The great Frank Sinatra put it best,
“I wanna wake up, in a city that doesn’t sleep.
And find I’m king of the hill, top of the heap… if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere”
New York. The big apple. The center of the universe.
Throughout its history, NYC has always been the center of attention, desired by all. The great melting pot that is “The City” symbolized the great American dream, streets paved with gold and opportunity for all, to live a life full of riches and glamour. And while we are all familiar with the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Times Square, there are many more must-see areas that the city has to offer.
Here are some places that your parents would never dare to visit, but are a must for you next New York visit.
This Brooklyn water-front property was once dubbed “the killing fields” due to the vast amounts of murders in the neighborhood. In the late 1970’s and throughout the 80’s, Williamsburg was populated with numerous street gangs, as well as the infamous Sonny Black mob. Muggings were as common as red-lights and the growing amount of empty warehouses only escalated the neighborhood crime. However, as prices dropped due to crime, struggling artists started relocating to the neighborhood with the best view of Manhattan. These pioneers slowly, but steadily, helped turn Williamsburg into one if the coolest, and more expensive areas in the city. Today, Williamsburg is the hipster capital of the world, with cool coffee shops and bars, artsy boutique shops and a style that is truly unique to this neighborhood. Be sure to visit on Saturdays, when all the artists come out and show their work in a pop-up art gallery of sorts. You absolutely cannot skip this lively, colorful neighborhood the next time you’re in town.
This lower east side neighborhood has been one of the most transformed over the past 20 years. Today, the Bowery is home to high-rise luxury apartment buildings, large boutiques with top of the line names in fashion and even New York’s “little Saigon”. Similar to little Italy or Chinatown, but much smaller, little Saigon is a street filled with authentic Vietnamese shops and cuisine. However, back in the 80’s the bowery was a much different place. Before the high-risers, there was an endless amount of abandoned buildings, empty construction sites and lots filled with ruins. Before the boutique shoppers, there were junkies and dealers, homeless and criminals. But don’t you worry, the area has been completely revived, and is now one of the city’s top neighborhoods, so don’t forget to stop by!
Today, this district in the lower west side of Manhattan is known for its boutique shops, young and hip atmosphere and its vibrant nightlife. Any visit to the city must include a stop-by in this unique area. However, this was not always the case, as this district used to be packed with prostitutes, drug dealers and sex clubs. In fact, by the mid-80’s this district became known as a hub for the BDSM culture, until the city started fighting the AIDS epidemic by closing down these district’s sex clubs. Not to worry though, the prostitutes and drugs have been replaced by an Apple store, high-fashion boutiques and some of the best nightclubs that the city has to offer!
One of the city’s most well-known neighborhoods, Harlem is synonymous with gangs, drugs and the projects. Back in the day, this was true, as the all-black neighborhood was dominated by crime, buildings covered in graffiti, street corners home to dealers and prostitutes and overall not a safe place to live. In recent years though, Harlem has transformed into a cultural melting pot. The streets are much safer, the graffiti of old has become an art that colors the area and adds life to the neighborhood. The basketball courts are packed with street-ballers instead of gangs and this large area, that wraps around the northern section of central park, is quickly becoming a major player in the city’s map of neighborhoods.