Skyscrapers & Fog
A Fern & Fog tour of New York
One of the best things about getting visitors is that it presents an opportunity to see your city through their eyes. I’ve been living in New York for three years now, and while I love many things about the city, I am pretty settled in my routines and hangouts. Luckily, my best friend Allie made a trip to NYC and brought along fabulous restaurant and sightseeing ideas. Take a mental vacation with me to a few of the cool places we were able to explore!
The Tenement Museum • Lower East Side, Manhattan
Of course, New York is home to many of the most prestigious and impressive museums: the MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Met boast amazing collections and experiences. But one of the best museum experiences I have ever had was at the Tenement Museum.
The Tenement Museum was purchased in the 1980s by a woman named Ruth Abram who wanted to start a museum dedicated to the lives of New York immigrants. The building at 97 Orchard Street served as housing for thousands of immigrant families arriving in New York City. Now, the building hosts multiple tours a day about variations on the same subject: what was life like for the actual residents of this building. My tour, “Hard Times” explored the building from the perspectives of two different families: the Gumpertz family, who lived there in the 1860s, and the Baldizzi family, who resided there in the 1930s. Because of the way the museum is set up, you are able to see parts of the untouched fixtures and rooms alongside carefully re-created apartments meant to look like they would have at the time the inhabitants lived there. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and had great answers to all of our questions, and she encouraged questions and participation in a way that felt natural and engaging.
Nestled in the Lower East Side, where it now sits between hip cafes, salons, and bars, the Tenement Museum is a great symbol of the history that that exists all over New York City and literally shows you the history that can be hidden underneath several layers of paint.
Murray’s Cheese Shop • Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Oh, Murray’s. The most lost I have ever been since moving to New York is a time I tried to get to Murray’s without a smartphone and with heavy train delays. Every time I visit now (which is too often?) I feel a sense of pride at having navigated the confusing Village streets. Murray’s is well worth the effort, though: it is the specialty food shop of all specialty food shops. It sells everything you could possibly want to host an amazing cheese party or a picnic in Washington Square Park. Murray’s makes its own specialty foods but also offer all of the oils, vinegars, honeys, dried foods, and chocolates you could ever need. And of course, cheese, cheese, and more cheese, which is aged in their very own cheese caves beneath the store.
But maybe more important than all of this are the delicious, delicious sandwiches they make. The first time I tried the “Man That’s Good,” I thought I’d maybe never eat again so that the taste could linger on my tongue forever. Obviously that didn’t work out, but I make sure to stop by for the sandwich every once in awhile.
High Line • Chelsea, Manhattan
The High Line is nearly as well known as any other New York monument these days, despite the fact that it has only been open to the public for a few years. Built along an elevated train line that once delivered goods up and down Manhattan, the High Line is a beautifully designed public space. And while these days, there is hardly a time of day or year when the scenic walk is not crowded, we found the exception! Allie and I were able to walk the High Line almost completely alone on a Saturday. How, you ask? By being willing to walk in a light rain on a somewhat chilly day. Still, with the proper gear, the weather was barely a factor. Even though many of the plants are not in bloom this time of year, the mist was equally beautiful covering plants as covering the New York and New Jersey skyline.
Russ & Daughter Café • Lower East Side, Manhattan
One of the quintessential New York Jewish delis recently opened a restaurant just down the street from its original location. And boy is it delicious. Granted, I am no connoisseur of deli foo, but this café is magnificent. Walking in is like being transported to another time. Every element is magnificently designed, and happily recalls the fixtures of their original location. Signage, caviar dishes, and beautiful menus work together to create another of the most satisfying ambiances I have experienced in recent years. And of course, the food was excellent. Allie and I shared several dishes so that we could sample both the sweet and the savory (Yum Kippered sandwich, potato latkes, and Babka French toast). Afterwards, we walked around the corner to the original location which is still open for business. We snapped a few photos, and as if by script, a man exited the store with his two kids and shared with us that he used to come to the store with his own grandmother and was delighted to share the tradition with his own kids. - Ginny