When someone hears of the words “New York” the first images that usually come to mind are those of Times Square and its giant luminous boards, Central Park and its mythical lake, or Greenwich Village and its brownhouses, typical of the New York architecture. Today, I choose to widen your horizons and make you discover districts like the Bronx, Queens or Brooklyn, each seeped in history and culture in their own unique way.
To live like a true New Yorker let’s get off the traditional tourist path of Manhattan. This time around, I am taking you deep into the real New York! No need for a bulletproof jacket, I have secured the place for you 🙂
The Bronx is the most northern of the five boroughs of New York City, within the U.S. state of New York. It is geographically south of Westchester County; north and east of the island and borough of Manhattan to the south and west across the Harlem River; and north of the borough of Queens, across the East River. Of the five boroughs, the Bronx is the only one that has the majority of its area on the U.S. mainland and, with a land area of 42 square miles (109 km2) and a population of 1,455,720 in 2016. The naming of « the Bronx » originates from Jonas Bronck, a swedish immigrant who was the first to colonize this area in the 17th century. That part of the land was designated by the Siwanoy Native Americans « Rananchqua », later on the settlers named it « Broncksland » or « Bronck’s farm » and finally « the Bronx »
The birthplace of the Hip Hop Culture
It is true that The Bronx does not benefit from a very flattering image as it has been considered one of the most dangerous districts of New York for a long time. Countless criminal acts and gang wars happened there in the Seventies and Eighties.
Today, the neighborhood is very far from its former reputation, and the memories the district has preserved from this “Golden Age” are the graffitis and local paintings. Street Art is inspired by all these actors of the streets and the pionniers of Hip Hop which have made the Bronx a legendary place in that field.
Celebrities who grew up in the Bronx
If you are a fan of Pop Culture, you know Jennifer Lopez aka Jenny from the block lived a big part of her life in the Bronx. She mentionned it quite a few times during interviews. Some other amazing stars have lived there : Woody Allen, Lauren Bacall, Peter Falk, Fat Joe, French Montana, Billy Joel.
What you don’t want to miss in the Bronx
The Yankee Stadium, homebase of the NY Yankees baseball team. You do not have to enter the arena but if you have the opportunity to be close by, go snap a picture in front of it ! It is a staple of NY culture.
The Italian district around Arthur Avenue, the “real” Little Italy and its farmer’s market with fresh produce. If you wish to travel down to south Italy without leaving New York, you should absolutely head over this district full of Mediterranean flavors. Most of the craftsmen are Italian immigrants who arrived in New York about forty years ago. They are always willing to have a conversation with visitors while having coffee! If you are a fan of cheese or charcuterie, search no more and buy their fresh produce. They are, at least, half cheaper than those sold in Manhattan.
Identity of the Queens
In 2013, its population was of 2,296,175 habitants. The Queens accommodates the international airport of New York-John F. Kennedy as well as the airport of New York-LaGuardia. Created on November 1st, 1683, it was baptized in honor of the queen consort Catherine de Bragance, wife of the king Charles II of England.
The Queens: A true melting-pot
The district is quite cosmopolitan and is composed mainly of districts accomodating the middle class, as well as upper middle class districts where one can find hotels, large parks and golf courses. It coincides with the county of Queens (administrative unit of the State of New York). However, strictly speaking, the latter does not function like a county, as it does not have any power and depends entirely on the municipal authority.
The personalities who grew in the Queens
He can be seen everywhere these days, the most emblematic figure to date to represent the Queens is no other than the current president of the United States, Donald Trump! Other celebrities resulting from other horizons also were born in this cultural melting pot: 50 cents, Ja Rule, Nicky Minaj or Lucy Liu.
The not-to-be-missed places:
Shea Stadium in Flushing Meadow-Corona Park is where the team of baseball the New York Mets, plays. It was the first stage to host a concert (the Beatles on August 15th, 1965). The park of Flushing Meadow also hosted the World Fairs of 1939 and 1964.
The residential district of the millionaires of the Queens: You will be able to admire the prettiest houses which can remind us of Californian residences with green lawn, white picket fences and swimming pools.
Brooklyn is one of the five boroughs of New York. It is part of the county of Kings (Kings County), administrative unit of the State of New York. However it does not operate like a county strictly speaking, because it does not have any power and depends entirely on the municipal authority. With a population of more than 2,636,735 habitants in 2015, it is the most populated district of New York.
Historical facts about Brooklyn
The Dutch were the first Europeans to colonize the Western area of Long Island, which was hitherto inhabited by the Carnasie Amerindian tribe. They established themeselves in Midwood in 1624. They bought the territory to the Mohawks which extends itself to the current districts of Gowanus, Red Hook, Brooklyn Navy Yard and Bushwick. The Village of Breuckelen (named after the town of Breukelen in the Netherlands) became authorized by a dutch Company of the Western Indies in 1646 and became then the first municipality of the Nieuw Nederland.
Williamsburg: the quintessential hipster neighborhood of Brooklyn made of small diy artist boutiques, street art, coffee shops, trendy bars and vibrant nightlife.
Dumbo: It is one of my favorites part of Brooklyn, bordering the waterfonts, it is ideal to take a picture with the buildings of Manhattan behind you. The possibility of taking a boat to join the city is also a good idea to admire the environment with impressive architecture.
Bushwick: The area a little less popular than Williamsburg but is up and coming, a lot of young people relocate there as it is cheaper.
Personalities associated with Brooklyn
Jay-Z, Mike Tyson, Aaliyah, Al Apone, Cindy Lauper, Barbra Streisand, etc: the list is long!
Would you like to take a tour with us ?
Harlem Spirituals can take you along an unforgettable adventure…
Discover the heart of New York ! After meeting with our tourguide in Times Square, get on the bus to get started on your tour of NY. First stop : the Bronx, also known under the appelation « boogie-down Bronx » and the only burough attached to the american continent. Explore the South Bronx, famous for its influence on latin american music and its involvement in the rise of the hip hop culture : breakdance, graffitis. Go admire the Yankee Stadium and Grand Concourse, the main street of the Bronx known for its many art deco buildings.
Continue your adventure in the Queens, second biggest borough of New York that will surprise you by its diversity and culture richness. Admire Astoria’s street art and murals and stop by Socrates sculpture park : a nice area by the water hosting sculptures and art out in the open.
Visit Long Island City, growing neighborhood with the most art galleries around, museums and art studios of NYC.
And finally, Brooklyn! A real example for fashion and crafty work, Brooklyn is also the most populated burough and one of the two (Queens being the other one) that is the most diverse culturally. Discover Williamsburg, the « hipster capital » with its numerous trendy coffee shops, small vintage boutiques, wolrd restaurants and art galleries. This former industrial neighborhood is today the home of the most hip community around, and its waterfront provides one of the most spectacular views of manhattan bordering with many green parks.
The tour ends in DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass), a dynamic part of Brooklyn with a beautiful view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the skyline, before the bus takes you back to Times Square.
As always, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message on Facebook if you have any questions! I’ll answer immediately 🙂