On our second day in New York after a solid nights sleep we thought we would continue with following the footsteps of the immigrants who migrated to New York by visiting a variety of Manhattans famous multicultural neighbourhoods.
We got the subway from Union Turnpike in Queens to Chamber street in Lower Manhattan. As we exited we walked past Foley Park and turned right on Worth street which led us to Mott street, the ‘official’ beginning of the main hub of New Yorks Chinatown. Many famous books like ‘Tong Wars’ and of course many well known films including ‘The Godfather’ (it was set in Little Italy but the area is now known as Chinatown) was set here. In 2016 the area is (as far as I could tell) a far cry away from the war torn streets which it once was once upon a time. Rather than shifty looking men in trench coats holding golden laced canes you now have a bunch of family owned restaurants, souvenir and Chinese medicine shops, not to mention churches. This was our first occasion of seeing traditional Manhattan residential buildings with their red bricks, staircases and appealing architectural design. For whoever is reading this who has not been to China I would say that this particular Chinatown is one of the most similar to the real thing that I have ever seen, more so than in London.
As we continued walking we turned onto Mulberry Street. Probably one of the most famous in the neighbourhood for being the central road that leads through Little Italy, this road alone has featured in films such as Donnie Brasco, Means Streets and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. We noticed as soon as we arrived that some sort of celebration was occurring. It turns out that we picked a decent day to visit Little Italy as we stumbled across the annual ‘Feast of Saint Gennero’. Of course during the mass wave of Sicilians and Italians emigrating to New York the majority of them settled in Lower Manhattan, the East Village and areas of Brooklyn. This was one of the most prominent areas though, so in turn the biggest yearly feast of all occurs right here on Mulberry street. The streets were lined with hundreds of stalls on either side of the road, most were restaurants and stalls selling everything from Arancini, Cannolis, Pizza, Piccata, Zeppoles, Pink Lemonade and of course, Peroni. Not only were there food stalls but also carnival games, clothes shops, antique stalls and more. The area was buzzing and the sun was shining so we enjoyed walking the length of the market up and down – twice.
Continuing North we encounterd Nolita (North of Little Italy). This treasured neighbourhood had a grand variety of speciality and independent shops that is a treat for anyone looking for something unique to buy. The small, quaint area is lined with trees and bistros which also makes for a relaxing environment to have a mid afternoon coffee.
Afterwards, you can either walk along Broome or Spring street to get to SoHo. Both streets are much less quaint than Nolita in general due to lots of commercial and franchise businesses on either street, but a pleasant walk nonetheless. When you get to SoHo you will immediately notice the collection of fashionable boutique shops at every corner of the district. Unless you have a lot of money this is quite an expensive area to visit, especially as it merges with Greenwich village. Other than the shops the area is compact with nightclubs and higher end bars.
Due to the feast of San Gennero we didn’t eat at a restaurant during the day or night as we went back to the festivities on both occasions to grab a bite to eat.
The Toad Hall – In Soho, a local pub owned by a guy called ‘Smokey’. How New York can you get? Good selection of beers, very basic but charismatic at the same time.
Spring – In Nolita. A restaurant/ bar just off of Mulberry street which does $5 happy hour beers. If you have a friendly face they will offer you complimentary steamed edamame beans and snacks which was a huge plus. The staff were so friendly here also!
Houston Hall – NoHo/just below Greenwich Village. This converted car park was probably my favourite place we drank. The huge brickwork building is compact with wooden tables, TV screens and standing areas for you to sit and get comfortable in whilst you neck a stein or two.
Lederhosen – Greenwich Village. A small German bar selling cheap beer with a smile. Pretty small capacity so it was a good bar for us to sit in and wrap up the night with! Love!
Exploring the neighbourhoods of NYC is the best part about visiting this beautifully diverse city. Each district flourishes in its own way after generations of blossoming.
Little Italy 9/10
That’s it folks, thanks for reading.