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from May/June 2005
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Insider's New York
Text by Andrew Nelson    Photograph by Susan Seubert
Insider's New York
The Shearwater, an 82-foot schooner,  ferries passengers to the Statue of Liberty.

The Big Apple still leads the way with its world-class cuisine, great hotels, and an extravaganza of museums, shops, shows, and vibrant neighborhoods. And who better to point you in the right direction than savvy New Yorkers?

Everything changes in New York, and nothing does. The Rockettes still one-two-three kick up their heels over at Radio City Music Hall. George Washington's statue still watches over Wall Street. The Veselka Restaurant keeps pouring coffee in the East Village; the White Horse Tavern still pours beer in the West. There's breakfast at Tiffany's, lunch at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal, and dinner at Tavern on  the Green in Central Park. David Letterman remains at the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway, his reruns at the Museum of Television & Radio on West 52nd Street. You can't find a cab in the rain, but you can always get a bagel with a schmear just about anywhere.

Yet this city that never sleeps keeps evolving. Plays open and close. Restaurants come and go. New neighborhoods blossom. In Chelsea, the old Barneys store is now the new Rubin Museum of Himalayan art. Thanks to a gaggle of small Indian restaurants, Murray Hill is now "Curry Hill." NoLiTa—North Of Little ITAly—is now far more SoHo than Palermo. And where butchers' boots once clumped in the Meatpacking District, the cobblestones click with flocks of high-heeled fashionistas crowding into the newest nightspot. There's a hamburger stand, the Shake Shack, in Madison Square Park. You can buy organic vegetables at the Union Square farmers market or cotton to a reviving Harlem. Even Brooklyn has found its groove. Such churn keeps the 8,085,742 New Yorkers on their toes even as it makes them appreciate the old favorites all the more.

And Traveler gets it down. We ask New Yorkers to share with us their oldest faves and newest raves. The list is long, but as hometown boy Donald Trump says: "If you're going to be thinking, you may as well think big."

New York always does. A jazz center starts up in Lincoln Center; a Freedom Tower will rise near where the Twin Towers fell. Yet the old is better than ever: Lady Liberty remains green; the Greek diner take-out coffee cups stay blue; and the little lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge is, of course, still red. The Bronx is still north and the Battery south. New York is still a helluva town.

31 Smart Ways to Experience the Best of New York City

1. Check out the new department stores
"Everyone thinks New York department stores are Macy's or Bloomingdale's—big and rich," says set designer Susan Block. "But there are smaller, ethnic stores that sell a variety of things, too. Pearl River [477 Broadway; 800 878 2446 (U.S. and Canada)] is an amazing Chinese department store—great for dishes, T-shirts, and slippers. I like the Indian food and sari stores in the East 20s. They sell teas, chutneys, spices, and fabrics. And I like Kalustyan's [123 Lexington Ave.; +1 212 685 3451]. There's a tearoom upstairs, or you can go to any nearby Indian restaurant for a good, cheap lunch."

2. Pump your pedals in Central Park
"I call Central Park 'Essential Park.' It's my solace," says Alisa Rashish, member of Century Road Club Association, the country's oldest bike-racing club. "From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, and all day on weekends, a 6.3-mile loop closes to traffic in Central Park. It makes for a terrific bike ride. Start in the park's Boat House parking lot. You're able to rent individual bikes and tandems there. You can see the best of Central Park in an afternoon ride that takes you past the carousel, the dairy—which serves as the park's information center—and the reservoir. It's a pretty loop with beautiful views of the skyline. The ride's safe. Cars are banned. Where can you find that in another large city?"

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