Pembury Partners Travel Diaries: New York City
New York City goes by many names – The Big Apple, The City that Never Sleeps, acronymised to NYC, or simply The City to locals. However it was originally called New Amsterdam when it was founded by the Dutch in 1624. Its name was changed to New York 40 years later when the land was granted to the Duke of York, brother of the English King Charles the second. Today the five boroughs comprise the most densely populated city in the United States, home to around 9 million people.
It might well be true that everyone on the planet knows something about or has at least heard of New York City. Many of us will have visited at some point, but for those who haven’t it’s worth mentioning that it would be impossible to compile a single article on everything you can see and do, everywhere you should go and everything you ought to know. Nevertheless, as we at Pembury Partners are currently working on a new role in the area we thought it would be nice to touch on a few highlights, and share a few helpful hints on navigating the city.
To start with a myth: New Yorkers are not rude. They are generally busy and in a hurry, but they’re immensely proud of their fast-paced city, and most would be happy to point you in the right direction.
Whilst the iconic yellow (and sometimes green) taxis are plentiful and can easily be hailed in the street, or you might well have your own limo and driver for the duration of your visit, many still consider that the easiest and certainly the quickest way to get around is a combination of using the subway and walking. The NYC Ferry is also well worth a trip, and it goes without saying that comfortable shoes are a necessity.
If you’re negotiating the city on foot it’s worth remembering that the sidewalks (pavements, for us British types) have their own unofficial traffic regulations – first, never just stop walking in the middle of the sidewalk, find a place by the side or suchlike. You’ll also notice that there are what appear to be lanes of traffic, with people on one side walking in one direction and people on the other side the other.
Traffic is famously crazy in New York City – beware cyclists (and be aware of the cycle paths), taxis, buses and so on. They might well not travel in straight lines when expected to. Having said that, local New Yorkers don’t tend to wait for the “Walk” signs to light before crossing the street, they’ll simply take a quick look and dive in.
Iconic is a horribly over- and mis- used word, but it can legitimately be applied to several of the hotels in NYC. Just a few of these are:
The Waldorf Astoria New York has no less than 26 Presidential suites, every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt having stayed there at one time or another. It is, at time of writing, closed for renovation, reopening in April 2023. We can’t wait to see it.
301 Park Ave, New York, NY 10022, United States https://www.waldorftowers.nyc
The Plaza is an official NYC landmark, sitting at the south-eastern corner of Central Park. At over a century old, The Plaza featured in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and underwent a major renovation in 2008.
768 5th Ave, New York, NY 10019, United States https://www.fairmont.com/the-plaza-new-york
Built in 1904, St. Regis New York is suitably regal, as the name suggests. Chandeliers, white-gloved butlers, gold leaf, and legend has it that the Bloody Mary cocktail was invented here.
Two E 55th St, New York, NY 10022, United States https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/nycxr-the-st-regis-new-york
On the Upper East Side, The Carlyle has been quietly providing restful sleep to presidents and celebrities since the 1930s – supposedly, JFK and Marilyn Monroe stayed here, but we’re not ones to spread rumours…
35 E 76th St, New York, NY 10021, United States https://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/the-carlyle-new-york
Another classic New York hotel hailing back to the 1930s, The Pierre is famous for its muraled ground floor Rotunda, and is well worth a visit even if you’re not staying there.
2 E 61st St, New York, NY 10065, United States https://www.thepierreny.com
New York is home to some of the world’s best known, and most expensive, fine-dining restaurants. A small selection:
Jean-Georges is analogous to the very idea of fine dining, and has over its 25 years accrued any number of the highest awards.
1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023, United States https://www.jean-georges.com
Le Bernardin has retained its reputation for seafood for decades, holding three Michelin stars since 2005. Whilst modernised in recent years it remains beautifully formal in the traditional haute French style.
155 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019, United States https://www.le-bernardin.com
The Modern overlooks MoMA’s sculpture garden, and from the beauty of the dishes themselves to the Porsche steak knives, this contemporary American restaurant aims to compete with the artwork.
9 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, United States https://www.themodernnyc.com
Atomix opened its doors in 2013, and is quite unlike anywhere else. An unassuming entrance leads to a futuristic dining room, and there are no menus – instead a series of collectors cards accompanies the 10-course tasting menu.
104 E 30th St, New York, NY 10016, United States https://www.atomixnyc.com
Another restaurant with an ever-evolving multi-course tasting menu is Momofuku Ko. It’s recently moved to a somewhat larger premesis, where diners can watch the chefs “fully transparent cooking process” from the counter.
8 Extra Pl, New York, NY 10003, United States https://ko.momofuku.com