Time Out NYC

The brief was fairly simple, “let’s drive out of the city to someplace quiet and peaceful”. But finding that ‘someplace’ wasn’t quite as easy. There were just way to many options! Beach getaways – from the upscale Hamptons to the not-so-upscale Jersey Shore. Casinos – from overcrowded Atlantic City to out-of-the-way Foxwoods; and then there were the mountains – the Poconos in Pennsylvania, the Catskills in New York and the Berkshires in Massachusetts. We decided to go with the mountains eventually and I picked one from the home state 😉

The Catskill Mountains lie to the North-west of New York City and are a part of the much larger Appalachian Plateau. Originally settled in the 17th century by the Dutch, the name comes from the Dutch word ‘Kaatskil’. In the first half of the 20th century, large Jewish communities developed the area as a resort and soon enough the Catskills took on the somewhat politically incorrect nickname “Jewish Alps”! Today, a lot of the ownership has changed hands but it continues to be a popular get away for Jews living in and around NYC.

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How Far to Rock Away?

The ‘A’ train offers the longest single ride (30 miles / 50 km) one can possibly take on New York’s humongous subway system. But most people have rarely ridden it past Howard Beach! With no beach to its credit, unfortunately, Howard Beach is better known for being the transit stop closest to JFK airport! Ride 7 stops further and you reach Far Rockaway – the eastern tip of Queens, bordering Nassau County in Long Island, and also the last stop on the ‘A’ train.

Welcome to ‘The Rockaways‘! Oft known as the ‘Playground of New York’, the Rockaways refer to the peninsula with a south west projection off Long Island. Once a popular resort area, it is mostly residential today with housing ranging in type from modern apartment blocks to old bungalows. Being a peninsula, it is surrounded by water on most sides – its south side forming a 10 mile long coast line along the Atlantic Ocean.

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The Train to Tobyhanna

Scranton, PA recently made it to an infamous Forbes list of Top Ten Fastest Dying Cities in America! One of many cities that failed to make the transition from a heavily industrialised past, Scranton is the sixth most populous city in Pennsylvania and the oldest of ten in the Forbes list. Till it suffered this recent indignity, it was best known as the setting for the American version of the hit TV series, ‘The Office‘. As I wandered through the local Mall in search of breakfast that morning, I chanced upon a gathering of fans at a promotional event for that very show!

Scranton is also known for ‘Steamtown‘ – a National Historic Site spread across 62 acres – on land once owned by the Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). It attracts its very own following of fans – rail enthusiasts!

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A Bronx Island Tale

Probably the two most well known Hollywood films set in the Bronx are ‘Taking of Pelham 123‘ and ‘A Bronx Tale‘. I’ve appropriated the title of the latter to suit this blog and I mention the former for good reason to. Contrary to popular belief, the ‘123’ in the film’s title does not refer to the 1, 2, 3 subway lines of NYC. Quite simply because those lines do not serve Pelham! It actually refers to the time (1:23) in the plot when the train departs Pelham! It is the no.6 train that serves Pelham and as I write this, a remake of the film is underway! A few Saturdays ago, I rode the 6 to its very last stop – Pelham Bay Park.

The Bronx is host to the city’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) experiment – the BX12 Select Bus Service or SBS. It runs from Inwood in upper Manhattan to Pelham Bay Park in north east Bronx and on alighting from our train, it was the very first thing that caught my eye!

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