What’s in a Name? 5 Popular NYC Neighborhoods

In New York City, there are dozens of neighborhoods to visit and while their names may seem simple, many of them are actually abbreviations, acronyms or portmanteaus.

“Neighborhoodification” has been occurring over the past two decades when new boutiques, trendy restaurants and hip residents move in to a particular area and create one of these unique names. Confused yet? Here is the name breakdown and lowdown for five popular NYC neighborhoods:

Soho (South of Houston Street):

Blocks of boutiques, famous name-brand shops, and cafes make Soho a more-than-desirable spot for an afternoon of shopping and lunch. In this historic cast-iron district, you will experience beautiful architecture and various art galleries, featuring artists from across the globe. Weather permitting, discover blocks and blocks of new, inspiring artists in a sea of street vendors including talented jewelry designers, painters, and photographers.

Nolita (North of Little Italy):

Nolita has also become known for its boutique shopping and quaint cafes. While Soho possesses a certain hustle and bustle, Nolita is full of quiet spots that give the neighborhood an off-the-beaten-path flair. Nolita is also the home to The Market NYC, a flea market where local independent artists, designers and entrepreneurs sell their creations, which is a must-see for any fashionista.

Mepa (Meatpacking District):

MePa is the spot for nightlife whether you’re looking for a full-on club or a low-key lounge. Find high-fashion designer shops including Diane Von Furstenberg and Stella McCartney without the same overwhelming Soho crowd. MePa is also the starting point for the High Line, a public park built on an old freight line elevated above the street, which is perfect for a relaxing stroll with beautiful views.

Fidi (Financial District):

FiDi is the home of Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, and with the work crowd comes some great lunch spots and happy hours. Battery Park is just steps away, where you can catch a glimpse of Lady Liberty, the World Financial Center and New York Harbor. Snap a picture with the Charging Bull, one of NYC’s biggest tourist attractions.

Tribeca (Triangle Below Canal Street):

Home to some of the most expensive real estate in the country, Tribeca is known for its out-of-this-world restaurants and celebrity sightings. The once industrial cast-iron buildings have now been converted into beautiful loft residences, drawing only the rich and famous. Tribeca is also home to the Tribeca Film Festival, founded by Robert De Niro in 2002, which brings in nearly three million visitors to the neighborhood each year.

Visiting New York City: Five Insider Tips

New York City can be overwhelming on so many levels and when you’re visiting from out of town you only have about a million questions that need to be answered.  So before your trip, you Google and Google until your fingers fall off, or you call your second cousin who lived in Queens twenty years ago, but everything you find or anyone you talk to is only telling you about the latest Broadway show or the new museum exhibit that’s an absolute must.  In the midst of all the exciting things to do and see, here are some tips that will help you to survive your visit to the Big Apple:
1. Manhattan vs. Other Boroughs
New York City is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island.  Manhattan is most likely where you’ll spend the majority of your time.  The other boroughs require you to cross a river to get there.  Most of the popular hotels, theaters, museums, etc. are on the island of Manhattan and depending on how many times you’ve visited before, you may or may not choose to venture out to the surrounding boroughs.  I guess you’ll literally cross that bridge when you come to it.
2. “The Subway” and “The Train” are the Same
There’s the Long Island Railroad, the New Jersey Transit and the MetroNorth, but you will be dealing with what’s called the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) which consists of the New York City Bus and Subway System.  When people tell you to take “the subway” or to take “the train”, they are referring to the MTA subway system–any trains that run underground in Manhattan.  So don’t hop on that train in Grand Central Station because the cool guy on the street said to “take the train.”  Lovely as it is, I’d hate for you to end up in Connecticut.
3. Public Restrooms
Sure, there are plenty of parks with public restrooms and some subway stations but I would avoid those at all costs quite honestly, because what awaits you in those restrooms is always a mystery–a less than pleasant mystery.  You’re much better off strolling into a hotel lobby nonchalantly and making your way to the restrooms there.  Also, some of the larger department stores or chain stores (Bloomingdale’s, Old Navy, Apple, etc.) provide a pleasant environment for relief when nature calls.  Starbuck’s is a good idea in theory, but unless you’re willing to wait in a 20-minute latte line, I’d steer clear of that option as well.
4. Layering
I understand that you don’t want to look like a GAP window display gone terribly wrong, but no matter what the season in NYC, you’ll be sorry if you don’t layer.  When you’re out and about in 20-degree weather and then head into a building that’s pushing 88 degrees, you’ll thank me.  On the flip side, when it’s a humid, sticky 90, and you decide to go to the museum, if you don’t have a top layer on-hand, you may very well end up frozen and put on display next to the wooly mammoth.
5. Always ask for the Cross Streets
New York City is mapped out as a grid with streets running east to west and avenues running north to south for the most part.  No matter what your form of transportation (Uber, taxi, walking, etc.), when asking for directions or looking at a map always ask for or take note of the cross streets.  It will save you a great deal of time, not to mention backlash from upset New Yorkers as you stand dazed and confused in the middle of the sidewalk staring blankly at Google maps on your smartphone.

Last Weekend’s Vintage and Teen Tours were a Success!

ShopNYC Tours is starting to pick up with the season!  Last Friday I gave a Vintage Boutique Tour for a grandmother and her granddaughter and last Saturday, I gave a tour for two eager teenagers.  Both groups were a lot of fun and came from totally different backgrounds.

The Vintage Boutique gals were from San Diego.  It was the granddaughter’s first time to the Big Apple and she was researching design schools since she wants to be a fashion designer.  They were very in-the-know about the fashion world, which helped the tour along nicely.  They were really pleased to have transportation provided with the tour since they were exhausted from running around the city for a week!  They also enjoyed watching the tour videos.  (I show 1-2 minutes videos with interviews of store managers/owners/sales associates highlighting the latest items and best sellers.)  
The first stop was Soho.  They were super excited to visit INA since I mentioned that some of the apparel worn in “Sex and the City” was sent there and sold for consignment prices, which is usually a third of what these items normally cost.  Still, although these are consignment pieces, they are mostly designer consignment, which ends up being costly, but at the same time, will last forever!  If you spend $500 on a coat at INA or $300 on a handbag, these are items that you will keep forever.  They also immensely enjoyed Chelsea Girl Couture, which is filled with feminine frocks including never-been-worn Diane Von Furstenburg and their best-selling Moon Bags.  Laurel Canyon Vintage and Flying A are a little more casual, which wasn’t really their style, but they still visited and enjoyed browsing.
After Soho, I took them to the East Village where they had a great time visiting O Mistress Mine, where they bought some amazing vintage jewelry and a timeless vintage sweater.  The granddaughter also enjoyed Buffalo Exchange where she found some super-discounted tops and a dress.  As a teenager on a tight budget, Buffalo Exchange was definitely one of her favorites.  While watching the tour videos on the way to the East Village, they were really excited to visit Fabulous Fanny’s to see all of the vintage eyewear.  They thought it was so interesting and probably spent the most time browsing there.   They were enamored with the hundreds and hundreds of eyeglasses.  They made a brief stop at Cadillac’s Castle, but they were anxiously awaiting going to East 7th Street, where they wanted to visit AuH2O.  Wanting to be a fashion designer, the granddaughter thought that Kate Goldwater (who designs and sews all of her own stuff) was a genius!  The grandmother was very impressed with Kate’s skills as well.  When I told them that she was on CNN’s “How They Got Started” they weren’t surprised at all.  
I dropped them off for dinner in Greenwich Village after the tour and they couldn’t thank me enough.  They both had a wonderful time, which is what’s so cool about the Vintage Boutique Tour.  No matter what age you are, you can appreciate vintage.
On Saturday morning, my Teen Fashion & Fun Tour goers were super excited to shop NYC!  (I think they were also excited to get away from their parents for awhile!)  I started off by playing the videos showcasing the Abercrombie & Fitch Flagship, Henri Bendel’s and Juicy Couture.  I think the videos got them in the mood to shop and got them excited about what they were going to experience.  They had a really fun time seeing the sights of Fifth Avenue, and although they didn’t buy much, they still enjoyed the atmosphere.  They also requested a stop at the Disney Store which is pretty much a given destination for tourists.  One of the teens commented that the Disney Store in her hometown in North Carolina had closed.  I assured her that the Fifth Avenue Disney store was THE Disney Store and the stores in the mall couldn’t compare.  
After romping around on Upper Fifth, we got back in the car and headed for the West Village Marc Jacobs Special Items store.  I knew that they were a little overwhelmed from Fifth Avenue, so gave them their Teeny Cosmos on the way, which they seemed to enjoy.  I took a picture for them so they could feel very “Gossip Girl”–or maybe even “Sex and the City.”  At any rate, teens who love labels but are on a tight budget die and go to heaven every time they set foot in the Marc Jacobs Special Items Store on Bleecker Street.  I mean, to buy something with a Marc Jacobs logo for two or three dollars is unheard of.  So they absolutely LOVED it and actually made their first purchases there.  Since everything else in that area on Bleecker is a little pricey, we hopped back in the car and headed for Noho/Soho.
On the way, I told them about the Magnolia Bakery (which I had even pointed out to them on our way to MJ) and told them I would be giving them some of the famous cupcakes en route to the next stop.  More sugar was just what they needed!  They enjoyed the cupcakes, but thought they were a little too sweet, so I told them to save them for mom.  
When we went to our first stop in Noho, Joyce Leslie, they officially started their shopping spree.  They were really impressed with the store, and more importantly, their prices.  Joyce Leslie is like a Forever 21 or H&M but they don’t have locations across the US, which made this a special treat.  They spent most of their money at Joyce Leslie, which made sense because it was there that they got the most “bang for their buck.”  They also visited David Z across the street to make some shoe purchases and the street market around the corner to get some dirt cheap (but cute) jewelry.  
It’s hard to read teens, but I think Noho/Soho was their secret haven on the tour.  They enjoyed seeing the other stores and neighborhoods, but when they could actually start spending their money was what excited them most.  But I guess that excites us all, doesn’t it?