Harlem Now and Then: From Harlem Renaissance to today…

Harlem post card
Today, we’re taking you back in time, to look back at the storied past and transformation of our beloved neighborhood: Harlem!

Before it became a Manhattan neighborhood, Harlem was actually a village named Nieuw Haarlem. It has ever since kept its independent spirit and its own culture, which distinguish it from other New York neighborhoods.

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NYC Neighborhood #7: Downtown Manhattan

NYC Neighborhood #7: Downtown Manhattan

Downtown Manhattan is more than just the city’s main business center and financial district. In and around this concrete jungle of bank towers and office buildings, there are some really important and beloved pieces of New York City’s history. Unlike any other areas of New York City, our picturesque Downtown (also known as Lower Manhattan), provides a spectacular backdrop for nearly any types of situation.

This neighborhood still radiates the old New York charm and it still has some sites dating back to when NYC was known as New Amsterdam. Downtown also hosts a number of iconic landmarks and attractions, museums, public artworks and performing arts centers. All can be best seen on our New York, NY tour, which really shows the many facets of Manhattan and the contrast between its various neighborhoods. But, if you want to see Downtown Manhattan when it comes alive at night, take the New York by Night with One World Observation Center (priority admission). On this NYC night tour, beside taking in sweeping views of Manhattan Skyline from different angles, you will also stop by the Meatpacking District, New York hottest and trendiest neighborhoods these days. You’ll also drive through many neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan such as SoHo, Nolita, West Village, and Chinatown. And there’s just so much more to do in this area that you can continue exploring Downtown on your own. This post can be used as your one-stop guide for everything to see and do in Lower Manhattan.

1- Art 
Whitney Museum

(Photo by Shinya S. – Flick)

With its art-centric communities like Chelsea, Lower East Side, Soho and the West Village, Downtown Manhattan boasts quite a few galleries. Starting with Milk Studios and Gallery, a place where the world of fashion, art and nightlife all mingle together. At the Manhattan Art & Antiques Center, and the Ivy Brown Gallery things vary in nature, with exhibitions encompassing photography, paintings and sculptures from both well-known and up-and-coming artists. Then, there is the White Columns, which claims to be the New York City’s oldest alternative non-profit space and was established in 1970. The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art both curates modern American art and are definitely must-sees when you are in the area. Additionally, there is a Children’s Museum of the Arts, which is a fantastic establishment for parents who want to introduce their kids to art early on.

2- History

1200px-Nyc_city_hall_july2006b(Photo By Aude – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5)

So much of New York’s history still lives Downtown. It was here on Wall Street that President George Washington took his inaugural oath of office (more specifically at the Federal Hall). Lower Manhattan hosts lots of significant sites such as City Hall, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Woolworth Building, One World Trade Center, and the National September 11th Museum; which – by the way – you can explore at night on our New York by Night with One World Observation Center tour that includes a ticket and express entrance to the One World Observatory. Beside the historical spots, there are several other important NYC landmarks that can be found in this area including: Battery Park, Castle Clinton, the Charging Bull, the Museum of Chinese in America (located in Chinatown), the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the African Burial Ground, and the South Street Seaport that encompass a maritime museum where visitors can stroll past eighteenth and nineteenth century buildings located alongside its cobblestone streets. There are even art galleries related to Manhattan’s importance as an island and a port city. Downtown also has many religious institutions with really beautiful architectural details like the Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel.

3- Food

South_street_seaport_(Photo By Jan Ainali)

Describing Downtown Manhattan as a fun “hot spot” is still an understatement. If anything, Downtown Manhattan’s abundance of restaurants, boutiques, lounges and bars is the most concentrated in the entire city. With practically countless possibilities for late night dining, drinking, and socializing. In terms of eateries, there is a diverse mix of restaurants in Downtown among them you can count Mediterranean, Italian, French, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Indian and traditional American cuisine. Some of the most popular restaurants choices are: Cipriani, Beauty & Essex, STK Downtown, Nobu, Morimoto, Toro NYC, Catch, Dos Caminos, and TAO Downtown. Other Downtown food destinations that are worthy of a visit include the Spice Market and the Chelsea Market. South Street Seaport, known as the place that used to be America’s busiest port, also provides some great places for shopping and dining. For sugary treats, you can wander into the nearby shops or go straight to the areas’ most famous joints like Duane Park Patisserie, Magnolia Bakery, or to Dominique Ansel Bakery for their famous Cronuts! For those looking to enjoy a little casual meal and drinks with spectacular views, you are already in the fun zone 🙂

4- Entertainment 

Downtown Manhattan(Photo by Gigi NYC)

While Downtown is known for its energy and its reputation as the New York City’s “playground”, there are few places more enjoyable than this portion of the Big Apple especially at night, regardless of the season. Our New York by Night with One World Observation Center tour is especially a great place to start uncovering Downtown. This area has practically endless options of restaurants, nightclubs, lounges and bars, many of them with accessible rooftops offering amazing views of the Hudson River, downtown Manhattan and its surroundings. There are also plenty of choices if you are looking for concerts, live shows including Off-Broadway productions, standup comedy and more! Le Poisson Rouge, Pianos, the Highline Ballroom, and the Comedy Cellar are all great entertainment destinations in Downtown Manhattan. Metrograph, a newly opened indie movie theater, offers a unique experience accompanied by drinks & food. If you’re in the mood for some shopping instead, there’s the remarkable Brookfield Place, a mall where designer labels can be found under one roof alongside with glorious Hudson River and skyline views. Although this neighborhood seem too small to have gardens, you can still embrace nature in places like Zuccotti Park, Tompkins Square Park, Washington Square Park and the Downtown portion of the High Line Park. Already been on the Staten Island Ferry? Get an overview of Manhattan Island by cruising the harbor aboard one of these NYC cruises. Some of the best choices, we recommend the Clipper City Twilight Sailing Cruise, the Shearwater Champagne Brunch Sailing Cruise, and the Dinner Cruise with Live Jazz Music.

 

Downtown Manhattan, for anyone who isn’t familiar, is a world of exploration and adventure that is waiting for you to enjoy endless shopping, dining and entertainment. Plus, our New York by night and New York NY tour are both perfect for wandering the streets of Downtown after exploring the in-and-out of this area with a local expert. Where would you rather be, Downtown, Midtown or Uptown Manhattan?

12 Stunning Images of New York City at Night

12 Stunning Images of New York City at Night

New York, the city that never sleeps, not only lives up to its name but it also reveals a completely different vibe at night than it does during the day. In contrast with some major cities, the lights of the Big Apple skyline are beautifully placed to illuminate the city in a very photogenic way. Exploring New York City at night will allow you to experience just that and see for yourself that there is way more to see in NYC at night than Times Square’s brightly lit billboards. Join our New York by Night with One World Observation Center to enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of Big Apple from the 102nd floor of the One World Observatory (and without even having to wait in line to get in!) Then take a walk downtown through the Memorial Plaza and the 9/11 Memorial Twin-Reflecting pools, before crossing the East River over to Brooklyn for more spectacular views of the city. And conclude your night visit with a promenade through the Meatpacking district; one of New York City’s trendiest neighborhoods that is especially a must-see on weekends! No doubt this guided visit will leave you mesmerized…

And as a foretaste of all the magic you’ll witness during our  NYC by night tour, here are 12 stunning images of NYC at night:

1. NYC by night from the Empire State building

NYC at night(Photo by Daniel M.)

2. The Flatiron District at Night

Flatiron at Night(Photo © 2014 Jens Schott Knudsen)

3. Lower Manhattan Skyline

Lower Manathan Skyline(Photo by Loïc L)

4. Downtown Manhattan (around City Hall)

City hall(Photo by Betty T.)

5. Manhattan Skyline at night with the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge- Manhattan skyline(Photo by Flickr-U.)

6. Manhattan’s financial district from the Brooklyn height’s promenade

Manhattan from Brooklyn Heights(Photo by Flickr-U.)

7. So many emblems in one photo

NYC skyline(Photo by Michael M.)

8. The Skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge captured at once

Skyline+bridge(Photo by Tom R.)

9. Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline at night

15052762986_28dcf6fece_h(Photo by Maciek L.)

10. Manhattan at night from the Top of the Rock

Manhattan at night(Photo by Yann)

11. Under the Bridge in Dumbo, Brooklyn

Dumbo Brooklyn(Photo by Dan S.)

12. Ground Zero -9/11 Memorial 

9/11 Memorial (Photo by Stephen W.)

Whether you want to have a romantic evening in Gotham or spend time with family and friends, our New York by Night with One World Observation Center tour will suit your plans for an exciting evening. So, come out at night because New York City arguably looks its best when all the bright lights illuminate its famous skyline.

9 Most Hipster Things That Have Ever Happened in Brooklyn

9 Most Hipster Things That Have Ever Happened in Brooklyn

Nowadays when you hear Brooklyn, you’re probably thinking hipsters, street art, coffee shops, yoga studios, etc … While these do not apply to every parts of Brooklyn, they surely are all over Williamsburg, and have been for at least the past decade. While the word “hipster” itself is a term mostly used to describe people who represent a certain subculture, New Yorkers are also using it to describe all the unusual matters that they encounter in Brooklyn.

No doubt that by now you must have heard millions of things about Brooklyn. But to separate fact from fiction, we invite you to experience this borough for yourself. Our Brooklyn Walking tour will not only show you the trendy side of Brooklyn but also take you off the beaten path so you can soak in all the borough’s flavor. It even includes an all-day Ferry pass so you can explore the New York Harbor afterwards. Another great option is our BBQ & BBQ- Bronx, Brooklyn & Queens tour w. BBQ Lunch which allow you to get a glimpse of the real New York by visiting 3 major NYC boroughs in one day, complete with a BBQ lunch in Brooklyn! This is especially ideal for those who are short on time but still looking to see all the New York greatness.

Now, before you join us to see Brooklyn’s hipster magic with your own eyes, here’s our list of the 9 most hipster things to ever have happened in Brooklyn:

1. The Baby DJ school 

Yes, you read that right; parents in Brooklyn are so concerned about making sure that their little ones become very productive members of our society that they send them to vocational schools very early on 🙂 Do you want your baby spinning at Coachella or other music festivals in a couple of years? No need to panic, Brooklyn Baby DJ School has got your back and will help coach your little super star as early as three months after birth!

2. The morning raves
I mean, who else but the creative and energetic hipsters of Brooklyn can work up the audacity to come up with something as genius as partying early in the morning? These types of parties are nothing new in Williamsburg, but they have become so much of “a thing” that early morning gatherings are now popular in Manhattan and other cities. You may be wondering, what does one wear to a 6 a.m. turn up on a weekday? They recommend that you “dress to sweat” since some of these bashes include exercising and doing some yoga. To get your morning groove on, check out Daybreaker and Morning Gloryville.

3. Halloween or Williamsburg

Halloween or Williamsburg(IMG from Halloween or Williamsburg)

Oh boy, where do we even start…. The blog may be called Halloween or Williamsburg, but the truth is that the same joke can be applied to several other neighborhoods in the Big Apple. As you may know by now, New Yorkers LOVE fashion but they also enjoy expressing individuality through clothes; even though some of the outfit can often leave us all wondering about the day of the year *Is it October already or is it Comic-Con week? * This answer can be found in a calendar but for now, let’s just agree that everyday is Halloween in Williamsburg.

4. The Pizza Box made out of Pizza

(Photo by Vinnie’s Pizzeria)

This one won’t surprise those who know how serious New Yorkers are about their pizzas. But, this place in Brooklyn just took it to a whole new level with their new *Wait for it* … Pizza Box pizza! That’s right, the makers of the famous “pizza on pizza” in Brooklyn have done it again with their newest extreme pizza.

5. When they made rainbow bagels a thing
Not long ago, people on the Internet lost their mind over some colorful and photogenic bagels because rainbow foods are all the rage these days. The multicolored bagels are brought to us by a place fittingly called The Bagel Store located in Williamsburg. It’s safe to say that the rainbow bagels are still selling out every day. So if you want to get a taste, be sure to call and place an order the day before.

6. Dumpster Dining

salvage-supper-club- brooklyn(IMG courtesy of Salvage Supper Club)

You know about dumpster diving… But have you tried Dumpster dining in Brooklyn yet? Yeah we know that you are currently asking yourself what the rest of us have been wondering about for a while – is there anything the hipsters of Brooklyn won’t try as long as it looks cool on the surface? The answer is no 🙂 However, in this particular instance they are doing it for charity. So while seeing Brooklynites leave their lovely brownstones to go dine in a Dumpster may look pretentious, the Salvage Superclub was actually doing it for a good cause.

7. When there was a real dumpster for rent
If you are familiar with apartment hunting in this city, you know that things are not always what they sounds like. But, if someone describes a place as “art deco hipster retro mini apartment from a converted dumpster” for rent, believe them and run away! Because this is not a joke and it will even cost you a pretty penny to rent it. For those who are into unique homes, this one may be right up your alley and you too can have the home of your Instagram dreams in Williamsburg.

8. The Adult “Preschool”

Adult Preschool-Brooklyn(Photo courtesy of Preschool Mastermind)

This one of a kind “school” in Brooklyn, is also branded the Preschool Mastermind. Even though it’s just for adults, the school offers a realistic day care experience that includes non-age-appropriate activities like finger painting, Play-Doh and Crayola arts and crafts, field trips, and most importantly nap-time! If you agree that the best way to cope with stress is to reconnect with your inner child, then this may just be your best option. Besides, nothing ain’t cool unless Brooklyn says it is!

9. Williamsburg Hipsters’ New Year’s resolutions
When Buzzfeed asked hipsters in Brooklyn about their New Year’s resolutions, they brought it, I mean they kept it 100 percent REAL and blew everyone’s mind with their amazingly organized, logical and thoughtful resolutions. Check it out.

Yes hipsters have left their marks on Brooklyn but, don’t stop yourself at reading these wild stories; come and see for yourself on our new Brooklyn walking tour, an ever-expanding tour through Brooklyn’s must-see neighborhoods that will introduce you to the rich diversity of its historic districts. 

5 Reasons To Visit The Bronx

5 Reasons To Visit The Bronx

Today the Bronx is on everyone’s lips. Though its shadowy past seems to linger around and still gives it an imbalanced reputation, the Bronx has long left the past behind to become one of New York City’s most exciting boroughs. If you are not already acquainted with its history, beside the fact that it’s the famous birthplace of the Hip Hop culture, please allow us to school you on why you should visit the Bronx 🙂

We at Harlem Spirituals-New York Visions have been pioneers in creating off the beaten path guided visits to showcase the multiple facets of Big Apple. Long overshadowed by other boroughs, the Bronx remains one of our favorite places in the City and we are very proud and happy to offer our guests a glimpse of all the wonders the Bronx has to offer. Join one of our 3 tours of the Bronx to explore the borough and see for yourself what the hype is all about. Our tours are an ideal option if you are a bit short on time or if you are not keen on getting there by yourself… You’ll get to see all the Bronx’s most famous landmarks, its most exciting neighborhoods and attractions, as well some hidden gems only New Yorkers know about. Click the links below to find out more:

Hidden Treasure of the Bronx w/ Lunch on City Island
Bronx Tour and Bronx Zoo Experience
Bronx, Brooklyn & Queens Tour w. BBQ Lunch

Need more convincing? Check our list of the 5 reasons why you should visit the Bronx!

1- The Architecture 

Art Deco - Bronx(Photo by Henry C Flickr) Read more