A Green City Guide to New York City

City: New York City
Population: 8,391,881
Green Cred: A mass transportation system that runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; dozens of farmers' markets and public parks; the green architecture of the Hearst Building and the Bank of America Tower. Its lesser known green cred: the largest commercial steam system in the United States is located under the streets of Manhattan where it heats, cools, and powers high-rise business and residential buildings.

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With so many things to do and see in one city, how can a visitor take in all that New York has to offer? Our advice: step off the beaten path of Midtown Manhattan and get to know the greener sides of New York City. If possible, take a quick trip out of Manhattan to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Governors Island, or Sandy Hook so you can see the city from afar, where it's often its most beautiful. New York City offers visitors endless entertainment options and a multitude of ways to spend their time. If the weather is sunny (even if the temperatures are cold and there's snow on the ground), ditch Times Square to see what makes the city loved by so many—it's green spaces, foods markets, small independent shops, artisans, architecture, and restaurants (just to name a few).

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Place You Must Go: The High Line

Places You Must Go

Considering everything NYC has to offer, a tourist could easily spend a week exploring just one of the city's neighborhoods. If I had family or friends in town, these are the five green places I wouldn't let them miss.

  • The High Line: Visiting The High Line Park is a must-do for any visitor, especially those interested in public green spaces. "The High Line was built in the 1930s, as part of a massive public-private infrastructure project called the West Side Improvement. It lifted freight traffic 30 feet in the air, removing dangerous trains from the streets of Manhattan's largest industrial district." Section one of the rehabilitated space was opened to the public in June 2009 while the northern portion (from 20th Street to 30th Street) is scheduled to open in 2011.
  • If you end your visit to The High Line at its southern end after passing under The Standard, head east on Gansevoort Street then north on 9th Avenue to 15th Street where Chelsea Market is located. There you will find local independent food sellers Ronnybrook Farm Dairy, Amy’s Bread, The Green Table, Dickson’s Farmstand Meats and One Lucky Duck.
  • Union Square Greenmarket: The city's Greenmarket Farmers Market program offers city dwellers local, fresh produce year-round at 21 of its locations throughout the city. The Union Square Greenmarket is by far the most popular with foodies, locals and restauranteurs alike. Open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 am to 6 pm, it's a great place to not only shop for artisan goods but it's perfect for people watching as well.
  • iCi Restaurant offers diners super yummy local seasonal food in its Fort Greene, Brooklyn location. Occupying two floors of a 19th Century historic brownstone, the restaurant has a cozy atmosphere and simple décor. Stop in for brunch on a warm sunny Sunday and enjoy the restaurant's patio or perhaps you'll be lucky enough to be invited to a private dinner or wedding in the restaurant's second floor party space.
  • Visit the National Design Museum.

Things You Must Do

  • Walk the Brooklyn Bridge for unparalleled views of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you begin the adventure in Manhattan and end in Brooklyn, you can easily find your way to DUMBO for shopping and an excellent meal.
  • Celebrate the arrival of spring by visiting The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens from late March through mid-May. It's during this time when the Garden's expansive collection of oriental flowering cherries bloom into the richest shades of pink, purple and white.
  • Taking place on the first Sunday in May, The Great Five Boro Bike Tour is a fun green way to see the city without the danger of dodging cars on Manhattan's streets.
  • If you want to relax and enjoy the outdoors like a New Yorker, visit the area known as Sheep's Meadow in Central Park on a sunny spring, summer or fall day. The park will be filled with sunbathers, families and frisbee games—it's a great sight and a wonderful way to soak-up a little Vitamin D.
  • Take a yoga class at one of the city's finest studios: Jivamuki Yoga Center, Park Slope Yoga Center, Pure Yoga.

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Where To Sleep: Algonquin Hotel

Where To Sleep

Finding an affordable hotel in New York City can be challenging during certain times of the year. If the suggestions below don't suit your needs, take a look at Home Away, an often affordable option for longer stays.

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Where To Eat: iCi Restaurant

Where To Eat

New York City is full of fantastic restaurants—many open around the clock or at least into the early morning hours. And with dozens of new dining options opening each year it can make the decision of where to eat a tricky one. New Yorkers are lucky, though. With the abundance local, organic food available, many restauranteurs are taking advantage and bringing seasonal, local fare to the table.

Organic/Sustainable/Seasonal/Local

Vegan/Vegetarian

Bakeries/Coffee Shops

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Shop To Visit: Canvas

Shops To Visit If You're There For A Day

For many tourists, visiting New York City equates to shopping. If you're not in the market or are interested in saving your pennies, window shopping can be just as fun (or even more so) and is a great way to see different neighborhoods throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Shops To Frequent If You're There For a Year

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Green Space To See: Public Farm 1

Green Spaces

Whether it's shopping a farmers' market, sunning in Central Park or taking part in the FIGMENT arts celebration on Governors Island, New Yorkers love to take a hiatus from the busyness of their daily lives by enjoying the city's green spaces.

Thrift Store: Film Biz Prop Shop

The Best Flea Markets, Antique Fairs, and Thrift Stores

Treasures abound in New York City flea markets and thrift stores. The Brooklyn Flea has become so popular that it's now open year-round. Take a look at the Wall Street Journal "Walkabout New York" clip below.

Flea Market: Brooklyn Flea

(Images: as linked, Flicker members Andrew Mace and Barry Yanowitz licensed for use under Creative Commons, Landis Carey)

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Books & Media, by city, Green Living

Landis is a ceramic artist who hand-makes heirloom-quality pottery for the kitchen, table, and home. She writes about tabletop design and entertaining for The Kitchn and lives in Maplewood, NJ with her husband and toddler.

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