08/23/16 11:07am

Photo: Al Rodriguez Photography

Even your wildest adventures in New York City apartment hunting won’t prepare you for the tour of House 17 in Nolan Park on Governors Island that is The Enchanted Realm of René Magritte. Conceived, produced, and directed by Exquisite Corpse Company, this site-specific play is a skillfully envisioned interactive piece of theatre that invites you into the life, the loves, the art and the home of the iconic surrealist painter.

We meet René (and his bowler hat) just a few minutes in, as he explains that he’s trying sell his childhood home following the death of his father. René (played delightfully by Max Henry Schloner, who manages to combine near-perfect strokes of charm and neurosis) doesn’t just want to leave his home; he wants to tear himself away from the ghastly clutches of his memories, which include hallucinations of his suicidal mother (Blair O’Leary, wet-haired and wild-eyed, terrifying and wonderfully effective), and a mysterious gentleman named Mr. Fish (superbly comedic Lee Collins), who may or may not be a fragment of René’s consciousness. (more…)

05/06/16 12:25pm

Governors Island doesn’t open until May 28, but in the midst of a monsoon-like spring, we need something to look forward to. This 172-acre pocket of parkland will be unveiling some impressive new features this summer, along with its usual lineup of great events. If you always read about the fun things happening on Governors Island, but never actually end up making it there (or haven’t since Governors Ball was actually on Governors Island all those years ago), this is the year to remedy the situation. As usual, there will be ferries from Brooklyn Bridge Park and along the Brooklyn waterfront via the East River Ferry. And if you fund this Kickstarter, you could actually walk there one day–it’s only 1400 feet away.

Here’s what you can expect on NYC’s fun island this summer:

#1 Governors Island is getting enviable vistas

The view from Outlook Hill as of April 2016. Photo: The Trust For Governors Island

The view from Outlook Hill as of April 2016. Photo: The Trust For Governors Island

Unlike San Francisco, New York City is delightfully flat, which is why you’re able to see for miles on a clear day. But one of the great and let’s be honest, extremely Instagrammable features coming to Governors Island this summer will be the Hills, a series of man-made ridges and slopes that have been under construction since 2013. Each of the new, little mounds are designed around a theme and include Slide Hill, where kids and adults alike are invited to ride from top to bottom on a three story tall, 48.5 feet long slide–NYC’s longest; Outlook Hill, which at 70 feet will boast a gorgeous view of the city and the Statue of Liberty; Grassy Hill, a picnic perfect spot overlooking a baseball diamond; and Discovery Hill, a wooded hill that will feature Cabin, a sculpture by famed English artist Rachel Whiteread at the top. While there’s no opening date as of yet, locals are invited to explore the new area during free hardhat tours until the Hills officially open later this summer. (Curbed got a sneak peek.) (more…)

09/24/14 11:11am
The DUMBO Arts Festival returns this weekend with captivating public art. Pictured are installations on the East River from last year, "Ship of Tolerance" by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov and "Extra Perimeters" by Kim Holleman. Photo: Lisa Kim

The DUMBO Arts Festival returns this weekend with captivating public art. Pictured are installations on the East River from last year, “Ship of Tolerance” by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov and “Extra Perimeters” by Kim Holleman. Photo: Lisa Kim

This is a week where tradition takes over your plans. For those preparing to celebrate the year 5775, Shana Tova— you have some challah-filled days with family ahead of you. On Sunday the Atlantic Antic will have an even more festive feel because the city’s largest street fair is turning 40. Along with the multitude of people and food stalls, this is the only day the normally car-clogged thoroughfare opens itself up to bands and beer gardens (Hank’s is a great place to hang out, and hear the Les Sans Culottes play at 2 and 4pm). Bay Ridge is throwing two smaller but similar annual street parties, the Raggamuffin Parade and Third Avenue Fesvital—a prime time to eat at these local haunts. And if Governors Island was a staple of your summer weekends, Sunday is the last day to enjoy kite flying, a 3D film of Marina Abromović, and holograms till the spring.

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06/16/14 11:30am
Jazz-age appropriate reading material made an appearance at this weekend's lawn party. Photo: Gabrielle Sierra

Jazz-age appropriate reading material made an appearance at this weekend’s lawn party. Photo: Gabrielle Sierra

Jazz Age lawn parties on Governors Island have become a summer staple for the dress up crowd, and the first of the season was held this weekend, transporting guests to the 1920s. Yesterday’s fete was all about retro picnic baskets and paper parasols, live big band performances, and dancing to the tones of Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra’s under a paper moon.

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Accompanied by a cool breeze and blue sky, attendees spent the day doing the Charleston, drinking champagne and sweet cocktails. Partygoers of course arrived in their 1920’s finest, flaunting their long pearls, gloves, suspenders, bowties, and ever variety of head adornment.

The Jazz Age returns for a second weekend, Aug. 16 and 17 if you feel inspired to start gathering your best beaded gowns and cigarette holders (not that you can smoke on Governor’s Island).

05/20/14 9:17am
Bike, hike or just sunbathe; there's plenty to do for an afternoon at Governors Island. Photo: The Trust for Governors Island

Bike, hike or just sunbathe; there’s plenty to do for an afternoon at Governors Island. Photo: The Trust for Governors Island

When plans to improve Governors Island’s parks and public spaces started being hashed out in 2010, the trust responsible for overseeing the expansion decided to open up a forum for public input. They quickly found their comment box full of 10,000 suggestions for how to go about upgrading the island. I personally like the illustrated “Don’t mess this place up or you will sleep with the fishes,” entreaty (threat?) on the Post-it Note below. More than anything, the exercise proved that New Yorkers have a serious soft spot for the former Army base that sits a mere 400 yards from Brooklyn Bridge Park (which is getting its own upgrades this week as well).

Governors Island reopens this Saturday, May 24, and for the first time, this season the island will stay open seven days a week instead of just Saturdays and Sundays. This means more time to picnic on its pastoral lawns and enjoy the amazing views of lower Manhattan’s skyline. But the additional access does come at a cost: Ferries to and from the island, which start this Saturday, are no longer free, aside from weekend mornings at 10 and 11am. After those free rides, it will now cost you $2 roundtrip from Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park (which still runs weekends only), or from the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan, the only ferry servicing the island seven days a week. Downtown ferries on the East River Ferry will stop at the island on weekends only, and cost $6 a ride.

Paying to island hop is a bummer to be sure, but the silver lining here is that there will be a lot more going on once you arrive. Here’s what you need to know about the newly improved Governors Island. (more…)

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01/10/14 8:59am

For this edition of the Narrative Month in Brooklyn we’re looking beyond what’s already happened and on to the new year. From real estate to retail, and from Park Slope to East New York, here are the 10 Brooklyn-based stories we know you’ll be taking about in 2014.

10. Greenpoint Goes Big

Greenpoint's not-so-distant future?

Greenpoint’s not-so-distant future?

If you’re not a fan of what Mayor Bloomberg did to the Williamsburg waterfront, you probably won’t be jazzed about the new towers set to rise up over Greenpoint. In December, the City Council approved 10 shiny mega-towers planned for the waterfront, despite opposition from some community groups, like Save Greenpoint, who fear the buildings will ruin Greenpoint’s quiet, neighborly appeal. Expect this noisy fight to continue in 2014.

9. The Legalize Weed Battle Comes to NYC

With Colorado, California and other Western states leading the charge on legalizing marijuana, New York is set to seriously enter the fray as well. State Senator Liz Krueger recently introduced a bill to tax and legalize it, and while Gov. Cuomo has called that measure a non-starter, his own recent moves in favor of medical marijuana have pushed the conversation forward. Incoming Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson is also firmly aboard the decriminalization train. Prediction: by year’s end, at least one Brooklynite announces plan for an artisan, hand-made-in-Red-Hook line of cannabis.

8. De Blasio’s Vision Zero

While Bloomberg cemented his transportation legacy by building pedestrian plazas and bike lanes, Mayor de Blasio campaigned consistently on the promise of reducing traffic fatalities. His “Vision Zero” traffic safety plan, like Bloomberg’s, looks to Scandinavia, specifically a holistic Swedish approach that emphasizes road design, lower speed limits, and decisions made on the hyper-local level. De Blasio has pledged to install more 20mph speed limit zones and to allow NYC to bypass Albany and have the power to install red light camera zones wherever local officials see fit.

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09/13/13 6:26am
Fete Paradiso, an amusement park that's actually amusing (to kids and parents). Credit: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Possibly the cutest amusement park ride ever. Credit: Meredith Craig de Pietro

In Greek mythology, patience is probably a virtue when crossing the river Styx. Take this advice when waiting to shuttle across the East River to Governors Island. We arrived at the dock at Pier 6, just as the hour’s free ferry was chugging away, which meant a 55-minute wait before the next one. Instead of crying, this was an opportunity to load up on picnic supplies at a neighborhood fave, Iris Cafe Willowtown Store. Avocado sandwiches, breakfast baguettes, and homemade pastries all ended up being eaten before we even got on the ship. Twenty minutes later and the line of strollers, bikers, and hipsters already looped back around the pier. Seriously though, this is part of the charm—passing through Purgatory has never been so rewarding with a preschooler. Once onboard, the ride is quick, smooth, and full of sights (The Statue of Liberty!  The Freedom Tower! The Staten Island Ferry!) and here we are.

Governors Island is known for having great green spaces, lovely bike paths, and car free roaming. But this month there are countless other reasons to make the trip. In fact, there are so many, it would be impossible to see and do everything in just one afternoon. We started our odyssey at Fête Paradiso: A Festival of Vintage Carousels and Carnival Rides, a magical area of jaw-dropping beautiful rides of yesteryear ($3 a ride), many of which are suitable for very young children. My son chose first, a little carousel full of miniature VW buses, swans, and sportscars. He sat on a tiny orange tractor with a spinning steering wheel. (Keep in mind these truly are vintage rides, and most do not have seat belts, but parents are encouraged to stay with their child if needed.) Next up was an antique boat swing. All this was set to the soundtrack of an accordion player, who blended into the dream of the 1900s in his suspenders and hat. (more…)