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October 23rd, 2014
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'See Your City': Exploring NYC's 5 Boroughs

'See Your City': Exploring NYC's 5 Boroughs

On October 15, NYC & Company announced the launch of its newest campaign, See Your City, designed to inspire and motivate New Yorkers to explore the diverse neighborhoods and boroughs of their city. The three-month promotion, sponsored by American Express, will showcase New York City’s five boroughs as must-see destinations for locals. For more information on the campaign and featured neighborhoods, visit nycgo.com/seeyourcity.

“For visitors, a trip to New York City is a vacation of a lifetime. For a lucky 8 million, it’s just a subway ride away,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “We want to give New Yorkers a new perspective on the five boroughs. Start thinking of the more than 250 New York City neighborhoods as 250 opportunities to travel.”

As of October 15 on nycgo.com/seeyourcity, the campaign will showcase 10 neighborhoods—Arthur Avenue (the Bronx), Carroll Gardens (Brooklyn), DUMBO (Brooklyn), the Staten Island Greenbelt, Harlem (Manhattan), Hell’s Kitchen (Manhattan), Jackson Heights (Queens), Long Island City (Queens), St. George (Staten Island) and Van Cortlandt Park (the Bronx)—with editorial content featuring itinerary suggestions and video postcards. In addition, five of the highlighted neighborhoods—DUMBO, Harlem, Long Island City, St. George and Van Cortlandt Park—are being promoted through custom illustrations that draw inspiration from vintage travel posters. The creative elements highlight a unique perspective of the neighborhood’s attractions.

While the borders of Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens can feel a bit fuzzy, you know for sure you're in Carroll Gardens when you spot the uptick in Italian bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores. Named after the neighborhood's stately, signature front yards, Carroll Gardens was once the heart of Brooklyn's Italian-American population, many of whom arrived at the turn of the 20th century and found work on the Red Hook docks. As young professionals began moving into the Brooklyn neighborhood throughout the 1970s and '80s, many longtime residents moved out to Long Island and New Jersey. The neighborhood still retains much of its old-world charm, with numerous Italian food shops, restaurants, florists and funeral homes existing side by side with some of the borough's most buzzed-about new restaurants and casual-cool boutiques. Like most South Brooklyn neighborhoods, Carroll Gardens is a favorite of literary types, and its leafy streets teem with your typical tote-bag-carrying magazine editors—except these ones look a little less scraggly, a little rosier in the cheeks, a little healthier. It must be the fresh mozzarella.

With its spectacular waterfront access, thriving art scene and an architectural grandeur that's at once raw and charming, it's easy to see why DUMBO has become one of Brooklyn's most buzz-worthy neighborhoods. Less than two decades ago, the former manufacturing district (whose name stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) was largely deserted, inhabited by a few artists who had colonized its lofts; today the area is awash with art studios, technology companies and luxury residences, as well as the kinds of amenities—stellar French bakery, edgy independent bookstore, designer boutiques—that typically follow.

DUMBO is easily accessible by land or water. A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge puts you in the heart of the 'hood; Citi Bike (a terrific way to get to the neighboring piers of Brooklyn Bridge Park) has kiosks in the area; and train options abound. The F train stops a block from the Manhattan Bridge overpass (get off at York Street), and the Clark Street stop on the 2 and 3 trains and the High Street stop on the A and C are just a short walk away. Still, the most glamorous way to arrive is via the East River Ferry, which departs from Pier 11 in downtown Manhattan. The journey takes just five minutes.

This relatively small, walkable neighborhood is a joy to explore on foot (wear comfortable shoes, however, as the streets are largely paved in cobblestone). If you ever get lost here, just remember that the neighborhood slopes downhill toward the river; head in the direction of the shore, or look for the towering Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge for orientation. The good news is that no matter where you wander, you're bound to stumble upon amazing places to eat, shop and play. Here are a few worth making the trip for.

One of New York City's best-kept secrets is the Staten Island Greenbelt—a network of lush parks, wetlands, open meadows and hiking trails located in what is often referred to as NYC's "greenest borough." Protected by the Greenbelt Conservancy (in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation), this 2,800-acre natural resource is home to the City's largest remaining forest preserve—something of note in such a rapidly developing borough. Within the Greenbelt there are natural sections (some of which are accessible to the public, some not) along with more traditional parks. The Greenbelt hosts more than 1 million visitors annually and offers many activities in addition to hiking, such as birding, fitness classes, golf, tennis and carousel rides. For more about this nature-rich area, read on.

In an effort to preserve the area's natural beauty, the Greenbelt was formally designated in 1984. Spread throughout the center of the borough, the vast landmass extends from Todt Hill on the north end to Arden Heights on the south. From east to west, it's bordered by the New Dorp and Travis neighborhoods. The Greenbelt Nature Center is a good first stop on your tour. It contains exhibitions about Greenbelt history, geography, events and what there is to see in the vicinity. The center is also home to programs and other activities. The easiest way to reach the Greenbelt—and navigate it—is by car. Those without access to their own transportation can take the free-of-charge Staten Island Ferry and then catch the S62 bus, which stops at the entrance to the centrally located Willowbrook Park. Other parts of the Greenbelt are also accessible by bus; visit the Greenbelt's directions page for more information.

The Greenbelt Conservancy oversees many parks and other natural areas in Staten Island, and within its system are some of the borough's richest green spaces. The cornerstone of the Greenbelt is High Rock Park, known for its deeply wooded areas, quiet ponds and various wetlands. Designated a Natural Environmental Education Landmark by the US Department of the Interior in 1971, High Rock Park contains the Greenbelt Conservancy's headquarters. Also part of the Greenbelt is Willowbrook Park, home to hiking trails, tennis courts, baseball and archery fields, a lake, shaded picnic grove, playground and the famous Carousel for All Children (open May–October). Freshkills Park was once the world's largest landfill but is currently being transformed into a space dedicated to environmental sustainability and ecological restoration. The park will be constructed in phases over the next 30 years, and upon its completion, it will be the largest park developed in the City in more than 100 years. (It will be nearly three times the size of Central Park.)

The number of activities available in the Greenbelt seems endless: fishing, birding, hiking, sports, family activities, classes—and the list goes on. The best way to experience the abundance of nature is via the 35 miles of hiking trails. There are six trails to choose from, offering various experiences for people of differing abilities—the Blue, White and Red Trails are easier to navigate, while the Yellow Trail is the most physically demanding. Other options include the Nature Center Trail and Multipurpose Trail. The La Tourette Park Golf Course was once a flourishing family-run farm that was sold to the City in 1928 and designated a New York City Landmark in 1973. The 1870 mansion that sits on the land is now used as the public golf course's clubhouse. Also included are a putting green and driving range to help you refine your skills. Runners will enjoy taking part in the annual Fall Flat 5K run that takes place before Thanksgiving and is suitable for novices and veterans alike. Take advantage of the many indoor activities offered in the Greenbelt Recreation Center, including tai chi, ballroom dance classes, after-school programs for children ages 6–13, piano lessons and computer-training classes. The Greenbelt Nature Center and carousel are available to rent for private parties.

In addition to the many activities offered, the Greenbelt affords the opportunity to observe the local flora and fauna. Spend your time exploring the assortment of plants that call Staten Island home, including red maples, highbush blueberries and patches of skunk cabbage. The Greenbelt also houses a significant amount of wildlife, such as muskrats, frogs, turtles, snakes, deer, geese and several types of fish—some of which can be seen up close as part of the catch-and-release program here. Birdwatchers can revel in the many avian species that can be found in these parts, like blue herons, woodpeckers, migrating colorful warblers, juncos, white-throated sparrows, finches, owls and many more.

Once an epicenter of manufacturing, Long Island City is now home to one of the City's most exciting art scenes. The neighborhood is dotted with turn-of-the-20th-century industrial buildings that have been transformed into galleries, museums and studios, and there's a fast-growing list of must-visit restaurants, shops and performance venues.

But the neighborhood is more than a great day trip. It's also an excellent place to stay. There are around two dozen hotels here (with more under construction), most built within the past few years, including major chains as well as boutique properties. Among them are Fairfield Inn New York Long Island City/Manhattan View, Holiday Inn Manhattan View - Long Island City, Wyndham Garden Long Island City/Manhattan View, Nesva Hotel – New York City Vista and Z NYC Hotel.

Best of all, getting to Midtown Manhattan from Long Island City is surprisingly fast. It's just one stop from Grand Central Terminal on the 7 train, cab fare is reasonable and some hotels offer free shuttle service to Manhattan or nearby subway stops. You can even travel by boat: the East River Ferry regularly serves the neighborhood straight from FDR Drive and East 34th Street.

And then there are the views. Whether you're relaxing in Gantry Plaza (a 12-acre state park located on the river) or having a drink at the rooftop bar of your hotel, you'll enjoy some of the best vistas of the Manhattan skyline. So pack a suitcase or at least a day bag—Long Island City has so much to see, eat and explore, you can keep busy for days on end.

Whether you're looking to take a hike, take a class, have a picnic, ride the carousel or sign your child up for summer camp, the Greenbelt has it all. Further details about the programs, classes and other activities can be found by visiting sigreenbelt.org, which also contains a calendar of events and information about the many ways you can help preserve this area.

“With See Your City, we were challenged with the task of selling New York City to New Yorkers, and our goal was to create inspiration to convince New Yorkers to explore their own backyards,” said Emily Lessard, creative director of NYC & Company. “By referencing vintage travel posters and passport stamps, we reframe the familiar as foreign and idealized, and we’re able to grab the attention of New Yorkers with video content that has clever yet unexpected and aspirational tones.”

The See Your City campaign will be promoted through bus shelters across the five boroughs; frequent posts on NYC & Company’s Facebook (facebook.com/nycgo), Instagram (instagram.com/nycgo and instagram.com/seeyourcity), and Twitter (twitter.com/nycgo and twitter.com/nycgo_press) accounts; commercials running in NYC taxicabs; digital and print media targeting New York City residents; and through American Express’ digital channels. From October 15–December 31, 20 social media ambassadors with a combined reach of more than 400,000 followers on Instagram will help promote the program by sharing images with the official hashtag #seeyourcity. Additionally, NYC & Company invites everyone to share their must-see picks in New York City’s five boroughs on social media with the campaign hashtag.

 

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