"That's another reason I love New York," Carrie Bradshaw tells us in an episode of Sex and the City. "Just like that, it can go from bad to cute."
New York is indeed a city of transformation. From gentrified neighbourhoods to a weekly roster of restaurant openings, we share the latest in the cult of the new.
Newest neighbourhood: the Bowery
In this former skid-row 'hood, the million-dollar apartments and hotels continue to climb, muscling in on dive bars and flophouses. The luxurious Bowery Hotel
is sandwiched next to a rehab centre, a mile from Soho's designer throng.
"The gentrification in the late '80s, early '90s, was when it really started turning around," says Eric Ferrara, executive director of East Village History Project. "And now we're in full swing; now we have five-star hotels and five-star restaurants."
Case in point: last January's New York Fashion Week decamped from their regular Chelsea haunts to the Bowery. Where did these fabulous fashionistas bunk down? In the Bowery Hotel, of course, where handsome old-school bellhops and famous faces compete for your attention.
If your pennies are pinched, then drop in to the hotel bar, where you can get a plate of cheese and a glass of wine for under US$25 ($34). Gawking is free.
Newest art scene: the Lower East Side
With the opening of the New Museum
in 2007, the Lower East Side has lured many of the Chelsea galleries to its streets. Every last Sunday of the month, a free tour of the local galleries starts at 1pm (see www.lowereastsideny.com
for more information). You can also pick up a neighbourhood map at the New Museum
which will lead you to local independent galleries showcasing up-and-coming artists.
Take a tour of the nearby Tenement Museum, where you'll learn about the history of immigration in the local area. And drop in on Orchard Street, just below Delancey Street, to browse boutiques, grab a coffee (we like Roasting Plant Coffee Company) and soak up the convivial atmosphere.
Scene'sters are drawn to the Hotel on Rivington, a cubed glass structure with towering views and free wi-fi to keep hipsters cool and connected. Rooms start at US$300 ($413) a night, but if you scour sites such as QuickBooks you may find substantially reduced prices.
Newest hotel trend: old-school decor
Minimalism is still going strong, but following the slew of rustic restaurants that opened in 2005-07 hoteliers are now taking us back to the turn of the last century.
Perched on Fourth Street next to the hip B Bar, Lafayette House opened in 2007 with little fanfare, with rooms starting from US$375 ($517) a night. Things are done quietly at this exquisite Victorian mansion. The windows are double-paned, the furniture antique and the elegant marble bathrooms are stocked with CO Bigelow potions.
If you're looking to save pennies, head to the West Village, where the Jane Hotel offers tiny single cabins from US$100 ($138) a night. The micro-rooms are a leftover from the original American Seaman's Friend Society Sailors' Home and are tailored along with free wi-fi for those on the go.
Newest park: High Line in Chelsea
This June, the converted High Line
railroad tracks open as an elevated park straddling the Meatpacking district and Chelsea. An initiative of the local community group Friends of the High Line, this breathtaking urban oasis stretches 7km across west Manhattan, with sculpted gardens, raised ramps and unique architectural shapes.
Originally built in 1929-34, the goal of the High Line was to remove dangerous freight trains from the streets. Now you can take a self-guided tour of historical buildings, taking in sites such as Chelsea Markets and the Church of the Guardian Angel. Along the way you'll find the Art Moderne-style Empire Diner (210 Tenth Avenue), where you can stop off for lunch.
Newest sports stadiums
The seats have been bolted down and the scoreboards have been mounted. The New York Yankees
have a new home. At a cost of US$1.5 billion ($2.1 billion), the new stadium is well worth a visit. Fans can take a tour
at US$20 ($28) a person, lasting 45 minutes which includes visits to the Yankees Museum, Monument Park and the dugout.
It's located in the Bronx and you can purchase single tickets at the Yankees.com website. The stadium is accessible by train and metro, taking about 30 minutes from Manhattan.
A few miles away in Queens, the new Citi Field stadium
has been erected for the Mets. Citi Field makes a big show for baseball fans with a diverse array of food, club areas, private party areas and rumour has it flower gardens. Buy tickets
from the website and take the train from Penn Station using the Long Island Rail Line.
Newest cheap grub
With the credit crunch comes ample opportunities for easy dining at posh restaurants. The famed Four Seasons Restaurant
in the Seagram building is offering a US$59 ($81) anniversary dinner, while places such as Soho's Cupping Room Cafe
give away Buffalo wings each day at 5.30pm to 8pm.
Baoguette Cafe in the East Village continues New York's continuing fixation with the Vietnamese banh mi roll which at this rate may well become the go-to sandwich of NYC. Porchetta nearby, which opened last September, is serving the best pork ciabattas this side of Rome.
Hottest new clubs
Williamsburg's recently opened Public Assembly
boasts a diverse calendar of music and performance such as burlesque and rock in a cool industrial space. Poisson Rouge
in Greenwich Village has a mission to fuse all sorts of sounds from jazz to minimalism to salsa.
Those looking for hipster glamour only in New York do the two go hand in hand can drop by Chloe 81 (81 Ludlow Street near Broome). It's giving hotspot Beatrice Inn a run for its money.
Best new cup of coffee
in Brooklyn's Greenpoint has caffe
fanatics slurping back multiple brews, while Abraco
on Seventh Street in the East Village is a serious contender for best cup of joe. In two New York
locations Brooklyn's Red Hook and the Chelsea's Ace Hotel Portland's Stumptown Coffee Roasters
will soon be serving its coveted brews to New Yorkers.
Got any tips on the newest hot spots in New York?