When you think of museums in New York City, the usual Manhattan-centric suspects immediately come to mind: MoMA, The Gug, and The Met. If you’re a hardcore museum hound, two of our other favorites, The Whitney or The Frick, might dance their way onto your list. Or perhaps you have children, in which case you’ll think of The American Museum of Natural History, because you’ve seen Night at the Museum no less than a hundred times. Now, what if we told you that two of the best museums in New York City aren’t even located in Manhattan?
We always get excited when visitors start to spend time in New York City’s neighborhoods, because that’s when they discover how wonderfully schizophrenic the city is. There are so many pockets with distinct personalities, and we don’t just mean across ethnic lines like in Chinatown and Koreatown. The Upper West Side and the Upper East Side have distinctly different vibes, and friendships have fractured over the East Village vs. West Village debate. But trekking into the other boroughs is still a daunting task for many. With trendy spots like Williamsburg, Brooklyn gets all the love. But we believe Queens’ criminally underrated, westernmost residential and commercial neighborhood, Long Island City, is the perfect starter neighborhood to explore New York City’s largest borough.
For nearly five years, Anthony Bourdain worked on an ambitious, quixotic scheme to create a 155,000 square foot international night market at New York City’s Pier 57. The overwrought and ill-fated venture ultimately ended with Bourdain conceding defeat in December 2017, a mere six months shy of his tragic and untimely death. Like everyone else, I was shocked and saddened by the news of Bourdain’s suicide. But, if I’m being honest (as unpopular as this opinion may be), I didn’t feel the same way about the demise of his passion project.
The Met Museum is so iconic and so synonymous with New York City that every time I approach the steps, a little highlight reel plays in my head. The scene from When Harry Met Sally where Billy Crystal says in a funny voice, “Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash, but I would love to partake in your pecan pie.” Blair and Serena’s power lunches from Gossip Girl. Toulouse-Lautrec’s The Sofa. The Psycho Barn reproduction on the roof a couple of years ago. It’s where my New York City fantasy and reality worlds collide, and it never gets old. But nothing gets me more excited than trekking to the annual Costume Institute Exhibit every summer.
For the past couple years, we’ve found ourselves in Brooklyn in early June, just as the summer has begun in earnest. It’s no coincidence that it happens to be around the time of The Bushwick Collective’s Annual Block Party. Last year’s post kicked off our summer series on street art because The Bushwick Collective is still one of our favorite street art destinations in New York City. In last year’s post, we suggested that if our readers were more interested in art than a rowdy party atmosphere they should avoid visiting the area until shortly after the day of the event. And as it happens, we ended up taking that advice ourselves.
I recently read an article in Slate where Felix Salmon expressed concern that “blockbuster shows are ruining art museums”. Basically, he asserts that these big tent events are often a drag on sometimes woefully underfunded museum and gallery budgets or that they devour resources that would otherwise go to smaller installations and lesser known artists, all the while conditioning audiences to expect bigger and bigger spectacles. It’s a high that simply can’t be sustained. Lynn perfectly conveyed this sentiment when she talked about her underwhelming experience with Huma Bhabha’s Met Rooftop installation in a recent Mad Chatter post. It begs the question: in the age of blockbusters, is there still room for the museum and gallery equivalent of the shoestring budget indie film?
After a gruelingly long but otherwise uneventful winter, spring is finally in the air. Green shoots are muscling their way to the front row. Flowers are taking center stage. The hibernating inhabitants of the city are slowly emerging from their slumber, eager and ready to shed their winter layers and expend all that pent up energy. All the usual suspects come to mind: picnics in Central Park, visits to the Brooklyn Botanic and New York Botanical Gardens, and trips to Governors Island. Patio seats and access to rooftop bars become hot commodities. But we thought we’d offer another, oft-forgotten option to add to your list: Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Staten Island.
Whether you’re being grilled at a job interview or filling out a dating profile, you’ve probably been asked to describe yourself in three words. For us, one of those words would be “brunch”. And we’re probably not alone: there are over 18 million posts under the hashtag on Instagram alone. Brunching in New York City is a sport, and we’re training for the Olympics.
Wherever Lynn and I go, we never skip an opportunity to try local specialties. New York City is no different, other than the fact that it has a ridiculous number of them. Whether it’s pasta and pizza or bagels and babka, New York City has it all, and you can be sure we’re on the hunt for it. You might have read about my not-so-closeted obsession with the venerable soda fountain. Here’s a fun fact about me: when I get into something, I tend to go deep—bananas deep. I’ve made no exception with one of the quintessential soda fountain concoctions: Egg Creams. And Egg Creams are, without a doubt, a New York specialty.
Have you ever wondered how we came up with the name of our blog, Mad Hatters NYC? We actually drew inspiration from a number of sources, the most obvious one being Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. We’re not the only ones to draw a parallel between New York City and Carroll’s land of magic and make-believe. But one day a year, the comparison takes on a life on its own. During the New York City Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival, a large group of Mad Hatters descends on Fifth Avenue and the world of fantasy and reality collide.