The Other New York
A different, better, and cheaper way to enjoy a renowned city
In a city heavily visited by tourists, the difference between the life of the resident and that of the tourist can be gigantic. The two groups inhabit different areas, patronize different restaurants and shops, pursue their entertainment in different places. And most people would agree that the resident-in cities ranging from Venice to Phoenix to London-makes a far more profound and rewarding use of the city than the tourist does. No city better illustrates that point than New York. In this, the first of a series that will deal two months from now with London and then with Paris and elsewhere, Budget Travel explores the life led by New Yorkers, not tourists, and the institutions patronized by them, all in an effort to suggest a better approach to the city for an out-of-town visitor.
The "other New York" starts with theater that challenges the mind-something found in New York and a tiny handful of other large cities, but rarely anywhere else. Especially in America, most theaters are places of pure spectacle, escapism, or soothing music meant only to entertain; in New York, theater is a source of provocative new ideas, lifestyles, and beliefs. Though residents may occasionally go to the same splashy Broadway musicals as the tourist, they also patronize a form of more serious drama rarely seen by the tourist: the 200 or so Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theaters in neighborhoods removed from the low-life glitter of Times Square. At least 80 of those "Offs" and "Off-Offs" are described and critically discussed in each issue of Time Out New York ($2.99), found on all newsstands. Consider, for your own dip into cutting-edge theater, the New York Theater Workshop (it developed the show Rent) at 79 East 4th Street, 212/460-5475, $35 a seat, but students pay only $15, senior citizens (over 65) $28, tickets for Sunday night shows $20; the Public Theater (originated A Chorus Line), 425 Lafayette Street, 212/260-2400, about $50 to $60, $15 rush tickets a half hour before showtime unless sold out; Brooklyn Academy of Music for dance, theater, and concerts, 30 Lafayette Avenue and 651 Fulton Street, both in Brooklyn, 718/636-4100, $25 to $75, student/senior rush tickets $10; P.S. 122 (the city's top venue for avant-garde theater and dance), 150 1st Avenue, 212/477-5288, $15 seats. --Pauline Frommer
Wholly apart from the theater scene, New York is matched only by London in the number and variety of its free or nominally priced evening events (seminars, protests, celebrity signings, readings, and more) to which residents-but few tourists-flock every night. Time Out New York lists most of them, and just as important is the free-of-charge Village Voice, distributed in red dispensers around town. Bulletin boards at bookstores, cafZs, and visitor centers should also be consulted, particularly those near the city's colleges. Off Washington Square Park, at the NYU Information Center (50 W. 4th St., Room 123, 212/998-4636), windows are plastered with flyers, and free copies of Square Notes list the month's events. Uptown at Columbia University, a similar blizzard of postings is found around Alfred Lerner Hall (on your right through the small gate at 115th St. and Broadway). Or simply go online: columbia.edu/cu/news/calendar and nyu.edu/events. --Brad Tuttle
The changing art scene
Scores of art galleries supplement Gotham's many museums and are absolutely free. The best time to gallery-hop is Friday night, when many spaces hold new-show openings where you can meet the artists and scarf down classy nibbles and free wine. But you won't find the freshest, most exciting up-and-coming talents in SoHo or on 57th Street anymore. The scene today centers on the industrial buildings of Chelsea (20th to 30th Sts. between 10th and 11th Aves.). First to colonize this area was SoHo stalwart Paula Cooper (534 W. 21st St.) and her blue-chip catalog (think Andy Warhol). Other heavy hitters to set up shop in Chelsea include gargantuan Gagosian (555 W. 24th St.); Metro Pictures (519 W. 24th St.); Matthew Marks (522 W. 22nd St. and 523 W. 24th St.); and for photography Sean Kelly (526 W. 29th St.). Don't miss the DIA Foundation's new spaces (545 and 548 W. 22nd St.), or Printed Matter bookshop (535 W. 22nd St.). Looking for hotter, less established artists? The art world's rising stars are at Cheim and Read (547 W. 25th St.), Marianne Boesky (535 W. 22nd St.), Feature Inc. (530 W. 25th St.), and Derek Eller (530 W. 25th St., #2). To help your art search, The New Yorker magazine lists major shows weekly. Also check out artreach.com or pick up Gallery Guide (which nests on gallery windowsills) and discover the newest spaces in the true starving-artist neighborhoods: Williamsburg (Brooklyn), Harlem, and the Bronx.--Reid Bramblett