I was recently watching one of those ingenious Southwest Airlines commercials—you know, one of the ones with the whole “Wanna Get Away?” taglines—and found myself unconsciously mouthing the words, Hell yeah, I do. We’re big believers that you can get away from the city without getting away from the city. But if you really do, literally, want to get away from the city, there are a number of incredible options that don’t require you to take a flight or even leave the state for that matter. Recently, we discovered the perfect day trip getaway with a visit to First City Project.
Located just a little over an hour away from Manhattan in Glen Cove, New York, First City Project is located in a historic structure that was once residence to one of the town’s five original families. The JH Coles Homestead is a designated landmark with roots tracing back to the 1690’s, but the once venerable and long abandoned home had suffered from years of neglect, falling into serious disrepair. This is when a local businessman, Joe LaPadula, stepped in with a new vision for the town’s once beloved crown jewel: to become a world class showcase for cutting edge urban art from acclaimed New York area artists as well as those from around the world.
The ambitious art program was not without early detractors from within the small community. There were concerns about traffic, parking, and whether the outsiders the project would attract would change the aesthetics of small town life. But Mr. LaPadula was undeterred, reaching out to the town’s leaders and partnering with the larger community to move the project forward. Now the Long Island city of Glen Cove is embracing its role as a unique art destination, with new sculptures and murals popping up around town.
The structure’s three distinct floors are covered floor-to-ceiling with an array of murals. Even the limited furnishings are adorned with various works of art. Its exterior has been whitewashed and redecorated for numerous events, bringing new meaning to the term “a fresh coat of paint”. Wandering the house provides greater insights into the history of the structure, its place in the town, and the artists who have contributed to its rebirth. Having covered Bushwick Collective, Welling Court Mural Project, and numerous other street art destinations throughout New York City, we can attest that First City Project is a welcome addition to a growing number of sites showcasing an important emerging artistic movement that will continue to influence art and culture long into the future.
Currently, a visit to First City Project is facilitated by appointment or through a tour with the New York Adventure Club (who has aptly nicknamed it The Graffiti Mansion). But be sure to follow First City Project on Instagram and Facebook to be notified of upcoming pop-up events, like fun partnerships with the Brooklyn Flea.
149 Glen St
Vary by appointment and/or through a tour
Pair it with:
A meal in nearby City Island
You may have heard of City Island before. It’s a Bronx fishing village with a reputation, after all. The good: it’s a seafood utopia. The bad: It can be very touristy. Both are true. But since you’re already outside Manhattan, why not hop on the Cross Island Parkway and make your way to this tiny island? Of foremost prominence, the entire area is the idyllic home of private beaches and some handsome shoreline views. Of course, there are also a tremendous number of restaurants in the area, both along City Island Avenue and throughout the small island community. Pretty much whatever your heart desires—you’ll find something here.
Most people come for seafood, though. And sure, you can find some higher end restaurants that specialize in “pretty” seafood, but what you’ll find in abundance are restaurants with a little more humble, homestyle focus. Sammy’s Fish Box is a classic example of this, where giant platters teeming with fried or broiled seafood and more sides than you could finish are the specialty. And the kitschy decor only lends to the vibe. Think of it as Red Lobster on steroids. But know that even in the off-season, these spots are popular with the locals. So come early, or be prepared to spend some time hanging out with the lobsters in the glass case.
41 City Island Ave
Sun – Thu 11:30 am – 2:00 am
Fri-Sat 11:30 am – 3:00 am
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