Monday 15 September 2014

Curios of New York

I've sent the past week in New York. It's my first time in the city, and I've amassed plenty of material for travel articles which I'll be writing once I get home.

In the meantime, however, here are eight distinctive items I've spotted in the Big Apple.

1. The Hanging Traffic Light:

OK, I knew this was a pan-American thing before I came to NYC; but it's appeared in so many TV shows and movies that it caught my eye anew. Pure Americana.

2. The Old Fire Alarm Post:

We passed this every day when walking to and from our first hotel, the Z Hotel across the East River in Queens. It dated presumably from the days when few people had telephone access - pulling the lever would automatically alert the fire department.

3. The Cupcake ATM:

We spotted this on Lexington Avenue - and it worked! Apparently it's a Californian innovation, but it was a fun discovery on our first outing to Manhattan.

4. Old Churchyards:

You don't think of New York as being an old city with a humble past, such is its energy. But here and there you'll stumble across pockets of history, even in the most built-up areas. This old churchyard was a tranquil space amid the bustle of the financial district.

5. Fiction Intruding Into Reality:

These huge posters hanging diagonally opposite our second hotel, the hyper-modern Novotel Times Square, appear to have slipped from the pages of The Hunger Games.

6. The New Speakeasies:

There's a new batch of hip small bars in New York, deliberately obscuring their identities as an echo of the speakeasy bars of the Prohibition era. At this Greenwich Village bar, Employees Only, patrons enter past a fake shopfront suggesting a psychic's parlour.

7. The Anti-Plaque:

This Greenwich Village building is sandwiched between two buildings bearing plaques, each describing an illustrious literary resident. Not to be outdone, the owner added his own.

8. The World's Most Improbable Chips:

Several people told us about these - in horror - but we met no-one who had actually tasted them. Even in adventurous New York, apparently, there are limits.

Disclosure time: On this trip I received discounted accommodation from the Z NYC Hotel and the Novotel New York Times Square, and general assistance from NYC & Co.

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