A Guide To NYC’s Best Subway Art

Whether you’re a native New Yorker or a tourist looking to explore the wonders of the city, you’ll no doubt find yourself taking the subway. While there are certainly crazy NYC subway stories that’ll make you crave a cab, venturing into New York’s underground can be unforgettable for good reasons, too. This is especially true is you’re into colorful creativity, as art in the subway abounds!

NYC takes its title as one of the world’s art capitals seriously, so expect to come across some of the finest art in the city just taking the subway. Keep your eyes peeled for the various gems you’re sure to come across —  especially when it comes to the five installations listed below!

1. Life Underground

Where: 14 St @ Eighth Avenue station

art in the subway

STOP BY THE 14TH ST/EIGHT AVENUE STATION TO SEE LIFE UNDERGROUND! PHOTO VIA TOM OTTERNESS

This 16-year-old installation, meant to capture “life in New York,” is one of the city’s best pieces of art in the subway. Artist Tom Otterness used over a dozen bronze sculptures to depict everything from the homeless being watched over by police to New York’s famous sewer gators chomping on the head of a wealthy citizen. It’s easy to rush through the city when it comes to a commute, but these playful figures are worth slowing down for!

2. Happy World

Where: Flushing/Main Street

art in the subway

PHOTO VIA IK-JOONG KANG.

Flushing is often noted as one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city — a fact that Ik-Joong Kang made a point of celebrating with this art piece. Happy World uses over two thousand hand-painted ceramic tiles to depict various aspects of the large world Kang saw in Flushing and beyond. This includes many different people, events and views of NYC. With so much happening all at once, it can be comforting to see it condensed into a single installation (even if condensed refers to over two-thousand tiles!).

3. REACH

Where: 34th St/Herald Square

art in the subway

PHOTO VIA CHRISTOPHER JANNEY @ JANNEYSOUND

Suspended above the N/R platforms of this station, there is a green bar with sensors that run along its side. While this horizontal rack has a tendency to go unnoticed by commuters, it’s actually a brilliant piece of interactive art in the subway that encourages New Yorkers to communicate with one another, even at their busiest. Waving your hands in front of the sensors causes a light to flicker on, and a sound to come from the rack on the opposite platform.With this unique musical instrument, those on the downtown and uptown platforms can interact without a single word!

4. My Coney Island Baby

Where: Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue

art in the subway

PHOTO VIA MTA

There are a number of creative reasons to make your way down to Brooklyn’s Coney Island. NYC street art is one, while the other is the artwork of Robert Wilson. This installation features a wall of glass bricks showcasing silkscreened images. The format of this unusual exhibit makes the pictures — like Nathan’s Hot Dog stand and Coney Island’s famous carousel — especially alluring on sunny days when light streams in, illuminating the images. Just one reason to plan your Coney Island trip for a sunny day!

5. Elevated

Where: Lexington Avenue/63rd St

art in the subway

PHOTO VIA MTA FLICKR

With the Second Avenue Station nearly a decade in the making, artist Jean Shin had to pull out all the stops when planning her contribution. Sure enough, her mural “Elevated” is a standout even among the world class art of this brand new subway line. This piece spans over three levels of the station, depicting the construction done to dismantle the Second and Third Avenue line, along with stills of commuters — all of which are composed of ceramic tile, glass mosaic and laminated glass. This piece works to connect the past of New York to the present. And this is something you can be a part of for yourself, now that this new subway line is open!

~ By guest blogger, Shania Russell, a senior at Bronx Academy of Letters with a passion for writing. She has used programs such as Young Playwrights Inc., The Moth and Girls Write Now to channel these passions, and has done her best to help others do the same as managing editor of her school’s literary magazine, One Pen. When not busied with her tendency to overextend herself with various projects, she can be found with her nose in a book or humming the tune of whatever musical soundtrack she is obsessed with that week. THIS POST ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON NYC TOURS & PHOTO SAFARIS

10 Reasons to Visit Dutchess County, New York

Perhaps you read my post about spending a weekend in upstate New York. The quick escape offers the best of natural surroundings, charming towns, farm to table dining, wineries and more. If you plan your trip in advance, you can also catch some of the local festivals and concerts.
Here are top 10 Events in Dutchess County:
1. March – St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Held on first Saturday in March, each year the Committee selects an outstanding community person to lead the parade who is the Grand Marshal. www.DCSPPC.org
2. April – Wappinger Creek Water Derby. Who says you need to get to the Caribbean to scuba dive? Take lesson, compete in canoe races and more, right here in New York. www.AquaticExplorers.org
3. May – Rhinebeck 2016 Antique Car Show & Swap Meet. Check out antique and classic cars on display at this 3-days long car show. http://dutchessfair.com/
4. MayWW II Living History, USO Show, Bivouac and Memorial Day Events include the 75th Anniversary of FDR Presidential Library & Museum and Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, and 100th NPS anniversary. www.NPS.gov/HoFR
5. June – Country Living Fair, Rhinebeck. This weekend long fair includes art displays, live concerts,  food tastings, and dozens of themed gardens to keep the entire family entertained. www.dutchessfair.com
 duchess county fair
6. June – Discover Hudson Valley Bike Ride. Explore forests, waterfalls, hills and gorgeous surroundings of the Hudson Valley on a guided bike tour. www.BikeNYC.org
7. July – DCRCOC Balloon Festival, Poughkeepsie. Over 100 hot air balloons are launched from the banks of the Hudson River, against the backdrop of a picture perfect sunset. www.dcrcoc.org/balloonfestival
BalloonFest
8. August – Jazz in the Valley, Poughkeepsie. An annual festival, showcasing music performed by world-class musicians, fittingly complemented by breathtaking views of the Hudson River Valley as backdrop. www.jazzinthevalleyny.org
new york jazz festival
9. September – Hudson Valley Wine and Food Festival & HV Craft Beer Festival. Taste local products including beer, cider, spirits, wine and food at this weekend long gastronomic festival. www.HudsonValleyWineFest.com
10. October – New York State Sheep and Wool Festival. Features livestock displays, competitions, arts display, cooking demonstrations and lots of kids activities. www.sheepandwool.com
duchess county festivals
~ Information sourced from Dutchess Tourism. 

Weekend in Westchester, New York

If you have made it up to Hudson Valley on your weekend getaway from New York City, also check out Westchester County.

Taste some of the best maple in the world at Crown Maple at Madava Farms. Their certified-organic maple products are so pure, you can taste the woods. Take a tour of the technologically advanced facility and learn how maple is harvested. Sample different kinds of syrup and homemade pastries made on the premise. The 800 acres property of Madava Farms is open to the public for picnicking and hiking. It’s a great place to enjoy the peaceful and scenic outdoors only 80 miles from the city.

crown maple farm new york

 

There are over 35 wineries in the Hudson Valley. If you have limited time, stop at award-winning Millbrook Vineyards and Winery’s 30 acres of vines include plantings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and an Italian grape varietal called Tocai Friulano. The winery officially opened for tours and tastings in 1988 and today produces between 10-12,000 cases of wine annually.

millbrook wine

For lunch, stop at Babette’s Kitchen, offering gourmet salads, pasta, sandwiches and entrees using local seasonal ingredients. They pride themselves in having long lasting relationships with local farmers who supply them with the best produce the Hudson Valley has to offer. You can also get boxed lunches to take with you on a scenic train ride or road trip.

Contemporary art lovers would want to take this opportunity to stop at Dia: Beacon art gallery. Occupying a former Nabisco box printing factory on the banks of the Hudson River, Dia:Beacon presents Dia’s collection of unusual art installations and spaces, such as white on white, homepage to the square, fluorescent lights and more. Since its opening in May 2003, Dia:Beacon has helped transform the city of Beacon into a vibrant arts destination for visitors from the region, New York City, and beyond.

Thereafter, take a tour of Lyndhurst Mansion, one of America’s finest Gothic Revival mansions. Overlooking the Hudson River in Tarrytown, New York, The architectural brilliance of the residence, designed in 1838 by Alexander Jackson Davis, is complemented by the park-like landscape of the estate and a comprehensive collection of original decorative arts. Its noteworthy occupants included: former New York City mayor William Paulding, merchant George Merritt and railroad tycoon Jay Gould.

Lyndhurst Mansion

Dinner at Rivermarket Bar and Kitchen is a must. The restaurant and market showcases producers located throughout the Hudson Valley. Menu includes a variety of fresh seafood, poultry and meat paired with local wines. The rustic decor of restored wood ceiling brings the outdoors inside, and gives a subtle reminder of the restaurants’ sustainable initiates.

Those interested in learning about where their food comes from can visit the Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown. Here you can meet some happy chicken, pigs and sheep, who are treated humanely. The center also offers educational day camps for kids to learn about farming, livestock and sustainable eating.

Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture

Yonkers is an interesting suburb, where many New York City commuters also reside. Here you can visit the Hudson River Museum to see six art galleries, the Andrus Planetarium, and Glenview Mansion, an historic house museum of 1876; taste local brews at Yonkers Brewery; and enjoy a delicious meal at award-winning chef Peter Kelly’s restaurant, Xaviar X20 on the Hudson. A ride back to Grand Central is only 30 minutes aboard Metro-North Railroad.

This trip was coordinated by I Love New York, the state’s official tourism board.

Read Part 1 of my upstate New York experience in Duchess County.

Weekend in Hudson Valley, New York

When I think of New York, images of the city’s bustling streets, neon lights, Broadway musicals, top chef restaurants and shopping at 5th Avenue fill up my head. The fact is the state of New York has a lot more to offer than Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. For the first time, I took a train starting at Grand Central Station to explore the surrounding areas of upstate New York.

hudson river bridge

A 2-hour ride on Metro-North Railroad took me along the Hudson River to the city of Poughkeepsie in Dutchess county. A short walk from the train station to the elevator led to the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge, spanning 212′ above the Hudson River and 1.28 miles across. This is a great place to get a good view of the river and the surrounding foliage, specially during spring and fall. During season, there are concerts, open air movies, marathons, and festivals taking place in the historic state park.

vanderbilt mansion

Poughkeepsie has a few restaurants, hotels and shop that sustain tourism in the area. Shadows restaurant offers great view of the Hudson and is often used for large events, such as wedding receptions. Also, nearby is the Franklin D Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park. Here you can visit the Roosevelt family home, burial site, see the president’s personal library, and an interactive museum. Just a few minutes drive away is the Vanderbilt Mansion, one of the smaller homes owned by the family. After spending an afternoon in the area, you begin to picture what affluence and stature the neighborhood had up until only a few decades ago.hudson1

Food lovers can take a break at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) for dinner. The oldest and most well known culinary school in the country offers four student-run restaurants. Here when you dine, you will become part of their classroom experience. The CIA’s new 800-seat, state-of-the-art Ecolab Auditorium in the Marriott Pavilion makes it possible for visitors to experience one of Half Moon Theatre’s New York-style theatrical productions after enjoying a meal at The Bocuse RestaurantAmerican Bounty, or Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici.

Rhinebeck is a charming city to stay overnight. Check into America’s oldest continuously operated hotel, Beekman Arms, for luxurious accommodations in a historic setting. Next day, stroll around the downtown area, shopping for antiques, clothes and local products, as well as boutiques and dining at historic taverns. Not to miss is Oliver Kita Confectionaries for hot chocolate, cupcakes and handmade chocolate truffles. Terrapin Restaurant features farm-fresh organic cuisine under the guidance of award-winning Chef Josh Kroner. There are over 30 wineries in this area and many of them are offered on the menu, paired with locally raised duck, venison and chicken.

oliver kita

Early December is a good time to visit Rhinebeck for the Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas, where a local resident dresses up in a Santa-bishop like attire, accompanied by his long-time sidekick, the Grumpus, as well as the entire town parading through the town.

The Hudson Valley area is roughly 150 miles long and covers various counties. It is easily connected to New York City by train and makes for fun weekend getaways. Read Part 2 of my upstate New York experience in Westchester.

This trip was coordinated by I Love New York, the state’s official tourism board.

Farm to table in upstate New York

The city of New York is home to some of the finest restaurants in the world. But if you want to experience real food that is served directly from the farms, head north within the state to Lake Placid, NY. Located near USA/ Canada border, Lake Placid is nestled in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains and home to several cattle, dairy and maple farms.

Many of the restaurants in Lake Placid incorporate locally produced ingredients in their menu. Visit the Lake Placid Farmers’ Market to get an idea of what’s in season and who’s producing it. Even the chefs and restauranteurs pick up fresh produce daily from the farmers market.

Chef David Hunt at the Generations Restaurant which is adjacent to the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort is a strong believer of serving fresh and local. He pick up gallons of maple syrup from Uihlein and blueberries from local farms to create his signature pancakes for breakfast. Chef Hunt is also known for cooking the best cuts of steaks directly on a Himalayan pink rock salt stone, that is delivered sizzling to your table.

generations lake placid

Cheese plates serving award winning chèvre, feta and soft cheese from Asgaard Farms can be found on menus all over the city. Certified organic fresh vegetables are sourced from Juniper Hill Farm and  Fledgling Crow. Farmers in Lake Placid take great pride in producing good quality food without the use of artificial treatments or pesticides.

asgaard farm lake placid

Another good place to enjoy a delicious light lunch is at KANU located at The Whiteface Lodge.  Typical spa meals are bento-box style and include salads, fruits and grains. Its the perfect ending to any massage or facial at The Whiteface Lodge.

kanu spa lake placid

The fried Brussels sprouts at Liquids and Solids are to die for! The quintessential neighborhood hangout place serves a wide selection of local Ale’s, one of a kind cocktails and international inspired small plates.

liquids & solidePerhaps, the best places to eat in Lake Placid is the Artisan’s restaurant, located inside Lake Placid Lodge. The restaurant’s patio overlooks the lake and makes for a fine romantic sunset dinner. On a chilly night, you can bundle up with complimentary blankets and sit next to the burning fireplace and enjoy great views through the high windows. Here you can sample Chef Nathan Rich’s seasonally inspired dishes where local flavors blend perfectly leaving you wanting for another bite. 

lake placid lodge

 

Secrets of Lake Placid

The Lake Placid I am going to tell you about has nothing to do with the giant, 30-foot-long man-eating crocodile that terrorizes people as depicted in the movies Lake Placid, Lake Placid 2, Lake Placid 3 or Lake Placid: The Final Chapter. This Lake Placid is a beautiful vacation village located in the Adirondack mountains in upstate New York.

Continue reading “Secrets of Lake Placid”

Yummiest goat milk caramels

I’m having a caramel withdrawal. I brought back a box of fresh caramels from Asgaard Farm and Dairy in upstate New York, and am upset that I didn’t buy more! These caramels are hand made with goats’ milk (cajeta) and sea salt. They are soft, chewy and they melt as soon as you put them in your mouth. The only thing I don’t like about the Asgaard Farm caramels is that once you eat one, you cannot stop. Continue reading “Yummiest goat milk caramels”

Being on The Marriage Ref….

It all started last year, when my husband and I were watching the first season of The Marriage Ref on NBC.  Being Jerry Seinfeld fans, we enjoyed the mature harmless humor that the show produced. Even then, in his heart still wanting to appear on a show, my husband said “We are too normal for this.”

I decided to fulfill his dream by writing in about our story and sending some pictures. I wrote about my passion for travel, and my goal to see the world (My math worked out to be seven countries a year). Husband is not against it, he just doesn’t want me to go alone. In fact he would like to see the world himself. But with his work as his number one priority and excessive work related travel, he is sometimes not able to take off and join me. Should that prevent me from continuing on my journey? That is the question for Tom Papa, The Marriage Ref.

A few months later, we were invited for a casting call, followed by several phone interviews, a psychological assessment and tons of paperwork! Once we got through, the cast came over to our home in Atlanta and filmed my husband, myself and our two pets for the entire day. It was a fun day and we felt quite comfortable in front of the camera. Mostly because it was an informal conversational-type setting in our living room. The producer asked us how we met, what we like about each other and to explain our problem. They looked for cues around the house (like the world map) that supported each of our arguments and filmed us separately. Around the time, I was going on a 3 week volunteer trip to Morocco, so the producers got some juicy material to build into the story (me unpacking).  My friend and co-volunteer, Leslie taped me on the camel back in the Sahara when we were there for the weekend, which also made it to on the episode.

In December 2010, The Marriage Ref flew us to the NBC studios in New York City for a taping in front of celebrity judges and live audience. New York is so festive that time of the year and I always enjoy going there during the holiday season. We taped for an entire day, starting with choosing our costumes, getting our hair and makeup done, to touring the stage. We also got to watch our own video that was filmed at our home a few weeks before. Then the producers pepped us to be ready to defend ourselves, have our key points ready and walk in with our game faces on! There were two other couples who we got to talk to in the dressing room, but weren’t allowed to discuss our issue with them.

We were told who was going to be on the celebrity panel, but didn’t really get to meet them till we appeared in front of the live audience. By then everyone had watched our video, while we were anxiously waiting in the next room. We had no idea what they were discussing about us. Only an occasion “aaahh” or loud clapping gave us a hint that the audience seems really into it.

I have to say I was quite nerves after I watched the tape the first time. I felt like it was biased towards the husband and I had a good chance of losing the argument. It had made him appear to be a poor innocent nerdy husband, who was working all the time, while I am having a ball of a time around the world, adding to his suffering with my exotic travel photos. I had to change all that!

Some clarification was clearly necessary. I pointed out to the judges, Ali Wentworth, Patti LaBelle and Bill Maher that the travels mean much more to me than vacation. It is where I derive my learning about different cultures which I put towards my writing of food and travel, and teaching international cooking classes. Also, in Russia and Morocco I took volunteer trips where I worked in orphanages and taught English. Eventually, it is the travels that gave birth to the idea of Go Eat Give (earlier this year), an international movement that encourages people to learn about different cultures through food and community service. Patti did change her vote after finding out about all the wonderful things I am doing and Ali was always on my side. Bill however, was a fan of the “bacon” so he did not give me his vote.

So, I won the argument against my husband, but not the “rightist of the night.” In the process, he lost his right to argue on this topic! I still had a blast during the entire process, especially watching the live show on TV with friends.

Watch the show online for a limited time on NBC.com

Bite size art in the city

While walking down the streets in Manhattan yesterday, my eyes were magically drawn towards rows of colorful teeny tiny sugary treats against the backdrop of a stork white store. With the doors wide open inviting me in, I was intrigued and had to look closely at what I was seeing. There were cupcakes, but not just any cupcakes. These very colorful, tiny, piece of art cupcakes!

Melissa Bushell, the founder of Baked by Melissa questioned why should one settle for only one dessert and not have them all? So she ingeniously invented “mini cupcakes” which would satisfy the sweet-lovers appetite for a variety of flavors without packing all those extra calories. (See how tiny it is?)

When you walk into the store, it feels like an art gallery. With 12 flavors to chose from, you actually don’t really have to chose. A dozen of these mini melt-in-your-mouth in one bite cupcakes cost only $10. Or if you are really the decisive kinds, you can get 3 for $3, or 6 cupcakes for $5.50. Whatever you choose – cookies and cream, peanut butter and jelly, red velvet, smores, or tie-dye…you will not be disappointed! The cake is fresh and the icing not too sweet. The entire concoction is just enough for you to be able to enjoy the layers of flavors an d still satisfy your sweet tooth.

The cupcakes are individually suspended in a small white box. You wouldn’t want to carry your precision art any other way.

They have three stores in New York City and ship nationwide. Did I mention you can create your own cupcake at Baked by Melissa‘s web site? There are 10k submissions on the web site to get you inspired.