Things to do in Brooklyn, The Bronx and Queens !

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.

brooklyn-bridge-2380682_960_720
Credits: pixabay

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

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

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.

pexels.com
Credits: pixabay

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

Credits: pixabay
Credits: pixabay

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

Credits: pixabay
Credits: pixabay

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

Credits: pexels.com
Credits: pexels.com

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.

Places not-to-be-missed

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.

Credits: pixabay
Credits: pixabay

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.

To book this tour please click here !

As always, don’t hesitate to shoot me a message on Facebook if you have any questions! I’ll answer immediately 🙂

Salvatore

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What kind of weather can I expect during my trip to New York?

Rain or shine, New York is always a good trip idea ! Indeed, even when my Sicilian roots resurface and get me excited with the first ray of sunshine, I also appreciate the fresh and breezy nights of the City during the month of November. In this article, I will give you advice for your next trip to New York City according to the changing seasons.

credits: pexels
credits: pexels

Let’s get right into it: 
Winter in New York is a tough season, even for John Snow!

What you heard about NYC in the winter is probably true. It’s freezing cold and the streets get covered in snow. The maximal average temperature between December and February reaches approximately 41°F while the average minimal temperature reaches 27°F.

snow in times square harlem spiritualsCredits: Anthony Quintano

However, do no trust the average estimates too much. Indeed, 3 winters out of 10 temperatures can reach as low as the -1°F and even go beyond -4°F. Also, it is not rare for a snowstorm to last several days . Rain can be a big part of the month of February. In short, harsh winters in New York are an usual occurrence.

How to survive?

By wearing the right clothes!
To avoid freezing to death and spending your money on extra sets of clothes when you are here, my advice to you is to bring the survival kit of the mountain dweller! Warm coats, scarves, gloves, beanies and even your moon boots or furred boots (not necessarily with real fur) which will prove to be more than useful (you will thank me later!)

Lastly, skip the glamour and multiply layers: leggings skilfully slipped under trousers, vests, tee-shirts and sweaters under your polo neck, the whole supplemented by a warm coat. Don’t forget to bring an umbrella as well, rain can also be unpredictable (some hotels provide them.)

What activities should I do during the winter?

Obviously, I would advise you to stay indoors as much as possible, why not go to the numerous museums or galleries the city has to offer ? You can always stop to a few coffee shops on your way to warm yourself. New York is the place to be for everything cultural. All the greatest museums are here, whether you are into modern art or a dinosaur enthusiast, the MoMa and the Museum of Natural History await you. If you wish to book any of these activities securely CLICK HERE.

Another idea is to visit Harlem. You’ll be comfortably seated in our heated bus while our best tour guide show you the neighborhood and tell everything about the storied past of Harlem. Cherry on top, you will have the chance to attend a Live Gospel concert at the end of the tour. It will create a wonderful memory and warm up your heart. To join us for this experience, CLICK HERE.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Spring: New York City starts brightening up and emerges from its harsh winter conditions.

Spring remains a rather short season (from mid-March to the end of May) but well marked. Indeed, the temperatures increase rapidly; the average minimal temperature during March is about 33°F while it can go up to 53°F in May. The early morning frosts of March end progressively and the days get nicer. However, it continues to rain frequently.

Harlem Spirituals / Roosevelt Island in the spring

What should I pack for my trip ?

An umbrella, sweaters, jackets and cardigans (mid-season everything.) For those of you who are sensitive to cold, a light scarf is not superfluous. Regarding shoes, always think “comfortable” because you will be walking a lot!

What are the best activities during this season?

The weather starts to get warm again, you can wear lighter clothes but still bring a jacket with you. Time is favorable for long walks, discovering neighborhoods and other boroughs (if you are the adventurous kind!) and animated outdoor spaces. Stay outside as much as possible ! You will still be able to go to museums during the evenings when the air is cooler.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

If you want to rent a bike in Central park or book an helicopter tour with us, those are also considerable options, CLICK HERE.

Summer in New York is hot and humid.

Credits: Pexel
Credits: Pexel

New York in the summer is hot… very hot, and seems to last forever. The average maximum temperature in July and August is 86°F and can sometimes go beyond. It is easily possible to reach the 104°F. Watch out for temperatures variations between outside and buses, restaurants, museums and stores where air conditioning is often put on full blast.

What are the essential clothing items to bring in your luggage?

Bring everything lightweight, short and cropped ! T-Shirt, tank tops, dresses, skirts, dockers, flip-flops (except to take walks, New York isn’t the cleanest of cities… ) Do not forget to carry sunglasses (a must)! Sales are happening in New York during the month of July so if you wish to travel light, know that you can buy clothes here for much cheaper.

How can I have fun during this hot weather?

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

Go on a cruise and be close to the water! This is what I prefer doing during this hot weather ! There are all type of cruises and for any budget. You will have fun creating wonderful memories with your family. It is also the perfect occasion to take pictures with the Statue of Liberty in the background or with the New York skyline. To book one of our cruises or boat tours, CLICK HERE!

What about Autumn in New York ?

Temperatures fall between October and December, you can expect a good 50°F.

Things to do in NYC in the Fall, Harlem Spirituals

Contrary to what one may think, Fall in New York City is not wetter than the other seasons since the rate of precipitations is appreciably the same throughtout the year. However you will notice the change of season and ambiance with the decorations of the city (remember Halloween and Thanksgiving celebrations are coming up!) The trees display gleaming colors and you can’t stop looking at nature which offers amazing red landscapes.

What to carry with you?

Once again, make it simple : clothing of mid-season will be enough. For those who are very sensitive to cold, a good coat and a scarf will be necessary. The temperatures still remain positive even if the weather in New York is unforeseeable. For me, it is the most pleasant temperature because the weather is neither too cold nor too hot.

What can I do during Fall in New York?

Fall is a season that is very appreciated by New Yorkers because, finally, it’s time to get away from the summer inferno and humidity. Also Halloween is approaching!! Need I say more? The entire city is decorated with spiders and monsters. It feels great to be outside with a little scarf around your neck and a warm cup in your hand. During this season, take advantage of the weather: visit neighborhoods like Harlem, Brooklyn, the Bronx or Queens. To book a private visit of any district with us, CLICK HERE. And then when the temperature gets to you, go on a coffee break !

Credits: Harlem Spitituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

If being out in the cold isn ‘t your thing, and you absolutely want to remain indoors while discovering the city, why don’t you book a tour with a private driver throughout the city? It is the perfect occasion to have an overall sense of the city while being seated comfortably on board of a splendid limo! If you want to know more, CLICK HERE.

As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to send me a message on Facebook !

Salvatore

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Top 10 Activities For Your Holidays in New York

washington square park nyc Harlem Sprituals

The holiday season in New York City is indisputably one of the best times to be here. As if the city didn’t have enough going on, the number of activities and attractions nearly triple during this time of the year. Anyone who’s ever spent Holidays in New York can tell you that there is a lengthy list of things to do by the end of it. With so much happening, here are our top 10 activities to best enjoy the holiday season in the city that never sleeps!

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Staff Picks: Best Rooftop Bars in NYC

There’s virtually a rooftop bar in New York City for each taste: do you prefer classic or trendy? Sophisticated or edgy? Manhattan or Brooklyn? Here are our favorite rooftop bars that you can find throughout the city. So get out there, and get your drink on!

1- 230 Fifth (230 5th Ave, corner of 27th street New York, NY, 10001)

230 Fifth(Photo via 230 Fifth) Read more

Quiz: How Well Do You Know New York?

Quiz: How Well Do You Know New York?

Test your knowledge of Gotham City with this short and fun quiz to see if you know more the average New Yorker :) Get all the answers right to receive a 10% discount on all our Harlem Spirituals/New York Visions tours!

It's a common fact that millions of visitors from all over the world flock to New York ever year. Yet only a happy few really get to truly experience the Real New York. Yes, Midtown Manhattan is stunning and we all love it. However it's only a tiny slice of the apple. The truth is, even some New Yorkers don’t know everything about this town. New York City is much more than just one neighborhood. In fact, each of its five boroughs and over 300 neighborhoods brings something to the table; Manhattan and Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island are all incredibly diverse communities that all add so much life to this city. New York City's diversity stretches across its five boroughs including Manhattan and is filled with adventures and off the beaten path destinations that only a few tourists venture to.

Join one of our guided NYC adventures to expand your knowledge of the city. Stroll through trendy Dumbo, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights and more Brooklyn neighborhoods on the Brooklyn Walking Tour which also includes an all day pass to the ferry so you can cruise the New York harbor! Explore the Boogie-Down Bronx on both our Hidden Treasures of The Bronx with Lunch at City Island and the Bronx Tour with Bronx Zoo Experience. Or if you want to see it all, take our BBQ & BBQ tour - From HipHop to Hipsters, a Triboro tour that'll take you to the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, and end on a tasty note with an authentic BBQ Lunch.



Where is the famously known New York Stock Exchange?
Federal Hall
Wall Street
Town Hall
Union Square
Hint: http://goo.gl/U1rSfB

What is the name of the most famous (baseball) stadium located in the Bronx?
Barclays Center
Shea Stadium
CitiField
Yankee Stadium
Hint: http://goo.gl/yhM2IW

Where is the Soldiers and Sailor's Memorial Arch of Grand Army Plaza?
Manhattan
Staten Island
Brooklyn
Queens
Hint: http://goo.gl/Bq81oj

Which one of these neighborhoods is NOT in Queens, NY?
Astoria
Long Island City
Jamaica
Weeksville
Hint: http://goo.gl/ZLO90K

Which NYC Zoo is America's largest metropolitan zoo, and features more than 4,000 animals?
Prospect Park Zoo
Central Park Zoo
Bronx Zoo
Queens Zoo
Hint: http://goo.gl/0B3VKC

Which of these venues host the beloved and legendary “Amateur Night”?
Cotton Club
Lenox Lounge
Shrine NYC
Apollo Theater
Hint: http://goo.gl/DKuxyq

In which NYC borough can you find the neighborhood known as City Island?
Staten Island
Queens
The Bronx
Brooklyn
Hint: http://goo.gl/yhM2IW

Where did Soul Food originate in the United States?
Cotton Club
Harlem
Southern US
Jamaica, Queens
Hint: http://goo.gl/67cDpV

The Statue of Liberty is clearly visible from Battery Park.
True
False
Hint: http://goo.gl/U1rSfB

Which NYC building is considered to be the tallest tower in the Western Hemisphere?
1. 30 Rockefeller Center
2. Chrysler Building
3. Empire State Building
4. One World Trade Center
Hint: http://goo.gl/PpKLqX

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We hope that you’ve had fun taking this Quiz! If you would like to know more about the Big Apple, join us on our tours; we’ll take you off the beaten path to explore the real New York!

Disclaimer: Participants of this quiz who answer all the questions correctly will be automatically eligible to get a 10%discount on our tours (including our brand new tours). To receive the discount, participants need to confirm to the following eligibility criteria:

1. You must be over 18 to qualify

2. You must have a valid Facebook ID/ Twitter handle (as applicable)

Winners will be notified via email on Friday, June 3rd 2016. All submissions must be sent before June 3rd.

Discount code will need to be redeemed  before July 31st, 2016. In the event of any questions, please contact: digitalmedia@harlemspirituals.com stating the name of this Quiz (“How Well Do You Know New York?”) in the subject line.