This is the 2nd post of a 3-part series about Beth's (Redress Raleigh Strategic Director) July trip to NYC for the Texworld trade show. The first post can be seen here.
New York City in the summer is oppressive. It’s brutally hot, everyone is sweaty and grumpy, and the mountains of garbage rotting in the sun stink. All the same, it’s an intoxicating place. The city maintains an irrepressible energy that is hard to ignore – things are constantly being built; new businesses are opening on every corner; there is an endless supply of food, drinks, and culture; and people are actively participating in the human experience.
One of my favorite things about visiting NYC is finding the ‘hidden gems’, the most amazing food at some tiny diner or incredible clothes at a vintage store off the beaten path. This time, my four favorite finds were: The Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, Kaight in Brooklyn, Ruby’s in Soho, and the FIT Museum.
The Brooklyn Bridge Park is an oasis, particularly in the summer. With a killer view of the Brooklyn Bridge and skyline of New York, it’s not as crowded as NYC’s more famous parks and has some great shaded areas. It’s far enough from Manhattan to not be very crowded most of the time and also close to a ferry stop that has a bar where they make an awesome strawberry lemonade with gin.
The Brooklyn Bridge Park is in a fabulous area of New York City called DUMBO, which literally stands for District Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass - a not-very-exciting name for a district that has the city’s highest rate of creative capital, slowly making it a mecca of art galleries, clothing boutiques, great views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, and scrumptious eating places. After you’ve experienced all the glitzy touristy aspects of NYC, escape to DUMBO and the Brooklyn Bridge Park to see the city from another view.
I must admit that my second favorite find wasn’t exactly hidden from me as I follow them on Facebook and often covet all the awesome new arrivals they post on their page. However, it was great to visit in person! Kaight is an independent boutique founded by Kate McGregor and often partially staffed by her adorable dog. In the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, Kaight offers a great selection of ethically-produced clothing and accessories.
I had a hard time deciding among the great selections from designers such as Amour Vert and Nau, but finally ended up with a repurposed vintage dress with seafoam and slate gray stripes. Speaking with Kate about her journey from journalist to boutique owner was refreshing as I always enjoy speaking with people who just become obsessed with the same thing I am - eco-fashion!
Besides shopping, one of my favorite things about NYC is the eating - yum! So many different scrumptious options from all sorts of cultures. It also helps to know someone who lives in the city, as those who actually live there often find more original eateries than a guidebook can. My friend Sonal has lived in Brooklyn for a couple of years now and one evening I was there we enjoyed a delectable burger at a tiny place called Ruby’s in Soho. With only enough seating for about 12 people, it’s an intimate diner with stellar food. The Bronte burger I had was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced - perfectly juicy and an amazing combination of flavors.
Beyond shopping and eating, NYC is also known for an overwhelming amount of museums and other cultural institutions. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the MOMA are two of the most well-known but on this visit I also discovered the great fashion museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology). Their current exhibit - RetroSpective - examines fashion’s proclivity to borrow from the past when designing for the future. I often get overwhelmed with gigantic museums and hefty admission prices, so the FIT museum was perfect for me - I was able to read each placard and scrutinize each piece in only about an hour and visiting is free!
Though I have been to NYC about four times over the past few years, each time I visit I am amazed at how many new experiences there are to be had. Although I’ve never had a desire to live there, I can see why New Yorkers are so incredibly proud of their diverse and energetic city - and they should be. Just don’t go there in the summer. Save yourself from that intense torridness and go in the cooler times of the year.