The winter holiday season is as much about tradition as it is about twinkling lights and shopping, from the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the Rockettes to The Nutcracker and as many versions of Handel’s Messiah as there are ways to count ’em–plus a full menu of classics on TV and at the movies. If you’re craving a break from the old chestnuts, these less-traditional alternatives to the holiday hit parade might be just the kind of merry you’re looking to make.
Christmas shoppers on 6th Avenue (1910) via Library of Congress
Black Friday marks the start of frantic holiday shopping, the day when retailers offer their best deals of the season to lure in eager shoppers. While some gift-givers now choose to digitally add items to shopping carts from the comfort of bed instead, many still line up outside of stores at the crack of dawn in search of major discounts. This is not a modern phenomenon, as these photographs from the Library of Congress of 20th century New York City reveal. Like today, New Yorkers of the early 1900s were drawn to the magical window shops and displays. Ahead, explore vintage photos of shoppers browsing New York City stores looking for the perfect presents, postcards and more.
There are 2.5 miles of public viewing along the parade route in NYC; this interactive map can help you find a great spot instead of getting lost in the crowd. The map, from the fine folks behind the parade, outlines when the parade will pass by, which streets have the best public views (6th Avenue from West 59th to West 38th Streets gets the thumbs-up) and which ones are restricted, such as Central Park South at Columbus Circle. Also marked are all-important things like coffee, food, and restrooms.
Photo via Flickr cc
Here’s what you need to know to get where you’re going by NYC public transit this Thanksgiving weekend. Special schedules apply for trains and buses from Wednesday, November 21, through Sunday, November 25 to get you over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house and back Thanksgiving weekend. The good news is that MTA is suspending bridge and tunnel maintenance for the holiday, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North are providing extra service, off-peak fares apply, and there’s a free bus to La Guardia. Look below for more information.
No matter how hard we try to resist the urge to do last-minute shopping, that unexpected invitation, secret Santa or gift that needs reciprocation sends us scrambling for the perfect present. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of holiday markets and pop-up shops offering a bounty of just-right goodies and crafty gifts. The big NYC markets at Union Square, Bryant Park, Grand Central Station, and Columbus Circle are the front-runners for sheer volume, but some of the best finds are waiting to be discovered at smaller, cooler neighborhood affairs.
In addition to locally-made jewelry, crafts, vintage items, artfully curated fashions, home items, gourmet goodies and other things we didn’t know we needed, these hip retail outposts sparkle with drinks, food, workshops, tarot readings, nail art, music, and family fun to keep shoppers’ spirits bright.
Photo via Flickr cc
Today, flea markets, pop-up shops, and food halls are an everyday part of city life, but 25 years ago, this wasn’t the case. In 1993, after working for several years at Urban Space Management in the UK, Eldon Scott arrived in NYC with the goal of opening a holiday market similar to those he’d worked on developing in London. He quickly set up the Grand Central Holiday Fair and shortly thereafter the Union Square Holiday Market. Modeled loosely on Christkindlmarkts, traditional holiday street markets held during advent that began in Germany, the Union Square market is now a holiday tradition for New Yorkers and out-of-towners alike, with 150+ vendors.
Image: Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer via TimeOut
The star that tops the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree each year never fails to dazzle; this year is no exception. The 12-ton Norway Spruce has been crowned by architect Daniel Libeskind‘s creation consisting of 3 million Swarovski crystals and weighing in at 900 pounds. The World Trade Center master site planner, known for his geometric, angular designs, called the star “a symbol that represents our greatest ambitions for hope, unity and peace.” And we can all use plenty of that.
Image via New York Cares
While giving thanks and exchanging gifts this holiday season, share the wealth and give a little extra to fellow New Yorkers in need. From coats and turkeys to MetroCards and toys, the list below is a good place to start. Yes, financial donations are always welcome–but there are plenty of much-needed, much-appreciated items you can give that don’t require spending an extra penny.
The holidays are always a special time in New York City, with tons of events and attractions to keep busy from Thanksgiving to New Years. But most festivities don’t take place over 1,200 feet in the sky. One World Observatory does just that during their “Winter ONEderland” event, which transforms their 102nd-floor observatory into a magical winter oasis beginning on Nov. 26. Starting with a snowy ride to the top of One WTC, the event features interactive multi-media installations, visits from Santa, and holiday-themed fare and beverages.
With just under two weeks to go until the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes to the streets, preparations are in full swing. Earlier this week Macy’s revealed a series of new balloons that will be joining the cast of old favorites at this year’s event, as AM New York reports. Among them will be a giant rendition of Goku from Dragonball Z (towering over spectators at 70 feet long, 56 feet tall and 36 feet wide) and the first Netflix characters: Fleck, Bjorn, Jojo and Hugg, elves from the forthcoming movie “The Christmas Chronicles” which debuts on the streaming service on Thanksgiving Day.