NewYorkology: The Harlem Book Fair
MICHEL MARTIN, host:
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.
Coming up: finding the magic of reading in stories about kids of color.
But first, Amy Langfield knows New York City has a lot to offer, she lives there. But what if you don't? She created a Web site to help you get around and discover the less obvious attractions in the Big Apple, like the upcoming Harlem Book Fair and other gems in Harlem. Amy's site, NewYorkology, can hook you up.
Amy joins us from our bureau in New York. Amy, thanks for being here.
Ms. AMY LANGFIELD (Creator, NewYorkology): Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: Amy, tell the truth. Don't New Yorkers secretly hate tourists?
Ms. LANGFIELD: I don't think it's a secret at all. I mean, I think so that they're - I mean, they're nice to them and I think that, well, you know, when I talk to tourists and they say, oh, that's the one thing that I was much surprised about, that the New Yorkers are nice. And, you know, if you ask for directions, if you ask for advice, you know, everyone - almost everyone will help, as long as you're quick about it and you know, you…
MARTIN: And you're not trying to get into the restaurant they're trying to eat at?
Ms. LANGFIELD: Well, yeah. Just so long as you're behind them.
MARTIN: In this case, you will find yourself on the wrong side of town.
Ms. LANGFIELD: If you're behind them. But if the tourists walk to the right and they don't keep us from where we're wanting to go, I think, you know, they're tolerable, and so…
MARTIN: Well, talk to me about the Harlem Book Fair. Now that's the kind of event that I think New Yorkers would really rather keep to themselves, wouldn't they? But they can't. But they can't.
Ms. LANGFIELD: True. And apparently - because it's been on C-SPAN Book TV the couple of years, so that's apparently really cranking up the numbers who are showing up. They said that they had 50,000 people there last year, which sounds just a phenomenal number to me, and they're expecting even more this year.
MARTIN: Is Harlem itself a tourist destination now? I mean, obviously, it looms so large in literature, in a kind of a popular imagination and the image a lot of people have of New York, but - the Harlem renaissance, of course.
Ms. LANGFIELD: Yeah.
MARTIN: Is it a tourist destination now?
Ms. LANGFIELD: Definitely it's a - and it's - they've opened a visitors' center up there and they've got more things going on. But it's still tough in a way that, you know, there's not many hotels up there yet. They're - you're kind of limited to bed and breakfast and guesthouses and things like that. And every time they talk about plans for a new Marriott or something like that, they'll get to maybe the groundbreaking and then nothing else, so it's sort of a day trip, I think.
MARTIN: And what about the other boroughs? I mean, you know, Harlem's, of course, is in Manhattan, which seems to be the main location for tourists…
Ms. LANGFIELD: Sure.
MARTIN: …around the world, and I think probably from the rest of the country, too. But what about the other boroughs? Are you trying to encourage people to visit the other boroughs - Queens, Brooklyn, my home?
Ms. LANGFIELD: Good.
Ms. LANGFIELD: Mine, too. Actually, I'm in Staten Island.
Ms. LANGFIELD: Yeah. Brooklyn's been the one getting a lot of the buzz. Of course, people are rushing to get out there this year, because Astroland's closing, now - Coney Island. This is going to be their last year. So the Cyclone will still be there, but it's closing. So, yeah, there's a lot of stuff to do in the other boroughs. It's still tough, I think, for someone who hasn't - who's coming to the city for the first time and they've got a limited number of days.
MARTIN: If it's your first trip to New York, hard to imagine…
Ms. LANGFIELD: Yeah.
MARTIN: …but if it's your first trip to New York, what can you not afford to miss?
Ms. LANGFIELD: That's hard to say, because so many people like different things. I mean, I would, you could say…
MARTIN: That is not a New York answer.
Ms. LANGFIELD: I know.
MARTIN: A New York answer is not filled with hedging and hemming and hawing. A New York answer is direct and to the point.
Ms. LANGFIELD: I have real mixed feelings about saying that you to go to the Empire State Building, because it takes way too much time. It's not really a pretty, clean experience at all anymore. But if you do go, definitely make sure you get a ticket for the very, very top deck, which they don't advertise very well. It's 102nd floor, which has only reopened, I think about the past last year. I think they finally reopened it again. But all the tourists go to 86th floor, and it is packed. But if you go, you can get back on the elevator and go up to the 102nd floor, and actually, there's almost no one up there and it's a just great, phenomenal view.
MARTIN: If this is your 10th trip to New York, and you want bragging rights about like the hip, hot thing you just did that, you know, other people haven't heard about yet, what should you do? Where should you go?
Ms. LANGFIELD: There's always new stuff. I mean, like the floating pool that just opened out on the Brooklyn Waterfront is a big thing that just opened on July 4th, and that's getting a lot of buzz. You can go and swim for free in this floating barge underneath the Brooklyn Promenade, which is pretty cool.
MARTIN: I don't know that I want to float in a barge underneath the Brooklyn - I don't want to float under anything.
Ms. LANGFIELD: It's on the East River. It's pretty cool. It's a lovely little thing out there.
MARTIN: Okay. All right.
Ms. LANGFIELD: And they've trucked sand in, so there's a big beach there. So you can go and…
(Soundbite of laughter)
MARTIN: So that's New York - truck sand in.
Ms. LANGFIELD: Yeah, definitely. They've trucked the sand in, and you can rent beach chairs and buy some burgers and sit out there all day…
Ms. LANGFIELD: …and play beach volleyball…
Ms. LANGFIELD: …and soccer and things like that.
MARTIN: So the floating barge, a public swimming pool in Brooklyn. What else?
Ms. LANGFIELD: If you go to Central Park, they've just re-done the Minetta(ph) tiles, near the "Bethesda Fountain," which they spent something like 20 years and a couple of million dollars restoring these tiles that are just these fabulous, one of a kind thing that was created - I don't know - like a hundred years ago when they did the park. Most people don't realize that that's been completely restored, and it's just a really phenomenal thing to see. There's always lots of new things going on, so (unintelligible) about it today.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MARTIN: But can you tell us how to get a cab?
Ms. LANGFIELD: Yeah. You just stick your hand out.
MARTIN: Okay. Let me just break it down, Amy. Can you tell the people of color how to get a cab? I'm sorry. I just have to ask.
Ms. LANGFIELD: I try the same way. Stick your hand out and, you know, mark your territory. Don't let somebody grab it from you and flag the cab down.
MARTIN: Okay. We'll try it. Amy Langfield is a travel editor in New York. She joined us from our New York bureau. You can find more of her tips, picks and pans directly at her site, newyorkology.com, or by finding her link on our Web site, npr.org/tellmemore.
Amy, thanks so much.
Ms. LANGFIELD: Thanks very much.
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