Discover The Rich Diversity Of New York City’s Neighborhoods

Photo: © Solnechnaja |

- November 15, 2013

A day in New York usually centers in mid-Manhattan, that vibrant pastiche of theaters, museums, restaurants and shops. But step away for an afternoon. Venture into the far reaches of Manhattan, into other boroughs, and discover the rich diversity of the city, the uniqueness of its offerings, its singular, fascinating worlds.

In northernmost Manhattan, for instance, one finds The Cloisters, the only museum in the United States dedicated solely to medieval art. Composed of cloisters, apses and altars taken from the ruins of 12th- to 15th-century European monasteries and reassembled as part of its building, The Cloisters is a hauntingly evocative place where you leave centuries behind and enter times before our time.

In Queens, jazz fans will find no trumpets in Louis Armstrong’s home. What they will encounter is Armstrong’s spirit in a cozy setting he called his haven, furnished just as it was when he and his wife lived here. On the wall opposite the desk where Louis wrote his books and catalogued his tape recordings hangs his portrait painted by the artist Antonio Benedetto, better known as Tony Bennett.

In the Bronx, on a triangle of land, sits the small Edgar Allan Poe Cottage. He moved here in 1846 hoping the country air would help his tubercular wife. It did not. She died the next year. Poe wrote “Annabel Lee,” “The Bells” and many of his most famous works here. It was his last home.

The borough also boasts one of the world’s greatest zoos, the Bronx Zoo, spread over 265 acres and home to more than 4,000 animals of 650 species, most housed in naturalistic habitats. Also here, The New York Botanical Garden offers 50 varied gardens and 30,000 trees across 250 acres.

Less than a half-hour from Manhattan, the Brooklyn Museum, one of the oldest and largest in the country, harbors rich collections dating back to the Egyptians and forward to contemporary art.

Returning to Manhattan for dinner, some suggestions: A French bistro awaits at Benoit. For Italian, one recommendation is SD26. For an Indian meal, go to Mitali East; for Chinese, try Old Shanghai Deluxe. For the new, the hot, the trendy, consider Lafayette, Charlie Bird or Pearl & Ash.