Frommer's New York City 2013 Paperback – Sep 11 2012
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From the Back Cover
- Hundreds of photos
- Free pocket map inside, plus easy-to-read maps throughout
- Exact prices, directions, opening hours, and other practical information
- Candid reviews of hotels and restaurants, plus sights, shopping, and nightlife
- Itineraries, themed tours, and trip-planning ideas
- Insider tips from local expert authors
About the Author
Brian Silverman (Senior Writer, Best of New York City, Exploring New York City, Where to Stay, Where to Eat chapters) is a freelance writer whose work has been published in Saveur, The New Yorker, Caribbean Travel & Life, Islands, and Four Seasons. Among the many topics he writes about are food, travel, sports, and music. He is the author of numerous books including Going, Going, Gone: History, Lore, and Mystique of the Home Run, and the Twentieth Century Treasury of Sports. He is also the author of the blog Fried Neck Bones…and Some Home Fries at www.friedneckbones.wordpress.com. For Frommer's, he has written Complete, Portable, and budget Guides to New York City, as well as New York City For Dummies. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.
Kelsy Chauvin (Best of New York City, New York City In Depth, Planning Your Trip, Neighborhoods and Suggested Itineraries, Shopping, After Dark chapters) is a writer, photographer and filmmaker. Her first trip abroad was to Uzbekistan at age 15, a journey that sparked a lifelong thirst for travel. Her writing and photography has been published in magazines, online, and in various Frommer's publications. She lives in Brooklyn. "I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list." —Susan Sontag
Top Customer Reviews
The first challenge in any new place is how to get from the airport and then how to get around. After all it is going to get very expensive taking taxis all the time. New York has an excellent and easy to use public transport system and it is worth getting to know how to get about. It does help that New York is a key destination and hence Frommers bring out an annual guide. This means that the information, particularly on fare options and costs is bang up to date. It is all there, as detailed as anyone would reasonably wish and inclusive of a map of the subway and numerous maps of the city.
Then on to the attractions. I could not think of anywhere which I know of and really think should be included which was not on the list. Of course, some of the sights to see in New York are not specific attractions, but neighbourhoods and sure enough there is good coverage of each of the main areas and what you are going to see there. Once you are there the coverage of places to eat and drink is much more comprehensive than you would normally come across. I am less sure about the accommodation lists, but this is a criticism I have of most guides. Frankly if I want a place to stay I am first going to check prices and then if I see a price I like its on to Tripadvisor or similar to see if I have made a mistake and in reality it is a cockroach infested pit. I can never remember deciding where I am going to stay from a travel guide so at least for me, this section is of little practical use.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The all-important maps are plentiful and sprinkled strategically where they belong throughout this guide, and they seem quite up to date. Bouncing through pages to both known and unexplored locations, I can attest to this, considering the amount of time in any given month in spent in New York City. The authors have done a respectable job with this new edition, especially where they suggesting itineraries for travelers and visitors on a limited time schedule.
The overall format and organization of this guide are first-rate, and it shows that the editors at Frommer's are responsive to the needs of their readers. This guide is broken down into separate classifications for quick reference:
◆ List of Maps:
This little one-page section with the all-important maps will become invaluable once you learn the names of the various areas of the city's five boroughs.
1. The Best Of The Big Apple:
Things to do, best food & drink, best free & dirt-cheap NY, best museums, best offbeat experiences... for many first-timers, this will be the handiest section for quick reference. Worth noting here are the most unforgettable NYC experiences, the NYC freebies, and the best culture and nightlife. The landmark buildings are there, and the best of the museums are covered, including the amazing Museum of Natural History and the world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art.
2. New York City In Depth:
Starting with NYC today, this chapter covers the city's history, along with its roots, its architecture. There's also an interesting section on the impact that New York City has had on books, in film and on television. The calendar of events is as thorough as one can find in a book... now you'll know where and when the TriBeCa Film Festival takes place, along with the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Fleet Week and many more.
3. New York City Neighborhoods & Suggested Itineraries:
Covering Downtown, Midtown, Uptown, and the Outer Boroughs, there are many diverse neighborhoods here, and this is where you'll find a good overview of each. Do you know what NoHo, SoHo or Nolita mean, or where they are? How about TriBeCa, and do they still pack meat in the Meatpacking District? This is a concise and fascinating tour of the city, and with so many of the highlights and landmarks noted. Highly recommended are the well thought out suggestions for suggested NYC itineraries in one, two or three days. There are suggestions on what not to do in NYC, and with this book you'll know. Don't miss the Essential NYC Eating Itinerary here with its map of where to find the places.
4. Exploring New York City:
This is a big city, and you could live here for years and still make daily discoveries. The sights and attractions to be found are listed first by neighborhood, and with star ratings, and there are excellent location maps for finding your way around. This is followed by the top attractions, and it's very much up to date... enough so that on page 115, that very explicit museum on Fifth Avenue where no one 17 or under is admitted is discussed, photos and all. The High Line, an individually preferred elevated park for photos where trains once rolled by is noted, as is the 9/11 Memorial Plaza in a special section. You'll find the art gallery scene covered, along with historical buildings, places of worship, and places to play. Central Park and its own set of marvelous attractions are here, along with more parks that you can imagine.
There's an excellent in-depth look at a personal favorite, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere. If art is one of your primary reasons for visiting here, then you may wish to consider getting The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. This is a personal favorite among museum guidebooks of any type. Should you want to visit the Strawberry Fields commemorative to Beatle John Lennon, it's here as well, with a great color photo.
5. Where To Eat:
This section starts off with the best restaurant bets, and that could be highly subjective. But as noted in the beginning, there's "one thing you will not do in New York: go hungry." There are so many good suggestions here, and there are plenty of location maps. Don't miss the "Hello, Old Friends!" section where the authors list some favorites, including one of mine, the best "real deal" diner, and I fully agree since it was a NYC favorite since childhood visits. There's Katz's Delicatessen. If you choose to visit here, just think of that classic line from the film 'When Harry Met Sally': "I'll have what she's having," but don't say it, as the servers hear it 23 times a day.
Katz's also appears in a special deli section on page 242, but if you want (subjectively) the best pastrami on rye in the city, you find the 2nd Avenue Deli there, though not mentioned are their superb onion rings. It's where I take visitors from out of town that want indulge in the classic NYC deli experience. This section is one of the most fascinating to explore, as every type of food you can imagine is here, and there's something for every budget. It has some brilliant suggestions, including so many that I have yet to experience. It takes time...
It's the abundance of locally owned shops that makes New York City stand apart from other large cities, and here you'll find the best places broken down by area first. If you're into electronics, the authors are right: avoid the "going-out-of-business" places in Midtown. Browse through this section and you'll find big department stores, where to get the best and latest in fashions, souvenir trinkets, and so much more. For the real shopaholic, this book may be the best bargain and resource that you can imagine, and you'll end up with a lot of post-its in this section. NYC is also an amazing place to find books, and this bookstore junkie will admit to have bought as many hardbacks and paperbacks at The Strand (page 301) as I have here on Amazon. It's a New York legend, but it has 18 miles of books, not the 8 miles that the authors have noted. Look for the dollar carts outside the store, as you'll find some real gems there.
7. New York City Entertainment & Nightlife:
This section is quite comprehensive section, and it's surprising how up to date it is considering the constantly changing scene here. If you're into theater, Broadway shows and off-Broadway as well, this may be a perfect resource, with ticket-buying tips, a Theater District map, web links, phone numbers and all. Are you into opera or classical music? NYC has it all, and the venues are listed and they're quite up to date, as are the listings for the major (and minor) concert halls. There are venues listed for rock, jazz, blues and even stand-up comedy, and all of these are described, and there are star ratings for the best. The best of the bars and cocktail lounges that are all over the city are here, including some of the real dives if you're so inclined.
8. Where To Stay:
What could have been the worst section of the book turned out to be very well done. Hotels and places to stay are organized by neighborhood and price, from the true splurge hotels to those that are moderately priced. You'll find the best hotels for families and the ones that are the most romantic, and again with maps so you can see what's nearby. But if you're visiting for the first time, don't miss the section beginning on page 442 regarding how to get the best deal. Those tips alone are worth the cost of this book.
9. Planning Your Trip To New York City:
No decent guide would be complete without offering suggestions and advice for travelers on how to get into and out of NYC, and the info offered here is quite solid, including some of the very good and the not so good. My personal suggestion for first time visitors would be to read this section completely. The section regarding MetroCards is well done, and has options that many first-time visitors overlook. There are a number of good online links here for further information that shouldn't be overlooked.
The general index is quite good, as are the ones on accommodations and restaurants that follow. These indices are the type that one would wish for in so many similar books and travel guides yet seem to be lacking. This is one extra thing that makes this guide such a good resource.
Of particular note is the full-color foldout map inside the back cover. Don't just tear it out. There are tiny perforations on the back, facing the subway map in the back cover. Gently insert a standard dinner knife inside and carefully lift it so that the map can be folded out without removing from the book and losing it. The multi-colored map is quite good, complimenting the smaller maps within the book quite well.
Regarding the editions available here, I had previously reviewed the earlier Frommer's New York City 2012. As good as I found that one, this is even better and more complete, and it's surprising how much new info is here between the covers. I like this new one well enough to also buy Frommer's New York City 2013 (Kindle Edition), as it's an excellent portable guide when one is out and about in the city and doesn't want to be carrying a heavy 496-page book.
Frommer's New York City 2013 is a good one for first-time and repeat visitors to New York City, along for those locals here who may have missed or overlooked something that is offered here. Whether you get the paper version or the Kindle edition, it's an excellent resource for NYC visitors and locals alike, and highly recommended. So get it, put on your most comfortable walking shoes and go explore!
Here are my major takeaways from this book:
1 - It has more than enough information to keep you busy in NYC for a month or more.
2 - The guide presents most of the usual suspects in terms of restaurants, galleries, museums and such
3 - The authors are clear that NYC cannot be completely summed up in one book and go to great pains to point out other sources of information for you to dig in to. For example, they point out online calendars of events for summer festivals, dance club special events, gallery openings, etc.
4 - As far as this book is concerned, NYC equals Manhattan. I cannot fault them for their focus on Manhattan as most tourists want to spend their time seeing the big-name places that don't require a trip over a bridge or under a river to get to. I myself find that there are some amazing gems in Queens and Brooklyn that rival anything that Manhattan can offer. This book offers some general info about Park Slope, Flushing and a couple of other neighborhoods but not much depth. Then again, I cannot find a guidebook that does - use online sources like the NY Times food and event sections to discover some great options.
5 - I am pleased to say that I discovered a few noteworthy items. For example, my wife is a big fan of high tea, though we usually think of a proper high tea either requiring a long trip to England, or taking a chance on the uneven service at never-long-lived tea rooms scattered outside the city. I was pleased to find out, through Frommer's, that there are some great options for high tea right here in NYC and we have been to their top 2 recommendations. My wife is very pleased.
6 - There is a good selection of low-cost options included in the book. That's important in a city where cheap is less common than a free parking space.
PHOTOGRAPHS. Every other page contains a color photo, some a 1/4-page size, while the first photo of each chapter is full-page size. All of the photos are purely informative, with little attempt to create an interesting or artistic composition. The photos include the following. Page (i) is a full-page photo showing a crowd of young men entering GATE R of YANKEE STADIUM. All was see are the backs of the men, as they stride towards GATE R. (I would have chosen a photo of a batter, swinging his bat.) Page (xi) is another full-page photo, this one showing a crowd of shoppers at night, crossing a crosswalk, and walking towards a department store. The department store is festooned with Christmas regalia. About 16 shoppers are shown crossing the street, nearly all of them having their backs to the camera. (Once again, we have a photo that is purely informative, but totally lacking in any compositional or artistic merit.) Continuing on, the photos tend to improve. Page 4 shows a bicyclist riding on the pedestrian walkway on the BROOKLYN BRIDGE. Page 7 shows a ferry boat in the harbor, with STATUE OF LIBERTY in the background. Pages 8 and 113 show a little-known tourist treat, namely, an aerial tram ride that takes passengers from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island. Page 12 shows a shop in GREENWICH VILLAGE called, "House of Cards and Curiosities." (I know from first-hand experience that Greenwich Village is an excellent place to find quaint shops and interesting restaurants. In fact, outside of CARMEL, CALIFORNIA, Greenwich Village is the best place in America to find quaint shops and restaurants.) Page 17 shows a line of about ten people, waiting to buy tickets at the VILLAGE VANGUARD, for an evening of jazz. Most of the people have their backs to the camera (once again, we have a poorly chosen photo. I would have shown a close-up of a saxophone player on stage at Village Vanguard, blowing an array of be-boppedy notes, each note configured to spill over the stage and enthrall the crowd of listeners.) Page 54 has an excellent photo from CHINATOWN, showing a Chinese man pushing acart loaded with boxes. In large Chinese print, a huge sign in back of the man reads, "ICE CREAM FACTORY" written in Chinese but also again in English. (I took a very similar photo in New York's Chinatown, where I asked a merchant to pose with his accounting book held open, revealing detailed printing in Chinese.) Page 61 shows a red-colored pedicab (like a large tricycle) with yellow taxis in the background, with TIMES SQUARE also in the background. This is the best photograph in this guidebook, but it is only a 1/6th page photo. This photo, in my opinion, deserves to be full-page. Page 124 has another tiny photo from TIMES SQUARE, but it is mostly people's backs and shoulders (another poorly chose photograph). Page 85 has a majestic stairway, with arrays of architectural columns to the right and left. But this photograph MAKES NO SENSE!!! The photo is from the inside of the METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART. Wouldn't it have made mores sense to show one of the more famous paintings or sculptures from this museum, or at the very least, the facade on the front of the building that faces the street? Page 100 has another fine picture of the ferry boat, this one with Manhattan in the background. Pages 106-107 provide an inviting description (and photo) of a remarkable museum, THE TENEMENT MUSEUM. This museum reproduces a tenement apartment, and contains information of Jewish, Irish, and Italian immigrants. From the book's description, this museum promises to provide a soulful experience for any tourist. Page 118 shows a photo of a sculpture by ARNOLDO POMODORO, located in front of the UNITED NATIONS. This same sculpture can be found on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley. In the guidebook, the legend to the photograph reads, "Artworks on the grounds of the United Nations often have a theme of nonviolence." But this is an error. It is NOT the case that Arnoldo Pomodoro's scultures have the them of nonviolence. Although Arnoldo Pomodoro is one of my very favorite artists, I recommend that the authors replace this photograph with one showing a sculpture that actually represents the concept of "nonviolence." Page 122 shows an excellent photo of New York City at twilight, with the EMPIRE STATE BUILDING in the background. The illuminated windows of all of the office buildings are a wonder to behold. The guidebook informs the reader that the view is from the observation deck on top of ROCKEFELLER PLAZA, which is open from 8 am until midnight. Page 154 has representative photos from CONEY ISLAND, one showing the roller coaster, and the other a colorful sign from a freak show. (Back in 1994, I took the same photographs of the roller coaster and freak show sign at Coney Island.) Page 162 shows the interior of the MUSEUM OF THE MOTION PICTURE. However, the tourist needs to know that a better and more appropriate museum is located in Menlo Park, New Jersey, at the factor of Thomas Edison (Menlo Park is near New York City).
SHOPPING. Page 279-326 concern shopping. This chapter contains several wonderful photos of merchandise, as seen through the front window. Page 279 shows a photo of bowls and cups, all featuring painted silhouettes of the New York City skyline, while page 281 shows Chinese knick-knacks for sale, and page 283 shows an artistic arrangement of inexpensive hats, displayed on a sidewalk table, apparently in the garment district. (I know from personal experience that the garment district, that is, areas south of Houston Street down to the ferry terminal, are fine places to view street merchants, with their intriguing hodge-podge of curbside displays.)
ARCHITECTURE. Page 10 and 110 disclose the Chrysler Building, designed by Willian Van Alen, page 27 brings us the interior of TRINITY CHURCH, known for its Gothic Revival style, page 103 shows the exterior of TRINITY CHURCH, page 31 shows the re-build World Trade Center, which is a beautiful building (unlike the original World Trade Center which, in my opinion, was in substantial disharmony with New York's skyline). Pages 60 and 109 use narratives and photos to invite the tourist to the famed FLATIRON BUIDING, designed by Daniel Burnham. The ANSONIA buidling, an apartment noted for its BEAUX ARTS style of architecture, is shown on page 138. Another example of BEAUX ARTS architecture, is a boathouse in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, shown on page 157. Page 345 shows THE APOLLO THEATER, although not noted for its architecture, is almost like a holy shrine for those intersted in soul music and rhythm & blues music.
ENTERTAINMENT. Page 327-391 concern entertainment, that is theater (plays, musicals), dance performances, dance clubs, poetry readings, live television shows, sports (baseball, football). This chapter also includes a 20-page chapter on taverns and lounges (pages 364-386), apparently for the reason that some of these places include live music. Page 331 has a map showing all of the theaters occurring between 41st Street and 56th Street, for example, the famed RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL and the SHUBERT THEATER. Rregarding classical music, generous photos are disclosed to venues such as METROPOLITAN OPERA, NEW YORK CITY OPERA, THE JUILLIARD SCHOOL, and NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC. However, in my opinion a shortcoming is that this guidebook fails to disclose lesser-known (and cheaper) venues, where a tourist can grab an evening of chamber music, without having to buy tickets months in advance.
ART GALLERIES. The book has a section, "Manhattan's Art Galleris." But this section is only 1 1/2 pages long (pages 168-170). In my opinion this is a gross oversight. This short shrift of one of New York City's most distinguishing features, that is, cutting-edge art galleries, tempts me to award only ONE STAR to this guidebook. Immediately before this 1 1/2 page blurb, is a section on children's museums. Immediately after the 1 1/2 page blurb, is a section on jogging trails. Let us contrast this microscopic coverage of New York's art galleries, with the guidebook's loving account of various steak houses. There is a half page about a restaurant called FETTE SAU, which serves barbecue pork belly (page 268). There is a half-page account of a restaurant called, FATTY 'CUE," which serves coriander cured ham. There is a half-page account of FRANKIE'S SPUNTINO, which serves pork braciola (page 269). On the plus side, the writing about the restaurant is straightforward and inviting, with no attempt at narratives that are glib, decorative, or cute. On the other hand, it is apparent that the authors of this book are more interested in raising the blood cholesterol levels of the tourist, and less interested in raising the cultural level of the tourist.
MUSEUMS. Although there is no "museum chapter," this books describes many fine museums. First of all, in my opinion, New York City is like a bridge museum. The city has several famed bridges, including the BROOKLYN BRIDGE(pages 4, 67, 91, 151). Also, New York City is like a skyscraper museum, with its many famed skyscrapers. The following reveals most of the museums that are described by this fine guidebook:
* Jewish Museum (page 131);
* Museum of Modern Art (pages 10, 120);
* Guggenheim Museum (page 130);
* Frick Museum (pages 10, 129);
* New York Transit Museum (page 156);
* Sea, Air, and Space Museum (page 119);
* El Museo del Barrio (page 126);
* Whitney Museum (page 131);
* Louis Armstrong Museum (pages 10, 168);
* Metropolitan Museum of Art (pages 78, 131);
* Museum of Chinese (page 89);
* Italian American Museum (pages 91, 105);
* Museum of Jewish Heritage (pages 91, 105);
* Museum of American Indian (page 98);
* Tenement Museum (page 106);
* Center of Jewish History (page 107.
By the way, New York City is really my second favorite city in America. My favorite city is actually San Francisco, CA.