I live in one of the best cities of our time. And I am not given to hyperbole, being an utterly objective person with impeccable taste and also unsurpassed wit.
I am also a person who is not immune to the wily ways of procrastination, and so it was that this past Saturday I found myself reading two books on what to do in New York City. Why I, a local, have said books is a minor mystery. Call it luck or call it genius, or call it my accidentally taking someone else’s books home. Call it what you will.
The result was a growing checklist of things to see. I can live without visiting the Statue of Liberty again, or going up the Empire State Building again. But what about the really cool stuff? (Okay, the book Time and Again does make the statue cool again, but let’s move on post-haste.)
Turns out the unweary traveler can hop in to see the homes of Alexander Burr, Teddy Roosevelt, Herman Melville, and Alexander Hamilton’s wife. In addition to wending the never-ending corridors of the Metropolitan Museum and hopping through the courtyard of the delicious Frick Gallery, one can also obtain backstage tours of the Lincoln Center, Broadway playhouses, the Metropolitan Opera and so forth. Historians and docents can introduce one to historical New York, uncovering the hidden secrets beneath the city’s surface–like the 17th century African burial ground downtown. Yes, there’s bright lights, but there’s also the gentle lines of varying architectural trends, from gothic to art deco. Every ethnic group that’s come to our country has stopped by New York or left some trace there, and whether one’s taste runs to dim sum in Chinatown or rakija in a Serbian tavern, we’ve got it all. Then there’s the gem of the north, the medieval cloisters brought here rock-by-rock by Rocke(well-named)feller. And all the rooftop bars and restaurants overlooking the exquisite and beguiling Central Park and its frame of museums and grand houses, home to the well-heeled and stratospheric.
And then there’s the hotspots. Where George Washington rallied with his troops, or where, say, Dorothy Parker and the great American writers of her day met for a weekly get-together to chat and whatnots. The Algonquin Hotel.
On Sunday morning I called J. “Worry not,” I said, “for I have a plan for the day which you will love and adhere to like cement.”
Over the line I felt J raise her brow doubtfully, so I continued. “We’ll start with brunch at the historic Algonquin, followed by an amble through the antique dealers in one of our gorgeous New York City neighborhoods, each more enchanting than the last.” (This last phrase might be aimed at one GypsyScarlett who has yet to visit the city, in an affront to all that is decent and human.)
J agreed, partly because she’s an agreeable, spontaneous sort, and partly because she was hungry and needed to buy furniture. See, I have a wily side too.
And so we met and went to the Algonquin. We saw the Algonquin Round Table, where the authors sat, and the collection of old-seeming books which had nothing at all to do with the group, which seems an oddity. And then we sat comfortably in its lovely tearoom and saw something rather shocking. Namely, the pricetag of our intended breakfast.
Not wishing to each be $30 lighter in the pocket for a continental breakfast, we opted to be non-continental and ordered coffees demurely. Just coffee. Which came to $16. How simply delightful. Somehow I doubt the authors blew through that kind of money, but maybe writers earned differently those days. Funny how Parker had to pay for her whatnots there, and now the hotel reaps the rewards for her choice to patronize it.
Ah well. It was lovely inside, for sure. And I’m glad I saw it, although the service was pushy. For that reason, above all, I won’t bring a guest to the city there but for a quick look at the famous round table, if they’re a literary type.
And nows you know. Any places in particular which you recommend or always wished you’d seen? I should start taking photos again, too…. 🙂