Destinations

Stateside: Manhattan transfer


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New York City is the sum of all its parts. Manhattan may be home to the sights we all recognise, but it’s just one of five boroughs that make up this iconic city.


There might not be many skyscrapers in the Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens, but the scope of attractions in the boroughs is breathtaking. Beyond taking the Staten Island ferry to sail past the Statue of Liberty, most visitors barely graze their full potential.


To redress the balance, we gave three writers a subway token and instructions to seek out the other side of New York in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.


If your clients want to see where hip-hop was born, or where Woody Allen first looked at Manhattan, read our guide to the boroughs and point them in the right direction.


Queens

Getting there/getting around
Take the number seven train to Hunters Point Avenue. Queens’ ethnic diversity – Korean, Hispanic, Chinese, Indian and then some – earned the train its nickname: the International Express.


The train takes you to Flushing Meadows Park, home of the US Open tennis championships, and Shea Stadium, where the Beatles played the world’s first outdoor stadium concert. It’s also the home ground of the New York Mets baseball team.


The main attraction
PS1 is a hip art gallery, affiliated to MoMA in midtown. There’s no permanent collection; the exhibits change every six months. See Ps1.org.


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The real deal
Queens is full of down-at-heel neighbourhoods and finding the good stuff without walking miles around places you’d rather not be in can be challenging. Get the most out of it by engaging the services of a local. Lifelong Queens resident Marc Preven runs Newrotic NYC tours and will show you movie locations, multi-ethnic eateries and more.


A highlight is the Five Points Graffiti Project at Long Island City. A far cry from the mindless tagging that blights city centres, spraying here is by permission only – anyone can go inside and have a look though. Go to Newroticnewyorkcitytours.com.


Who’s in town?
Manhattan may hog the limelight but many famous New Yorkers had a more humble start in Queens: Burt Bacharach, Tony Bennett and Francis Ford Coppola all hail from here. Simon and Garfunkel too – their 59th Bridge Street Song (Feelin’ Groovy) is a eulogy to the bridge that takes you across the East River to Manhattan.


Where to stay
Rooms at the Comfort Inn on Crescent Street in Long Island City lead in at $140 a night this March.


The Bronx

Getting there/getting around
The Bronx is New York’s northernmost borough. Take the two, four, five or six trains north or climb aboard the Yankee Clipper on the New York Waterway at Pier 78, on 38th Street at the Hudson River, which takes you up to the Bronx as part of its two-hour tour.


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The main attraction
The Bronx has more parkland than any other borough: it’s home to the New York Botanical Garden, has a world-famous zoo, and is the birthplace of hip-hop. But its main attraction is the world’s most famous ballpark, the Yankee Stadium. Take the elevated four train for great views of the stadium. Visit Newyork.yankees.mlb.com.


The real deal
No visit would be complete without taking the Hush Tours’ Hip-Hop Cultural Sightseeing Tour, which explores three decades of
the borough’s hip-hop scene. The four-hour tours run every Saturday with celebrity tour guides, including the charismatic Grand Master Caz of the Cold Crush Brothers and Rahiem from Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five.


They’ll talk you through DJing, graffiti, and breakdancing and take you to the main hip-hop sights: the Graffiti Wall, the Apollo Theatre, a fabulous soul food restaurant, and locations for movies such as New Jack City and Krush Groove. Go to Hushtours.com.


Who’s in town?
Alongside those famous hip-hop names, the Bronx has been home to the likes of Anne Bancroft, Tony Curtis, Robert Klein, Hal Linden, Mark Twain, John F Kennedy, Colin Powell, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.


Where to stay
A double room at the Howard Johnson Express Inn Bronx, 135 East Houston St, costs from $106 a night.


Brooklyn

Getting there/getting around
The scenic route is by foot from Manhattan over the mile-long Brooklyn Bridge. Otherwise, trains to and from Manhattan are quick and plentiful – which is why Miranda and Steve chose to move out to Brooklyn in the final series of Sex and the City.


Take the number two or three train to Eastern Parkway, for the Brooklyn Museum of Art; the number four or five train to Atlantic Avenue for the Forte Greene area, or the numbers two, three, four and five for Jay Street/Borough Hall, for the Brooklyn Bridge.


The main attraction
The Brooklyn Museum of Art is less stuffy than its Manhattan rivals and houses some of the best Egyptian, African and pre-Columbian collections anywhere, as well as temporary exhibitions by US artists. Brooklyn Academy of Music, known as BAM, is the best-known music and theatre venue in the borough.


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The real deal
Visit the brownstone houses of Brooklyn Heights, one of New York’s most wealthy neighbourhoods, and nearby Montague Street – full of trendy bars and restaurants, including Brooklyn’s most famous restaurant, Gage and Tollner. Near to the BAM is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, while the biggest open space, Prospect Park, was developed by the designers of Manhattan’s Central Park.


DUMBO – Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass – used to be a rundown, no-go area. Now it’s a trendy place to eat and drink. Brooklyn is famous for its cheesecake – to find the best, enlist in the services of a Big Apple Greeter; a guide who knows the area and will show you around. Go to Bigapplegreeter.org.


Who’s in town?
Famous Brooklyners include comedian Chris Rock, film director Spike Lee, actress Rosie Perez and actor John Turturro.


Where to stay
The New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge has rates from $209 per person, per night, room-only.


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