor Cultural Center (1000 Richmond Terrace, 718/448-2500, www.snug-harbor.org), will host Harmony Fair, an all-day extravaganza that showcases the cultures of the world, with food, performances, concerts, music, and dance.
One of ten themed gardens at the Staten Island Botanical Garden (1000 Richmond Terr., 718/273-8200, www.sibg.org), part of Snug Harbor, is the internationally renowned Chinese Scholar’s Garden. A replica of a Late Imperial Chinese garden, it has courtyards and reflecting pools and exquisite features like the Tea House of the Hearing Pines, the Wandering-in-Bamboo Courtyard, and the Pure Flow Bridge.
Historic Richmond Town (441 Clarke Ave., 718/351-1611, www.historicrichmondtown.org) is home to colonial buildings, America’s oldest elementary school, and reminders of early Dutch, French, and British settlers.
For more information about international New York City log onto nycgo.com.