New York, now
From Page 1 Ten years later, Section 1 of the promenade, which runs north from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street in Chelsea, is operational. It’s a triumph of urban design, combining elements of its industrial past — old tracks, beams and girders — with wild and introduced plants and grasses, meandering pathways, hidden nooks and crannies and elevated views of Manhattan and the Hudson River.
Wooden deckchairs line a section of the High Line and they are filled with people taking in the sights, tapping on their laptops or topping up their tans. High Tea on the High Line, a mobile cafe, is turning out coffees and cakes for visitors, while an amphitheatre-style section of the promenade is a drawcard for families watching the bustling street below through a giant picture window.
The project has brought a new energy to New York and locals are clearly proud of their achievement. ‘‘ This is so good for the city,’’ I hear one New Yorker, acting as tour guide, telling his captivated guest. Section 2 of the High Line, which will continue the elevated park from 20th to 30th streets, is due to open next year. www.thehighline.org.
Be a night owl: As New York is a 24-hour party place, it’s rude to retire too early. Two excellent nightspots at completely different ends of the spectrum are Birdland Jazz Club (315 West 44th St) and Don’t Tell Mama (343 West 46th St). Birdland, named after legendary jazz muso Charlie ‘‘ Bird’’ Parker, began life on Broadway 60 years ago and attracted the likes of Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis to its stage (and celebs such as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner and Sammy Davis Jr to its audiences).
The club has since moved twice and shut down for a couple of decades in between. It is now ensconced in Midtown (315 West 44th St), and still pulls in dedicated jazz fans each night. has described Birdland as ‘‘ close to perfection for serious fans and musicians’’ and we find the cosy atmosphere and smooth rhythms a tonic after a long day exploring.
Alas the night is still young when our entertainers for the night, the excellent Louis Hayes Quintet, finish playing and we go in search of somewhere else to have some fun. My travelling companion leads us to an old favourite, Don’t Tell Mama, which is certainly a very different scene from the one we’ve just left. At the piano a chap who is strangely reminiscent of Woody Allen bashes out a rendition of while a manic waiter (who looks worryingly like David Walliams’s character Lou from is rushing around in a novelty apron, screeching ‘‘ I can’t find anybody in charge!’’ while attempting to dole out drinks.
This high-camp piano bar, cabaret and lounge seems to be the place where those whose faces don’t quite fit on Broadway end up. The waitstaff take it in turns to sing (most have terrific voices) and the On the map: The Official NYC Information Centre on Seventh Avenue odd brave audience member chances their luck, too, with more mixed results. By the time our bewildered waiter leaps on to the stage wearing only a G-string to belt out a rendition of we realise it’s probably time to head back to the Affinia.
This may be the city that never sleeps, but I need my bed. Especially one that has been handmade in Sweden to the tune of $US10,000. www.birdlandjazz.com; www.donttellmamanyc.com. Michelle Rowe was a guest of Affinia Hotels, V Australia and Virgin America.
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