I have a great little book to tell you about: Off the Beaten (Subway) Track - New York City's Best Unusual Attractions, by Suzanne Reisman.
Suzanne and I knew each other briefly through the Haven Coalition, the abortion "underground railroad" network, although she was coming in while I was on my way out. She's a travel writer and editor, and I can see by her book that she's someone who knows New York intimately.
Although I've lived in Canada for three years - and although we chose to live in the suburbs here - there is a part of me that will always be a New Yorker. I wouldn't look twice at a standard New York City guidebook. They're usually geared towards the least adventurous tourists, often highlighting attractions that I would never recommend. But Off the Beaten (Subway) Track made me wistful and homesick, and that's a tribute to what a real "inside New York" book it is.
Some of the sights Suzanne highlights are small museums, like the Skyscraper Museum, the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, and the Ukrainian Museum. Others are little freebies tucked away in larger or commercial settings, like the United Nations Sculpture Garden, the Corning Gallery at Steuben Glass, or the Steinway Piano Factory tour.
She includes the bizarre (a Troll Museum), the unheralded (Museum of Art and Origins), and a few that even most diehard New Yorkers probably don't know (the Poppenhusen Institute). And she includes a few that sights that are, for me, mainstays, like the New York City Panorama in the Queens Museum of Art.
The book is organized geographically, and includes tips on what else you might want to see while you're in the neighbourhood. The section on Upper Manhattan, where I lived for 15 years, is particularly good.
The book is written in a light, breezy style, sprinkled with the writer's personal thoughts and musings as she explored each attraction. She's an excellent tour guide, telling you just enough to get you intrigued.
I was pleased to note that I've been to a fair number of the attractions in the book, because I loved exploring the City, especially the smaller attractions. When I started this blog, I wrote a series of posts called "a year to say goodbye". My goal was to visit all the places on the "New York to-do" list I had compiled over the years.
My project was underway when a huge, well-paid, but high-pressure writing assignment landed in my lap, turning my final months in New York into a pressure cooker (but later allowing us a month off when we first arrived, so we enjoyed settling in without looking for work, an amazing luxury). So my plans got a bit derailed and scattered. Perhaps that was inevitable.
Many of the sights from my "year to say goodbye" list are in Off the Beaten (Subway) Track, like the Louis Armstrong House (my post here), and Socrates Sculpture Park.
But I was also pleased that the book lists many sights I haven't been to, and a few I had never heard of, reminding me there is always more New York City to explore.
Book website here.