Category Archives: NYC Culture

Glee’s Broadway Roots

by Amy

Last year, Fox network found a runaway hit with Glee. The show, whose genre is musical, takes place in a high school where both student body and faculty are prone to breaking out in both song and dance. But while it may take place in Ohio, its roots can definitely be traced back to New York City. No doubt inspired by the big-number shows found among the bright lights, pieces of Glee are easily found all over the Manhattan theatre district, home to the world-famous Broadway.

Throughout the show, the cast performs countless popular hits, dating back decades and including every genre from standards to hip-hop. Glee also frequently pays homage to the shows that paved the way for a musical-style primetime program, by utilizing both show tunes as well actors who have appeared in some very notable productions. In similar fashion, while a visitor to New York can take in a pop spectacle at Madison Square Garden and rock out at Irving Plaza, they can also get a fix of some of their favorite Glee-performed show tunes and see some of the same theatres they became famous in.

For the most part, Glee mainly sticks with classics when it comes to choosing ballads and showstoppers. The pilot episode is emblematic of this, having featured music from Chicago and Les Miserable. Chicago first premiered in New York in 1975 at the Richard Rodgers theater on 46th street, and since its revival in 1996 has played at the Shubert Theatre on 44th and the Ambassador on 49th. Overachiever Rachel Berry, played by Lea Michele, performed the Les Miserable favorite “On My Own” the first time she sings on the show. Les Mis played at the Broadhurst Theatre on 44th Street, a theatre that is now almost a hundred years old after opening in 1917.

While Broadway features many revivals of classic shows, it’s also home to newer productions that may someday become classics in their own right. This group is likely to include Wicked, a musical with multiple ties to Glee. After it opened at the Gershwin Theatre on 51st Street in 2003, Wicked has been playing to regularly sold-out audiences. Its original Broadway stars, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith, have both brought their acting and singing chops to the small screen with roles on the FOX program. The music of Wicked has also been represented. In one episode, Kurt, played by Chris Colfer, faced off against Rachel in a battle for dominance over “Defying Gravity.”

Aside from Menzel and Chenowith, several Glee regulars have Broadway experience under their belt. Before playing a small-screen couple on the show, Ms. Lea appeared with Jonathan Groff as onstage lovers in Spring Awakening at the Eugene O’Neill theatre on 49th. Matthew Morrison originated the role of Link Larkin in Hairspray at the Neil Simon Theatre on 52nd street prior to playing Glee club director and Spanish teacher Will Schuester. Keeping it in the fictional family, Will’s father was played Victor Garber, a 4-time Tony-nominated Broadway vet.

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The cast of Glee

Glee has turned to Broadway for supplying songs for some of their most memorable scenes. As the romance between guidance counselor Emma and Will blossomed, the show utilized “I Could Have Danced All Night,” featured in My Fair Lady. Before Audrey Hepburn bore the cockney accent, the 1959 production of My Fair Lady featured Julie Andrews as Eliza Doolittle, and ran at what was once the Mark Hellinger Theater on 51st Street. ( The theater has since been transformed into the Times Square church; for more historical Broadway facts, check out Uncle Sam’s Theatre District Tour!)

Later on in the initial season, Rachel delivers a veritable showstopper in the form of “Don’t Rain on my Parade” from Funny Girl. Funny Girl’s first Broadway run took place at three different theatres, starting with the Wintergarden (on the actual street Broadway is named for), and moving on to the Majestic on 44th before ending back on Broadway at, well, the Broadway Theatre.

The first season of Glee ended in June, 2010. A few months later, the 2010 Emmy nominations were announced, with Glee receiving 19 nods. In seasons to come, the series is sure to feature even more Broadway numbers, bringing the songs to a new generation, former theatre stars to a new audience, and millions of viewers out of their home and straight into the heart of Manhattan.

Uncle Sam’s Tours


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Filed under Amy Eiferman, NYC Culture

The Top Clubs in the Meatpacking District

Pictured: The gorgeous bar at Tenjune in the Meatpacking District

By Samantha Nicholson

Clubs and lounges in the Meatpacking District often have the reputation of being pretentious. However, these clubs are also known to offer the best time, and the most celebrity-spotting. If you can get in, you are practically guaranteed to have the time of your life mingling amongst the city’s elite and fashionable. Some of the top night clubs in the Meatpacking District include Tenjune, Avenue, 1Oak, and Kiss &Fly. These clubs have a similar atmosphere, but they differ in several ways. This guide will help you choose which one suits your tastes for a fun night out in the infamous Meatpacking District.
Tenjune is one of the easier Meatpacking District clubs to get into. Two years ago, this was a different story. However, the doormen can still be difficult if you aren’t dressed fashionably or have too many gentlemen in your group. Make sure your group has a favorable girl-to-guy ratio and everyone’s dressed to the nines. Also, be polite to the doorman, and definitely don’t beg for entry. Begging has never worked for anyone. Clubs actually like having the beggars outside because it gives the club the an “exclusive” image. Doormen know from the moment they see your group whether you are partying there tonight or going to be left out in the cold. If the doorman tells you no, say “Ok, thanks” and go find somewhere else to party. This applies to all clubs. If you get into Tenjune, you will enjoy the gread soundsystem and beautiful atmosphere. This club might not be the best anymore, but it still gets lots of models and celebrities on a weekly basis. Tuesdays are the best nights at Tenjune.
Avenue and 1Oak are very similar. They are actually right next door to each other, and once inside you can find the secret pathway upstairs that leads to the other club. The crowd is also very similar; the people are definitely fashionable. A gown or a full suit is not appropriate here, but a sundress or a blazer with jeans would be fine. The doormen can be arrogant, and if you plead for entry you won’t be treated nicely. Once inside, you will find great DJs and delicious drinks. Yes, the drinks are about $18 each, but you have to expect this from NYC’s Meatpacking District. These clubs are arguably the top clubs in New York City.
Kiss and Fly offers the same glamorous Meatpacking District experience as 1Oak and Avenue, but it is slightly easier to get into. Tons of club promoters work for Kiss and Fly, so if you can befriend a few, you will be guaranteed easy entry here. Kiss and Fly is also slightly larger than the other two clubs, so you have more room and more space to sit down. Kiss and Fly is best on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The Meatpacking District is arguably the best club district in the world. When and if you get inside a club in the District, you will never want to party elsewhere.


Filed under Night Club Spotlight, NYC Culture, Samantha Nicholson

Majestic Theatre on Broadway

The Majestic Theatre is one one of the largest Broadway theatres in New York City, with 1607 seats at its 245 West 44th Street location. Herbert J. Krapp designed the theatre in 1927 for Irwin Chanin, but was soon taken over by the present owners, the Shuberts, during the Great Depression. The interior of the theatre is a beautiful neo-classical design and has remained one of Broadway’s premier musical houses.

The most notorious shows that have premiered at the Majestic include

Carousel (1945),
South Pacific (1949),
The Music Man (1957),
Camelot (1960),
A Little Night Music (1973),
The Wiz (1975).

It was also the second home of 42nd Street and the third home of 1776. The theatre has shown The Phantom of the Opera since it opened onJanuary 26,1988, the longest-running production in Broadway history with more than 8,000 performances! In 1987, both the interior and exterior of the theatre were designated as New York City Landmarks and people from all over the world stop by to take in how “majestic” this theatre really is.

Learn more about the Majestic Theatre by checking out an in depth timeline from the official site here.

You can experience this Theatre along with several other historic ones when you take the George M. Cohan Theatre District Tour…Book Now!

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Neighborhood Focus: Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park has been recognized as a public park since 1847, but has existed as a public space since 1686. The park is named after the fourth President of the United States, James Madison and has hosted historic events and seen plenty changes over the years. Baseball, America’s pastime, is said to have began in this park after Alexander Cartwright formed the first baseball club in 1845. The park has also hosted the first two Madison Square Gardens, the arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty, as well as temporary arches commemorating George Washington’s first integration all at the end of the 19th Century. This was a time where Madison Square was the focal point one of Manhattan’s most elite neighborhoods.

The park was the site of the tallest building in the world in 1909, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building pictured on the left, and also featured America’s first community Christmas tree in 1912. Despite its huge impact in history, the park was in disrepair in the 1990’s with lack of maintenance and increase in crime. The City Parks Foundation would not let this historic park just deteriorate however, and raised 6 million dollars during a capital restoration project completed in 2001. Now the park is popular as ever with a recently added playground, kept lawns and gardens, and even cultural programs.

To read a more in depth history about Madison Square Park be sure to check out the park’s official site here.

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Filed under History, NYC Culture

Dirty Water Dogs! A part of New York Culture

by Jack Stanley

One of the joys of New York is the dirty water dog. What is that you may ask? Go to any street corner and see the hot dog carts. Hot dogs have been a staple in New York and of course is the lunch of millions. Just think of how many million hot dogs are sold in just NYC alone.

In fact there was a battle for the hot dog concession in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The price that went to bid for the location went at over three hundred thousand dollars! So you can see what a big industry hot dogs are.

The taste of the New York Dogs is special and has a flavor all of its own. People have been indulging on hot dogs in New York since the dawn of the 20th century. The term dirty water dog comes from the fact that the hot dogs are boiled in water and kept in the water. It adds to the flavor and it truly is a real taste of New York .

In a city where many types of food are available, the most popular in dish in NYC is indeed the dirty water dog. Don’t let the name scare you. They are wonderfully delicious and a true part of the culture of New York City.

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Exploring the Neighborhoods of New York

By Samantha Nicholson

Williamsburg, an area in Brooklyn often called “Billyburg” by its residents, is famed as the hipster capital of New York City. But there is a lot more to the area than skinny-jean wearing guys and fedora-loving girls. Williamsburg is also home to trendy boutiques, fun bars, and a famed indie rock scene. The majority of visitors to New York City have never even heard of this section of Brooklyn, and it is probably not the first thing a person would want to do during a short trip to the city.But if you are one of the many trend-conscious visitors to the city and are wondering whether the trip across the East River is worth your time, this answer is a resounding yes. When you arrive in Williamsburg, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. Nothing is particularly flashy, and many of the buildings appear run-down and old. However, there are tons of exciting things to do if you know where to go.

When a person thinks of shopping in the city, Madison Avenue and SoHo are usually the first places that come to mind.  Shopaholics are now leaving Manhattan and coming to Williamsburg for clothes made and designed in Brooklyn. They come for trendy and unique styles at moderate price points.  5 in 1 is one popular studio boutique on Bedford Avenue. The store is located in a former steel factory that dates back to the 19th century.  You can find everything from hand-sewn knits to funky jewelry here. Their pieces are surefire conversation starters, as no one will have anything like it in their closets.

Another hidden spot is the mod home décor spot Future Perfect (115 N 6th St), a small showroom crammed with cool stuff.This place is actually very pricey, but well worth the extra cash. Who doesn’t want a glass lamp in the shape of a dead bird lying face up? The unique furniture available here is sure to make your houseguests swoon over your unique sense of style. While most tourists aren’t looking to purchase furniture while on vacation, some of the pieces are so obscure that it is like being at a museum.

If bargains are your thing, Williamsburg has tons of vintage and thrift stores. Some of the most notable stores include Beacon’s Closet (88 N 11th St), Buffalo Exhange (332 E 11th St), and Mini Mini Market (218 Bedford Ave). All of these stores offer interesting merchandise that you could never find in a department store. You’ll want to stock up on retro gifts and accessories.
If you want to go to a real museum, check out A.M. Richard Fine Art (328 Berry St.) You can find obscure exhibits by little-known artists that you wouldn’t see at the Met or the MoMa.

When nighttime hits, there is still plenty to do. There is no shortage of cool lounges and bars in Williamsburg. One of the most popular bars is Spuyten Duyvil (359 Metropolitan Ave). The inside of this place is straight out of a Harry Potter movie.It even has a large back yard that is open during the summer months. Despite being a bit pricey, the beer selection is hard to beat. The menu is full of rare beers and wines, and there is even a winter ciders menu. The beer bar was voted the #2 beer bar in New York City by  It is a great place to bring some friends and meet a few locals.  Alligator Lounge (600 Metropolitan Ave) is another hot spot.  During happy hour, you can get an entire brick oven pizza for free with the purchase of a drink.  While the frathouse décor is nothing to write home about, but the free pizza makes the trip worth it. Another great place to get food with your booze is Sea Restaurant (114 N 6th St) which is a Thai restaurant and nightclub fusion. Head here early in the night as it gets packed past ten.

One of the most famous places to go in Williamsburg is the Brooklyn Brewery (79 N 11th St). It opened in 1988 and has been serving its famed Brooklyn lager ever since. Tours are free, and start long before happy hour. You’ll learn about Brooklyn beer and also the history of Brooklyn. You can then drink some fresh brews in the tasting room, which doubles as a bar. The atmosphere here is friendly and you will learn a lot.

Even though Brooklyn may not be the first place you want to visit on a trip to New York City, every tourist should check it out at some point. This corner of Brooklyn has officially arrived.

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Filed under Neighborhood Focus, NYC Culture

The other President that was buried in NYC. James Monroe (1758-1831) 5th President of the United States. Removed from NYC’s Marble Cemetery in 1858

By Jack Stanley

Removing the coffin from the vault
Monroe’s coffin on display at New York’s City hall on July 3, 1858. Before the body was taken to Virginia for burial…It must of had a rather musty smell after being in a vault for 27 years…But there seems to be no mention of it. The smell I guess was not too strong as the inner coffin was switched to a new one. The inner coffin was made of lead, and it was placed inside a new mahogany casket. But he was the only President that was laid out for public view long after his death.
President James Monroe of Virginia. The last President who was a Revolutionary War Vet
New York City’s Marble Cemetery. Where Monroe was buried. Monroe was placed in a vault here after his death on July 4th 1831. He was totally broke and so it was with support that he was buried in New York.
In 1858 he was exhumed and moved to Virginia where he rests. His wife and family were reburied in the graveyard near his tomb.
A closer look at his sarcophagus in Virginia.

James Monroe, our fifth President died basically a pauper. He was living with is daughter in New York as his money situation was in terrible shape. He finally died of heart failure on July 4th 1831. 55 years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and five years after Jefferson and Adams.

His Presidency was known as the “Era of good feeling”.In his Presidency was perhaps the greatest Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams who wrote the Monroe Doctrine.

Sadly after his Presidency his money situation grew awful. He sold his home in which his wife was buried and moved to New York with his daughter.

His funeral was of great pomp and he was laid to rest in Marble Cemetery in New York City in the Gouverneur family Vault. There he rested till 1858. When a petition from Virginia was settled and his remains were to be brought to state of his birth and most of his life. His coffin was exhumed and brought to New York’s City hall where it was on display for the public to see once again the coffin, not the President. He was then put on to a barge a taken to Virginia.

There were a number of storms and it looked like what was left of Monroe was to be lost…But they made it. It is an odd thing that one of Alexander Hamilton’s grand sons was part of the honor guard and was sadly washed over board during one of these storms.

Then in July of 1858 he was interred in a rather bizarre Cast Iron tomb. His wife and family were buried near to him. But his tomb was made for only one. There he rests to this day…Now in company with John Tyler, who would be buried there at Hollywood, but not honored till many years later with a marker for his tomb


Filed under History, NYC Culture