In the middle of New York Harbor lies 172 grassy acres that were closed to the public for more than 200 years. But now a free, seven-minute ferry ride takes urbanites to the revamped oasis every weekend. “Governors Island is like a pastoral, artsy wonderland a stone’s throw away from the towering skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan,” explains Courtney E. Martin (GAL ’04), NYU Alumni Magazine contributing writer and author of Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists (Beacon Press). Martin is drawn to the isle for its outdoor sculpture garden, miles of car-free biking, and history: It was originally used as a military outpost, and Fort Jay still stands as a national monument with ranger-guided tours. Today, the island has a more bohemian vibe, with frequent exhibitions and a whimsical miniature golf course with 18 holes that were each designed by a different artist. The park also hosts an array of concerts, crafts workshops, and special events such as the Jazz Age Lawn Party, where visitors dress in 1920s attire for Charleston lessons, live music, and a vintage motorcar show. If you’re simply looking for some R&R, head to Picnic Point, where stunning views of the harbor and Statue of Liberty may be enjoyed from free-standing hammocks in the grass. Says Martin: “In one little boat ride, you feel like you are a world away.”
Governors Island is open Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays from May through September.
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Last year, 4.2 million Americans tuned in to watch the final match of the UEFA Champions League—Europe’s most prestigious soccer club tournament—and that’s not counting the hordes of fans that flocked to sports bars in New York City. “Watching a big game at a bar is the next best thing to actually being there,” says NYU men’s soccer forward Kyle Green (CAS ’13). “There’s a buzz in the air that you just don’t get watching at home—which turns into a frenzy when goals are scored.” Green, who turned 21 last fall, stops by campus hangout Josie Woods Pub to catch games between classes. But on weekends, he heads to Dempsey’s in the East Village to watch the European footballers duke it out on the bar’s 10 mounted plasma screens. “It allows you to watch multiple games at once, which is great for Champions League when half of the teams are all playing at the same time,” Green explains. The pub also offers pool and darts to go with its beer and hot wings. And when the U.S.-Europe time difference means early-morning matches for American fans, there’s always Dempsey’s traditional Irish breakfast—served with a pint, of course.
61 Second Avenue, 212-388-0662;
Thirsty for a Throwback
It’s hard to believe that carbonated water was once a rare import, but before giants like Coke and Pepsi took over, soda jerks used to mix drinks to order with freshly made syrups in shops across the country. The difference between the two is made crystal clear at the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, where instead of chemicals and additives, they make their own cola syrup with cinnamon, nutmeg, lavender, and citrus peels.
Co-founder Peter Freeman spent a year and a half cleaning the long-closed Carroll Gardens drugstore but couldn’t throw away the 1940s ointment tins and medicine jars that now adorn the shop’s antique wooden shelves. “It’s nostalgia reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting,” says Brooklynite Tim Senft (GAL ’99), deputy director of strategic communications at NYU. “The fact that the ingredients are locally sourced is an added bonus, because you know you’re getting quality nostalgia.”
All-natural ice cream from Hudson Valley’s Adirondack Creamery is used to create artisanal floats in sodas like lime or hibiscus, as well as sundaes topped with whipped cream, caramel, and broken pretzels. No shop would be complete without a fizzy egg cream, and the Brooklyn Farmacy puts its own spin on the classic with flavors like coffee, strawberry, and maple in autumn. The menu changes with the seasons, so this spring brings specials such as the cherry blossom shake and “Rhapsody in Blue”—fresh blueberry soda filled with black raspberry ice cream. For lunch, try the “Grumble, Grumble,” which gets you grilled cheese, soup, and an egg cream for less than 10 bucks.
513 Henry Street in Brooklyn, 718-522-6260;
All That Jazz
“New York City is exceptional in that it has the greatest jazz clubs in the world,” says David Schroeder, director of jazz studies at Steinhardt. When he’s not teaching, Schroeder (STEINHARDT ’93) performs with his faculty ensemble Combo Nuvo at renowned venues such as the Blue Note and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola—the uptown, upscale Jazz at Lincoln Center nightclub that overlooks Central Park. For a more bohemian joint, he suggests Smalls, which is as intimate as its name implies. The downtown dive features up-and-coming musicians who jam all night long, and just $10 buys admission to its after-hours sessions, which sometimes last until 8 am.
But New York’s most legendary club, the Village Vanguard, has been around since 1935 and is known as the genre’s mecca. “It’s the quintessential jazz club in the basement of an old building, and it has a totally unique acoustical sound,” Schroeder explains. In fact, the triangular-shaped room allows sound waves to reverberate and project out like an opera house, which is why more than a hundred jazz albums have been recorded there by icons such as John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Wynton Marsalis.
178 Seventh Avenue South, 212-255-4037;