At paraphernalia.co, we can’t resist the persuasive powers of New York, but she can burn a hole in your pocket if you let her. I’m back in NYC to rendezvous with 3 gorgeous girls (Annie, Cher and Sandy) and later to catch up with our #missjane. The girls have been on a once in a lifetime 6-week adventure travelling the Americas so there are some holes already burnt in their pockets. In light of that, let’s spend a day in New York on a budget. She’s bound to show us a good time.
A walk over the Brooklyn Bridge is a no-brainer but let’s show some love for the Manhattan Bridge. Spanning the East River connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn since 1909, it’s the most recent of the New York bridges. Signage clearly marks the entrance to the walkway at Bowery and Canal, on the Lower East Side. The Manhattan Bridge is a little louder than the Brooklyn with the regular passing of trains but enjoys considerably less foot traffic providing an abundance of headless photo ops.
Once on the Brooklyn side, take a look around DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), an old manufacturing district converted into loft living, art studios and galleries plus all that follows; designer boutiques, bakeries, funky bars and cafés. Check out this in-depth neighbourhood guide by nycgo.com for where to eat, shop and play. The walkway along the water’s edge through Brooklyn Bridge Park provides stunning views of all things Manhattan. It will have the most jaded New York traveller falling in love again. If there are kids in tow then a turn on Jane’s Carousel awaits. $2 will have them astride one of the 48 horses on the restored 1922 merry-go-round.
The Brooklyn Bridge was the first of the suspension bridges on the East River. Built between 1869 and 1883, it was not without mishap. John Augustus Roebling, the bridge designer, had his foot crushed by a ferry while conducting a survey of the construction site. After amputation of his toes, he died from a tetanus infection leaving his 32-year-old son, Washington, in charge to complete the project. The saying goes “behind every great man there’s a great woman”. We won’t debate that here, but we will say it’s true in this case. Washington surveyed construction from a window in his apartment having befallen a paralysing accident as a result of the bends. Emily, his wife, studied higher mathematics; material strength, curve calculations, bridge specs and cable construction, enabling her to work with her husband to complete the project. Emily’s communication between Washington and the builders was invaluable in completing the Brooklyn Bridge.
Back in Manhattan refreshments are in order. It’s almost 4 pm, so we can stick to our low-cost plan and head to South Street Seaport and Ambrose Beer & Lobster Bar. Happy hour at Ambrose is a generous one from 4-7 pm Monday to Friday. Beer and wine are $5 and margaritas $6 with all the regular Ambrose menu items available too. The famous lobster roll and fries with parmesan and truffle oil are there and for the low carbers they’ll do the roll in lettuce wraps or pile lobster on a salad. Wednesdays are live music nights so there’s every reason to make a night of it. We still have a couple of items on our list though, so let’s walk off the delicious lobster wraps and make our way to the Staten Island ferry.
It’s evident who the Staten Island Ferry commuters are. Eyes downcast, tapping away on smartphones or staring into space jaded by the iconic view. For tourists, this has to be one of the best excursions New York has to offer. Why? It’s free! Go at sunset, settle back with a sundowner from the bar and enjoy the views of the Jersey Shoreline, Ellis Island and the magnificent Statue of Liberty. On the return visit, Manhatten’s lights are on, displaying a splendid silhouette of the skyline across the Hudson. At each port, all passengers must disembark. If it’s an immediate return then simply walk around to the embarkation area and reboard. At this time of the evening, commuters are corralled like sheep. If your party separates and someone misses boarding, don’t worry, ferries run frequently and there are a few little drinking holes back at the terminal to wait on your waylaid friends.
Walking distance from the ferry on Water Street, you’ll find Dead Rabbit. A pre-prohibition era cocktail bar referencing “Gangs of New York”. Taking home the coveted “World’s Best Bar Award” at the Spirited Awards in New Orleans this year, the bar staff haven’t let it go to their heads. Downstairs, dock workers imbibe shoulder to shoulder with fashionistas and financial gurus while upstairs, all things 19th century are served in vintage tea cups or period appropriate glassware. Depending on how long you stay, this may not qualify for ‘New York on a budget” but it’s definitely a spot not to be missed. If it makes you feel better, think of the savings we’ve made today and live a little. 😉
Our day doesn’t end there as we make our way to W44th Street and the infamous Birdland. Ordinarily a jazz club, Monday night is Cast Party hosted by Jim Caruso in true Cruise Director style. The $25 cover charge will have you entertained by veteran Broadway stars, talented up and comers and the resident orchestra lead by accomplished pianist Billy Stritch. The experience is a medley of Broadway offering far more than your single show ticket.
If you’re planning a trip to New York paraphernalians, keep this post handy. Follow the links to the metro & ferry timetables, local history, guides and individual websites. On your return, please let us know how much fun you had because spending a day in New York on a budget: it’s a thing we love….