Music Research in the Digital Era
21-26 June 2015 NYC
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Gottlieb's guide

Gottlieb's guide to hailing a NYC taxi, or, NYC tips from Janie G.

Getting here | Midsummer Night Swing | Taxis | Central Park | Zabar's | NYC Water | Coffee

New York is a city of absolute wonders, but first you have to get here. And on that front, our public transportation options from area airports are perhaps not as seamless as they are in other cities. Eric Mortensen (Juilliard's Digital Media Librarian and IAML's assistant web editor) has created this very helpful transportation guide, to which Janie G. offers the following personal advice and comments:

La Guardia is the airport closest to the upper west side of Manhattan. However, international flights are more likely to arrive at JFK or Newark International airports. Both La Guardia and JFK are in Queens, one of our five boroughs. Bear in mind that Manhattan is an island, so you have to cross waterways connected to our mainland by bridges or tunnels. The AirTrain is a good option from JFK. If you choose to take a cab, it is a flat fare of $52 plus tolls and tip. In other words, no matter how much traffic you encounter, the fare will not exceed that amount. As Johnny T. conveyed in our infamous "Welcome to NYC" video, and as all of us will remind you, DO NOT, DO NOT respond to offers of rides by persons who approach you in the arrival terminal. Just find the sign for yellow taxis, and wait there for the next available cab. The dispatcher will give you a piece of paper from the NY Taxi and Limousine Commission that outlines the flat fare, and the professional obligations of the taxi driver. Take it.

Taxi or limo service from Newark airport will be the most costly option. Newark is in New Jersey, a different state. So, if you arrive in Newark, follow Eric's directions for AirTrain or bus service to Manhattan.

And once you get to the island, you'll become expert in our subway system. Yes, announcements may be garbled and un-intelligible (no matter what one's native language is), but people will be helpful. And NY is truly an international city: subway signs are posted in multiple languages, and you're likely to find someone who can assist you in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Cantonese, or Mandarin. Or of course in English.

Can't wait to see you!

Aren't we lucky? Lincoln Center's fantastic summer dance party, Midsummer Night Swing begins on June 23, during our conference week. This annual event brings live music and dancing to the Lincoln Center plaza for a few weeks every summer. You may purchase a ticket for dance lessons and a place on the dance floor, or lurk nearby for free, move to the music, and watch a wonderful cross-section of New Yorkers (and others) dance in the twilight. Those staying in Juilliard or Fordham dorms might even view the party from their windows, but it's more fun to be part of it. The 2015 season was just announced yesterday.

As the official NYC guide says, don't bother flagging down a cab without its vacancy light on (that's the light on top of a cab's roof) – it means someone else got to it first and it won't stop for you no matter how frantic you seem. Do not, please do not, whistle – only the most naïve tourists do that, and it hurts our ears.

Once it starts to rain, even lightly, vacant cabs will vanish quickly. Also, in some neighborhoods, many of them go off duty between the hours of 4 and 6 pm. This is especially true in midtown, near, for example, the Morgan Library on Madison Avenue and 36th Street or RILM/CUNY Graduate Center on Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. If you find yourself in this situation, probably best to get on one of the buses that go uptown on Madison Avenue.

NYC is a very easy-to-navigate grid. Here's a quick guide:

Streets run east-west and are numbered from 1st Street (in the south) to 216th (near the north end of Manhattan). The grid breaks down a bit below 14th, and the lowest part of the island is not numbered.

Avenues run north-south:
  • 5th Avenue runs downtown
  • 6th Avenue (also called Avenue of the Americas) runs uptown
  • 7th Avenue and Broadway run downtown
  • 8th Avenue runs uptown
  • 9th Avenue (also called Columbus Avenue), downtown
  • 10th Avenue (also called Amsterdam Avenue), uptown
On the east side (east of 5th Avenue, that is):
  • Madison and Third run uptown
  • Lexington and Second run downtown
You get the idea. So, if there are no vacant cabs going in the direction in which you are headed, try finding one that's going in the opposite direction – it can turn around to take you where you need to go.

And, just steps to the east of Lincoln Center is one of the great urban wonders of the world: Central Park. Having just completed a 10K run there last Sunday (yes, Gottlieb is a casual, but competitive-with-herself runner), I was once again awestruck by its magnificence, and thought I should add it to our NYC must-sees. Inserted right in the middle of our Manhattan island, spanning south to north from 59th street to 110th street, and west-to-east via aptly-named Central Park West and 5th Avenue [apartments on those VERY high-priced blocks have the best views of course], Central Park is a grand oasis of green space, wildlife, (ducks in the ponds; sea-lions in the zoo), fountains, water, and monuments (Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, in memory of its 72nd Street neighbor, John Lennon). So, please be sure to take advantage of breaks in our conference schedule to take in some analog time in this wonderful urban paradise!

All visitors to NYC must experience Zabar's, our world-famous (and uniquely New York) gourmet food emporium. Just 14 blocks north of Juilliard and Lincoln Center (on West 80th Street and Broadway), in their own words, "Zabar's has to be experienced, in person, to truly be understood. You have to see the crowds, hear the banter of our sales help, smell the croissants baking, admire the rich brown hues of our coffee, sample cheese from every corner of the world, enjoy the beauty of hand sliced nova, walk upstairs and see the largest selection of imported copper cookware anywhere... it really is a one of a kind adventure."

Browse the items of the main store, or stop for a coffee and bagel in the adjoining café. Note: this is perhaps one of the most un-relaxed café experiences you can have in NYC: a long line to order your coffee or pick up one of the pre-made sandwiches (nova on a bagel), then try to find a seat at one of the counters. Yes, it's crowded and chaotic, but you'll also be part of only-in-NYC conversations. People are friendly and opinionated (perhaps too friendly and opinionated if you wish to be left alone).

Even tour buses stop at Zabar's, so don't miss this NYC experience!

We've called it Dinkins water, Giuliani water, Bloomberg water (3 terms), and now DiBlasio water: without mayoral recognition, it's really NYC tap water, and terrific drinking water. When seated at a restaurant, they'll ask if you want bottled water or 'regular' (tap) water. No need to spend extra $$$ for bottled water (unless of course you want Pellegrino or sparkling water), the NYC water (which is free) is just fine. You can get it with or without ice. Or, as Marguerite Iskenderian says, "I wonder how many people know NY has the best water in the U.S.?"

COFFEEYes, you can go to Starbucks and pay close to $5.00 for some sort of cappuccino, or flavored drink combo. Or, you can opt for the native New Yorker preference of coffee shop coffee , brewed in a reliable urn. While the days of $0.75 or even $1.00 for such cups are mostly over, it's still less costly than the aforementioned Starbucks. Places to get this coffee near Lincoln Center include Europan Café, the West Side Diner, or one of the many coffee carts that you'll find on the street. There's even a “Belgian coffee” cart on the small pedestrian island just across from 65th street (where on Thursdays you'll find a small farmer's market).

BUT, I wouldn't recommend asking for a cappuccino or espresso at one of the coffee shops. They make them in pre-fab machines, and you'll be disappointed. Best places to get real espresso in this area include Indie Café (right across the street from Juilliard) or Epicerie Boulud on Broadway between Daniel Boulud's two restaurants (Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud).

Also, when you order coffee shop coffee, “regular” usually means with milk and sugar. If you don't want sugar, say NO SUGAR very loudly. You may get sugar anyway, but at least you tried. Black means no milk. Any other special requests should be clearly stated, and are almost always accommodated (but you may need to repeat yourself) Same can be said for ordering off of menus at New York City restaurants; feel free to make special requests regarding what to include and not include, or any special preparation you may desire. These requests are not uncommon and are usually accommodated. But again, you may need to repeat yourself ...

Welcome to NYC!