November 2017
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Cool Off in These Ten Cultural Hotspots

Just in time for the last few weeks of summer, Place Mattershas identified 10 Great summertime spots, spanning all five boroughs. These summertime spots might not be the city’s most popular or most well-known summertime destinations, but they have demonstrated cultural significance, hold memories and anchor traditions for individuals and communities. We urge New Yorkers to visit these places, and take in the flavors, the history and the cultural traditions that help make New York such a special and livable city.

1. Jahn’s Ice Cream at 81-04 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens, offers chilled relief from summer heat. “This king of ice cream emporiums goes back to 1897 and earlier,” one nominator wrote. “It has always been a traditional gathering place for locals, singles, partners, groups and families.” Best known for their ‘Kitchen Sink’ sundae, this Jahn’s outpost is the last of several locations that once dotted the city.

2. For another famous Queens confection, head over to the Lemon Ice King of Corona at 5202 108th Street in Flushing. His highness, Peter Benfaremo, has been in the Italian ice business since 1945; a year after his father had started the business. One note of caution, King Pete does not mix flavors, so if you want more than one kind you’ll have to order two ‘shovels’ of ice!

3. If you’re looking for a bit of shade, check out the Tree Museum installed along the Grand Concourse this summer in commemoration of the hundred year anniversary of the Bronx’s very own Champs-Elysées. While stopping at one of a hundred trees selected by artist Katie Holten, “Visitors will be able to listen in on local stories and the intimate lives of trees offered by current and former residents: from beekeepers to rappers, historians to gardeners, school kids to scientists.”

4. On the subject of leafy oases, you could also visit the Andrew Haswell Green Memorial Bench and Trees in Central Park. The 19th century urban planner, reformer and preservationist was responsible for the consolidation of the five boroughs, among other great civic contributions.

5. In Brooklyn, another birthday is celebrated this year. The Prison Ship Martyr Monument that crowns Fort Greene Park was designed in 1908 by the prominent architect Stanford White. The 200-foot tall Doric column was recently restored in honor of its centennial. It memorializes the 11,500 Revolutionary War casualties whose remains are entombed in the crypt below. These patriots died in captivity on British prison ships anchored in Wallabout Bay along the East River.

6. Highbridge Park follows the natural bend of the Harlem River between 155th and Dyckman Streets in northern Manhattan, bordering the Bronx. The park is named after New York City’s oldest standing bridge, constructed in 1848 as a part of the Croton Aqueduct. Although the Highbridge Water Tower no longer refreshes upper Manhattan residents with drinking water, the park boasts both an Olympic sized pool and a wading pool, offering a cool retreat from the steamy city streets. Like the other 54 outdoor public pools managed by the New York City Parks Department, the pools at Highbridge Park will close on Labor Day.

7. With the return of ‘Free Bike Fridays,’ a visit to Governors Island at the southern tip of Manhattan will provide a true reprieve from city life. The nominator described how she “fell in love with the charm, the beauty and the sense of place and history. It’s a gorgeous place, and notable for its architecture, history and as a spot of pure beauty.” The island now offers movable hammocks and oversized Adirondack chairs overlooking the bustling traffic of the harbor at ‘Picnic Point.’

8. If you can’t get enough island hopping, take a free trip on the Staten Island ferry and stop by Sailors Snug Harbor, once a charitable home for retired merchant seamen and now an 86-acre park celebrating maritime history. Of the collection of twenty-six beautiful 19th century buildings, five Greek Revival temples are the centerpiece of this National Historic Landmark District.

9. The summer would not be complete without a trip to the beach. You could sunbathe at the Bronx’s only beach, and one of Robert Moses’ favorite projects, Orchard Beach at Pelham Bay Park. Intended as the ‘Riviera of New York,’ this great feat of engineering spans a mile and its 115 acres of white sand was imported from the Rockaways and Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

10. You could also catch some rays, and some cheap thrills, at Brooklyn’s most famous beach, Coney Island. Be sure to take a break from the hot sun with a drink at Ruby’s Bar & Grill, 1213 Riegelmann Boardwalk. According to the nomination, “stepping into Ruby’s from the Boardwalk is a bit like stepping into a cave where you can meet the past and present life of Coney Island. The walls are full of photos of days gone by, and offer a view of history while you sit with a drink or a Coney Island meal (hot dog, corn, fries). The bar, the tables, the old sofa in the back by the jukebox, are worn with wear by many, many folks.”