Tag Archives: tourist

  • A Public Luxury: Bryant Park's Fancy Restrooms

    Can ‘public’ and ‘luxury’ be synonymous with each other? In New York, the answer is a resounding “yeaahh!” In fact, Bryant Park one of the city’s best-known public park also boats its most luxurious public restroom. 

    According to popular legend, the fancy restroom was built in 1992 after the famous philanthropist & socialite Brooke Astor, encountered a "hooligan” who tried to sell her drugs in the park. Astor asked her good friend David Rockefeller to clean up the area; and with the wave of a wand, the luxury bathroom came to life.

    The restroom recently underwent a $300,000 renovation with high-end fixtures, crown moldings, and imported tiling. The walls are now decorated with floral artwork by local artists, who often paint in the park's courtyard. The non-profit Bryant Park Corporation, which manages the park, foots the $75,000 per year bathroom bill, which includes a weekly fresh flower delivery.

  • Tips to get around NYC without your phone



    Thanks to the street grid system, finding your way around New York is actually pretty easy. That being said, there are always confusing situations: which way is south and which way is north? East? West? And where in Central Park am I, exactly? We’ve assembled six tips to help you navigate your way around the city like a local.

    1. Central Park is enormous and it’s easy to lose your orientation there. For this reason, the park’s lampposts serve as reference points. Most are marked with numbers that correspond to the crossroads, which are located at the same height on both sides of the park. If a lantern is marked with the number 7304, for example, you’re between 73rd & 74th Streets.

    2. Traffic in Manhattan usually only travels in one direction. On streets with odd numbers (i.e., 17th Street), the traffic travels west. On even-numbered streets, traffic travels east.

    3. Traffic on avenues (i.e. 5th Avenue) travels north and south, almost always in alternating directions (beginning with 1st Avenue, which is north-bound).

    4. There’s a trick that will help you remember the order of the avenues (e.g., Lexington Avenue) in Manhattan: “You can take a CAB back home if it’s Late PM.” Columbus, Amsterdam, and Broadway are on the west side of the city; Lexington, Park, and Madison Avenue are on the east side.

    5. 5th Avenue divides Manhattan’s east and west sides. On each side, the street numbering starts at 5th Avenue. 10 East 36th Street is east of 5th Avenue and is an altogether different address than 10 West 36th Street. The only exception is Broadway, which in some places runs diagonally through the city.

    6. In Manhattan, most of the northbound (or uptown-bound) subway lines can be accessed on the east side of a given street. The southbound (or downtown-bound) lines tend to be located on the west side of the street. Remembering this will save you from having to cross the street at the last minute before taking the subway.

    When all else fails, there is, of course, still Google Maps—or LOCALIKE New York. :)

  • The Mayor

    How many mayors are there in the world? We don’t know, and neither does Google. However, Google does know the name of every single mayor New York has ever had, and that surely means the “Mayor of New York City” is a very significant one. He or she leads an organization that has a budget of over 70 billion dollars and employs 330,000 people. That’s a lot more than in your average city. Until today there have been 109 NYC mayors. Let’s take a look at a couple of exceptional ones from recent times.

    Fiorello La Guardia
    La Guardia’s nickname, “Little Flower,” is derived from his Italian first name and refers to his height of only about 5’2” (1.57 m). His legacy as mayor, however, is one of the most impressive. He was in office from 1934 to 1945. During his term, he primarily concentrated on the reconstruction and maintenance of the then-dilapidated infrastructure. Parks, highways, an airport, and countless apartment buildings for social housing were built from the ground up. At the same time, he was highly successful in fighting the then-notorious corruption and organized crime. His name and accomplishments are remembered with an airport, a street in Manhattan, and a sculpture on that street.

    Ed Koch
    Ed Koch was mayor from 1978 to 1989. His accomplishments were numerous. Like La Guardia, he was responsible for the construction of lots of housing for socially disadvantaged people. He was the first mayor to create laws against the discrimination of LGBTQ employees of the City of New York. However, he wasn’t always on the same wavelength as his citizens. For one, he was an ardent supporter of the death penalty, which repeatedly earned him violent criticism from New Yorkers. The eternal bachelor liked to ride the subway, and he’d often walk up to strangers on a crowded street corner and ask them how they were doing.

    Rudy Giuliani
    Giuliani was mayor of New York from 1994 to 2011. During his term, crime rates sunk at an unprecedented rate. New York City was suddenly one of the safest cities in the USA, which simultaneously made for a dramatic economic and touristic boom. Mayor Giuliani’s zero-tolerance politics, however, did not come without their price, and he certainly wasn’t loved by everyone. Some circles accused him of stifling the city’s spirit. All in all, however, even today most people seem to think he made the city more livable for everybody. In his last year of service, he had to act as a crisis manager in the largest catastrophe the city had ever seen—the attacks of September 11th.

    Michael Bloomberg
    After La Guardia and Giuliani, Michael Bloomberg was the third-ever Republican mayor in the history of the city to win the re-election. As in the case of his two predecessors, his views differed drastically from those of the mother party, especially on social issues. He was mayor from 2002 to 2013. During his time in office, he resigned from the Republican party and became an independent. As one of the richest men in the world, he renounced his salary and worked for a symbolic $1 per year. His time in office was characterized by economic upswing and great progress in quality of life. He has left a visible legacy in the city’s new car-free zones, bike paths, the bike-sharing program Citibike, and many other projects. However, he was often accused of being too closely associated with wealthy circles—it’s not quite clear if all New York citizens profited equally from the economic upturn. Bloomberg also created a law that secured him a third term in office, which earned him lots of criticism.

  • The Really-Important Packing List for New York

    Optimal Weight
    At LOCALIKE, we generally maintain a very relaxed relationship to calories—after all, we only recommend restaurants that we’ve already tried out ourselves. Considering the city has a good 25,000 restaurants, you should plan to arrive hungry. The variety is difficult to believe. From delicious tacos for $3 to a feast in a world-class restaurant, there’s no cuisine in the world that isn’t represented here. Last year, 99 Michelin stars were awarded in New York. If, on your visit, you like the Big Apple so much that you decide to stay, you could eat at a different restaurant every day for 68 years.

    Scarf
    No matter which time of year you come to New York, it never hurts to bring a scarf along in your suitcase. Our limited knowledge of meteorology prevents an accurate explanation of why this happens, but a large collection of very high buildings seems to create the conditions for spontaneous gusts of wind, even on a mild spring day. And then there are the countless air conditioning systems that can make a room feel positively arctic.

    Dog Treats
    The fact that there are so many people in a limited amount of space in New York doesn’t mean there’s no room for loyal four-legged friends. On the contrary: about 600,000 dogs live in the city. Especially for singles, the “Oh, he’s sooo cute!” line could come in handy. By the way, there are also about a half-million cats in the city. But who has time to win over a cat on their vacation?

    Umbrella
    You’re better off leaving this at home. No umbrella survives for longer than 30 minutes in a real New York storm, and in case you end up in need, you’ll find one for very little money on any corner. No one quite understands how it is that all the umbrella merchants manage to show up within a few minutes of the rain beginning. But it’s very practical.



    Plastic
    This tip goes especially for our European friends: a credit card makes life in New York a thousand times easier.

    Sun Protection
    New York is at about the same latitude as Rome, so the risk of getting a sunburned nose begins as early as April. What’s more, New York has even more hours of sun than Rome does—a whopping 2,535 hours on 269 days, to be exact.

    Curiosity
    Bring along as much of this as you can. Nowhere else on earth has quite as much to discover.



    Charm
    This won’t hurt, either—especially not in New York.

    An Almost Empty Suitcase
    Since we’re on the subject of packing: sure, it’s good to be prepared for everything. At the same time, though, we’d recommend traveling as lightly as possible. In New York there’s no shortage of opportunities to fill up your suitcase for the way home. Some of you may catch the famous/infamous shopping fever; others will just need room to store all the experiences…

  • 10 Tips for a Seamless Transition into New York Life

    LOCALIKE is at home in New York. Visitors often ask us how to avoid sticking out, so we’ve written down important ten things to keep in mind. These tips will help you experience New York like a local.

    1. The sidewalk is really a highway.
    New Yorkers are high-velocity creatures. It seems like they’re always in a rush or running late. Because it’s often fastest to get from one place to another on foot, the sidewalks are sometimes comparable to highways (complete with invisible divided lanes). Accordingly, there are several unspoken traffic rules. So that the traffic flow stays consistent, New Yorkers stay to the right. If they have to stop or change pace, they move to the side and make way for the eternally frazzled ones behind them to avoid being trampled. Another unwritten rule is not to walk side by side when traveling in large groups; rather, proceed single-file. This way, the pedestrians in a hurry can still get by and everyone can get to their respective destinations at their desired tempos—and usually in a zig-zag.



    2. Choose the right shoes.
    New York women are known for their love of high-heeled shoes, but you’ll rarely see evidence of this on the street. Why? New York is a city of pedestrians and many streets are uneven or made of cobblestone. For this reason, women often hide high heels away in handbags and replace them on the sidewalk by flats or sneakers that will get them more comfortably from A to B. As soon as they’ve reached their destination, they change into high heels and restore their trademark New York look. P.S.: if your handbag is too small, we’d recommend taking a taxi or Uber. This way you’ll save yourself both blisters and a stressful trek through the city.

    3. Don’t avoid visiting museums on the basis of their entrance prices.
    Culture is a high priority in New York, and although it isn’t really publicized, the entrance prices at many of the city’s big museums are only recommendations. That means you can often decide what you’d like to pay (even if it’s only a dollar). Before you decide against visiting a museum because of its high entrance fee, it’s worth doing a little research online (or asking LOCALIKE).

    4. Don’t get into empty subway cars.
    It’s rush hour on a hot summer day and every single subway car is packed except for one…score? Afraid not! There’s probably a very good reason the car is empty. The air conditioning might have gone off (the least of all possible evils) or there may be something in there causing an ungodly stench. In any case, don’t be seduced by the generous amounts of space—your nose will thank you. Trust us. :)

    5. Ask for directions.
    New Yorkers can be brash if you get in their way (keyphrase: fast walking), but if you ask them a question they’re usually very friendly and willing to help. Sometimes they’re even proud to show off how NYC-savvy they are, so don’t be afraid to ask for directions or for the best subway connection. Sometimes locals will even come up and offer their help before you even knew you needed any.

    6. Become a master of the MetroCard.
    Visitors often struggle with the New York subway card. How should you swipe it? How fast should you pull it through? Which side should the magnetic strip be facing? We’d recommend keeping cool and getting your card out before you even enter the subway station. Make sure the magnetic strip is facing inward (or left) and pull the card through the reader at a medium, casual pace—like a local.



    7. Exit taxis on the right.
    Always exit taxis on the right-hand side, unless you’d like a bicyclist stuck to your open door.

    8. Keep your celebrity cool.
    New York hosts a high concentration of celebrities in a relatively small space, so the chances of seeing someone famous are quite high. In general, New Yorkers don’t ask for autographs or photos. Smile and walk on LOCALIKE-style. If you’re having trouble containing your excitement, you can always share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

    9. Please wait to be seated.
    New York restaurants usually have a “please wait to be seated” policy. While in most European restaurants you can go ahead and pick out tables yourself, in New York, guests should consult the host at the entrance before sitting, regardless of how full—or empty—the restaurant is. The host’s tasks are to bring guests to their tables, to make sure that each server has a more or less equal number of tables, and to prevent general chaos. The latter rarely works ;)

    10. Don’t rent a car.
    New York is not a city for car-driving tourists, at least not when you’d like to be in Manhattan and the surrounding areas—there’s too much traffic and too little parking. What’s more, you’d be surrounded by wild, fearless drivers and unpredictable pedestrians and bike couriers. Do as the New Yorkers do: walk, use public transportation, or flag down a taxi. Finally, try not to spend too much time in Times Square. The “center of the universe” has amazing magnetism and should be a stop for anyone traveling to New York; however, the real city exists in the neighborhoods and on the streets outside of Times Square, in Downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens, in the restaurants, bars, and parks. Allow yourself to wander away from the crowd. Want to see the real New York? LOCALIKE is a friend away from home. Its on-site experts show you sides of the city that postcards never would. Like a local. www.LOCALIKE.com