Return to Transcripts main page


Visiting Various Destinations in New York City

Aired July 13, 2011 - 03:30:00   ET



MICHAEL WHITE, CHEF AND RESTAURATEUR: This is Broadway between Houston and Broome Street. This is really the heart of Soho.

For the last six months it is a very popular trend in New York City, food trucks. You know, they travel, they go to really busy areas; some really good quality food coming off these trucks. Here's one right now. Here's the Tribeca Taco Truck.

You can really get really high-end cooking. Here we have really, really classic tacos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, chicken burrito.

WHITE: After '08 and into '09, food trucks have become very, very popular in New York City. And you can go where its busy, but also not having a lease. It's a pretty good living, they say. The line tells you here. You are 25 deep here right now. They're doing something right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I currently use food more like American Mexican.

WHITE: Yeah?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like what I use, like different kinds of sauces.

WHITE: You're 20 deep right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is nothing right now.

WHITE: That's nothing, right? 50 deep?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than that.

WHITE: All right.


WHITE: Be good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, guys.

WHITE: Take care.

This is my Chinatown.

As much as one spends time in New York City, there is always something more that we haven't seen.

There is this place called Sheng Wang Noodles that does a peeled noodle, which is a large mass of dough that they shave from their forearm. So, here we go, Sheng Wang.

It is ice cold dough. It has to be really cold. And you'll see from right here; that is a razor that he has made. You watch how he holds it down here. Watch this. Here he goes, watch. How cool is that? That is awesome. We take pasta pretty serious. And to watch a different type of pasta be made from a different culture is extremely-always fun to see.

How are you? Nice to see you, Sir. One number one, spicy, please.

You know, Banh mi grilled meat sandwiches really became popular, you know, a few years ago in New York City. And this is the one I just started usually coming to. Cilantro, pickled daikon, barbecued pate, and spicy.

Unfortunately, many parts of New York City have become, you know, very commercial, and there is a bank on every corner. This is one of the areas of New York, East Village, a little bit above Chinatown, this area, that is kind of left untouched, so far. It won't be that forever, but it is still one of the reason why I wanted to come Downtown with my restaurant. There is a feeling, you know, a good New York feeling down here.

Hey, Joe, how you doing?

Hey, guys.

These are a little cappelletti, they are filled with mascarpone, you can see how soft they are. Fresh. Everything here at Osteria Morini is done by hand.

Pit roasted porketta, that he's brushing with rosemary oil. Basically giving it a suntan, with a little suntan oil on it; so it gets nice and crispy.

Living in this think tank city, where all these ideas are burgeoning all the time. It is extremely stimulating for a chef, such as myself, to work here.

JOSHUA HENRY, TONY-NOMINATED ACTOR: Get a load of this. This is where I live when I'm doing a show.

I've been in New York for about five years now and when you are standing in the middle of Times Square it is just really humbling. It is one of the most crowded, competitive, and costly cities around. But, you know, everyone comes here to really make it happen. You know, they-they leave their small towns. They move to New York because they feel like they can do something more. And I can't imagine living anywhere else.

It is just invigorating. And you know, leaving the house, you get on the subway and you are like, all right, here we go. Another day, another hustle.

Uptown? The 2 train.

ANNOUNCER: Stand clear of the closing door, please.

HENRY: Everyone is really about their business, but I feel like there a feeling of community in the city. Like we are all trying to do this together, you know? That is what I've found so far.

Here we are in Harlem, 125th Street.

Some people don't come above 95th Street, but there are amazing restaurants, there are amazing places.

The first restaurant that I went to, when I came to the city, and that is Sylvia's. And that is an amazing Soul Food joint. It is pretty famous.

Hopefully, one day I'll be up on this wall, in Sylvia's. It does feel like I've been on cloud nine, since I've been here. And I know that it doesn't have to be that way and it may not always be that way. So, for now, with the Tony Awards and all these great shows I've been involved with, it is, you know, just trying to live in every moment. It could all be gone in a New York minute, as they say.


WILL STRATTON, SINGER/SONGWRITER: We're here in some very ominous looking weather in Downtown Brooklyn and we are about to get on a ferry to Governor's Island, which is one of my favorite places to relax and sort of get away from the city.

There are so few places in New York City that are this isolated and this quiet.

And it gives you a panoramic view of parts of New Jersey, and I grew up in New Jersey, so that is nice. But you also get the Statue of Liberty, you get Downtown Manhattan. I don't know, it is spectacular on all sides. Especially if you come from the surrounding areas, in the New York metropolitan area, there is not a lot of built in tourist traps here-at least yet. I mean come back in 50 years and maybe that won't be the case. But right now it is just a place to walk around and reflect and think, and see some great views-and listen to the ocean, which is nice, too.

This song is called, "If You Wait Long Enough", and I wrote it when I first moved into my apartment in Redhook, six months ago.


STRATTON: If you look over there, through the trees, you can see the tips of some skyscrapers in downtown Manhattan. So we're literally minutes away. But on the other hand, there is this whole other world over here.


STRATTON: Colonial style buildings with huge porches, things you don't see in New York City until you get to the outskirts of Queens and Brooklyn, when it starts becoming more and more residential.


STRATTON: Just once in a while, it is like hitting the refresh button on urban existence. For an hour, you feel like you don't live in New York anymore. And that is an important thing to have.

XAVIERA SIMMONS, ARTIST: This neighborhood is sort of developing at a really rapid rate. We have a lot of galleries in Chelsea and then we have also, just, 14th Street, which is really busy. And then you have the High Line, which is this sort of urban oasis, in New York City. It is such a gift to be here.

What I love about coming to the High Line-and I probably come here two or three times a week, especially in the summertime, to do my artwork, or to think or to meditate-is that it sort of is this like really beautiful mix of modern architecture, but it also left like, the beauty of the native plants here and you get all these remnants of the railroad tracks, which I really love.

There is still this feeling that you are lost; like you are in another time, or another landscape. And I think that is really important.

I love coming up to this part, an installation by a visual artist by the name of Spencer Finch, who is a really well-known artist here in New York.

I love this part. It is one of my favorite parts.

The High Line has all these different sections so you really get to experience, you know, all this natural landscape. But then you also get this sort of interesting theater, television, kind of high-def, big screen TV, but it is like live reality, going on. It is very, of the moment. And that is the only way I can describe it. You kind of get an experience that is not like anything you have in the city. It is just really well- designed. And it is really smart.

We're heading to the Brooklyn Bridge. It is one of the most iconic bridges in the world. It is definitely in postcards, and films, and televisions shows. I think it is so amazing that you can see all these bridges, back to back to back. It is so beautiful.

It is sort of like a really beautiful way to experience the city, from left to right. From all sides of the bridge.

It is just funny because Brooklyn, for so long was sort of like the outer borough. It wasn't like the cool borough. And now it is like- Brooklyn, it is-I mean, there are kids named Brooklyn now. It is just like the hot place. And we all use the bridge.

ALINA SIMONE, SINGER AND AUTHOR: I think that Brooklyn has sort of gone from being Manhattan's sort of, poor cousin, to being an amazing destination in its own right.

To me this neighborhood is very labyrinthine. There are all these little alleyways and nooks and crannies under these bridges, and so it is really an interesting place to explore. Every time you the corner, there is something new and interesting. And it is constantly evolving.

If you are in New York for a few days, rather than go to Times Square and get a little plastic snow globe with the Statue of Liberty in it, or an I "heart" New York T-shirt. You can come to someplace like this, Neighborhoodies, and get yourself a really cool piece customized clothing.

People who live in Brooklyn are full of neighborhood pride. It is a big thing, which neighborhood do you live in, and people like to represent. So, here you have Bed Stuy, you've got DUMBO, you've got Sunset Park.

Voila, you are a Brooklynite, just like that.

One of my favorite parts of DUMBO, here on Front Street, is this building right here, the Front Street Galleries. You suddenly get to step into this oasis of calm. You just get to step into-basically, someone else's imagination.

DUMBO isn't really considered a traditional gallery district. Everyone has heard of SoHo, there is the burgeoning gallery district in Williamsburg, but here in DUMBO it is a bit of a new thing. So, I don't think people come here expecting to see great art, but you know if they stop into the Front Street Galleries I think they'll find a lot to really surprise and amaze them.

They tend to show a lot of emerging artists, and so in a way maybe they take more risks than some of the established galleries in Chelsea or in SoHo.

Here, `off the grid' is mainstream, here eclectic is what everyone wants. And that is really wonderful. It allows you to just be yourself.



LYDIA MARKS, SET DESIGNER AND DECORATOR: New York has really blossomed, again. And there is a lot of buzz, there is a lot of great new places to go. We are at the top of The Strand, on 37th Street, which is right outside of Harold's Square and right in back of Macy's. We're in the fashion district.

In the last, I would say, 10 years, New York has really started to take advantage of their outdoor spaces. And the development of the High Line, and the Westside Highway, as well as roof bars, people have finally started to develop these spaces.

SEAN MACPHERSON, HOTELIER: We are at the Jane Hotel, on the western edge of the West Village, on the Hudson. I've always been aware of this building. It is a designated landmark. It is a beautiful building. And it became available and we pursued it, and we restored it.

It was built for sailors and at that point New York was really a port town. And so there were all these places along the river that were places for sailors to sleep. When the Titanic went down, they brought the survivors to this building, which is sort of a neat little thing.

It is a business, of course, but it was really just, I felt like a gem that needed to be polished.

I was born in New Zealand and I grew up in Malibu and Mexico, and Sun Valley, Idaho. Then about 11 years ago I moved to New York full time and I've been doing restaurants and hotels here ever since.

Anytime I have anyone in town, if it is remotely possible I bring them out here for a bike ride, because it is just this incredible way to connect with the city. And as you can see, it is a real functioning part of the city, for the people who live here. So, basically all of Manhattan functionS from the middle, and this was sort of the outskirts, and sort of the dregs of the city. But as that was removed, it took quite a while for people here to really figure out, my God, we are right on this body of water and it is really quite beautiful and we ought to take advantage of it.

People in this city really do need the parks, because the city is so incredibly dense. This one, in particular, is nice. You get a little bit of sort of a breeze off of the river. And it is one of the things I really do love about New York. Is, sort of, there is no room, so you just do whatever, whatever you can, wherever you can. That never happens in Los Angeles.

We're heading into the West Village. There is the stereotypical notion of New York City, it is all high rises, when in fact, most of the buildings throughout the West Village are four-story, brownstones, townhouses. And it is just a really quaint, beautiful part of New York City. It is really my favorite part.

If you look up at the signs, and all the signs that are brown, with the little black stripe, are designated landmark areas, which means that fundamentally, the facades of the old buildings are not likely to change.

My favorite part about this neighborhood is that it is, in the scheme of New York, a relatively quiet and restful place to spend time. It is not the same type of destination as Rockefeller Center or the Upper Eastside, or something like that. I think it is more beautiful. It is also more local.


MAX OSTERWEIS, DESIGNER AND FOUNDER, SUNO: We're on Broadway walking south. We are just south of Union Square, heading towards The Strand Bookstore.

My grandfather used to take me to The Strand when I was a kid. He lived here and every time I would visit he would take me to The Strand and buy me two books.

ERIN BEATTY, DESIGNER AND FOUNDER, SUNO: It is actually New York's largest independently owned bookstore, which makes it a real treasure.

It is such an inspirational place. I mean there are so many characters here. They are so-everyone who works here completely understands literature and art. They are very educated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The history of the store was that it was founded by my grandfather 84 years ago. And my dad and I are the owners. You worked here since you were about 13.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Started working as a kid on Saturdays, sweeping and unpacking books, at 13 years old. And I'm 83 now.



OSTERWEIS: I saw in line that they have the Mark Twain, that is signed by Mark Twain and Samuel Clemens, which would be interesting to see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it is actually the first volume of this.

OSTERWEIS: That whole set?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For entire whole set right there.

OSTERWEIS: And it's actually inscribed? Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you are. Samuel Clemens.

OSTERWEIS: Mark Twain, yes.

BEATTY: That's cool.

OSTERWEIS: Do we know how much?


OSTERWEIS: $15,000? For the whole set?


OSTERWEIS: OK. Erin, my birthday, September?

Does anyone ever walk in with something like this, just out of the blue?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Occasionally. Occasionally.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think most people have to think about it.


BEATTY: Yes, a few of them signed Mark Twain, though I imagine you are kind of aware.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, you have the sense of it-right.

BEATTY: That it has some value attached to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you may have an Alice, and not know whether it is the first edition, or the eighth printing, which is the difference of about $15,000.




BEATTY: To me it is so New York.

OSTERWEIS: Yes, to me it is very New York.

We are now in the meatpacking district of New York, which is Downtown on the Westside.


OSTERWEIS: For a long time, it was were people got their wholesale meats from. So the streets would be covered in blood, because the butchers would actually show their success by how much blood they had on the sidewalk. And it has since become quite trendy, and as you can see, there are fairly chic restaurants down here.

BEATTY: I think it is pretty mythical actually, the transition of the meatpacking district, just like it is a New York phenomenon how places in New York can be so gritty and then evolve into something where everyone wants to be.

OSTERWEIS: It has gone through a major change, but in essence, it is the same thing. It was a meat market, and it still is a meat market, it is just a different kind of meat market.

BEATTY: It is great for ambitious people because there is a lot of pressure to constantly grow yourself and figure out new things, and do new things, and challenge yourself. And I personally love that environment.

There is a constant dialogue and it is pushing back and forth. And so you need to feed that. And New York does that.