When you’re a native New Yorker you judge a travel guidebook about your hometown a little bit differently than other readers. That’s what makes the new Time Out New York (Time Out Guides) so impressive to me: Author Richard Koss has all the insights that a native would, and then some….
As he says in his introduction about what is arguably the greatest (and one of the most constantly changing) cities in the world: “Despite the eternal quest for the hot and new, the city is ultimately sustained by what endures.”
Koss’ guide — the 21st edition of this bestseller — then plunges into depth about the city’s history, regales the reader with the tales behind its major landmarks, and treats contemporary news (like Mayor Bloomberg’s overthrow of the city’s term limits law so he could run for re-election) as another in a long line of “chutzpah” moments.
Time Out is well known for its encyclopedic look at where to dine and where to club, and this guidebook has it all, freshly updated from the very best of what the magazine staff turns out. In addition, every entry for sights, hotels, dining, nightlife, shopping and cultural attractions lists the website, contact info, admission price, hours, credit cards accepted, nearest subway stop and even a map marker if it’s covered in the guide’s terrifically small but legible maps.
What makes this guidebook more special than a current issue of Time Out New York?
It’s the context given to each section. My favorite may be “Walk on the Wild Side,” a history of the city’s music scene, with an in-depth look at the Broadway, Jazz, Salsa, Punk Rock and Hip Hop genres. Not only did I read where the term “The Big Apple” originated, but I also learned more about the city’s cultural life, from the wave of Puerto Rican immigration to the movement of DJs from The Bronx to Tokyo. All in the context of music.
And, this book has a respectable section devoted to what kids enjoy in New York. Even after being a kid and raising a kid in New York City, Koss surprised me over and over with something new and unexpected, such as The Bowery Kids Club, its poetry readings, puppet shows and kiddie rock concerts.
Although this guide doesn’t linger long on hotels or the more pedestrian practicalities that other guides do, it does have a good month-to-month events calendar, as well as list of day excursions and nearby overnights. Overall, a fun insider take on city life is well worth the $19.95 cover price. For more information, check out Time Out New York (Time Out Guides)
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