A Year in Preview
It may be another turn of the year, but for New York City, there’s hardly a need for resolutions. This city of dreams seems to turn over a new leaf each time the sun sets over the Statue of Liberty, the skyline continually morphing with ever more glitter and glitz, and on street level, its pulse and style and zeitgeist blowing forward with all the force of the East River’s winter wind.
Visitors likely find that with each trip here, the city has transformed in some way, while for those who live here, every day offers a new experience or opportunity—or at the very least, a new cocktail. Keeping up with the pace isn’t easy, but each year inevitably brings a handful of highlights that residents both temporary and permanent should make efforts not to miss. Here, we’ve compiled some of the city’s finest accomplishments from 2016 that are ushering in the new year with complete assurance that New York is continuing to set a benchmark for dining, shopping, culture, sports, and entertainment not only in America, but worldwide. Here’s our toast to the town for 2017.
When the larger-than-life Tao Group opened its latest outpost Vandal on Bowery last spring, it was just as hard to book one of the 360 seats in the 22,000-square-foot space as it was to get a ticket to the musical Hamilton (which we’ll get to later in this roundup). A temple to New York’s reputation as the vanguard of American street culture, Vandal takes all of that decidedly downtown lifestyle’s most beloved components—street art, street food, DJs, parties that don’t stop until dawn—and combines them in one massive after-dark playground. Food comes as big soft pretzels topped with steak tartare and salsa verde pizza; the art collection includes a custom-made sculpture of a rabbit breakdancing at the entrance (named Ice Grape after a discontinued Krylon spray paint color) and Shepard Faireys in the Garden Room; and the dance floor has been twirled on by Hiltons and Kardashians and Kennedys. Rest assured, this is grit with glitz.
Barbuto (775 Washington St.) & Cosme (35 E. 21st St.)
After being nominated every year since 2013, chef Jonathan Waxman of the West Village’s Barbuto finally claimed the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef—an award long overdue for one of the pioneers of the farm-to-table movement and longstanding best chefs in America. But the pomp and circumstance did not arise from a menu of fancy or even imaginative fare; rather, from the antipasti through to the formaggio, each dish is one of pure Italian simplicity with few but fine ingredients that speak for themselves. You’d be hard-pressed to find fresher, more fragrant pastas, meats, and fish in all of Manhattan. In contrast, chef Enrique Olvera was awarded as the runner-up, not because his food at 2015-opened Mexican restaurant Cosme is traditional or even authentic, but rather because it’s on-point and, frankly, just delicious. Whether it’s duck carnitas served in a cast-iron skillet or ceviche reeling with fermented jalapeños and intense lime, the fare here is not truly Mexican, but rather uses Mexican food as a foundation for creative fare that delivers to the palate-of-the-moment in New York.
Overlooking a yacht-filled harbor by the Hudson, the 2015-opened Brookfield Place is bringing vast new appeal to Lower Manhattan. Centered around the iconic Winter Garden Atrium, the gleaming new shopping complex is filled with a host of cult-followed stores (J. Crew, Lululemon) and a food court of local purveyors none can rival. For fashionistas, the crown of it all is an offshoot of Saks Fifth Avenue called Saks Downtown that opened there this past fall. True to its name and locale, Saks is a mix of uptown and downtown, with racks hung in long white corridors featuring a mix of established designers—Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Lanvin, and the like—alongside new wunderkinds such as MSGM, Public School, and Vetements. A true destination, this Saks features wears not found at other Saks (and very few other stores, for that matter) as well as a top-floor club with private rooms for consultations, power lunches, and beauty treatments.
Coach House (685 Fifth Ave.)
Beloved leather goods maker Coach is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and in honor, it’s opening a new 20,000-square-foot flagship unlike anything it’s ever operated in it’s history. Called the Coach House, the Fifth Avenue leather and fashion shrine will house a shopping salon and a Craftsmanship Bar—two new concepts for the brand, offering special customization and leather services— in a space bedecked with a mix of bespoke and vintage furnishings and spread over three floors linked by a mahogany staircase. Much like the Ralph Lauren Mansion or the homey floors of Henri Bendel, expect the flagship to be a place you’ll want to reside in for an afternoon, playing dress up in the latest runway collections, piecing together a new luggage collection, or getting a new billfold monogrammed at your leisure.
Wempe (700 Fifth Ave.)
The 1878-founded German jeweler Wempe has held residence on the ground floor of the Peninsula Hotel since it moved to Manhattan in 1980, where it’s since been vending some of the finest jewels and watches in the city with service that is second-to-none. The store has been ranked as number one by New York magazine for watch repairs and is one of the few stores worldwide authorized to repair every single Patek Philippe piece. Now, in sight of four decades of such fantastic operations, Wempe is undergoing a massive expansion that will see it occupy the Peninsula’s entire ground floor. Expect expanded collections from Rolex, Cartier, A. Lange & Söhne, Officine Panerai, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Wempe’s own signature watch collection and more.
Hamilton (Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St.)
For those who have not heard, the musical Hamilton is unlike anything musical theater has seen before, with no less than 34 musical numbers (most Broadway productions have roughly 18) telling the story of the American founding father Alexander Hamilton through rap and R&B. Having been nominated for 16 Tony awards (a record) and winning 11, alongside winning the 2016 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, calling it a “must-see” is the understatement of the year. It’s been hailed as “powerful,” “groundbreaking,” and “historic,” which has also resulted in it becoming famous for astronomically priced tickets, if it’s not sold out. However, thanks to lottery.broadwaydirect.com, front-row tickets can be won at random for 10 dollars. It’s worth trying your luck.
The Humans (Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St.)
The catch-it-before-it’s-gone award goes to the Tony Award winner for Best Play The Humans, an emotionally wrenching play about a family during the holidays that closes January 15 after a spectacular run. The plot is simple—conversation at a family Thanksgiving dinner—but manages to be both heartbreaking, terrifying, hilarious, and enriching through some of the most well-written dialogue New York theater has seen in recent years. The characters take the audience deep into issues that range from the economy to art to illness and back again, all shrouded in the turmoil of family politics. You may need a drink after, but as any of the play’s characters would likely tell you, it’s better to feel too much than nothing at all.
Cats (Neil Simon Theatre, 250 W. 52nd St.)
The Broadway musical Cats was once as emblematic of New York as the Empire State Building or Katz’s Delicatessen. Scored by Andrew Lloyd Webber, it ran for 18 years, from 1982 to 2000, winning seven Tony Awards and becoming the fourth-longest- running musical in Broadway history. Now, as of August 2016, it’s back, featuring choreography from Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton) and pop star Leona Lewis as Grizabella, singing the bone-chillingly beautiful ballad “Memory” like it’s never been heard before. Since 1982, Cats has been performed in more than 30 countries and 15 languages, but none can compare to seeing it in New York City, where it’s as much a part of the city’s native landscape as fire escapes and the subway.
No matter if you’re coming from the Met or Broadway or anywhere, just about all roads (read: subway tracks) lead to the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub in Lower Manhattan. An architectural marvel designed by Santiago Calatrava to resemble a bird taking flight, it’s not only reported as the most expensive train station ever built with a $4 billion price tag, but it’s also home to one of the city’s top new shopping destinations: Westfield World Trade Center Mall. Sizing approximately 10 city blocks, the mall ranges from Apple and Aesop to Moleskine, Stuart Weitzman, and Eataly. While nearby Brookfield Place may have the high-end luxury, come here for the quirky and boutique—The Art of Shaving, Smythson, and Penhaligons among them—as well as to snap some photos inside the city’s latest landmark.
Met Breuer (945 Madison Ave.)
Last spring after the Whitney Museum of American Art moved downtown to an ultra-sleek Renzo Piano-designed building in the Meatpacking District, the Metropolitan Museum of Art took over its former home—an iconic Brutalist building on Madison Avenue built by Marcel Breuer—and transformed it into the Met Breuer, a sister museum to exclusively showcase modern and contemporary art. It marked a long-needed move for the Met, which has never had a proper home for its fantastic collections of these genres and previously housed them in the oft-overlooked basement of its main museum by Central Park. Now, the bluestone and brushed- concrete interiors display one of the country’s top contemporary collections—Louise Bourgeois, Diane Arbus, Paul Klee—as well as a Flora, a café and restaurant from the award-winning chef behind Nolita’s beloved Mediterranean restaurant, Estela.
New York Knicks
The 70th season of the New York Knicks has seen some major changes to the basketball team, making for a dream team of sorts and one of their most exciting seasons yet. In June, the team announced that former NBA player Jeff Hornacek would be the team’s new coach, and that the team had acquired former Chicago Bulls players Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, one of the league’s most athletic point guards who in 2011 became the youngest player to ever win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award at the age of 22. What’s more, Kristaps Porzingis is back for his second season with the team after placing second in last season’s Rookie of the Year voting; his points scored during the season topped out at over 1,000. Add forward Carmelo Anthony, who led the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Rio last August, and it’s safe to say that the Knicks came into this season riding a fresh new high, witnessed weekly on the court at Madison Square Garden.
New York Rangers
Last April 24, the New York Rangers were knocked out of the NHL playoffs after five games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who went on to become Stanley Cup champions. It was a tough end to a solid season that left loyal fans eager for their team to return this season with a vengeance. Still led by Swedish goaltender Henrik Lundqvist—the oldest and most essential Ranger—the team this year shook up its roster to become younger and faster in hopes of achieving one goal: winning the Cup. After such a defeat last year, there’s likely no team in the NHL coming onto the ice each game with more determination than the Rangers, making games this season some of the most exciting to see. Head to Madison Square Garden, grab a beer, and watch the pucks fly.