New York City is blessed with internationally known museums and architectural gems, each inspiring and wonderful. The funny thing about inspiration though, is that it can be so whimsical and unexpected. Sometimes it can come when looking at a brilliant example of someone else’s work, but it’s just as likely to strike in the middle of a new experience. Here are five New York City places or experiences that we think deliver a certain ambiance, back-story, “wow factor” or vibe that just might spark an inspired design moment.
Grand Central Terminal
Built in the Beaux-Arts style, Grand Central Terminal boasts many magnificent and beautiful details, quirks and even mysteries. The most famous of these are the ceiling mural of the constellations in the main concourse and the terminal clock, surrounded by 48-foot statues of Minerva, Hercules and Mercury. It may be 100 years old, and part of the city’s history, but Grand Central is still also a busy hub of New York City’s present. If the building’s charms aren’t enough, the people-watching possibilities are endless. Or, for a more elegant slice of humanity, visit the Terminal’s Campbell Apartment Bar for a cocktail. Just south of the 43rd Street/Vanderbilt Avenue entrance, it has a vintage (1920’s) vibe – and a strict dress code. You will not make it inside in a t-shirt or gym shoes.
New York Graffiti and Street Art Tour
Free Tours by Foot offers a 2-hour tour of New York graffiti and street art in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It includes (but also goes beyond) the work of the Bushwick Collective, founded in 2011 by resident Joe Ficalora. Property owners in the area have given permission to have parts of their property painted, on a rotating basis, by urban artists selected by Ficalora. The tour is free but you are asked to pay what you think the tour was worth when you are done. Reservations are required.
Named amongst the “10 Best U.S. Flea Markets,” you’ll find vintage wares, antiques and collectibles; jewelry, arts and crafts from local artists; and fine food vendors at Brooklyn Flea.
1964 World’s Fair Site, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (111th Street), Queens
More than 50 years later, pieces of the 1964 World’s Fair’s star attractions still remain in this NYC public park. Some of the largest and most iconic have been – or are even in the process of being – restored. The Unisphere, a 140-foot tall stainless steel representation of Earth, was reopened after a restoration was completed in 2010. The Pavilion, which is made up of three structures, the “Tent of Tomorrow,” three spaceship-like observation towers and “Theaterama,” is currently in the midst of a (donated) $3 million paint job. If you need a reminder to “go big or go home,” these remnants of audacious ideas, and their no-holds-barred execution, may be just the ticket.
Liberty Helicopter Tours
Starting at approx. $150 for a 12-15 minute tour, Liberty Tours aren’t your cheapest option for inspiration, but they do offer a unique (and efficient) way to see many of New York City’s landmarks and skyscrapers. If you want to see things from a new angle, the bird’s eye view is definitely one way to go.