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January 23, 2021

NEW YORK CITY’S FORGOTTEN BOROUGHS

Tourists flocking to New York City all seem to converge in Manhattan, only one of 5 boroughs. When your plane lands at either LaGuardia or JFK airports, you are in the borough of Queens. Take advantage of it, as accommodations can be less expensive easily accessible to Manhattan and certainly has enough to see and do.

Long Island City and Astoria are the closest communities to the island of Broadway and rich in culture and arts. The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum, 32-37 Vernon Blvd. (718-204-7088) houses over 200 works by this world-renowned sculptor. Socrates Sculpture Park, Broadway at Vernon Blvd. (718-956-1819) happens to be the only public space devoted to the exhibition of large-scale outdoor sculptures.

Manhattan may be the home to the Museum of Radio and Television, but when it comes to movies, Astoria (the city’s most established Greek neighborhood) houses the Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Ave. at 36th St., (718-784-0077) featuring historical movie exhibits and film screenings.

Back in 1939 the World’s Fair was located at what is now Flushing Meadow-Corona Park. You know that you’re in Provincetown when you see the Pilgrim Monument and you know you’re at this park when you see the famous Unisphere.

The most historic building that still remains from the 1939 fair is the Queens Museum of Art (718-592-9700). After the fair it became the location of the first General Assembly of the United Nations. It was at this site, in 1948, that a proclamation was issued and signed declaring Israel as state. The building was then converted to a venue for both ice and roller skating. Along came the 1964 World’s Fair where it was transformed into the New York City Pavilion with its special indoor ride, a tour that allowed you to view an exact panoramic replica of the five boroughs of NYC. The ride is gone, but the replica had been updated, so as you walk around, you can even find your home. Oh, yes, one half of the building went back to being an indoor ice skating rink.

In close proximity is Queens Theatre in the Park (718-760-0064), formerly the 1964 NY State Pavilion. You’ll recognize the tower used in the movie “Men In Black”. The theatre is an excellent alternative to off-Broadway shows.

Walk across the foot bridge and you’ll see the Hall of Science (718-699-0675), another leftover from 1964. It’s one of the best hands on Science centers in the U.S. The Queens Zoo (718-271-1500) is nearby. Small, but worth visiting.

If you happen to be here during the U.S. Open, the new Arthur Ashe Stadium, part of the USTA National Tennis Center (718-760-6200) is in walking distance of the Queens Museum. Just across the way from the park is the home of the Mets, Shea Stadium. The area is quite accessible along the historic #7 line. Historic, because it takes you from one ethnic neighborhood to another: Irish, South American, East Indian and ending in downtown Flushing, the best alternative to being in Chinatown.

Yes, sample the food here. Cantonese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, and Korean, just to name a few. If you’ve never tasted Bubble Tea, a flavored ice tea with large tapioca and milk, this is the place to do so. Bakeries, groceries, fresh fish, meats, produce and heavens knows what imported from Asia.

One thing you can expect in the borough of Queens is a restaurant of any cuisine in the world.

Brooklyn, home to Coney Island and the borough that abuts Queens, has its share of ethnic populations and attractions as well. The Coney Island area of Sheepshead Bay is noted for its Russian immigrants. You may want to skip having a Nathan’s hot dog and opt for some salmon caviar with a shot of vodka.

One of New York’s major attractions, the New York Aquarium (718-265-FISH), is in this area. Located at Surf Avenue and W. 8th St., it is home to many aqua wildlife and loads of fun for the whole family.

Forget the stories you hear about the Bronx, home to Yankee Stadium. The Bronx is actually the only borough on the mainland. Queens and Brooklyn are part of Long Island and both Manhattan and Staten Island are islands of its own.

Most of the boroughs have their own botanical gardens, but not like the Bronx Botanical Gardens (718-817-8700). Huge and absolutely breathtaking! A minimum half day’s event. What’s more is that the gardens are directly across from the Bronx Zoo, River Pkwy and Fordham Rd. (718-367-1010), the largest urban zoo in the country. Experience the riches of the Bronx by taking the free Bronx Tour Trolley, available on weekends. The trolley provides a convenient link from the Fordham Plaza Metro-North station to the Bronx Zoo, The New York Botanical Garden, and Arthur Avenue (home to Bronx’s Little Italy) at 187th Street. For a schedule and more information, visit www.ilovethebronx.com or call (718) 590-3518.

Have I left out Staten Island? Sorry. To be honest, it’s one borough that I barely frequent. It’s only accessible by ferry or bridge. Oh yeah, I did go there last year when the New York Sharks had their venue there for two games.

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