Finding Your Turf

Whatever your passion, you can indulge it in New York—especially if you know where to look. These five neighborhoods understand your obsession.

Federal Hall National Memorial, where George Washington took his oath as president

Just for fun, we added some trivia to see how much you know about each of these neighborhoods.

THE FINANCIAL DISTRICT
for History Hounds

In New York, the emphasis is on the new. But history surrounds you in the city’s birthplace, Manhattan Island’s southern tip. To see it all, look for the free, red Downtown Connection bus, with 38 stops. One must: the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House (1 Bowling Green, gsa.gov/hamiltoncustomhouse), at the bottom of the island. Inside is the admission-free George Gustav Heye Center, part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian—a fitting tribute to New York’s original residents, the Lenape people, who lived on the other side of the Dutchbuilt wall that became Wall St. The Stone Street Historic District, a time capsule one block long and two wide, preserves the scale of the 17th century. The pedestrian-only area is lined with cafés like Stone Street Tavern (52 Stone St., stonestreettavern.com). St. Paul’s Chapel (209 Broadway, trinitychurch.org), built in 1766, survived the Great Fire of 1776—and in 2001 withstood the destruction of the World Trade Center, one block away. Still a community hub, St. Paul’s often offers free classical concerts at lunchtime. For eats, dig into a steak at Delmonico’s (56 Beaver St., delmonicosrestaurant.com), America’s oldest, continuously operating restaurant. You’ll want to take a peek at The Beekman hotel (123 Nassau St., thompsonhotels.com), originally built in 1881 as offices for bankers and lawyers. One World Trade Center (285 Fulton St.) has a mesmerizing time-lapse elevator which whooshes you up to One World Observatory (oneworldobservatory.com). Another “FiDi” (Financial District) thrill is the Oculus, which houses a subway hub and Westfield World Trade Center (185 Greenwich St., westfield.com). Come hungry: This mall has Eataly, Épicerie Boulud, Shake Shack and more.

Clockwise from top left: a view through the Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center; the atrium at The Beekman hotel (©Richard Barnes); Delmonico’s; bracelets from “Native Fashion Now,” at the National Museum of the American Indian; the Charging Bull statue at Bowling Green, which has come to symbolize Wall St.


Financial District Trivia

1. What local saloon, founded in 1762 and still pulling pints, served as General George Washington’s war room during the Revolution, and hosted his farewell dinner with his troops after the British army finally left New York in 1783?

2. What Financial District street was given this name when it became, in 1658, the first paved street in Nieuw Amsterdam (the future New York)?

3. Which Ivy League university began life in 1754 as King’s College, with eight students and one professor in a schoolroom of Trinity Church, and later educated Alexander Hamilton and his four sons?

Answers: 1. Fraunces Tavern 2. Stone Street 3. Columbia University

THE THEATER DISTRICT
for Broadway Buffs

New York’s Theater District is more than theaters. It’s where the Broadway community lives and lounges. Remain calm if you spot a star browsing at The Drama Book Shop (250 W. 40th St., dramabookshop.com), a welcoming place with miles of books and scripts, free Wi-Fi, a kids’ theater and a live-in dog named Chester. Since 1965, Joe Allen (326 W. 46th St., joeallenrestaurant.com) has been serving Broadway stars and their fans. While visiting, take note of the Broadway posters on the wall: As the restaurant notes on its website, “everyone remembers the hits, but we revel in the flops.” Have you got what it takes? Get up after 9 pm and belt out a song at Don’t Tell Mama’s piano bar (343 W. 46th St., donttellmamanyc.com) on Restaurant Row. Hourglass Tavern’s three-course pre-theater dinner costs $23.95 (373 W. 46th St., hourglasstavern.com), and its upstairs Bettibar pours for theater folk. Pick a piece of official Broadway merch from the Theatre Circle Shop (268 W. 44th St., theatrecircleshop.com). Triton Gallery (630 Ninth Ave., broadwayposters.com), set in the Mayan Art Deco-style Film Center, harbors a century’s worth of Broadway “window card” posters. Got a dramatic sweet tooth? Kee’s Chocolates (315 W. 39th St., keeschocolates.com) creates the champagne and passion-fruit bonbons messengered to Broadway stars’ dressing rooms.

Clockwise from bottom left: Champagne at Don’t Tell Mama (©Andy S. Drachenberg/Don’t Tell Mama); The Drama Book Shop (©Abigail Hardin, The Drama Book Shop, Inc.); display at Kee’s Chocolates (©Y. Kametani); a wall of Broadway posters at Triton Gallery (©Nick van Hoogstraten).


Theater District Trivia

1. What is Broadway’s longest-running show?

2. What entertainment powerhouse was a child actor who starred as “Annie” in 1979?

3. What is the highest-grossing Broadway show of all time?

Answers: 1. The Phantom of the Opera, since January 1988 2. Sarah Jessica Parker 3. “The Lion King,” opened in 1997, has roared to the tune of nearly a billion and a half bucks.

UPPER WEST SIDE
for Family Fun

Clockwise from bottom left: The Hall of African Mammals at the American Museum of Natural History (©AMNH); a WeBop kids event at Lincoln Center (Courtesy of Jazz at Lincoln Center/Frank Stewart); an ice-cream treat at Sugar and Plumm; a window display of Barbie dolls at Apthorp Cleaners (©Debra Kravet, Apthorp Cleaners Photos).

New York families cherish the Upper West Side for its rambling apartments and cultural landmarks. Lincoln Center (10 Lincoln Center Plz., lincolncenter.org) gives kids half-off ticket prices and runs family events galore, including the WeBop jazz classes for kids. The nabe’s big draw is the massive American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West, at W. 79th St., amnh.org). Major kiddie bait: a 122-foot Titanosaurus model; the dazzling Butterfly Conservatory; and the “Dark Universe” space show, at the museum’s Hayden Planetarium. Post-museum, kids burn off steam in Central Park (centralparknyc.org) at the Mariners’ Playground or Summit Rock (both near the W. 85th St. entrance). Ready to cruise the Upper West Side’s funnest street, Amsterdam Avenue? Not just girls love the Barbie doll windows done by the artist/owner of Apthorp Cleaners (383 Amsterdam Ave., apthorpcleaners.com). Jacob’s Pickles (509 Amsterdam Ave., jacobspickles.com) slings succulent home cooking morning till night. Known citywide for its marquee dish, The Meatball Shop (447 Amsterdam Ave., themeatballshop.com) serves a $7 “Ballers in Training” dinner. Sugar and Plumm (377 Amsterdam Ave., sugarandplumm.com) pleases with bistro classics, a kids’ menu and 50 desserts. Levain Bakery (167 W. 74th St. and 351 Amsterdam Ave., levainbakery.com) bakes the city’s most-loved squishy cookie. Your kid’s Levain Bakery treat won’t last, but an uncommon plaything from the old-school Stationery and Toy World will (125 W. 72nd St., stationeryandtoyworld.com).

Upper West Side Trivia

1. Beloved movies, including “Ghostbusters,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Hannah and Her Sisters” (not to mention “Elf” and “3 Men and a Baby”), are set on which Upper West Side thoroughfare?

2. At one and a third square miles, Central Park is bigger than what two countries?

3. Last year, the Tony Awards were held in a theater on Broadway—Broadway and W. 74th St., on the Upper West Side. What’s its name?

Answers: 1. Central Park West 2. Monaco and Vatican City 3. The Beacon Theatre

WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN
for Hipsters

Left: Michael (left) and Rick Mast of Mast chocolates (©Jessie Webster). Right: Jungle Bird cocktail from Maison Premiere.

If you’re not a hipster yet, you will be after a deep dive into trendy Brooklyn’s hottest neighborhood. The hipster subway train, the L, whisks you to the epicenter of the Williamsburg scene, Bedford Avenue. Emerging from the station, you’ll catch the aroma of small-batch java at Toby’s Estate (125 N. 6th St., tobysestate.com), an archetypal Williamsburg café with Instagram-famous avocado toast. Walk toward the waterfront Grand Ferry Park for the iconic views (and selfie backdrop). Just north, on Wythe Avenue, Beam (420 Kent Ave., beambk.com), a home boutique, distills the urban-eco-chic Williamsburg aesthetic. The ’burg’s hippest souvenir could be the Brooklyn Collection, six bars of artisanal chocolates using strange and wonderful ingredients (Sicilian olive oil, smoked maple, toasted caraway), all from Mast (111 N. 3rd St., mastbrothers.com), one of Brooklyn’s breakout brands. Weekends rule for Williamsburg boutiquing and brunching. Everything at Artists & Fleas (weekends, 70 N. 7th St., artistsandfleas.com)—vintage duds, edgy jewelry, handicrafts—is one-of-a-kind. Across the street, the elegant Falcon Laundry (65 N. 7th St., falconlaundry1930.com), named for its former tenant (a laundromat), finesses weekend brunch, delectable dinner and rooftop cocktails. Every day is brunch day at critics’ darling, Sunday in Brooklyn (348 Wythe Ave., sundayinbrooklyn.com). Maison Premiere’s city-renowned oyster happy hour (298 Bedford Ave., maisonpremiere.com) happens on weekdays from 4 to 7 pm and weekends from 11 pm to 1 am. Hipster night owls roost at Videology Bar & Cinema (308 Bedford Ave., videologybarandcinema.com), a nest of cult movies and inexpensive food and drink. Pete’s Candy Store (700 Lorimer St., petescandystore.com), a hipster hootenanny with local bands and down-home bar, opens at 4 pm (weekends), 5 pm (weekdays) and entertains with music, trivia, readings, skits and more.

Clockwise from top left: Interior of Falcon Laundry; view of the city from the Williamsburg waterfront; whole mackerel from Sunday in Brooklyn (©Evan Sung); interior shot at Artists & Fleas (©Alex Ayer Photography); display at Beam.


Williamsburg Trivia

1. A sugar refinery stood on the Williamsburg waterfront from 1859 to 2014, supplying roughly half the sugar used in the U.S. Its landmark 8,400-square-foot neon sign will be restored next year. What is this household name?

2. What three bridges do you see in a row spanning the East River close to your vantage point at Williamsburg’s Grand Ferry Park?

3. Before marrying a wealthy widow, this infamous privateer (a freelance pirate) lived in a boardinghouse on Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg. Who was he?

Answers: 1. Domino Sugar 2. From north to south: the Williamsburg Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge 3. Captain (William) Kidd

MADISON AVENUE
for Luxe Lovers

Clockwise from bottom left: Rose-cut diamond bangles from Fred Leighton; pistachio and blackberry macarons at Macaron Cafe (©Corbin Gurkin Photography); Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt in front of Roosevelt House (©Associated Press); the Rhinelander Mansion, home to Ralph Lauren Men.

If you were born for the opulent life, you’ll love Madison Avenue. Start with supersize treats (6 for $15) from the très chic Macaron Café (44 E. 59th St., macaroncafe.com). Or join the stylish set for designer pizza and pasta at Serafina (33 E. 61st St., serafinarestaurant.com). For late-night libations, a drink at The Carlyle’s storied Bemelmans Bar (35 E. 76th St., rosewoodhotels.com) is a must. When it’s time to shop, trend-surf accessories on the main floor of Barneys New York (660 Madison Ave., barneys.com). Expect a wallet workout in the next few blocks at the U.S. flagships of Europe’s fabled labels like Hermès New York Madison (691 Madison Ave., hermes.com) and Jimmy Choo (699 Madison Ave., jimmychoo.com). Keep walking for diamond heaven. De Beers (716 Madison Ave., debeers.com) sells eight-figure dazzlers as well as lovely, comfy “sleeper” earrings, made with wires or posts comfortable enough to sleep in (hence the name). Fred Leighton (773 Madison Ave., fredleighton.com) lends its exquisite vintage bijoux to redcarpeteers like Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington and Nicole Kidman. A vintage jewel of the architectural kind, the Rhinelander Mansion shelters Ralph Lauren Men’s Flagship (867 Madison Ave., global.ralphlauren.com). Starting to suffer from sticker shock? Stop in at La Boutique Resale (1045 Madison Ave., laboutiqueresale.com) for designer duds, most at least half off. Finally, your reward for mastering Madison: hot cocoa in La Maison du Chocolat’s cozy lounge (1018 Madison Ave., lamaisonduchocolat.com).

Clockwise from top left: The tearoom at La Maison du Chocolat (©Joseph Kitchen); Sunset Frost earrings from De Beers; a cocktail at Bemelmans Bar (©The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel).


Madison Avenue Trivia

1. The mother of which of the seven presidents hailing from the Empire State gave him a wedding present of two connected brownstones?

2. Madison Avenue and its Upper East Side surroundings claim a longstanding nickname that channels this lingerie item.

3. Two of Madison Avenue’s retail superstars, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, grew up in the same borough of New York City. Which?

Answers: 1. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from Sara Delano Roosevelt. At 47-49 E. 65th St., the mansion is now the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College 2. The Silk Stocking District 3. The Bronx