New York City Conference
General Information * Registration * Hotel * Schedule of Events * Traveling Companion Package
   Affinia Manhattan Hotel, New York City, NY

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NYC Survival Guide

First, a note of thanks…

Novelists, Inc. wishes to thank the New York Chapter of the Special Libraries Association for allowing us to use this invaluable guide.  Thanks, too, to Jamie Russell of Business Week for her efforts in compiling it.  Her knowledge of the area and enthusiasm for the project brought this guide from idea to reality.  A very special thanks to our own Linda Barrett for updating the Guide and making it especially pertinent to members attending the 2005 Ninc Conference.

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WELCOME TO TIMES SQUARE!

We are staying in the heart of Midtown Manhattan in the Times Square district famous for a little street called Broadway.  Our hotel—The Crowne Plaza Times Square—is located on Broadway & 49th Street.  Broadway runs between 7th and 8th Avenues on the west side of Manhattan.  Many leisure activities as well as restaurants are within walking distance.  For example, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center and Fifth Avenue shopping/browsing are only blocks away.  The 42nd Street subway is nearby.

FACTOID:  In addition to the best in theater entertainment, Times Square hosts the largest New Year’s Eve celebration in the country. 

This Ninc Survivor’s Guide includes

  1. General Hints on Life in the Big Apple;
  2. Shopping;
  3. Entertainment;
  4. Museum Row & more


1)  A few General Hints on Life in the Big Apple:

  • The "Avenue of the Americas" is known and referred to by New Yorkers as 6th Avenue. It's the same thing - who has time to say "Avenue of the Americas?"
  • Exact change is required on buses and subways - $2.00 IN COINS or a Metro Card, which can be purchased at subway stations and some newsstands/convenience stores. The card is good for buses and subways and allows you to transfer free between the two. Unlimited ride cards are available at $7 for 24 hours or $21 for 7 days.
  • Taxis are available only when the small middle part of the light on top of the cab is on. You won't see many of these between 5PM and 8PM, or if it rains - except at your hotel. If the top sidelights are on, the cab is off-duty; if there's no light on at all, there is a passenger already inside.
  • How do I know East from West? New York is divided into the East and West sides by Fifth Avenue. The Avenue numbers start on the East Side, going from First Avenue to Fifth - with Lexington, Park and Madison thrown in for good measure. West of Fifth it's all numbered Avenues from 6th to 11th, except for Broadway, which cuts diagonally across the other Avenues. You're on the West Side for the conference.
  • Check the menu:  It's perfectly all right to check the menu posted outside a restaurant ­or ask to see one if it isn't apparent. New Yorkers like to know what we're getting into before making a commitment.
  • Distances in New York - 20 blocks equal one mile in the city, going North and South on the numbered streets, and you can cover approximately a block per minute walking. The East/West avenues are twice as far apart. It's generally quicker to walk anywhere up to 20 blocks away - you'll see more and get there a lot faster than by bus or subway, except very late at night. Then go for a cab or bus.
  • Supermarkets are located at 8th Ave. & 49th St., or 8th Ave. & 54th St.  Need slippers, an extra tote bag, forgot your earrings? Strawberry's is the best bet. An all-around women's department store, manageable size and reasonably priced. Also good for trendy teen gift items. West 49th St. between 6th & 7th.

    Need stockings, toiletries, snacks, film, cheap bottles of water? Try any Duane Reade store, which are all over the city. The New York City equivalent of Walgreen's, CVS, Eckerd's, etc. 51st, just off 6th Avenue, Broadway and 50th St., 47th St. off 6th going toward 7th.
  • There is a Post Office underneath Rockefeller Center, past the skating rink. Ask a non-tourist when you get near the rink.

A WORD ABOUT SAFETY

A few notes on New York City survival: Be aware of your surroundings. Wear your purse across your chest and keep it closed. Men should keep their wallets in their front pants pockets. Midtown is one of the safest areas of the city. Just stay alert and avoid sudden commotions. If someone spills something or bumps into you hard, it can be a ploy to distract you and pick your pocket before you're even aware anything has happened.

Subways and buses are very safe, especially if you keep your eyes open. Move to the center of the subway car and New Yorkers will bless you. The trick is to move near the doors at the stop just before yours. Then you don't block the speeding passengers getting on and off before then. With buses, the mantra is "step to the rear of the bus". There's a door back there, so you can get off more easily that way, too. Buses are extremely safe; they just take a lot longer to get anyplace.

Now that you have the inside "tips", get your bearings, join the throngs and have a great time! New Yorkers really are helpful and friendly--they just don't make the first move. So if you get lost or turned around, ask anyone who's walking quickly and not making eye contact. They're local and will readily point you in the right direction.

FACTOID:  The New York Stock Exchange handles 1.5 billion  shares of stock each day. 

NEIGHBORHOOD KNOW-HOW

Breakfast - For a quick start to your day, New York has lots of delis where you can grab a bagel or egg sandwich and coffee (or have a full breakfast) for $3 to $8. In addition to the deli’s and cafes on our Lunch Anyone? sheet, you can try the deli at 54th and Broadway or the Gourmet Deli at 52nd and Broadway, which has a small seating section. The Art Cafe on the west side of Broadway and 52nd is a glorified diner and perfect for breakfast or a quiet cup of coffee. Canova on W. 52nd St. between 6th and 7th Avenues has huge breakfast steam tables and more - busy and not much atmosphere, but lots of choices. For a true "power breakfast" try Gold's Gym on 54th St. between Broadway and 8th Avenue for every smoothie/protein drink and power bar imaginable, eat-in or take-out. Right at street level; no need to go to the gym.

Street Carts are a wonderful New York institution. Get a bad cup of coffee and a good donut for $1.00, or a bagel, salted pretzel, or a bag of caramelized nuts. Best Bet - the fresh fruit carts on 49th or 50th Sts. between 6th and 7th Avenues. $2.50-$4 buys you an overflowing container full of cut-up fresh fruit of your choice, or a fruit smoothie (with or without protein powder).

ATMs/Banks - Almost any deli or pizza place in this area has a cash machine, as does our hotel, but it will cost you $1-$3 and generally have a $100 cash limit. ATMs at nearby banks will also more than likely accept your cash card - with varying fees depending on your original bank.

Pit Stops - Finding bathrooms. open to the public can be a hit or miss proposition in New York City, but here are a few helpful hints:

The Visitor’s Center at 1560 Broadway, between 46th & 47th Streets (near our hotel), has the only free public restroom in the area.

Since 9/11, many hotels won't let you use their lobby level bathrooms unless you're a guest there. Larger restaurants where you seat yourself or self-service restaurants (e.g. Starbucks, McDonald's) generally still have open facilities that you can use even if you do not eat there. If the restrooms are not readily obvious, try walking to the back or downstairs if there is a lower level.

Department stores are also a good place to find public facilities, though you will probably have to go to an upper floor to find them.  Some specific locations of public restrooms near the conference are:

  • Saks Fifth Avenue department store - Fifth Avenue and 49th St. (Women, 4th floor; Men, 6th floor)
  • Virgin Records Megastore - Times Square across from the Marriott.
  • Rockefeller Center concourse level- 5th to 6th Ave. between 49th and 50th Streets.

QUICK BREAKS

When you need a relaxing mini-vacation from the Conference, there are a variety of treats waiting for you in the neighborhood.

  • Art exhibits - the lobby area of the UBS Paine Webber building at 6th Ave. between 51st and 52nd Sts. hosts wonderful, free, museum-quality exhibits year round. The Deutsche Bank Building on West 53rd Street between 6th and 5th Avenues also has smaller free public art exhibits.

  • Gotham Book Mart on West 47th St. between 6th and 5th Avenues is a bibliophile's oasis. Chock full of real books not just best sellers. Edward Gorey heaven!

  • Tasti-D Lite - ice cream (low fat or high), frozen yogurt, candies. Broadway between 48th and 49th Streets. Take-out only.

  • Magazines galore - Need a copy of British Vogue? Or any other international or domestic magazine or newspaper? Check out Universal News for any title you can imagine - and some you can't. Broadway between 47th and 48th Sts.

  • St. Patrick's Cathedral - when you need to get away from it all and commune with a higher authority. 5th Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets. Open 24/7.

  • Rockefeller Center - Go for the people watching, if you can find space on the sidewalks. Mega-crowds, any time of year, especially in warm weather. Beautiful gardens run the length of the Promenade Walk from 5th Avenue and 49th Street to the skating rink, which is converted to a lovely outdoor cafe during the summer. You'll probably need reservations if you want to eat there. Rock Center (as the locals call it) encompasses not just the skating rink/Christmas tree center of the area, but also the buildings surrounding and adjacent to it, including Radio broadcast.

  • The International Center for Photography at 43rd St. and 6th Avenue has exhibits for public viewing.

  • Hershey Store - When you just can't last another minute without a chocolate fix. Seventh Avenue and 49th Street.

  • Manicure - New York is loaded with quick and inexpensive nail salons where a luxurious manicure will cost you $7-$10 at most. No appointment needed.

FACTOID:  Although it’s no longer the tallest building in the world, the Empire State Building at 34th & Fifth is still one of the best loved.  Hint:  Go to the observation deck on the 86th Floor.  On a clear day you can see up to 80 miles.


2)  SHOPPING

New York is shopping central, but it's mostly pricey shopping.  For something unique in Midtown, here are some suggestions:

  • The Metropolitan Museum Store in Rockefeller Center for 'special gifts, books, posters, cards, kids' stuff. Not as large as the store at the Museum itself, but more readily accessible if time is tight. W. 49th St. between 5th and 6th Avenues.

  • Kinokuniya Japanese Stationery and book store, 100 W. 49th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. All books and magazines in Japanese, but there is a great pen and stationery section on the second floor.

  • The NBC Store and the Today Show broadcast are both located on W. 49th St. at Rockefeller Center. Be there early to get on camera!

  • Fifth & Sixth Avenue--All-purpose shopping - The familiar women's clothing brands are all lined up and down 6th Avenue from 52nd to 44th Sts., and they're more manageable than the large department stores, especially if you have 20 minutes between meetings. Ann Taylor and Ann Taylor Loft, Casual Comer, Easy Spirit, French Connection, NineWest, Pink's of London for men and women.  In Rock Center proper, facing the flags--Sharper Image.  Crew, Brookstone and Coach. On 5th Avenue -- Saks, Cole­Haan, Kenneth Cole, Barnes & Noble, Banana Republic, H&M. 

  • Virgin Megastore, Times Square. Gird your ears. It's all there, but you need to be 15 to find it.

  • Street vendors sell a variety of items from fake high-end watches to scarves and handbags. Caveat emptor is the word with these, but one can frequently get good buys if you check for quality before purchasing. Bargain and you can usually bring down the price.

  • Fabrics - A little farther off the beaten path is the Fashion District which includes fabric and trim shops galore. 39th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue.


3)  ENTERTAINMENT

  • Discount Theater Tickets for Broadway and off-Broadway shows are available at the TKTS Booth in Times Square at 47th Street and Broadway. HALF PRICE TICKETS - DAY OF PERFORMANCE ONLY. Average ticket price is $35 to $50. Opens at 3 PM; noon on Wednesday and. Saturday for matinees. GET THERE EARLY as the line forms well before then and you might get shutout of the play you want to see. Check for current show availability in the New York Times or one of the weekly city magazines first, then make a list of several choices before you get to the ticket window. The front of the booth has an ever-changing posting of available shows that you can check before you get in line. CASH ONLY (and they won't hold your place while you go to the cash machine)! You could avoid lines by going to their South Street Seaport location in lower Manhattan, but it will take you at least an hour round-trip on the subway to get there and back.

  • Radio City Music Hall, 6th Avenue and 50th Street, offers daily tours for approximately $17. Walk over to buy tickets ahead of time; it's cheaper than calling Ticketmaster.

  • Ziegfeld Theater on West 54th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues is the last of the great, glitzy, Hollywood-style movie palaces in New York. Catch a movie the way they were meant to be seen.

  • Lincoln Center is only 10-15 minutes away from the conference area by bus (M5 or M7 up 6th Avenue) or a 20-minute walk to 63--65th Streets and Broadway. You can also take the subway from 7th Ave. and 50th St. to the 66th St. stop. Lincoln Center is comprised of the Metropolitan Opera House, Avery Fisher Hall for concert music, the New York State Theater (opera and ballet in season), the Vivian Beaumont and Mitzi Newhouse theaters - and the wonderful fountain and Chagall murals. It's a great place for a stroll, or to see if tickets are available for current performances. There are usually a variety of outdoor events throughout the summer as well. On the 10th Avenue side (behind the theaters) is the Library of the Performing Arts, a unit of the New York Public Library.

  • City Center Theater, designed in the 1920's in wonderful neo-Moorish style tile work, recently restored. Primarily dance programs, with some other types of music. Home of the Manhattan Theatre Club. 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.

  • The View revolving bar at the top of the Marriott Marquis on Broadway and 46th Streets.
  • Letterman Show and CBS store on Broadway between 53rd and 54th Streets. Tickets are very difficult to get. Sometimes there are staffers near the TKTS booth in Times Square offering seats for that night's taping, but you frequently have to pass a Letterman trivia test to get selected. If you are lucky enough to get tickets, remember that taping takes place at 6:00 PM and you should dress warmly. Dave is known for keeping the theater VERY cold.


4)  MUSEUM ROW

Within walking distance from the Conference are a group of museums that may be a little different from what you usually associate with New York museum going.

  • American Folk Art Museum has reopened in its new, controversial building on West 53rd St., between 5th and 6th Avenues.

  • American Craft Museum (also known as Museum of Arts and Design), also on that block, has a wonderful gift shop and exhibits, with nothing even reminiscent of what you might think "crafts" would be.

  • New York Public Library Donnell Branch is on that block, if you need a quick busman's holiday - including daily used book sales.

  • Museum of Television and Radio - is on 52nd St., between 5th and 6th A venues. Go to see the state-of-the-art terminals that let you search out favorite old TV shows, then descend into a large room of viewing carrels, put on the headphones and watch them, complete with vintage advertisements.  Admission: $10.00

THE “OTHER” MUSEUMS—BIG AND FAMOUS…AND WONDERFUL!

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 82nd Street & Fifth Avenue; open ‘til 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.  Recommended admission is $15.00 per adult; $10 for senior citizens.  Includes Main Building and The Cloisters (awesome Medieval collection), which is on Margaret Corbin Drive in north Manhattan (A Train to Dyckman Street).  If a person can have a favorite art museum, then this one is mine!  As a kid, I often schlepped here on a Saturday.  Other favorite places were the 42nd Street Library and the Museum of Natural History/Planetarium…oh, almost forgot the Central Park Zoo—Linda.

  • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), 11 West 53rd Street.  Major restorations have now been completed at the museum is back home in Manhattan.  Admission: Adults-$20; Seniors-$16.

    Open ‘til 5:30 p.m.; Fridays-8 p.m. Matisse, Picasso and Van Gogh are all here, just to name a few. 
  • American Museum of Natural History,  79th Street & Central Park West. .Thirty-six million specimens including plenty of dinosaurs.  Train: A, B, C, D to 81st. Street.

  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 89th Street & Fifth Avenue.  Adults: $15; Seniors: $10.  Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building is impressive by itself.   French Impressionism and Kandinsky, Picasso and Klee.  This one is vivid in my memory, maybe because it was different.

OTHER NEW YORK CITY "FINDS"

The New York Chapter of the Special Libraries Association recently asked its members to provide information about their favorite places to see and things to do. Those suggestions in the area of the conference hotels have been incorporated throughout this guide, but here are a couple of others that are a little farther afield. If you have the time to see more of the city, you might want to check them out.

  • The Cathedral of St. John the Divine at 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The world's largest Gothic cathedral, still under construction. Don't miss the peacocks that reside in the back area near a biblical garden. Four blocks from the campus of Columbia University (116th St.), with plenty of dining and bars in the area.

  • Pearl River Mart - 277 Canal Street and Broadway - 2nd floor. Chinese superstore - clothing, shoes, dishes & cookware, stationery, tchotchkes, lamps. You name it; they've got it. The sushi dish collection is vast and beautiful.

  • Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge for spectacular views of the city and the East River.

  • Take a free, one-hour round-trip ride on the Staten Island Ferry. Terrific views of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty.

  • Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 97 Orchard Street (F Train to Delancey).  The historic gateway to America, the East Side was home to millions of European immigrants who poured into New York Harbor.  Also tours of the tenements on Orchard Street (Sat/Sun only).

AND LET US NOT FORGET…

  • The New York Public Library.  This is it, folks.  The big enchilada…on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue is the Humanities and Social Sciences building.  A national historic landmark with more than 6 million books, 12 million manuscripts and 3 million pictures.  There are three other main divisions in Manhattan—Business & Industry, Science, and Performing Arts.

    FACTOID:  The famous library lions guarding the entrance to the library were named Patience and Fortitude by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.  He thought New Yorkers needed those qualities during the Depression.  BTW—both lions are male.

    During our stay in New York, the following exhibitions are available to the public:

    1. Drawings by Charles Addams (3rd Floor)
    2. American Relief Prints from the 1940’s and 1950’s (3rd Floor)
    3. Milton Avery:  Illustrator and Printmaker (3rd Floor)
    4. Before Victoria:  Extraordinary Women of the British Romantic Era (1st Floor)
  • Grand Central Station, 42nd Street & Park Avenue.  All aboard to the world’s largest railway station and the busiest station in the United States.

    FACTOID:  Grand Central Terminal sprawls over 76 acres and handles 500,000 commuters and subway riders each day!  Main concourse is about 12 stories high with a celestial map that glows with fiber optic lighting.

    While we are in NY, Grand Central celebrates everything Scottish during Tartan Week.  Visitors will be able to walk through a replica of a medieval Scottish village, sample haggis and win a trip to Scotland
  • Staten Island Ferry-- IT’S FREE!  Starting in Battery Park (South Ferry Subway Station) to the borough of Staten Island.  See some fabulous views including the skyscrapers and bridges of lower Manhattan, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.