Planner’s Travel Series
About the series: Welcome to our ongoing travel series. These are all posts written by planning students and professionals about what to do in a given city when looking for Brunch, a Brew, or a good idea on a Budget. To cap it all off, we include a fun planning fact!
About the visit: In my previous life, I was an architect. While I have since shifted professions, a strong majority of my undergraduate friends still work in the field. As a result of the geographies of employment, most of those have settled in New York City. As a result, try to make it up to the city a couple times a year to check in on them and to visit the Big Apple.
Australian brunch is definitely never a concept I thought about until I tried the Thirsty Koala. You can get all your favorite breakfast staples with an Aussie flair, putting an inventive spin on the traditional NYC brunch. Everything from their steak and eggs to the Sheepshearer’s breakfast platter are amazing ways to start a weekend, or prep for a Sunday Funday. Their cocktails are fantastic and of course they have some Australian beers on tap. Also, I would never have thought to put Corn and Jalapeno Fritters on an Eggs Benedict, but it is so delicious that I’ve tried to make it myself (to no avail). Definitely worth the trip from Manhattan, and certainly worth it if you’re already in Astoria.
There are four things I go to New York for: my friends, the museums, the bagels, and the pizza. So, naturally, I gravitate to the bar that gives you free pizza by the slice when you order a drink. With skee ball in the back and crocodile figurines glued to the ceiling, The Crocodile Lounge is a place that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
There’s no two ways about it, even in the world of Amazon, The Strand Bookstore stands tall as a semi-magical place to buy books. It has over 18 miles of new and used books in total and four floors stacks in their main location. A relic from the past, this store has been operating for over 90 years. There are always racks of bargain books on the outside (many of which are absolute gems) to lure unsuspecting tourists inside, and the shelves are filled with enough used books that you can almost always find a great deal. If you need any suggestions, their staff is filled with helpful bibliophiles, and they keep a great blog with lists and ideas for your reading pleasure. Personally, I routinely spend hours here when I visit the City.
‘Fun’ Planning Fact
This isn’t exactly a “fun” fact, but it is fascinating. New York City has one of the most extensive public transit networks in the country, with the subway line at the very center of its system. However, most of the stations were built before the American Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. While the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has worked to increase accessibility by identifying key stations and modifying them to make them available to a wider variety of people, only 119 of the 472 New York City Subway stations are fully accessible, or roughly 25%. The result of this is that “62 of the 122 NYC neighborhoods served by a subway don’t have ADA-accessible stations” according to a report entitled Service Denied: Accessibility and the New York City Subway System, via New York Curbed.
Furthermore, because official information on which stations are accessible and to what degree is hard to come by, it has been necessary for third party entrepreneurs to develop tools to help wheelchair users navigate the system, such as Wheely, an app developed to act as an accessible guide. While the City is working on taking proactive steps to reduce this accessibility gap, it was pretty stunning to realize how far they had left to go.
Featured Image: The Statue of Liberty by William Warby via Wikipedia.
About the Author: Nora Schwaller is a licensed architect and a second-year Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in the Department of City and Regional Planning. At UNC, she focuses on resilience and disaster recovery. In this area, she is most interested in the effect of disasters on communities, population displacement, and tipping points for settlement abandonment. Prior to returning to grad school, she worked for an architecture firm in San Francisco, focusing on municipal projects.