The Companion Guide to New York new edition

A must for all educated and intelligent travellers. Auberon Waugh, BUSINESS TRAVELLER

A true traveller’s companion and friend. SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

Michael Leapman’s acclaimed Guide was first published in 1983 and revised in 2000. It includes, therefore, references to the World Trade Center that are now deeply poignant. It’s not a guide to the city as it is now, rather it’s a vivid snapshot first taken in the 80s, that extraordinary time of growth and development, brought into sharper focus for the new millennium and since left untouched. This New York can still be visited in films, fiction and art and has left an indelible impression on the world’s consciousness. Let Michael Leapman introduce you to this incredible city.

On cafés on the Lower East Side:

There are two dozen or so good-looking Italian restaurants, each with its devotees, the best offering an attractive old-fashioned European atmosphere with polished wood, white tablecloths and napkins. Interspersed among them are tempting pastry shops and ice cream parlours. The Caffé Roma, at the junction of Mulberry and Broome Streets, has an adjoining bakery for the production of its robust pastries. If you arrive here at about tea-time, venture into the small café, with its narrow marble-topped tables, to sample a pastry or, if it is a hot day, one of the Italian versions of ice cream soda, a lemon water ice in a drink flavoured with almond, cherry, granadine or tamarind.

Chapter Five, The Lower East Side and SoHo, p. 85.

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The Empire State Building

On the Empire State Building:

It is not worth the price of admission to the top if the visibility, indicated on a board in the ticket office, is less than two miles, but it costs nothing to go into the marvellous grey and brown marble lobby on the ground floor, where illuminated panels along the 34th Street side illustrate the seven wonders of the ancient world and offer the interesting statistic that if you piled all seven one on top of the other, they would not reach the top of the eighth wonder, the Empire State Building. Here, too, is the entrance to the Skyride, a simulated roller-coaster and helicopter ride through the city. The illumination of the building’s spire and upper portion changes colour on special occasions: white and yellow for Easter; green for St Patrick’s Day; red, white and blue for elections and patriotic holidays, and blue and white if the New York Yankees win the World Series. The viewing gallery at the top is open until midnight and the view at night can be as spectacular as by day.

Chapter Eight, The Garment District and the Department Stores, p. 132.

On the New York Public Library:

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Bridge and statue: The Statue of Liberty, with Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges in the foreground

Outside, the broad front steps – a favourite al fresco snacking area – are flanked by marble lions. Sculptures alongside the entrance depict truth and beauty, and above them are philosophy, romance, religion, poetry, drama and history. At the top of the steps, the elaborate entrance lobby is a confection of crisp, clean-cut marble, its square pillars supporting Romanesque arches. Here, at the desk on the left, you may join a tour, led by enthusiastic volunteers; they are free and last an hour (no reservation necessary).

Chapter Nine, Forty-second Street, p. 148.

On Central Park:

The popular metaphor for Central Park is a valve letting the steam escape from the pressure cooker city. On a hot summer Sunday, though, the reverse image is more appropriate: the park itself becomes the pressure cooker as people pour into it to celebrate their youth, their age, their bodies, their freedom and the pleasures of the senses. They come on bicycles, roller blades, or their sometimes unshod feet, bringing frisbees, dogs, cats, books, magazines, newspapers, chess sets, musical instruments, portable CD players, things to eat, drink, and smoke. People stroll, sit, lie, jog, hold hands, embrace, play games, push prams, dance, smile or simply watch others doing those things. It is not a place for quiet relaxation but for renewal, for affirmation of a common humanity. It is here, rather than on Wall Street or Fifth Avenue, that New York’s character is most concisely expressed.

Chapter 11, Sutton Place and Central Park, p. 188.

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The Companion Guide to New York new edition
By Michael Leapman
9781900639323, Paperback, £13 or $16.87