Higher Ground: Take a Walk on the High Line
A gem of urban reclamation, the High Line, built on a stretch of abandoned elevated tracks on the West Side, is part park, part outdoor art gallery, part people-watching paradise. Opened last month, the first section runs nearly a half-mile from the cobblestones of Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 20th Street along 10th Avenue. (Eventually it will continue a mile and a half to 34th Street.) And it rewards the stroller with unobstructed views of the Hudson and of Frank Gehry’s warped-glass yet lyrical design for IAC’s headquarters. Along the way, surprises abound: a stained-glass work by photographer Spencer Finch ingeniously chronicles the changing water color of the Hudson; risers offer a framed-window view of the street below, as if the passing cars and pedestrians were works of art in a museum; and the path cleverly passes right under the two angled glass slabs that make up the chic hotel The Standard.
Originally erected in the 1930s, the High Line rerouted dangerous freight trains from the streets of Manhattan to an elevated rail platform. Today, the tracks have been incorporated into the walking path, which is lined with greenery and wildflowers, intricate lighting and sculpted benches. No dogs, bikes or Rollerblading, but visitors can still take a leisurely stroll with friends and family. The new park is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. (www.thehighline.org)
Wheel Life: Midtown to
Coney Island Bike Ride
Most city bike shops open by 10 a.m. and offer bicycles for rent for the entire day for $30 or less. Make sure to pick up a free city bike map, available at almost any bike store. Start your ride southbound down Hudson River Park toward the Brooklyn Bridge, where you’ll see panoramic views of New Jersey and compete for space with racers, Rollerbladers and runners.
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge on a bike isn’t easy; pedestrian tourists are inclined to use bike lanes to take commemorative photos. So be careful on the bridge’s steep incline, as well as the breezy downward slope. At the bottom, head past the “Welcome to Brooklyn” sign etched in the road, and follow the blocks of brownstones until you reach Prospect Park — Brooklyn’s sprawling green refuge and wildlife conservatory. Ride around the western bend of Prospect Park, where you’ll pass by heavily wooded forests, expansive fields and lakeside picnickers, and exit at the southwestern corner, toward the tree-lined bike path on Ocean Parkway. As you ride toward the sunny boardwalk of Coney Island, you’ll see many a black-hatted bochur and a string of yeshivot.
Once there, enjoy a Brooklyn Cyclones game, a rollercoaster ride or the sandy beach that was once home to so many Jewish-owned resorts. Or head east along the promenade to the traditionally Russian — and heavily Jewish — neighborhood of Brighton Beach.
Kosher Eats: Main Dishes
on Main Street
Enjoy everything from sushi to schnitzel as you stroll down Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills, perhaps the best part of the city to find a huge variety of kosher foods. Along the thoroughfare are a wealth of Middle Eastern grocery stores and a spread of kosher restaurants, including a diverse array of menus from all around the world, like China, Thailand and Japan.
For a great tasting, low-priced Middle Eastern meal, try Grill Xpress at 72-28 Main St., where you can get a large falafel sandwich with Israeli salad and a soda for only $4.95. Grill Xpress also serves Israeli breakfast options, as well as many Yemenite specials. Top off your lunch down the block with dessert at Max and Mina’s, (71-26 Main St.) where ice cream flavors range from your typical chocolate and vanilla to “horse radish,” “merlot,” “chive blossom” and “corn on the cob”—sprinkled with corn kernel nuggets on top.
The easiest way to get to Kew Gardens Hills is the QM4 Express bus to Jewel Avenue and Main Street, which takes a little under an hour from Midtown. The closest subway is the E train at Union Turnpike — Kew Gardens stop, but that’s quite a healthy distance, a walk that requires crossing the Van Wyck Expressway.
Modernist Décor: Israeli Artist Ron Arad at MoMA
From Aug. 2 through Oct. 19, the Museum of Modern Art will display the furniture and installations of Israeli artist Ron Arad, whose innovative vision brings complex computerized technology and beautiful décor together into one exhibit. The furniture is able to receive and display messages sent through SMS and Bluetooth signals. Arad is both a designer and an architect, and he studied at Jerusalem Academy of Art and at London’s Architectural Association. Today, he is a professor of product design at the Royal College of Art in London and likes to experiment with materials like steel, aluminum and polyamide in his furniture design, according to his personal Web site. Admission to MoMA is $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and $12 for students. The museum is open every day, except Tuesdays.
Tales of Immigration:
Tour the Tenements
Take a trip back in time and see how Rebecca Rubin (she’s the new American Girl historical doll with the Jewish provenance) lived with a visit to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. You can explore the pasts of so many Jewish American immigrant families who lived in the neighborhood during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Each compact, windowless residence tells the true-life story of a family who once lived there, complete with cooking utensils, toys and other authentic conditions — minus the 21st century air conditioning and lighting.
The tenements have extended hours for the summer, from 10:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday, and are currently offering five different tours. Witness classic Jewish American entrepreneurship in a garment shop and the homes of Jewish families who immigrated to America around the turn of the 20th century. Or explore the parallel worlds German-Jewish and Italian-Catholic families, who commonly lived side-by-side during the Great Depression. Spend time with a Sephardic Jewish family struggling to fit in and a mid-19th century immigrant Irish family dealing with the tragedy of a child’s death. The Tenement Museum is located at 108 Orchard St. Tours are $20 for adults, $15 for students and seniors. (www.tenement.org.)
Movie Nights: Cinema Al Fresco
Any Wednesday until Aug. 19, take the No. 7 train over to Long Island City’s Socrates Sculpture Park, at 32-01 Vernon Blvd., to enjoy free films from different countries, Israel, Kazakhstan, Italy, Thailand, Laos and France. Screenings start at around 7 p.m. On Aug. 5, see the Israeli film “Waltz with Bashir,” an animated feature that looks at the First Lebanon War through the eyes of young soldiers.
Several other venues throughout the city are offering free and inexpensive outdoor movie screenings, at scattered times, so you can enjoy all locations. Bryant Park shows free films every Monday at around 8 p.m., through Aug. 17, while Central Park hosts its own Film Festival from Aug. 18-22 — including nights of “Sex and the City” and the teen craze film “Twilight.” The Hudson River boasts two downtown locations of RiverFlicks through Aug. 21, one for kids on Fridays and another for adults on Wednesdays, as well as an uptown venue for Summer on the Hudson, also on Wednesdays through Aug. 12. Movies with a View, held at Brooklyn Bridge Park, occurs on Thursdays through Aug. 27.
Saints and Sinners: Sacred and Profane Walking Tours
Give the city’s starry-eyed tourists their double-decker buses. Real New Yorkers pound the pavement on unique walking tours, the kind that would make Jane Jacobs proud. From “Sacred Sites” to the “‘Official’ Gangs of New York Tour,” you can see both the enchantment and the underbelly of Lower Manhattan.
Among the Museum at Eldridge Street’s ongoing lineup of tours is the “Sacred Sites Walking Tour,” a stroll through the Lower East Side that uncovers synagogues, churches and temples from the past 200 years in America. The tour begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 26, at the 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue and continues through historic houses of worship from Asian, European and Hispanic immigrant cultures.
Tough guys walked the mean streets, too. The Big Onion’s “‘Official’ Gangs of New York Tour,” which begins every other week at the corner of Broadway and Chambers Street, explores the Five Points neighborhood, the home of Herbert Asbury’s 1938 film (and the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s 2002 film), “The Gangs of New York.” Stops include Paradise Square, “Murderers Alley” and locales frequented by famous cons. Also see the spots where the 1857 police riot and the1863 draft riot took place.
And if you hit the Sacred Sites after the Gangs tour, say a prayer for the tough guys.
Down the Shore:
A Day (Or Weekend) Trip to Jersey
If you just have to get out of New York this summer, spend a day or two exploring the shorelines and sites of New Jersey — even if you don’t have a car. A mere 40-minute ferry ride from Wall Street will take you to one of the state’s closest beaches to Manhattan, Sandy Hook. For beaches a bit father south, New Jersey Transit’s Coast Line is offering a $22 round-trip train ticket with beach pass included, from Penn Station to any of the following Central Jersey beaches: Long Branch, Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, Bradley Beach, Belmar or Manasquan. This summer, NJTransit also began running an express train from Penn Station to Atlantic City that takes less than three hours and costs $29 and up each direction.
If the beach isn’t your thing, the Garden State still has a lot to offer. Take the kids on a water taxi ride from the World Financial Center to Liberty State Park, which is only a 20-minute walk to the Liberty Science Center. Some current exhibitions iniclude “Infection Connection,” “Nature Unleashed” and “Our Hudson Home.” Or get on the 308 Bus from the Port Authority, and head down to Six Flags Great Adventure Theme Park, Wild Safari and Hurricane Harbor, where you’ll also find a fireworks exhibition every Saturday night. The stand-alone round-trip bus fare is $27 for adults and $12.50 for children, but Six Flags and NJTransit are jointly offering some reduced price park-bus combo packages.
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