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.

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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

Enregistrer

What happened to these soldiers from Harlem who fought for France?

While Emmanuel Macron has just celebrated the commemorations of the entry of the United States into the First World War, the fate of the 15th infantry regiment of the National guards of New York, composed of African Americans remains unknown to this day. Indeed, the voluntary soldiers were present in the trenches to help the French, their bravery was greeted by the French Army, but unfortunately, not so much from their own country, the United States because of their skin color…

frencflag BON

Who were these remarquable soldiers?

They were businessmen, lawyers, boxers and job seekers. The entire population of Harlem and the various districts of New York was enroled in the 1916 National guard of New York to go to war. They had to fight two battles: the first was the Front like any other soldier and the second, involved many challenges and obstacles, that of discrimination and segregation against them from the American military department.

Credits: mashable.com
Credits: mashable.com

Named the “Hellfighters” by the Germans, 500 of them were awarded with the France’s War Cross, but in Washington their exploits were not saluted. Their biggest enemy was their hierarchy.

Even in the military Front, they were segregated.

At the beginning of the war, it was very difficult to have both white people and african americans fighting alongside each other as a team, since the US itself was segregated. That is the reason why those men were transferred to the French Army and fought under the French uniform. Under this one condition, they gained some respect from the American administration throughout the war.

During the year 1918, the african american soldiers spent 191 consecutive days fighting in the Front, a record for an American unit and from that point on, they went from victory to victory. It is said that at the end of that same year, they did not lose an inch of ground.

The hour of glory finally arrived on February 1919 where a sumptuous parade on the streets of New York City was held. The celebration walk was held from Fifth avenue to Harlem. A few days later, the regiment finally got demobilized and these african americans veterans did not get the regards the army could have given to them, unfortunately. They received much less rewards than they actually deserved compared to how their accomplishments were acknowledged by the french.

Some encountered tragic destinies…

A certain number of these heroes died during the war. During the night of May 14th 1918, Henry Johnson (1892-1929) and Needham Roberts (1901-1949) were in station in the forest of Argonne when they were attacked by about twenty German soldiers. Fleeing was not an option for them. Johnson defended himself as much as possible with whichever weapons he had, initially grenades, then the stick of his rifle, his Bolo dagger, and finally his fists.

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

He managed to send the enemies running only by himself, not without having massacred a good number of them, and saved his companion. At the cost of twenty and one wounds. he earned the nickname of Black Death and the French Military Cross with star and palm of bronze. He lived on to the late 1920s on the streets, forgotten of all, never getting the American military honors that he truly deserved.

It is only in 2015 that he was greeted by the United States

Barack Obama was the one who, nearly one hundred years later, granted Henry Johnson the highest military distinction posthumously. It is the proof that even after the end of the war, the successive american political administrations had great difficulties in acknowledging the bravery and the contribution of these african-americans soldiers during the world wars.

 

Credits: History.com
Credits: History.com

Explore the History of Harlem, home of the brave heroes

Learn about Harlem from its origins as a rural Dutch community to its transformation into a summer retreat for New York’s most prominent families. Take a journey into the past and see the African-American Mecca for writers and artists at the turn of the century. Hear about Harlem’s troubled past during the 1960’s and 1970’s and view its present day community beam with pride as with the “Harlem renaissance” period.

Credits: Todd Webb
Credits: Todd Webb

See famous NYC sights and landmarks such as Columbia University, City College, Morningside Heights, the Morris Jumel Mansion, Sylvan Terrace, Strivers Row, the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theater, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Sugar Hill, Duke Ellington’s apartment, the famous 125th street and many more. End your tour of Harlem by joining a local congregation* for the Sunday worship mass service and experience the soul-stirring power of gospel music with a live gospel choir! To book the tour, CLICK HERE

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals