From Arrest to Appeal

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Cows grazing in meadows, thousands of convicts overflowing from prisons, and mob bosses being thrown in jail aren’t the first things that come to mind when thinking of New York City. Yet this was once the norm in Foley Square in the lower Manhattan area that now houses the beautiful courthouses.

The neighborhood is made up of stately buildings with white granite exteriors interspersed with public sculptures and open green spaces. Linda, a court stenographer, convenes the tour at the Surrogate’s Courthouse. This court itself hides the meadows in which the cows once grazed in lower Manhattan.

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Continuing on to the equally impressive Tweed Courthouse, lined by ornate granite columns,we were shocked to hear the criminal history of this building that now upholds the law. Tweed Courthouse was first hometo a poorhouse and then a front for the famous mob boss, William M. Tweed, to embezzle millions of dollars. The buildings’ honor was reclaimed when the boss himself was tried and convicted within the very same building.

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We continued to the previous prisons and other remnants of Manhattan’s past, stepping inside a courthouse and even meeting a judge. Linda disclosed the inner workings of the court with which she is familiar with through her job. To gain a legal, historical, and even insider view on lower Manhattan, meet Linda at the Surrogate’s Courthouse. 

Holiday Avenue Adventures in NYC

There is no better place to feel the holiday spirit than Fifth Avenue, and yet Fifth Avenue is always in season. Joy, an artist who has been featured in the New York Times for her work, has been enamored with the avenue for as long as she can remember. Beginning at the pinnacle of luxury, at the world famous Plaza, Joy shared the lively history of the hotel. We then entered the lobby to trace the steps of Eloise, the famous fictional child resident. Visiting her portrait and the shop downstairs replete with Eloise dolls, life size wardrobe options for children, and a tea room for the true Eloise experience, it is clear this is the most fun way to see the Plaza.

We continued outside the Plaza to the Paris theatre, the locale for many a movie premiere. Joy knew the stories of celebrity jealousy and anger that caused a few scenes, sharing them in detail.

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The next stop on the avenue was the department store, Bergdorf Goodman, the store that will ruin you for all other department stores. Joy described the artistry behind the decorations such as the white branch covered chandelier or white feather draped display.

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Yet a visit to Fifth Avenue cannot be complete without seeing Tiffany’s, the place “where nothing bad ever happens” according to Holly Golightly. Listening to the history of the Tiffany’s empire and the store’s crown jewel, the yellow diamond, that is over 250 carats, you understand where the true magic of the store originates.

Joy enthusiastically continues the tour through the other highlights of Fifth Avenue proclaiming, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” The tour ends at the bottom ofManhattan where Joy shares some of the most shocking history of the city. If you want the full Fifth Avenue experience from Eloise to the sordid celebrity tales to department store heaven, book this experience with Joy!

Top New York Restaurant Picks of the Season

Top New York Restaurant Picks of the Season

By Lianna @ Vayable on December 5, 2012

A dining experience with typical food in a standard space isn’t going to cut it in New York this season. With a new restaurant opening every week in the city that never sleeps, we challenged our local Vayable tour guides to find the new restaurants that combined great food with unique experience. Follow their local recommendations for a day of international bites and explorations from the bottom of Queens to a view of Manhattan from above.

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Russian Breakfast; photo courtesy of Vayable guide Jeffrey

Lunch: Vayable guide Jeffrey, who has become known for his food tours of Queens that cover an array of cultures and cuisines, recommends M. Wells Dinette:

A combination of highbrow modern art with a dash of public school grit and a large helping of innovative cooking, M. Wells Dinette is nothing if not unique. Housed inside MoMA PS1, the cafeteria-style restaurant, has garnered attention for its constantly changing menu, displayed on a large chalkboard, which features dishes with the most daring of ingredients from cured pork tongue to pink ovals of foie gras. Don’t leave without sampling some of the inventive desserts created by pastry chef, Bethany Costello.

Experience: Work off this hefty lunch by exploring MoMA PS1, an affiliate of the renowned MoMA, which has an impressive collection of groundbreaking contemporary art.
Inside MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave., Long Island City, Queens
Main courses $13-$30
718-786-1800

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Dinner: Vayable guide Ming, who leads culinary adventures through the best food spots in Chinatown, recommends Gaonnuri:

The spaciously stunning interior, located in the penthouse of a business building in midtown, is matched only by the views of the city below. Despite the scenery, the focus remains on the authentic Korean cuisine. With an emphasis on serving seasonal ingredients, the chefs use a combination of Korean and French techniques. Ming suggests the Spicy Codfish Tang soup followed by a festive Korean barbeque main dish.

Experience: Gaze down from the 39th floor windows at the view of Korea town and Manhattan below.
1250 Broadway Penthouse (39th floor), New York, NY
Main courses $15-$29
212-971-9045

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Oysters at The Leadbelly

Cocktails: Vayable guide Julie, a self proclaimed oyster aficionado, who leads tours of the oyster joints of New York, recommends The Leadbelly:

Step off the streets of the Lower East Side, back in time to a décor of wooden tables, vinyl records and dartboards. Despite the old-timey feel, they serve up fresh seafood with a focus on oysters. The noshes are complimented by an extensive cocktail list.

Experience: If oysters with cocktails is not enough of an adventure for you, venture out to explore the nightlife of the Lower East Side. Julie recommends heading across to the street to the Fat Radish, owned by the team who owns The Leadbelly.
14 Orchard Street, New York, NY
Appetizers $8-$30; Cocktails $13
646-596-9142
*Check out more of Julie’s oyster adventures at: http://www.inahalfshell.com/