Tag Archives: Curiosities

16 Things NO ONE EVER Tells You About NYC [PART 1/4]

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1 Subway

You’ve never been to New York but now you’re days from arriving and started feeling a bit anxious about it? Well, that’s super normal, especially when we’re talking about a city like New York. So, I decided to share 16 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC, for the 1st timers.

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1
©Behind the Scenes NYC

There are a few rules and tips to make your NY experience seamless and memorable. We split this topic into 4 different posts, so check out Part 1 with the first 4 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC!

Let’s start?!


#1 Yes! New York is safe!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1 Safety
©Behind the Scenes NYC

Ok. Let’s start from the basics. We all know how dangerous New York was back in the 80’s and 90’s when the city was hit with a huge crack epidemic and we had the famous mobs roaming around.

Most of you have probably heard of the Zero Tolerance Policy, led by Mayor Rudy Giuliani when he was elected back in 1994. There is a lot to this topic and controversial statements, but let’s keep it simple. Bottom line, crime rates were drastically reduced.

It was published in The Economist, back in 2015, that New York was the 10th safest city in the world. Then, in 2017 it showed that we had fallen 11 places, today ranking 21st. But still, it continues a pretty safe place.

That said, like every other big city, there are pickpockets, you should be careful not to roam into some neighborhoods and be careful at night. If you’re in doubt, just ask a friend or talk to your hotel’s concierge.

In addition, most of the crimes in NY, happen in late night hours, so just stay alert, but enjoy the freedom that the city can offer us today!


#2 Use the Subway!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1 Subway
©Behind the Scenes NYC

I’m from São Paulo, a city with over 20 million people, hence many time bigger than New York, but our subway system is very limited (even though it’s starting to super slowly improve).

But, when you have a “small” city like New York, where you can commute almost anywhere, it’s an indescribable joy! Hahaha!

It’s also a great way to feel like a true New Yorker and experience our crazy lifestyle!

The subway maps are pretty easy: most lines travel North – South and only a few East – West. You can download one of the APPs like NYC Subway or City Mapper to help you out! I’ve been here for 4 years, and still like to check on them, depending on where I’m commuting to!

Now, this is very, very, VERY important! When train arrives, always wait for e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e to come out, before you try to walk in. If you’re just randomly daydreaming and standing in front of the door when it opens, you’ll most likely be run over or called upon. Yikes! (I talk more about this on the topic below!)

Inside a crowded train try and put your backpack in front of you to make space for more people (even if you feel like a sardine in a can). If you’re sitting down, sit in a way that more people fit beside you. For the Manspreaders (men that sit with their legs widely spread out, occupying more that 1 seat), please be mindful! And please, don’t eat on the subway – it’s not a restaurant!

Another tip! Some people get so happy when all the other subway cars are full, and they walk “miraculously” into an empty one! It’s like feeling you’re the smartest one around, right? Well, New Yorkers are not stupid or blind, my dears, that’s for sure…so there’s likely something very wrong with that car. Be sure to check it out!

Oh! And girls, be sure to leave you heels at the hotel. You can use them to go out at night, when you might prefer just getting an Uber.


#3 Walk! But don’t EVER block the passage way!

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1 Walking
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Brendan Church

YOU might be on vacation, but many people around you are probably running to work!

Sidewalks are like freeways, in New York City! No joke…! So, when you’re walking down the streets and you feel it’s THAT time, where you want to take a selfie or an Instagram picture, be sure to step aside, out of the main passage. Otherwise you might hear a very loud “EXCUUUUSEE ME!”

People say that New Yorkers are rude and I strongly disagree! They are very solicitous if you’re lost and need help but, like every other busy human late for work, they won’t enjoy daydreamers blocking the streets. You can take a look at this post we did about “31 Curious Facts About New Yorkers We Just Love“, this way, you’ll get the hang of it!

Oh! This is also true for the subway escalators and stairs! If you’re walk up or down any stairs, but especially in the subway, be sure to follow the flow on the correct side, usually, your right side. On an escalator, if you don’t want to rush up, stay to your right side too, letting people that do.

And I forgot to mention. While walking on the streets, on the busiest ones especially, don’t just suddenly turn or stop. You have to look, and “kinda signal” your next move to avoid collision.

Lastly, if you’re waiting for the light to cross the street, but there’s absolutely no cars coming, even though it’s NOT the correct thing to do, many people just cross it. I mean, just be very careful if you do that or simply step aside for anyone that wants to go head!


#4 Understanding New York’s Map

16 Things No One Ever Tells You About NYC Part 1 Grid
©Behind the Scenes NYC

Ok, let’s start with first things first. Number one is maybe noticing that most streets are named through numbers, making it pretty easy to locate yourself or how to get to your destination.

The street numbers officially start at 1st Street on the East Side and 3rd Street on the West Side of Manhattan. From there, numbers go up, up, up to 220th, but that’s all the way up in Inwood, on the very North tip of Manhattan. That’s where The MET Cloisers museum is located!

From North to South, street blocks are shorter to walk through, while East to West, the blocks are significantly longer. Also East to West are only the Avenues – starting from York Avenue, through 11th Avenue (a.k.a. West End Avenue). On the very extremes, you’ll find the highways: 12th Avenue and the FRD Drive.

In between the numbered Avenues, you have some of the famous ones like Madison Avenue, Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue. Broadway also crosses the city diagonally, starting on the Upper West Side, all the way down to Battery Park.

Lastly, just for your reference, Central Park starts at 59th Street (a.k.a. Central Park South), up through 110th Street (a.k.a Central Park North), in Harlem. “The Secrets Of Central Park Walking Tour” will give you some more insights and secrets about the park!

Don’t freak out…it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Just grab a map or check Google Maps along the way, and you’ll be fine!


If you enjoyed these first 4 tips about things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC, be sure to check our Part 2!

For any questions regarding travel or event planning for Corporate Groups, contact our experts to help you out!


Photo Credits: ©Behind the Scenes NYC and courtesy of Brendan Church

3 Perfect Photography Spots in New York City

Bucket Lists 3 Perfect Photography Spots in New York City Bethesda Terrace Credit NoelYC

New York is known for being a city photographers love to come and shoot. It’s the home of some of the most amazing attractions in the world, but knowing the perfect spot to capture that moment, is the real secret. Take a look at the 3 perfect photography spots in New York City.

Bucket Lists 3 Perfect Photography Spots in New York City Credit Behind the Scenes NYC
Photo Credit: ©Behind the Scenes NYC

Last year over 65 million people visited NYC, armed with their cameras and smartphones. From the Empire State Building to Ground Zero, tourists in the city are a vital part of documenting the history of New York and its iconic locations.

When you are on vacation, rather than snapping the more obvious locations, such as the Flatiron Building and The Statue of Liberty, how about visiting somewhere more unusual?

You can use it as an opportunity to work on your composition skills, capturing beautiful images that you will be proud to take home and put on your walls.


Central Park – Bethesda Terrace

Bucket Lists 3 Perfect Photography Spots in New York City Bethesda Terrace Credit NoelYC
Bethesda Terrace – Photo Credit: Noel Y.C.

Bethesda Terrace (72nd Street, Cross Drive), situated in Central Park is a completely unique monument and you can take photos from many different perspectives.

You might want to capture the dramatic New Brunswick sandstone steps, that slope down either side of the upper and lower terrace. The lower level has a beautiful and intricate mosaic, constructed out of Roman brick.

The upper terrace runs side-by-side with 72nd street and has an incredible view of the both the park and the Bethesda Fountain below it. To create really atmospheric photos, try visiting Bethesda Terrace at sunset, when the light changes to russet and gold.

The long shadows emphasize the grandeur of the architecture in a visually striking way.


The High Line

Bucket Lists 3 Perfect Photography Spots in New York City High line Chelsea Credit Actionvance

The High Line is a community park with a difference. It is a performance space, an art gallery a nature garden all rolled into one. It is a place to connect with friends and family.

Created from an old freight railway line, this mile-and-a-half long park in the sky, runs from the Meatpacking

District right through to the Whitney museum (a must visit). It is an absolutely beautiful example of how a derelict, industrial infrastructure can be completely transformed into something that has meaning and purpose for a whole city.

There are so many different ways to capture The High Line, you could even make a picture collage of the park taken from different viewpoints. Experiment with taking shots from almost ground level, running parallel with the railway track.

Or, use your visit as an opportunity to take action shots of the people as they pass through.


Little Italy, Manhattan

Bucket Lists 3 Perfect Photography Spots in New York City Little Italy Feast of San Gennaro Credit Alex Haney
Little Italy

If you are interested in taking portraits, then Little Italy is pure heaven. One of the best times of the year to visit the area is during the Feast of San Gennaro, which happens every September.

The festival celebrates the patron Saint of Naples and has been running annually since 1926. Taking place in and around Mulberry Street, you will find street vendors galore, selling some of the most amazing and diverse food that New York has to offer.

The Beast of Feasts” runs for 11 days and attracts visitors from all over the world. If you are out and about with your camera, this is an excellent opportunity to take pictures of some local New York food legends and entertainers.

You can even turn your hand to capturing your lunch in close up, before posting it on Instagram.


New York is packed full of photogenic spots!

On your visit, you will have plenty of opportunity to hone your skills in taking landscape, portraiture and abstract pictures as you capture beautiful memories of the City That Never Sleeps.

If you need a few more additional tips on how to capture that perfect picture, take a look at the tips given by the photographer, Dani Diamond.

Enjoy and send us your shot, so it can be featured on our Instagram page!


Photo Credits: ©Behind the Scenes NYC, Courtesy of Noel Y.C., Alex Haney and Actionvance

NYC Renting: Need-To-Know Facts In 2019

Curiosities City Secrets NYC Rent 2019 Daryan Shamkhali

If you’re considering moving to New York City, here are some need-to-know facts for 2019 about NYC Renting. We all know that rents can skyrocket, but we have some good news for you!

Curiosities City Secrets NYC Rent 2019 Jose Alonson

New York City has historically had relatively high rent, but there is good news for would-be citizens. According to the New York Times, there has been a 0.7% drop in rent prices on the average one-bedroom property. While modest, this is a welcome change to years of inflating prices.

It’s still a matter of careful planning for would-be NYC renters. With that in mind, a few changes are afoot that will change rental opportunities. Pay close attention if you’re looking to move to the Big Apple; it could save you a few dollars for the good things in life.

More inclusivity in properties

Many NYC properties are very old and, resultantly, outdated. Fortunately, many landlords are making efforts, along with city regulators, to make homes accessible. 2019 will see this fast tracked with the federal case against the MTA.

According to the New York Post, the United States Attorney sued MTA for their inaccessible subway stations and the outcome of this could have wide ranging consequences, including more housing inclusive of accessibility requirements.

Changes in tax

When you rent in New York City, make sure you know about your property tax. Homeowners can expect to pay up to 10%, according to Bloomberg. What Bloomberg also noted, however, is that the individual tax burden is reducing.

As years progress, you can expect the tax bill to be less cumbersome as other counties pick up the slack. This means that your overall rental outgoings may be lower in the next few years, especially when considered with the ongoing trend concerning landlords.

Curiosities City Secrets NYC Rent 2019 Daryan Shamkhali

Landlords are settling down

Whether it’s because of the political climate, or some other source of uncertainty, landlords are staying put. According to CNN Money, more and more landlords are aggressively pursuing rent negotiation, rather than simply putting prices up and letting the tenants make a choice.

This is a nod towards more stability, as a renter. You can expect that, if you look after your property and have good behavior, that your rent will reduce over the years. You will also benefit from a continued relationship with the landlord, which is advantageous for the likes of maintenance and security.

Renting in New York City can still be expensive, but it matches the high average income in the area. Making the most out of your rental will be easier in years to come, through enhanced levels of accessibility, lowered levels of tax returns and more consistent landlords.

Keep yourself aware of these trends and work around them to get your feet in the door in the grand old city.


Guest Writer: Cindy Trillo
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jose Alonso and Daryan Shamkhali

2nd Cheap NYC Guide: 30 Top Attractions

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Washington Square Park

Our 2nd cheap NYC guide features 30 top attractions that you must-see! Touristy or not, these are some the classics spots and neighborhoods that have changed New York’s history. Come uncover New York with us!

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide The Cube Astor Place
The Cube at Astor Place. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Noel Y.C. (@NYCLovesNYC)

Today, for our 2nd Cheap NYC Guide, I’m going to take you through some of the best spots located in Lower Manhattan.

But wait! If you haven’t seen my 1st Cheap NYC Guide, take a look at it and see how you might want to start exploring our beautiful city!

I have created my own touristic route to take my friends and family around the most iconic highlights in the city. These are all entertaining, fun and CHEAP routes that I want to share with you.

Second Route: Lower Manhattan

Before I start, it is necessary to give you some tips. First, NYC food stores and restaurants are not required to offer restroom services, so I have included this item in my tour routes. Second, you can access the WIFI networks in all subway stations, NYC Parks and Starbucks for free (which also have restrooms. YAY!). Finally, if you like something you want to buy and you can afford it, just BUY IT. You probably won’t have time to go back or even remember where you saw that precious item.

This route explores 6 areas of Lower Manhattan: Union Square, Astor Place, Washington Square Park, SoHo, Chinatown and Little Italy. It starts off at Union Square – where our 1st guide ended – located between 17th and 14th Streets and Union Square West and East Avenues.

Union Square

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Union Square Market
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Union Square Greenmarket

Here you can enjoy a year-round farmers market every Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 8am – 6pm, called Union Square Greenmarket. During the peak seasons you can find regional farmers selling their products like fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, award-winning farmstead cheeses, artisan breads, jams, pickles, teas and countless gifts, a profusion of cut flowers and plants, wine, ciders, maple syrup and much more. Shop early because the vendors sometimes leave, once they have sold out their products.

Around this area you can also find all type of stores including the largest Barnes & Noble store if you are looking for books, toys, music and more. A cereal store at Kellogg’s NYC where you can mix your favorites breakfast cereals for just $2 – milk not included. Also, a delicious Jewish Chocolate Rugelach pastry at Breads Bakery and Dylan’s Candy Bar, home to the largest selection of candies and candy-related gifts from around the world. And if you are into sports, your to-go spot is Paragon Sports.

If you’re traveling during the Winter holiday season, and you want to take home some unique gifts, visit Union Square’s Holiday Market that happens through December 24th. You’ll find local craftsmen and artists, open Monday to Friday from 11am – 8pm, Saturdays from 10am – 8pm and Sundays from 11am – 7pm.

*Restroom Spots: Around here you can find restrooms at Whole foods, Burlington, Best Buy, Starbucks, Barnes & Nobles, among others.

Astor Place & Washington Square

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Washington Square Park
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Noel Y.C. (@NYCLovesNYC)

If you are starting to feel hungry, I recommend you walk downtown through Broadway and at 8th Street, turn left (East) towards Astor Square until you hit St. Marks. Here you will find delicious cheap Asian food including Japanese BBQ, Thai Food and Ramen. During this trajectory, you will find one of New York City’s most iconic pieces of public art—and heck, one of its most iconic landmarks, period—The Astor Place Cube. I dare you to push it to make it turn around!

Just a few block from this iconic landmark, you’ll find the theatre where the Stomp has been performing for years. If you haven’t heard about them, it’s about time! Founded in the UK, back in 1991, today they are world famous, creating the most impressive percussion acts with unexpected objects and body parts!

Get ready to feel your bones shake!

After you are done, return to Broadway, walk to 4th Street and turn right (West), walking all the way to Washington Square Park. The park is dominated by the Washington Square Arch at the Northern gateway and the fountain. It’s one of the city’s popular spots for residents and tourists and you might recognize it form the movie August Rush.

Once a cemetery, now is a parade ground, a gathering spot for avant-garde artists, a battleground for chess enthusiasts and a playground for canines and children.

*Restroom Spot: Available public restrooms in the park.

If you were not temped by St. Marks food options, check MacDougal Street, located at the Southwest corner of the park. This area is NYU’s Students favorite food spot and therefore, very affordable. If you are into Italian food, Artichoke Basille’s Pizza offers huge pizza slices for less than $5. If you prefer Asian food, Saigon Shack has cheap Vietnamese food, but is a very popular spot so be prepared to wait. And if you prefer vegetarian food, try by Chloe.

SoHo & Chinatown

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Chinatown
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Noel Y.C. (@NYCLovesNYC)

By now, I’ pretty sure you’re full and in the need another good walk. Walk back to 4th Street towards (East) until you hit Broadway again and start walking downtown. After a few blocks, you will cross Houston Street and enter SoHo (a.k.a. South of Houston). This area is known for its designer boutiques, fancy chain stores and high-end art galleries, making it a trendy top shopping destination. I invite you to walk around the smaller streets and explore their uniqueness and secret little businesses.

Once you have absorbed all SoHo’s vibes, walk back to Broadway until you hit Canal Street, where you will be officially in Chinatown.

There is just so much to see here, that if after the tips below, you’re still curious to explore more of the food scene, book your tickets for the Tenements Tales and Taste Tour! You’ll enjoy the story of the millions of immigrants and taste several delicious dishes like pretzels, dumplings, potato knishes, waffles, homemade cheeses and even beer, of the many groups that have lived there.

At Canal Street turn left (East) and start walking through it. You will encounter several NY gift shops which are perfect to get some cheap souvenirs back home. While you’re walking you will be approach by several Chinese people offering “handbags and watches”.

Just be aware for they are all fake and illegal!

Among the treats I recommend around Chinatown are Taiyaki NYC, where you can try their fish-shaped waffle ice cream and Chinatown Ice Cream Factory where you will find my two favorite flavors: black sesame and lychee ice cream. If you like pastries, go to Taipan Bakery and try the delicious Coconut Bun for only $1.25, cash only. It is very popular, so hopefully you are lucky enough to get a warm one. And if you want to have an authentic Chinese meal, go to Great NY Noodletown on the corner of Bowery and Bayard Street. Remember that they’re cash only.

To find several food options in one place, there is a “hidden” food market called Canal Street Market. It’s located on the corner of Canal Street with Lafayette.

*Restroom Spot: The restaurant Great NY Noodletown has available restrooms as does Canal Street Market.

Little Italy

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Little Italy
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Noel Y.C. (@NYCLovesNYC)

In the middle of Chinatown, at Mulberry Street with Canal Street facing North, you will find the entrance to Little Italy. This couple of streets welcomes a heavily touristy crowd to its high concentration of souvenir shops and traditional Italian eateries and bakeries. Tenement buildings, once home to the immigrants who settled the area in the late 1800s, line the narrow streets. Mulberry Street, the main thoroughfare, turns into a pedestrian mall on summer weekends and each September they celebrate San Gennaro Festival.

One of the store that I love visiting every time I’m there is Mulberry & Grand, founded by Emily Guggino. There is always something new to tempt you into purchasing it! A lovely curated collection of inspired accessories.

By now, you have visit almost a third of the city, all the way from 59th Street at Central Park down to Canal Street, in Chinatown. And, the good news is: it has only taken you two days. YAY! And, there is still so much more to see!

Did you enjoy the 1st and 2nd Cheap NYC guides with the top NYC attractions? If so, stay tuned for our 3rd Route, where we’ll explore the West Side. Spots like the famous Highline, the delicious Chelsea Market, the Meatpacking District and one of the coolest neighborhoods in Manhattan, the West Village.

See soon!


Text Credit: Written by our contributor Magdalena Concha
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Noel. Y. C. (@NYCLovesNYC) and Union Square Greenmarket

Immersing Yourself in the Rich History of Greenwich Village

Curiosities City Secrets Greenwich Village 1900 Wiki Commons

Among New York City’s many fascinating sites, Greenwich Village is arguably the most storied. Come immerse yourself in the rich history of Greenwich Village!

Curiosities City Secrets Greenwich Village Sixth Avenue Wiki Commons
Greenwich Village’s Sixth Avenue. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Among New York City’s many fascinating sites, Greenwich Village is arguably the most storied. Albeit usually remembered as a haven for artists, its historic roots actually run deeper. Before it was anything else, Greenwich Village in the 1630’s was a marshland where Dutch settlers fed their livestock. It was initially developed into a village separate from New York City.

Curiosities City Secrets Greenwich Village 1900 Wiki Commons
Greenwich Village, 1900. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia

But as the urban sprawl consumed the area, Greenwich Village took on a new identity in 1857 at the founding of the Tenth Street Studio Building. It housed the first architecture school in the US and attracted artists from all over the world.

It was also the place where the so-called “bohemian” movement began, a subculture which was described in an 1858 article on The New York Times as “either an artist or an author, whose special aversion is work, and whose ambition is to excel in some particular walk.” The Village’s affinity to bohemians of all sorts has since defined its identity.

Curiosities City Secrets The Albert Hotel Wiki Commons
The Albert Hotel. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia

Decades later, the Hotel Albert opened in 1880 and attracted the best artists and writers of that particular time. A long list of creative people stayed here including Mark Twain, Anais Nin, Walt Whitman, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollock.

In addition, the Village also saw the birth of American experimental theater pushed by Eugene O’Neil and Edna St. Vincent Millay, and it was integral in the transition of the global art capital from Paris to New York in the mid-20th century.

Various American art movements including Abstract Expressionism, emerged out of the Village.

Curiosities City Secrets Stonewall Inn NY 2008 Wiki Commons
The Stonewall Inn. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia

The Village has significant contributions to music and self-expression, too. It’s the place where the first desegregated nightclub in the country, Cafe Society, was built. The venue dedicated itself to the cutting-edge music of its time, bebop jazz. Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and other jazz giants graced it with their presence during its heyday.

The ferocious sound of bebop also lured the Beat Generation artists to the Village, with writers Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and others gaining the literary spotlight. In the 1960s, the Beats became an inspiration for different forms of counterculture. The progressive ideas of the Beats and the hippies informed the eventual rise of the LGBT movement and other civil rights groups. The LGBT movement found expression in the 1969 Stonewall Riot, which also happened in Greenwich Village.

Curiosities City Secrets Grace Church from the North
Grace Church. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Grace Church

Popular structures such as Grace Church and the Jefferson Market Library tower over the Village as reminders of the place’s creative tradition.

Another structure, The Westbeth, which was a former Bell Telephone Labs office, also became a popular residence for artists. It eventually housed the studios of choreographer Merce Cunningham, musical arranger Gil Evans, Robert De Niro Sr., and Vin Diesel.

Curiosities City Secrets Jefferson Market Library Greenwich Village NY Wiki Commons
Jefferson Market Library. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia

While the Greenwich Village of today has none of the rustic and bohemian charm of its past, it remains one of the most renowned places in New York, thanks to the preservation of its iconic buildings.

Greenwich Village’s longevity can be attributed mainly to local laws that help maintain its historic buildings.

In fact, a section of the Village made up of more than 50 blocks has been established as part of a Historic District, thanks to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Development in this area follows very strict rules, such as the requirement to preserve a historic building’s main facade if it is to be renovated.

NYC also implements Local Law 11, which indirectly contributes to the Village’s preservation. Local Law 11 is explained by real estate expert James McGrath in an article on Yoreevo. He states that the law mandates regular facade inspections of buildings higher than six stories to ensure their structural integrity. Although it’s primary purpose is for safety, the law also helps ensure that old buildings in the city are maintained. The excellent condition of most structures in Greenwich Village is a good example of how a bustling metropolis should take care of its historic buildings.

Just knowing the history of Greenwich Village and the people who have called it home are enough reasons to give this neighborhood a visit. To explore other interesting places in the Big Apple, check out our previous post about Astoria, a commercial neighborhood in Queens.


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia

1st Cheap NYC Guide: 40+ Top Attractions

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Central Park The Pond

Our 1st cheap NYC guide features 40+ top attractions that you must-see! Touristy or not, these are the classics spots that have changed New York’s history. Come explore New York with us!

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Central Park The Lake San Remo
The Lake and The San Remo towers at Central Park © Behind the Scenes NYC

I have been living in NYC for more than two years now and considering that I always have friends and family visiting me, I’ve created my own touristic route to take them through the most iconic highlights of the city. They are entertaining, fun and best of all, CHEAP routes that I want to share with you.

First Route: From Central Park down to Union Square

Before I start, it is necessary to give you some tips. First, NYC food stores and restaurants are not required to offer restroom services, so I have included this item in my tour routes. Second, you can access the WIFI networks in all subway stations, NYC Parks and Starbucks for free (which also have restrooms. YAY!). Finally, if you like something you want to buy and you can afford it, just BUY IT. You probably won’t have time to go back or even remember where you saw that precious item.

I recommend you start with this route, since it’ll give you a broad view of the city and Midtown. The first day is always the most intense day of all. Or, at least it’s what I tell my friends to give them the illusion they won’t walk “that much” for the rest of the trip. By the way it’s a total lie. Hahaha!

Central Park & Plaza Hotel

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Central Park The Pond
The Pond at Central Park © Behind the Scenes NYC

This route starts at Central Park, on the corner of 5th Ave and 59th Street. Here you can access one of the most iconic areas of Central Park featured in several movies like Home Alone 2 or Enchanted. You will see the amazing contrast between nature and the city, giving you incredible pictures at The Pond and the famous Gapstow Bridge. If you’re lucky, you can even take a picture of the most famous bachelor of NYC today: the gorgeous Mandarin Duck who is living at The Pond! Also, close to this area you can walk around the Hallett Nature Sanctuary (be aware of the Raccoons that lives in a tree there), skate at the Wollmann Rink Ice and visit the Central Park Zoo.

For those that have more time to spend around Central Park, walk up to The Lake, to cross another famous bridge – Bow Bridge. Be sure to snap a picture with The San Remo towers at the back! You might also want to get a row boat at The Loeb Boathouse.

Now, if you are in a hurry, just walk around and keep going down 5th Avenue, heading South (downtown direction). How do you know you’re heading South if you’re in the middle of the 5th Avenue? Cars are moving South too, so just follow the flow!

*Restroom Spot: go inside the beautiful Plaza Hotel and down to the food court located at -1 level. They have restrooms you can use at the end of the left alley.

5th Avenue, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral & Rockefeller Center

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Top of the Rock
Top of the Rock © Behind the Scenes NYC

Between 59th Street and 42nd Street, when you walk through 5th Avenue, you’ll find the biggest and most fashionable stores in NYC. Be sure to check the 4th floor of Victoria Secret’s store, where you can see a small exhibit of the costumes used at their world-famous shows. Walk into the Neo-Gothic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral dating back to 187 and, of course, the Rockefeller Center. If by this time you are getting a little hungry, pass by the Lindt Chocolate, on 5th Avenue store where they will always welcome you with a delicious chocolate truffle. And La Maison du Chocolate at the on 49th also offers tastings. Yum!

If you are coming to New York for the Christmas holiday season, don’t forget to take pictures of the Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller and enjoy the Saks’ light show every night starting at 5pm to 11pm. It happens every 10 minutes. These shows gets really crowed, so try to come early to see it all. If you have time and have to pick one of the buildings to walk up – Empire State Building or Top of the Rock, go up the latter. It will give you the best 360º view of downtown, stretching to our Lady Liberty, and also Central Park. Plus, lines are much shorter compared to the Empire State.

Bryant Park & Food

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Bryant Park
Bryant Park © Behind the Scenes NYC

By the time you hit 42nd Street and 5th Avenue, I can guarantee you’ll be quite hungry. What I usually do is turn right at 42nd Street and walk to 6th Avenue to grab some food inside Whole Foods. They have a delicious food buffet with tons of vegetarian, vegan and organic food, if you enjoy, besides other options too. And, the best part is that they have a sitting area, where you can eat and admire Bryant Park. If the weather allows, I recommend you enjoy your lunch at Bryant Park, where they have several tables and chairs available. It might be a bit hard to find a spot during the warmer months though…

Now, during the winter season, you can also visit Winter Wonderland Village at the park that offers over 150 stores, surrounding the Ice Skating Rink. Skating and lockers are free if you own your skates and have a padlock, but you will have to pay if you need to rent skates, want to check bags, or need to buy a lock for your locker. By the way, this is the cheapest place to skate in the city, if you want to experience it.

*Restroom Spot: the Le Pain Quotidien, by Bryant Park is an easy spot to.

New York Public Library

When you’re done, head back to 5th Avenue and visit the New York Public Library (NYPL). They offer free guided tours at 11a and 2pm, Monday through Saturdays, and at 2pm on Sundays. Tours are available on a first come basis and are limited to 25 people, so try to be there early. It’s definitely a place to spend some time in and, of course, don’t forget to pass by the famous reading room. It was renovated a while back and is stunning. Do remember be absolutely silent in there! Oh! The Public Library was featured in the Sex and the City movie, when Big left Carrie practically at the alter, remember?

*Restroom Spot: the Public Library has several restrooms in almost every floor.

Grand Central Terminal & It’s Secrets

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Grande Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal © Behind the Scenes NYC

The next stop is Grand Central Terminal. To get there, just walk two blocks East on 42nd Street and you’ll find it. Atop the Grand Central Terminal is the world’s largest Tiffany Clock and the iron eagles. The best shots from the outside is on the corner of at 42nd Street and Park Avenue. When you walk inside the terminal, look for the Main Concourse where another Tiffany Clock is located right at the middle. Take time to look straight up and admire the massive painting of the constellations on the ceiling and try to find a small, dark patch of brick next to Cancer, the crab. This brick reveals what the terminal’s ceiling looked like before it was cleaned during the restoration project in 1998. Yup, this place was the former home of homeless people and was even dangerous to walk in. Can you imagine?

Nestled between the Main Concourse and the Vanderbilt Hall is an acoustical architectural anomaly called Whispering Gallery. Here, sound is thrown clear across the 2,000-square-foot chamber, “telegraphing” across the surface of the vault and landing in faraway corners. Feel free to try it out!

*Restroom Spot: Grand Central Terminal also has restrooms located at the food court, on the -1 level.

Again, walk back to 5th Avenue and keep walking downtown. Between 33rd and 34th Streets you will spot the Empire State Building. To get the perfect picture of the building, I recommend to walk to 28th St x 5th Avenue. In addition, close by at 32nd Street, you will hit Koreatown. There are great places offering delicious food like Jongro BBQ, karaoke spots and countless beauty stores.

Flatiron District & Food

When you arrive at 26th Street, you’ll walk into the Flatiron District by Madison Square Park. Here, for the best picture of the complete Flatiron Building, go to the intersection of 5th Avenue and Broadway – right in front of the sculpture placed in the middle. It’s the General William Jenkins Worth Monument. Walk into Eataly to visit! It’s the most famous Italian market in the city that offers several restaurants and all sort of food to buy. Its deliciously beautiful. If you’re not hungry, you can just order some appetizers and a glass of wine at an area with bar tables. There aren’t even stools there, since people are in an out pretty quickly.

* Restroom Spot: Eataly has restrooms next to the fresh pasta section.

On the other hand, if you are hungry already but don’t want to spend tons of money, try a traditional NYC hamburger at Shake Shack, located in the middle of Madison Square Park. They have vegetarian options that are pretty good too!

Down Through Broadway & Union Square

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists Cheap NYC Guide Union Square
Union Square © Behind the Scenes NYC

Once again, keep walking downtown, but this time lets change and take Broadway instead of 5th Avenue. Broadway is the only avenue that crosses the entire city from West to East. By the time you hit 17th Street, you will be close to our final destination for the day: Union Square! Here you can enjoy a year-round Farmer Market every Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday, between 8am – 6pm. If you do intend in going there to shop, head there early morning, since vendors sometimes leave, once they have sold out).

Around this area you can find several stores and lots of restrooms: Whole foods, Burlington, Best Buy and Starbucks to name a few. If you are traveling on a budget, but still want to buy clothing and shoes, I recommend you go to Burlington and DWS located in 14th Street. They have great deals with amazing brands. To finish the day with another food spot for a quick bite, try Maoz Vegetarian, serving Middle Eastern vegetarian food, with some of the best falafels in town!

So, our 1st Route has come to an end. And, believe or not, you have walked around 13km, or 8miles. Not bad for your first day, right!?

If you enjoyed the 1st cheap NYC guide featuring 40+ top attractions in the city, stay tuned for next week! I will share my 2nd Cheap NYC Guide starting at Union Square and ending at Chinatown. Oh, and take a look at 10 Top Secrets about New York too!

See you then!


Text Credit: Written by our contributor Magdalena Concha

How To Enjoy NYC With Kids, Outdoors!

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists How To Enjoy NYC With Kids Outdoors Hudson River

Yes, New York is a great city for kids, so don’t worry! See below how to enjoy NYC with kids, outdoors seamlessly and have tons of fun and stories to tell!

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists How To Enjoy NYC With Kids Outdoors Hudson River
© Behind the Scenes NYC

Don’t believe people that say differently. The city is full of amazing attractions and activities for kids of all ages and we will show you what we mean!

Before we became parents, we spent countless weekends in New York City, staying out late, enjoying nice dinners, and partying at the best bars and nightclubs.

After our son was born, we realized that traveling to the Big Apple needed to change. We replaced our original itinerary with activities that were fun for the whole family.

Despite the skyscrapers, congested traffic and throngs of tourists, New York City has secluded pockets that give the kids room to play. It is possible to enjoy the great outdoors in Manhattan.


Park It

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists How To Enjoy NYC With Kids Outdoors Central Park
Central Park [Photo Credit: Courtesy of The 2 Idiots Travel Blog]
At 840 acres, Central Park is the hub for outdoor-loving families. You can rent bicycles and explore the paved trails, enjoy rides on the carousel, and try horseback riding through the park’s highlights.

This is not a just a stop for tourists – the entire park is also teaming with New Yorkers who appreciate the best of New York’s great outdoors!

We love Sheep Meadow, near the famed Tavern on the Green restaurant. It’s great for kids because of its wide open space (15 acres), kite flying, room to play catch, and loads of families.

Shop a local market and bring a picnic, or let experts cater one for you, and make a full day of sitting under the trees; the museums will still be there tomorrow. Even in the winter, you can use the park for ice skating, cross country skiing and sledding.

You can also visit waterfront parks along the Hudson and the East River, providing great views, cool breezes and lots of fresh air. We love Hudson River Park for its play areas with water features on hot, summer days.

Our son can spend hours playing in the splash park, and you’ll find mini golf and sports fields and courts for older kids to get their play on.


See the City from the Water

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists How To Enjoy NYC With Kids Outdoors Statue of Liberty
© Behind the Scenes NYC

Surrounded by water – Manhattan is an island, after all – spend time on the rivers. Kayak rentals are available for the families with older kids, and you can set sail on leisure ships for an hour or two of sightseeing.

There are also some pretty cool jet ski rides up and down the Hudson, as well as around the entire island!

The Staten Island Ferry is a great way to see New York’s skyline from the Hudson – and it’s FREE!

Or, if you want to splurge, you can charter a private cruise on a small sailboat.

You can also catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. She stands on an island that is a national park. No need to climb to the top, just enjoy the views while your toddler plays. (This is also another great picnic spot!).

If you’ve never been to Ellis Island, it’s also a great spot, with some pretty exclusive tours.

If you’re willing to travel further, cross into New Jersey to Liberty State Park and you’ll find even more space to enjoy. Playgrounds, a boardwalk with viewfinders, and picnic tables all overlook Manhattan.


Enjoy Outdoor Attractions

Curiosities Our Bucket Lists How To Enjoy NYC With Kids Outdoors Highline
Walking the Highline [Photo Credit: Courtesy of The 2 Idiots Travel Blog]
Many of New York’s best attractions will get you outdoors, such as the Central Park Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden. The Gardens offer special activities and event for young kids and is a special treat – NY Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

Or, grab your stroller and take a walk along the High Line, which stretches over a mile on an old rail line. You can take a trip to Roosevelt Island with a ride on the Roosevelt Tram providing a fun ride and cool views before you take in the skyline from the East River-based island.

Even grabbing a bite under the sun is easy to do in New York. Take advantage of the many restaurants that have rooftop dining or secret patios. You’ll be surprised how much of the city can be enjoyed in the open air. Try Birreria, the rooftop of Eataly’s grocery and market or ‘wichcraft for sandwiches, both in the Flatiron District.

And, because New York’s diverse neighborhoods offer safe playgrounds for the kids whho live close by, seek out AirBnBs or boutique hotels near a small park. It makes for a good start to your day to grab coffee and muffins for breakfast in a nearby park, as well as a relaxing end to a long day of sightseeing.

When you leave New York and download all of your photos, we bet you’ll be surprised by how many of them were taken outdoors and away from crowds. You might not even think they were taken in the city!

Oh! Wait! You’re they type that doesn’t take pictures, but always regret it after?

You might want a professional photographer that will seamlessly be with you during the day, capturing the most amazing, spontaneous moments! You’ll not even notice!

Have fun and be sure to tell your other friends how to enjoy NYC with kids! We are sure you’ll be back for more!


Our Contributors:

AJ Ratani and Natasha Sandhir traveled around the world with their son Aarav. Visiting 31 countries and 6 continents as a family, they documented their year-long travel and trips on their family travel blog. Visit their website for more tips and also follow the couple on their Instagram account.


Photo Credits: Courtesy of The 2 Idiots Travel Blog and © Behind the Scenes NYC

Day 2: Siemens NYC’s Hidden Technology – A Behind the Scenes Tour

Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Arthur Ashe Stadium Retractable Ceiling

This was Day 2 with Siemens USA! We visited some of New York City’s major attractions to understand how Siemens actually helped build our beautiful city! So, tag along with me to explore what happened during the “Siemens NYC’s Hidden Technology – A Behind the Scenes Tour”!

Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Arthur Ashe Stadium Retractable Ceiling

As you’ve probably noticed, after reading our Day 1 experience with Siemens, I had a fantastic time! I always say that I’m not only extremely curious to learn historical facts about NYC, but I think it’s extremely amusing to understand how this amazing city operates and functions.

Siemens’ technology is literally scattered throughout the city of New York in places and world-famous landmark: from the Statue of Liberty, the subway system, the Amtrak and the beautiful World Trade Center Memorial Fountains, to the retractable ceilings at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the impeccable acoustics of Carnegie Hall and even, hidden within the top breweries in Brooklyn. The purpose? To make your NYC days eternally memorable and seamless experiences.

That said, let me start telling you about our Day 2 at Siemens “New York City’s Hidden Technology – A Behind the Scenes Tour”. If you thought that yesterday was cool, take a look below at where we went this time!

After a very early breakfast, starting at 7am at a hotel in FiDi, where me met the entire group, we hopped on the bus and headed to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, better known as the home of the US Open Tennis Championships that is actually happening now!


9am – USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

I’m a huge tennis fan and even played when I was younger for a couple of years.

If you follow tennis, you’ve probably seen how many matches have been cancelled or delayed during the years, due to bad weather, right? Such a bummer!

Not only is this a hassle if you’re there watching and enjoying the match, but specially for the athletes that end up cooling down and getting distracted, to then have to go back to court.

The Arthur Ashe Stadium is the largest tennis stadium in the world, with retractable ceilings that have ended the bad weather problems.

Siemens worked with Morgan Automation Systems, part of the Morgan Engineering family of companies, a world leader in automation of extreme large mechanization projects, to make this project become a breathtaking reality!

Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Arthur Ashe Stadium Retractable Ceiling
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Arthur Ashe Stadium
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Arthur Ashe Stadium Mark Sharamitaro
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Arthur Ashe Stadium Screen
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Arthur Ashe Stadium Monitoring
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Arthur Ashe Stadium Heat Sensors
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Arthur Ashe Stadium Control Room
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Arthur Ashe Stadium Inside
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I listed some of the most curious facts that you should know about it, and that I thought were particularly interesting:

  • This ceiling is the largest structure in the world, over a tennis court, installed just earlier this year
  • The retractable ceilings are controlled and powered by Siemens
  • Each half of the roof weighs around 1 million pounds
  • The roof has 250ft long, each one being 125ft
  • It moves at approximately 25ft / minute. It opens within approximately 6 minutes 10 seconds and closes in approximately 5 minutes, 35 seconds. Why does it close faster? Well, when a storm suddenly pops in, they have to be quick to preserve a dry court, so the game continues.
  • Everything happens through the push of 1 single touchscreen button
  • It has the power to resist winds that reach 125mi/h
  • There is a team that is exclusively monitoring and controlling the air temperature and moisture
  • They have to be careful for not 1 single drop to fall on court
  • The Stadium is regulated to have the same temperature as the outside weather, so every player is performing under the same conditions
  • The stadium is used only 3 weeks during the entire year, with 4 yearly maintenances

 Now, understand the Siemens cutting-edge automation technologies onsite:

  • The ceiling is powered and controlled by Siemens’ Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)
  • The S120 Safety System is totally integrated
  • Easy to use with access comfort panels
  • These industrial equipment and systems can be seen not only in factories, but also throughout the entertainment world like: Cirque du Soleil stages, rides at Walt Disney World parks, shows in Las Vegas, the Orlando Eye 400-foot observation ferris wheel, and even Broadway shows.

12pm – Other Half Brewery

Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Other Half Brewery Tasting
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Other Half Brewery Tanks
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Other Half Brewery Packaging
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Other Half Brewery
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It’s amazing how Siemens is literally spread throughout New York! What do I mean? Well, we had lunch and a great beer tasting experience at a brewery in Brooklyn called Other Half.

The place is amazing and the aroma of their beer is all over as soon as you walk in! They incentivize people to do the tour and learn about the entire brewing process.

In the case of breweries, Siemens’ technology is seen through different components that are inside other equipment. Their tech ranges from increasing efficiency in the overall process, to controlled bottling process and modeling & managing the complete workflow.

They have a few other breweries in Brooklyn using their systems, as well as most of the Coronas you’ll drink in the US! Cool right?


3pm – LO3 Energy

It’s literally hard to point out the highlight of these 2 amazing days, but I can say that LO3 was certainly a different experience.

What is LO3 Energy?  Well, they’re a pioneering blockchain startup that is changing the way we think about our electricity and how it works. Plus, we are seeing more and more, the importance of having our own data protected and encrypted, and with their program, by creating and applying a token, it creates a business model that gives value to data, so can buy a key to unlock and also secure your data while directly managing the purchase of power.

In addition, it’s also great to see that the big shark companies like Google and Facebook are also now going 100% renewable, with wind and solar tiles.

People are literally starting to care about energy!

Where does Siemens come in? LO3 Energy is working with Siemens Digital Grid and Siemens’ startup financier next47, on the Brooklyn Microgrid project.

“In an energy market that is becoming increasingly distributed – whether based on wind, sun, water or biomass – intelligent grids are becoming increasingly important. Siemens microgrid technology is helping communities pioneer the movement toward a self-sufficient energy future.” (Siemens)

But wait! What is a microgrid? The correct, dictionary definition is: “a small network of electricity users with a local source of supply that is usually attached to a centralized national grid but is able to function independently.”

The purpose of a grid is to balance electricity: not too much, not too little.

The idea is for a community to be able to produce, consume and purchase power from within their own community. And, the cool thing is that people will be able to consume from a distributed energy supply system that draws on renewable-generated sources for a more resilient, customer-driven economy.

Being able to choose where to buy your energy from and be sustainable is now a reality!

You can also read more about them.


And, this wrapped up these 2 amazing and truly surprising days that we explored New York through different lens.

It was extremely interesting to see and understand a bit of how the engine works “behind the scenes” to make our New York City function so properly and seamlessly, giving us locals – and also visitors – a priceless, memorable experience!

I can’t wait to see more about how Siemens technology is impacting our lives, without us even knowing!

Thank you Siemens, once again, for this breathtaking experience with endless interesting information!


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Hashtag: #SiemensInnovates

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Day 1: Siemens NYC’s Hidden Technology – A Behind the Scenes Tour

Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall Fernanda Paronetto

We had two priceless days with Siemens USA. We visited some of New York City’s major attractions to understand how Siemens actually helped build the city! So, tag along with me to see what “Siemens NYC’s Hidden Technology – A Behind the Scenes Tour” was all about!

Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour

It’s even hard to start writing about the amazing 2-day experience I had with Siemens a few weeks ago.

A couple of weeks back I was invited to participate in a priceless experience they had put together called “New York City’s Hidden Technology – A Behind the Scenes Tour”. I was immediately exited and curious, especially considering the name they chose for the project, ha!

We have millions of people visiting New York City during the year, over 60million to be more exact. Actually, in 2017 the number surpassed 62 million curious travelers and it keeps growing.

Most of you know about my indescribable passion for New York that I’ve clearly spoken about thousands of times before. And, the more I live here, the more I see the infinite stories and historical facts that together have built this tireless and sleepless city.

What people – not only travelers but also locals – don’t actually stop to think about, is “what is the real power that makes this perfect engine function throughout the city?” And, in obvious ways, enhances our experiences through the world-famous landmarks and historical attractions that symbolizes the Big Apple.

Siemen’s technology is literally scattered everywhere you can possibly think about. From the Statue of Liberty, the subway system, the Amtrak and the respected World Trade Center Memorial Fountains, to the ceilings at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the acoustics of Carnegie Hall and even, hidden within the top breweries that make your days eternally memorable experiences.

After all, in a digital area like the one we are living, people are craving these unforgettable moments to share with friends and family. Aren’t you?

So, let me start telling you what where we went and what I saw!


11am – Kickoff Brunch at The Trading Post

Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour The Trading Post

We meet the entire group at a great spot I have never been to: The Trading Post.

It was great to meet the group, we all introduced ourselves, learned a bit more about Siemens and had a glimpse of what was about to happen during the day!

The itinerary sounded extremely exciting and up my alley, since I’m all about explore the “behind the scenes” spots and facts about New York!

Oh, and the food was fantastic!

I had the Aspargus Risotto with fava beans, English peas, goat cheese and soft poached hen’s egg, a refreshing salad and a trio of ice creams!

A great way to start the day!


12:30pm – World Trade Center Memorial Fountains

Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour World Trade Memorial Fountains

Ok, so this place is quite special. We all know about the 9/11 event, how it impacted not only the lives of so many families out there that lost their loved ones, but also of an entire Nation.

It took years of very hard physical and emotional work to reconstruct that part of the city. And, World Trade Center Memorial Fountains, came out to be a beautiful homage to the lives that were lost.

Obviously the hardest part of it all, was not the physical exhaustion. It was being able to think and put together a project so beautifully and carefully thought for, that was able to truly and respectfully honor ever single life that was lost that day – from people in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the Stonycreek Township in Pennsylvania, to all passengers in the planes, the brave firefighters that fought through the smoke and law enforcement officers.

The project was led by Delta Fountains, experts in designing and manufacturing the most renowned fountains in the world. All the motorized pumps and totally integrated automation technology is by Siemens.

Joe Petry, President of Delta Fountains, talked to us about this monumental project.

Did you know that The World Trade Center Memorial Fountains are, today, the largest man-made waterfalls and reflecting pool in the entire world?

The fountains sit exactly where the towers were originally located and had phenomenal planning for it to be as perfect and precise as it is – mechanically and visually.

Here is the list of the most relevant and even curious facts that you should know about it:

  • Idea of the project was to reflect the absence of the lost souls
  • Fountains run 24h / day at a constant flow what is automated to monitor itself in an energy efficient way regardless of the weather
  • The recirculation systems are able to pump as much as 18,000 gallons of water at peak performance, every minute of every season
  • It’s intelligent enough to know the environmental conditions and understand if, for example, it needs to adjust the water in the system, not to over flow the pumps, in case it’s raining
  • The fall is 29-feet tall and had to be precisely planned to allow water to flow constantly, despite the weather conditions
  • The total drop – including the waterfall and the void in the center – add to 49-feet
  • The void is 40ft x 40ft
  • But, the water pool you can see, is only 1,5-foot deep
  • You can touch the sterilized water beneath the engraved names around the fountains
  • The stainless steel weir structure, designed by Delta Fountains was the most challenging. Through numerous testing, they found out that the weir structure needed to be exactly at 1/16th inch from each other, with an even water flow, over the entire 1,400 linear feet structure, to have the desired results
  • Water rises up peacefully, looks very still and fall perfectly into the fountain because of gaps in the stones
  • Sandy flowed in from the Hudson River, around the fountains, into the structure, causing over U$100 million in damages and flooding all the 9/11 artifacts in the Museum

Siemens cutting-edge automation technologies:

  • It offered high tech engineering, automation control and pump flow precision
  • 16 motorized pumps – controlled through Siemens VFD’s (Variable Frequency Drives) – regulates water passing through weirs. Their biggest challenge during the project was to figure out how to keep 600,000 gallons of water in each pool constantly flowing and crystal clear
  • The solution was the comprehensive Siemens SIMATIC S7-300 programmable controller solution, a first generation technology, that dramatically reduces energy consumption and CO2 emissions
  • It’s controlled daily and remotely from Jacksonville, Florida, through the WinCC Flexible, an engineering software
  • The weather station, with PLC’s (Programmable Logic Controllers) monitors the wind temperature, velocity and pressure to control and even shut down the system, in case of extreme necessity
  • Its fully integrated diagnostic system monitored with HMI (Human Machine Interface), with touch-screens make advanced graphics to detail and oversee all details with precision and operating cost-savings
  • The sensors on it and the ability to have preventative maintenance make it electronically sustainable
  • Siemens has the greatest equipment in the market to integrate with the computer system, with 3-year warranty, sustainable practices and was a company clearly not focused only on making money, hence the success!

3:30pm – Carnegie Hall

Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall Fernanda Paronetto

The Carnegie Hall is one of the world’s most famous concert venue and in the words of many experts “It’s the #1.” It was founded back in April of 1891 – built by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and designed by the architect William Burnet Tuthill.

How did the idea to build the Hall come to life? Andrew Carnegie’s wife, Louise Whitfield, sang at the Oratorio Society and during their honeymoon, she asked Mr. Carnegie to build her a music hall as a wedding gift. And voilá! In no time, it was up and running beautifully!

Here, we were hosted by Richard Malenka, the Chief Administrative Officer and an “unofficial historian.” He is known for having super valuable and curious stories of Carnegie Hall and a priceless knowledge too.

Oh! One of the highlights was actually being able to go on stage at the Isaac Stern Auditorium, also known as the Main Hall. It’s considered the most prestigious concert stage in the US. Why? Because of the mix of acoustical quality/warmth and visual experience. The totality of the experience makes it one of the best.

Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall Guests on Stage
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall Stage
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall History
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall Performers
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall Weill Music Room
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall Weill Music Room Guests
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Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall Rooftop
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall Rooftop Guests
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall Beatles 1st Show
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Carnegie Hall Archive Room
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Now, here are the top curiosities about the place that called my attention:

  • The fluke!!! Andrew Carnegie hired the architect William B. Tuthill to travel world and build a totally different music hall, from what he’d seen. It ended up being more an Opera house than concert hall. The Fluke: Tuthill never actually built a concert hall!
  • Carnegie Hall boasts its fantastic 165,000 square feet, 3 auditoriums and over 3,600 seats
  • They host up to 700 concerts and 700,000 visitors a year. WOW, right!?
  • Names like Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, The Beatles, Igor Stravinsky, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas, Caetano Veloso, Luciano Pavarotti and others have been on stage
  • The building was fully redesigned thinking about technology mixed with sustainability
  • The unique acoustics is a driving force and it’s important to maintain it and to keep the high levels and quality

Siemens was part of the project to modernize the building and is their technological partner, responsible for implementing fire safety, electronic security and building automation. The project not only modernized this historical landmark, but also make it more energy efficient.

Plus, Richard said something super important: “Tech is serving the institution well when it is invisible.” And this is exactly what Siemens has done!

Because of this brilliant partnership, Carnegie Hall has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification, 1 point from Gold.

Siemens cutting-edge automation technologies at work here:

  • They’ve installed sensors outside to have a more responsive and immediate response and had to learn how to problem solve the reality of working on a landmark structure and implement a contemporary technology
  • The security system (Siemens SiPass access control), ensures the highest security for guests, staff and talent inside the building
  • The Fire and Life Safety System’s precision and velocity guarantee the emergency control system to immediately activate the fire door closure, elevator management and air handlers
  • The Centralized Control manages the ventilation, air conditioning and heating in one platform, permitting even being remotely controlled, if desired. The system keeps track and analyzes any necessary electrical repair and maintenance
  • The challenges revolved around working on a landmarked building, that restricts countless interventions
  • Now, the 125+ year old landmark is utilizing the next-gen tech found in brand new buildings throughout NYC!

Siemens was able to bring Carnegie Hall into the 21st Century!

Read more.


7pm – Bateaux New York Dining Cruise

Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Bateaux NY Dining Cruise Manhattan
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Bateaux NY Dining Cruise
Curiosities City Secrets Siemens BTSNYC Tour Bateaux NY Dining Cruise Statue of Liberty
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To end this fantastic day, with some of the most amazing experiences and priceless knowledge, we headed to Chelsea Piers for a boat-dinner!

The Bateaux New York Dining Cruise was a great experience and way to end the day. But, the interesting information about it, is that the route passes very close to Lady Liberty! To be very honest, I always thought it was a bit too touristy, and it still is, but it’s worth experiencing it once in your life!

And, this is where Siemens comes into play again! They told us that back in 2012, Siemens technology was chosen as the perfect solution to be part of the Life Safety Upgrade Program, led by the U.S. National Park Service, for the Statue of Liberty.

The purpose was to upgrade not only the Statue of Liberty’s emergency rescue elevator, but also the engineering framework called Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) Portal software. In addition, they also used Siemens safety PLC’s – safety modules and comfort panels to ensure redundancy or operations!

As said above, the best type of tech, is the invisible one. And, once again, Siemens showed us how they are part of New York City’s engine!

Here is more on the TIA Portal, in case you’re still curious: 

The TIA Portal allows automation processes to be designed optimally and efficiently from a single computer screen. This ground-breaking innovation shortens the engineering cycle, saves commissioning time, and reduces maintenance costs and TCO (total cost of ownership).

The Life Safety project included the need to upgrade both the safety and function of the 30-year old obsolete rescue elevator which had reached the end of its useful life. The new rescue elevator is a special purpose personnel machine that uses innovative technology to enhance safety and reliability making the system more user friendly. The TIA portal brings efficiency and reliability to the project by allowing and integrated work platform to manage the world class Siemens Safety PLC and Comfort Panel hardware, which make up the heart of the safety rated elevator controller.

The elevator is designed and intended for emergency personnel, not public use, giving EMTs, firefighters, and other service personnel access to the Statue when someone in distress needs to be reached and retrieved. The system includes the Siemens Fail Safe Safety CPU, various digital inputs and outputs, and the Siemens’ HMI comfort panel, all of which were designed and commissioned using TIA Portal. The project also uses PROFIBUS communication protocols and PROFINET industrial Ethernet.

Read more.


As I mentioned, this was a 2-day experience, so take a look what Day 2 looked like!

We started at the Arthur Ashe Stadium where the US Open is currently happening. Then, we headed for tasting and lunch at the Other Half Brewery in Brooklyn. Finally, we finished our day at LO3, a young NY company working on the Brooklyn Microgrid project with a blockchain enabled transactive energy platform!


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Justin Teodoro: Statue of Liberty Illustration Gone Viral

Curiosities Insider Interviews Justin Teodoro Statue of Liberty Illustration

Justin Teodoro is the powerful  and creative name behind the Statue of Liberty’s illustration that went viral a few weeks back! We talked to him about his breathtaking career, his inspirations and discovered his 7 secret spots in NYC.

Curiosities Insider Interviews Justin Teodoro Statue of Liberty Illustration

A few weeks back, the social media universe went wild with a beautiful illustration created by the NY-based illustrator, Justin Teodoro.

In a powerful response to the first lady, Melania Trump’s Zara jacket, which had “I really don’t care. Do you?”, written on the back, Justin’s creative, powerful and positive reply, moved the world.

The outrageous act that has been moving people to stand up against the zero tolerance policy of family separations at the boarder, led by President Trump, was spread through out the internet.

Even those that chose to be isolated for the political scene, were touched.

Like us, countless other media platforms and Instagram users, reposted Justin’s illustration, supporting the cause.

Our interview below, will show you more about Justin’s story, career, conquests, inspirations, finishing off with 7 of his secret spots in NYC!

Curiosities Insider Interviews Justin Teodoro Kevin Lamarque Reuters
Photo Credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

1. Can you tell me a bit about your background? Where you’re from? What you studied? Where you’ve worked?

I’m from Vancouver, BC Canada – born and raised there. I did my undergrad at University of Toronto and after I graduated in 2003 I moved back to Vancouver to figure out what to do for a career.

I’ve always drawn and loved art, but never knew how to make that happen as a “job”. I was always into fashion but, that seemed so far away to me as a career.

I then found about the Associates Fashion program at Parsons and with the support of my family applied and got in. So, I moved to NYC in 2005 to pursue a career in fashion.

I worked as a womenswear designer for 8 years for brands as Tuleh, Cynthia Steffe and Kenneth Cole, before I made a career change to focus on my own illustrations and art.

Curiosities Insider Interviews Justin Teodoro Installation

2. Was the Barney’s window in NY your first major fashion project? Tell us a bit about this project! Or, tell us about your first major project that boosted your career.

My first big project as an illustrator was probably working with Lorenzo Martone and his brand Martone Cycling – we met through mutual friends and I began doing illustrations for him.

That led to us working together on a small capsule range of illustrated tees for Martone Cycling, then a pop up in NYC and finally an artwork for a window display when Martone Cycling was sold at Colette in Paris. That was a major first for me.

I’ve worked with Barneys NY a few times – first on their website doing a few illustrations stories. Those projects led me to working with Barneys New York Japan in 2015 for their holiday campaign. Another major milestone in my career – I created artwork for their holiday campaign and was invited to Tokyo for the holiday launch.

Curiosities Insider Interviews Justin Teodoro Colette Lorenzo Martone3. You’ve done so many amazing works around the world like Colette in Paris, the subways in Tokyo! I believe you obviously enjoyed them all, but is there one that you’re exceptionally proud of and would love to relive it? Why?

I’ve been lucky to have worked on some pretty amazing projects with really great brands, so it is hard to choose.

I guess though I would always cherish the projects that allowed not only my work to travel internationally but me as well!

So, my project with Barneys in Tokyo and recently doing artwork for Six Senses in Kaplankaya, Turkey was amazing. It’s been great to expose yourself and your eyes to what is out there.

Curiosities Insider Interviews Justin Teodoro Tokyo Subway Barneys New York

4. The entire Social Media universe saw your latest illustration of the Statue of Liberty with the child. We were one of the hundreds of accounts that share it. Can you give us a taste of how the idea can about and how the creation process was? Did you expect this amazing repercussion?

Curiosities Insider Interviews Justin Teodoro

It really came about from me just reacting to all the news that week – I remember it being so hard to hear all the stories of these families being separated and then seeing all those images in the news.

It was hard not to react.

I think I tried to do something that felt true to what I wanted to say, but also to my art and I think I just wanted to put something out there that was perhaps positive, a sense of hope in all of this sadness, anger and messiness.

So, it kind of just came naturally – I don’t remember exactly what the process was but putting the jacket with what I think we all wanted it to say on the statue of Liberty seemed to be my creative reply.

The reaction was pretty amazing to see – definitely all the viral attention was amazing.

But, it was much more amazing to me to have people email/message me to say thank you for doing this artwork, that it gave them a sense of hope and light in all this darkness.

That really touched me and made me realize that the work had taken on a more powerful meaning that I ever anticipated.

5. Is there any exciting upcoming project you can share with us first hand?!

A few projects in work, so stay tuned!

6. Can people find your work in NY and also to purchase online?

I have a few t-shirts/prints available on my site.

Curiosities Insider Interviews Justin Teodoro Janes Carousel Dumbo

7. What are you +7 top secret spots in NY you love to go with friends, or for work inspiration?

  • Communitea Café – A neighborhood coffee spot in LIC;
  • FIT Museum – For fashion inspiration;
  • Lucky Strike – A classic NYC happy hour in SoHo;
  • Tuffet – A great bar in Brooklyn for cocktails and drinks;
  • McNally Jackson – A great local bookstore/magazines and coffee spot in SoHo;
  • Strand Bookstore – A classic and has an amazing vintage book collection;
  • Blick Arts – I’m a sucker for an art store and am always here getting more paint or pens.

Take a look at a few cultural activities in New York, if you’re into arts, music, museums, etc!


Thank you Justin, for the amazing work, your strong voice and talent, and for sharing with us a bit of your life!

Keep up the amazing work!


Photo Credits: Justin Teodoro and Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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