What are the sites in New York that mean something to you? Yesterday, my sister and I drove into New York. We took the Third Avenue Bridge, which is at the very top of Manhattan, and then you get on FDR Drive, which you can take all the way down around the lower tip of Manhattan, and then it turns into the West Side Highway. You can just keep going straight up to Westchester. You can see the whole city that way. My sister is not from New York. I would say, "Oh, look, there is the hospital where my daughter was born," and when we passed NYU, I'd say, "Look, that's Sutton Place, and it's a really lovely area with these old-fashioned houses." We went around Manhattan in a loop and you can sort of see everything: Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Wall Street. I love driving all the way around Manhattan because it is so small and you can do it; it takes no time at all. The other thing I always say to people in New York is don't be afraid to ask people for directions. People here are incredibly friendly. They might seem blunt, but usually they are just fast. New Yorkers love to give their opinions. They love to tell you where to eat; they love to tell you which is the best way to go. They love to do that.
Where's the best place to see the Manhattan skyline? Brooklyn Heights is a lovely area, very picturesque, and you can kind of see Manhattan from the Promenade. That's another nice walk. If you decide to go to Brooklyn, you could walk along the Promenade and see most of the Manhattan skyline. From Flatbush Avenue, in Brooklyn [where the skyline scene from Saturday Night Fever was filmed], you just see all of southern Manhattan. The other view of New York that I love is when you are coming in from Kennedy Airport on the Long Island Expressway toward New York. You sort of see all these buildings, and then the city starts getting bigger and bigger and bigger. New York literally looks like Oz. It truly does.
After you arrived, what did you discover that people don't know? The big misconception about New York is that it's a tough city to get to know and a tough city to belong in. Having lived all over the world, I discovered that the contrary is true. It is a city of great community, a tremendous sense of belonging. People live in these really kind of tightly focused little areas. It's like living in a small town. People always say that New Yorkers are the most provincial people in the world. In a way, we are, because we care so much about our city. It's a place where everybody is incredibly tolerant, like everything goes here. You can kind of do and be whatever you want, and yet you are able to have community and also a certain amount of anonymity at the same time. There is a tolerance, like, hey, be who you want to be no matter what, but you can still belong.
Where do you send your friends to stay when they come to visit? There's a cute little guesthouse in my neighborhood, the Abingdon Square Guest House. It's a little town house. The other place I love is the Inn at Irving Place, in a beautiful area of New York, Gramercy Park, which is just incredibly charming. That is just a lovely place to walk around.
Where do you do your shopping? Well, I try not to leave my neighborhood. I mean, Stella McCartney is on 14th Street. Scoop is on Washington; that's a great place for casual clothes and stuff. There is kind of an interesting place called Dernier Cri, which [has clothing by] young, offbeat designers. There is a jewelry shop that I love called Ten Thousand Things. I have a lot of their jewelry. The designers are two guys. They are in Chelsea, near where my son took karate, so that's how I discovered the store. In SoHo, Marni is great for women's clothing. Marc Jacobs is there. The Prada store is fantastic. I'm a big furniture shopper, and there's a place called Lobel Modern on West 18th Street, just off Seventh Avenue. There is a store on Franklin Street that I also love, called Antik. They have beautiful Scandinavian furniture. One good shopping place in SoHo is Kirna Zabete. They have great taste and really interesting clothing. And the Strand Book Store is an amazing place. They have all these used books and also review copies for less than what you pay in a normal bookstore. It's a different experience than what we are used to with Barnes & Noble. You can actually find a first edition.