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

Enregistrer

How to avoid scammers in New York?

How to avoid scammers in New York?

How I always say a successful trip is a well organized trip! Scammers are everywhere and I hate to be taken for an idiot. I now know New York very well and it’s my pleasure to tell you what you should avoid while enjoying your trip !

At the airport

Credits: Gary Busio
Credits: Gary Busio

Don’t get into a gipsy cab (black car), those drivers are expecting the perfect fool. Some of them are indeed without scruples and will not hesitate to ask you $200 to $400 once arrived at your destination!Yellow cabs respect the official city rate which is approximately $75, tip included). For your information, Harlem Spirituals offers a large range of transportation service. Some of them include a private driver that will wait for you outside the airport : no stress, no wait, no inconvenience ! To book this service with us, CLICK HERE

Buy and walk in touristic places

Credits: Angel Chevrestt
Credits: Angel Chevrestt

Do not buy electronic products or cellphones in stores located toward Times Square. Very often, they are poor quality products and when you realize it, it’s too late, you are already back in your city/country.

Some shops, most of them near Broadway, sell national phone cards at the price of international cards. They are obviously much expensive and useless for you if you want to call your family and friends from your country.

When you pay with your credit card in a restaurant or any other business dealing with the service aspect, don’t forget to write the tip you want to leave. If you let it empty, the server or any other employee can fill it for you …

In Times Square or Soho, while you ll be walking around, you ll certainly meet young musicians acting with you like you guys have been friends forever. They will try to put on your hands their last CD/album. Don’t forget they expect money from you. So if you feel charitable that day, feel free to give them whatever you can, otherwise do not pay attention to them !

In the High Line and other touristic places, you may meet false buddhist monks. Basically, they offer “piece of paper full of wisdom”. They smile and look inoffensive, but they ask you for money. This phenomenon have obliged the town hall to set up information boards everywhere to inform tourists of these scammers.

Hotel, housing and public behavior

Credits: Harlem Spirituals
Credits: Harlem Spirituals

If you are staying in an hotel and your booking does not include breakfast, don’t order it on the spot. Most of the time, it’s more expensive than having breakfast outisde the hotel and on the top of bit you get to try different meals.

In New York, drinking booze in public is formally prohibited. If you get caught by the police, they will make sure you’ll regret it, not even talking about the huge fine you will get.

In a less glamour note, if you feel like you need to pee, my advice to you is do not do it in public nor against a wall, it’s consider like a degradation of public goods. The police officers will be pitiless.

Do not get Pedicabs randomly in the streets of New York, the rates which they give to tourists are excessively expensive. Harlem Spirituals offers similar activities like biking on the Brooklyn Bridge! To book it with us, CLICK HERE

If you have a drink in a bar, the tip is not included and as I already said, therefore do not hesitate to ask your change and leave a tip by yourself (for a beer or a soda or a cocktail, leave between 1 and 2 dollars).

In Times Square, if you decide to take a picture with Batman or Mickey Mouse, don’t forget that the guy behind this costume expects a tip… Some of them can become very aggressive if you forget to pay them…

If you rent a house or an apartment, do not send money or at least be very careful, there are a lot of scammers online. Choose a well-known website like Airbnb or Vrbo or Homeaway.

If you have questions, do not hesitate to comment on this article or to write me on Facebook.

Salvatore

A Guide To Some Classic NYC Food Experiences

Nowadays it’s not enough to just know about the latest food craze or trendy restaurants. The real pursuit is in finding the hidden gems – the under-the-radar eateries where real New Yorkers go for deliciously unpretentious bites that always manage to hit the spot. But how do you know where to go when New Yorkers like to keep their favorite places a secret so it doesn’t end up like every other crowded joints in NYC?

If you’re planning a visit to NYC or have guests coming from out-of-town, skip the typical tourist spots. And if you don’t know where to go: join us for a tasty BBQ lunch in Brooklyn or for fresh seafood lunch in a small, charming NYC seaside neighborhood that is off the beaten paths and frequented by mostly locals, on our Hidden Treasures tour of The Bronx with Lunch at City Island. Because why would anyone settle for average food options in NYC of all places, when you can essentially travel the world one plate at a time without ever leaving this city!

Here is our insider guide to good eats in the Big Apple.

Pizza

Pizza-NYC(Photo by Katrin G)

As a quintessential NY food, you are probably not surprised to see pizza on this list. Now, what is the best pizza in the Big Apple? Thin crust, thick crust, NY style, deep-dish, wood-fired or coal-oven… the answer is anyone’s guess and the good news is that regardless of your preference, New York City has a style of pizza for everybody and you can decide where you fit by looking at our list of The 10 Best Pizzas in New York City including the places where you can eat them.
Staff’s pick: Some of our favorite pizza places include Motorino, John’s on Bleecker Street, and Roberta’s.

Barbecue
Originating in the South, American Barbecue is more than just a culinary style; it’s a whole subculture with fierce fans. While New York City may be a mecca of food, it’s not the largest BBQ hub in the United States. You will be surprise by how far Barbecue enthusiasts in the Big Apple go to get their authentic BBQ fix in this City. No need to worry about finding one if you have been on our Triboro from Hip-hop to Hipsters tour complete with a finger-licking authentic southern style Barbecue lunch in Brooklyn! If you haven’t booked it already, do it now and you won’t regret it.
Staff’s picks: Other Barbecue restaurants that some of us cherish are Hometown Bar-b-que, the Smoke Joint, Blue Smoke and Hillstone

Soul Food

Chicken n Waffles(Photo by Flickr U)

What is soul food, anyway? It’s a token from the south of the US brought to NYC. The name “soul food” was coined by soul music, and initially used by Jazz artists in the ‘50s. Soul food is nothing new to New York City; it’s been around for decades. In fact, ‘til this day there are still some very good soul food eateries in the city that serve the most authentic version of this dish such as the restaurant we go to during our Soul food and Jazz tours as well as our Harlem Gospel tours with soul food lunch on Wednesdays or soul food brunch on Sundays.
Staff’s picks: When we want soul food on days our tours aren’t available we go to Bobwhite, Londel’s Restaurant or Manna’s to fix our cravings.

Seafood
New Yorkers love to have the best of everything and the seafood is no different, and they will travel to great lengths to find the perfect plate. For fresh seafood, join on our Hidden Treasures of The Bronx with Seafood Lunch, when we uncover the Bronx and this tiny coastal community known as City Island. On this tour, you not only get see a different side of New York City but you’ll also get to enjoy a delicious seafood lunch on City Island located in the Bronx.
Staff’s picks: Other good seafood options if you can’t make it to City Island are Littleneck Brooklyn, Luke’s Lobster or FishTAG.

Ramen

Momofuku Ramen(Photo via Momofuku)

Ramen noodles have been popular in New York City for a long time but this is one of the food trends that has yet to vanish and is enjoyed by people of all backgrounds in this melting pot. This dish continues to mesmerize many foodies and travelers in New York, as there are so several ways to enjoy it. Nowadays, upscale ramen eateries are popping up all over New York City and they are building a stellar reputation among food lovers in the Big Apple.
Staff’s picks: For a flavorsome bowl of ramen, we like Ippudo Ramen, Chuko Ramen, Ivan Ramen or Totto Ramen.

Bagels
What makes the bagels in New York City so special? Even some New Yorkers have yet to find an answer to this question. Some people speculate that it’s all in the water 🙂 whatever the case may be, we can all agree that they are amazing! New York City is home to some of the world’s best bagels and you’ve got a lot of bagel options. Most New York bagels can come anyway you like, whether you want something sweet or savory for breakfast. One thing for sure is that once you eat a bagel in the Big Apple; you will always be able to tell the difference when you go anywhere else.
Staff’s picks: We recommend you try Bagel Express, Broadway Bagel or Bagel Talk during your next NYC stay.

Burgers

Burger- Spotted pig(Photo via the Spotted Pig)

Whether you are visiting or have out of town guests in New York, keep in mind that when it comes to getting tasty burgers in this city, your options are all but limited. If you don’t believe in standing in long lines for a Shake Shack Burger, you can still get very decent burgers that are not fast food depending on the type you are looking for. And, remember that you can still enjoy some really appetizing burgers in this town without necessarily going to a burger-focused restaurant. Some good burger joints in the Big Apple to go: the Counter Times Square, the Corner Bistro, and the Spotted Pig.
Staff’s picks: Some good burger joints in the Big Apple that we like to go are the Counter Times Square, the Corner Bistro, and the Spotted Pig.

Hot dogs
When it comes to hot dogs in NYC, do yourself a favor and stay away from the hot dog carts on the street because there are so many other franks out there for you to enjoy. On independence day annually for instance, people go to Nathan’s famous in Coney Island to stuff tons of hotdogs down their throats for the title of “Nathan’s Hot dog eating champion”. However, if watching people eat lots of hotdogs in minutes is not your perfect image for entertaining, go to any Nathan’s just to get a taste of their famous dogs. Nathan’s has a number of locations citywide if going to Brooklyn seems a little to far away.
Staff’s picks: Our choice for best hot dog in NYC goes to Crif Dogs for all the fun and creative options they offer. But, if you prefer the classic NYC style dogs, try the New York Dog House 🙂

Well now, if you can’t make up your mind on what to taste first and where, we have the perfect solution: join our Uptown and Harlem Food tour  and enjoy 5 delicious and quintessential New York food experiences while also exploring the exciting neighborhoods.

Whether you are on the hunt for all-time classics, trendy bites or the off-the-radar food spots, these are ultimately what you may want to have on your list of what to taste while you are in Gotham. Even if you are not familiar with some of these dishes — don’t knock them until you try them. Challenge your taste buds! What is the dish that you most look forward to eating every time you are in NYC?

Enregistrer

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.



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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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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. 

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