Its most famous tourist attractions are in Manhattan, but each of New York’s FIVE BOROUGHS is home to diverse entertainment.
For the traveler headed to New York City — and it doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or a neophyte — several famous attractions guarantee an enjoyable visit: Broadway shows, Times Square, the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty and FAO Schwarz. Dining options also feature famous destinations: Katz’s Delicatessen and Carnegie Deli, Delmonico’s and 21 Club, Le Cirque and Le Bernardin, and what seems like a couple of thousand charming corner trattorias in Little Italy.
All of those deserve fame but, contrary to conventional tourist theory, there is so much more to see and experience in New York City and each of its five boroughs than only the staples of Manhattan. Consider:
On Aug. 11, 1973, Clive Campbell, better known as DJ Kool Herc (for his herculean physique), threw a party in the recreation room at 1520 Sedgwick Ave. in the Morris Heights neighborhood of the Bronx. The party was a fundraiser for his sister, Cindy, to buy some new clothes for the upcoming school term — 25 cents for the “ladies” to get in, 50 cents for the “fellas.” Announcements were drawn up on index cards and handed out around the neighborhood. About 300 people showed up, but it was the Bronx’s creative spirit that came through that day with the birth of a new form of music: hip-hop.
Happily these days, Bronx artists have many more platforms than rented rec rooms for artistic expression. The fires that ravaged the borough in the 1970s now light a more creative spirit.
Go and check out the new accordion-shaped wing at The Bronx Museum of the Arts, which houses a permanent collection of contemporary works by African, Asian and Latin artists, as well as works by artists who have found their inspiration in the Bronx.
The most successful native artists may earn a commemorative plaque on the Grand Concourse as part of the Bronx’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Along the promenade, hip-hop stars like Afrika Bambaataa, KRS-One and Grandmaster Flash rub edges with Stanley Kubrick, Regis Philbin and Jake LaMotta.
The Grand Concourse is a regular stop for the Bronx Culture Trolley, sponsored by the Bronx Council on the Arts the first Wednesday of every month and select Saturdays. Created in 2002, the free service transports visitors to and from the borough’s hottest exhibitions and entertainment establishments in an early-20th-century trolley replica.
If the trolley doesn’t stop at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, make sure you do before leaving the Bronx. The centerpiece of the new campus at Hostos Community College, the center includes an art gallery, a 367-seat theater and a 907-seat concert hall, which often host performances and exhibitions with the edge and attitude that the Bronx is known for.
At night, Bronx spirit reaches perhaps its fullest expression at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, a state-of-the-art, 2,300-seat concert hall on the campus of Lehman College. The schedule is pure energy, with everything from Brazilian dance troupes and salsa bands to golden-age hip-hop artists.