RWA National in NYC

imageThe registration for RWA 2011 in New York is open, and despite three browsers and twenty minutes of errors, I registered – woo! While I was filling out the hotel information, it occurred to me that I’ve heard in the past that many RWA members are somewhat intimidated by New York City, by Manhattan, by the costs and the geography and the expensiveness and the general confusion of being in a city of 9 million people.

Well, first, take heart: it’s July 4th weekend, so many of the actual New Yorkers will be away. But more importantly, New York City is an awesome city (though today it is rainy and cold and icy and kind of yucky to be outside), and, contrary to popular rumor, New Yorkers are not rude. As Meg Cabot pointed out in her “Lightning Girl” series, they aren’t mean – they’re in a hurry and don’t like to stop. But after many years of living along side New York and commuting in and out, I can tell you, New York is exciting, friendly, and awesome.

In the weeks and months leading up to the conference, I want to do a few PDF guides for visitors for the conference. Places to eat, places to go, ways to get around, and general FAQ, so that when you arrive for the 2011 national conference, you’re as excited as I and many others will be to welcome you to Manhattan. So, got any questions? Concerns? Burning desires to memorize the subway system, or desperate yearning for shopping and exploration? Hit me up with your questions, and I’ll start devising the answers. And if you have suggestions of what those journeying to New York in July might enjoy (a hint: sunscreen is a good idea!) please, drop a comment.

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  1. 1
    Bri says:

    There is so much going on in the summer in NYC if people traveiing in for the conferece have te time, they might want to plan to stay extra to sightsee or for vacation-type activities.

  2. 2
    Donna Alward says:

    Sarah, this is awesome. I’m one of those people who’ve never visited NYC and neither has my roomate.  I think your post is a fab idea!

    We’re going a little early to do some sightseeing, but we really only have one day to hit the high points. When we were in DC, we did a trolley tour and got on and off and it was great. Would love to do something similar in NY – any that you would recommend?

    Other than that, I plan to just go and soak it all in. Sometimes the best stuff happens when you don’t plan it and opportunities pop up.

  3. 3
    Ken Houghton says:

    I want to do a few PDF guides for visitors for the conference. Places to eat, places to go, ways to get around, and general FAQ, so that when you arrive for the 2011 national conference, you’re as excited as I and many others will be to welcome you to Manhattan.

    (best Arnold Horshak imitation) Oooh, ooooh! (/unjustified nostalgia)  Can we send them to all the places we would never think of going?  (Virgil’s, The Hard Rock, that pseudo-SCA place in TS?  They can visit Mars 2112 on the weekend, though; the food is decent and the location is underappreciated.)

  4. 4
    Anony Miss says:

    YES! This is my official entry for the free round trip + hotel + conference fee for RWA contest!

    What?

    There’s no such contest?

    Aw, nuts.

  5. 5
    Carrie Lofty says:

    Airport(s) to hotel door. That’s the only thing I want firmly set before I leave. Everything else I can wing.

  6. 6

    I’m terrified. Also my husband and youngest son will be running amok through the city, freed from being pinned under my overprotective thumb while I hide behind the potted palms in the hotel lobby, so I’ll be doubly terrified. Our capital city of 42,000 people gives me anxiety and we don’t even have a subway.

    Just please, no matter how much I beg, nobody give me any alcohol.

  7. 7
    Joy says:

    No, No, Shannon, you have that wrong!  You need LOTS & LOTS of alcohol and someone friendly to guide you from event to event.  That way you won’t be feeling any anxiety (or pain either)!  Just stay in the hotel and hide from those nasty (eh, I mean busy, self-absorbed, arrogant….don’t mind me I just lived in upstate NY for a while and we have a …difficult… relationship with the city that believes it’s the center of the universe).  If you do venture out, bring a subway map, money for a taxi, and comfortable walking shoes.  The museums are great and used to tourists, the waiters are mostly arrogant, everything is hideously expensive, and its a fun place to visit.

  8. 8

    I love NYC!  It is worth the time and expense to travel from Honolulu.  Having visted other large (and more expensive)  cities in Europe, Asia, and even Africa, NCY is a piece of cake becuase it it a slice of America!  There are plenty of no cost/low cost tourist attractions (and bagel shops) that it won’t break the bank.

    But I concur with Carrie Lofty – I just want to know how to get from the airport to the hotel!

  9. 9

    No, No, Shannon, you have that wrong!  You need LOTS & LOTS of alcohol and someone friendly to guide you from event to event.

    I’m a cheap, cheap drunk. One makes me sociable, two makes me obnoxiously silly and three makes me dance on the tables.

    don’t mind me I just lived in upstate NY for a while

    We spent five years at Plattsburgh AFB, but my only experience with NYC is digging my fingernails into the door panel while drive through it on the highway as fast as possible.

    The only thing that’s a definite on the agenda is a day trip to the Intrepid for my guys. Other than that they’re winging it, which kills my control-freak streak.

  10. 10
    SB Sarah says:

    Airport to hotel: worst part of the journey. I’ll make a note to include that. You can fly into JFK or Newark, but the majority will likely be flying into LGA/La Guardia, yes?

  11. 11
    sugarless says:

    You know, I’d really like to go this year, but it looks like it takes place during the week. not on the weekend like I originally thought, and, while I’m definitely interested in writing, I’m still working full time, so it looks like a no-go.

    It would boil down to – go to NYC for this conference in July or go back over to Oxford for a few days in August to take in a few lectures and a RSC play (and some awesome pubs). Guess which one I’m going with :D

    Maybe next year :(

  12. 12

    My burning question would be: is there a jeans & sneakers diner-esque place nearby if somebody just wants a cheeseburger and a decent cup of coffee?

  13. 13
    Rebecca says:

    Airport to the hotel: If you’re flying solo into Kennedy, and don’t have really heavy luggage, take the Airtrain to either the subway or the Long Island Rail Road.  Cheaper than a taxi by far.

  14. 14
    Meg says:

    I’d include a round-up of the city’s best coffee places – coffee here has gotten really freaking good recently.  (Cafe Grumpy, Joe, Stumptown, Blue Bottle…)

    I’d also make sure to encourage people to get out of Manhattan for an afternoon – maybe check out Prospect Park, or even get out to places like the Noguchi Museum in Queens.

    Maybe a list of good, not-annoying places to go in Midtown?  I find those to be hard to spot, and I’ve lived here for almost 10 years.  Also a list of awesome, reasonable restaurants (Frankies Spuntino, the Momofuku Ssam and Noodle Bars, Caselulla, Cascabel, Torrisi, Txikito, happy hour at Schiller’s) would probably be welcome.

    Maybe also suggestions for less touristy tourist stuff, like the LES Tenement Museum, food walking tours (Can you say Doughnut Plant and bialys?), The Cloisters, Governor’s Island, the Cooper-Hewitt, Neue Galerie – stuff that’s a bit off the beaten path, but still very New York.

  15. 15
    Trudy says:

    the nyc conference usually has great parties! and there is so much to do. but sometimes just walking around is a blast. (it’s my hometown, okay???)  but since a lot of the publishers are in town, they do more, so check your schedules.

  16. 16
    DianeN says:

    Another upstate New Yorker weighing in here to say don’t listen to the naysayers! I think NYC has adapted beautifully to tourists over the years and I promise people aren’t as mean as you’ve heard. Like Sarah said, they’re all just in a hurry, and that’s the biggest adaptation newcomers need to make—when you walk, walk fast! And don’t forget that even in these tough economic times there are many, many affordable sightseeing options available, among them the major museums, Central Park and the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building—and the list goes on and on…  My personal favorite trip takes me right to the TKTS booth in Times Square, where you can buy half-price “day of” theater tickets for both Broadway and off-Broadway shows. Remember, this is the theater capital of the world, and it just so happens that the conference hotel is right smack dab in the middle of it!

    And Sarah, maybe a brief primer on how the streets and avenues around the conference site work might be helpful. Or how about a shopping guide listing the biggies??

  17. 17
    Tina C. says:

    Airport to hotel: worst part of the journey. I’ll make a note to include that. You can fly into JFK or Newark, but the majority will likely be flying into LGA/La Guardia, yes?

    When I was in NYC, I flew into LaGuardia.  Once I picked up my luggage (one rolling suitcase, one overnight bag), I got on the van from the airport to Grand Central Station ($25).  From there, I got a subway ticket to the stop closest to my hotel and walked from there to the hotel.  Entire trip?  Around $28.  A taxi to the hotel?  About $60.  (When I went back, I just reversed the process.) 

    There were lots of signs in the airport, directing me to the transport area and plenty people to ask once I got there.  As for Grand Central, the lady at the subway ticket window was very nice about making sure I knew which train to get on.  No one bothered me the entire route, even while I was rolling my suitcase along like a puppy on a leash.  I realize, though, that people bring a LOT of luggage to the RWA convention.  So my method may not work for most of you.

  18. 18
    Silver James says:

    Sarah, you are an angel. Airports to Hotel! YESYESYESYESYES! Especially the easiest ways with luggage! Given that I want to fly Southwest, directions from Newark and from Long Island/ISP (I think it’s MacArthur Airport?) and which would be easiest/cheapest transport from airport to hotel would be hugely appreciated!

    Heh! Spamword: hotel44 That pretty much sums it up! ($44 to the hotel?)

  19. 19
    sugarless says:

    I’m not sure how close everyone is, but I’m about 4 hours away, and I would say that in many places, if you’re willing to spend a little bit more time traveling, taking a bus to NYC might be a better option for some. Not only is it cheaper, but the bus may drop you somewhere more convenient to get to your hotel. Obviously this isn’t for people like 12 hours out, but for those not much farther south than DC/VA, it’s a good option.

  20. 20
    AgTigress says:

    New York City is a terrific place: I always feel at home there.  Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner!  Londoners are often falsely accused of being rude or uncaring, too, but just because they don’t say ‘good morning’ to any of the 5,465 people they encounter every morning on the way to work doesn’t mean that they are not kind and helpful in a crisis.  I think the same is true of New Yorkers (think of the acts of selfless heroism in response to terrorist atrocities in both cities).  As a Londoner, I endorse the advice to walk purposefully;  also, don’t make eye contact with strangers on the street.

    There are wonderful, world-class museums and galleries, great shops, fascinating architecture, Central Park — the only problem is to fit enough of these things in when attending a conference!  I played hooky from the 2003 RWA conference in NY more than once to get back to the Metropolitan Museum for the umpteenth time, and the Natural History Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum, and…  well, you get the picture.  But the conference was great, too.  Wish I could go there again.  :)

  21. 21
    Trudy says:

    oh, i read some of your comments and i hear a lot of fear about NYC – the people are very nice! in terms of crime, you’re in Manhattan, a well to do area. Plenty of cops around on the streets. Really, I’ve gone walking in Central Park after midnight (with lots of other people lol). Just stick with a buddy or two.  I’ve been to NYC during July 4 weekend, since my sister lives in Manhattan, and there’s lots of stuff for kids: top of the Empire State Bldg, Southstreet Seaport, Statue of Liberty, boat rides on the Hudson, street fairs and vendors all over (don’t buy on the street and be sure to haggle!! and walk if they don’t play). taxis all over, just step to the curb and raise your hand and wave like the queen. an available cab will have their light on. they do drive fast, so hold on to the strap. streets are a grid system so it’s easy to find your way. it’s much more logical than Pittsburgh (for ex. – nothing personal, Pitt!) and the shopping if great. all over but there’s lots on 5th ave. and remember 57th st. is a major two way street and you can always find your way back from there. the buses on 57th will take you from one side of Manhattan to another. Macy’s is at 42nd street and Broadway or 5th – can’t remember. It is a madhouse, just sayin.  There are plenty of deli type and coffee shops just like Seinfeld. Broadway at midnight is amazing to behold.  Drinks can be pricey so just go to a liquor store (they’re all over) and buy your wine for the hotel room.  if you are in a bar, DO NOT go off with any strangers. Don’t be stupid, okay? Getting to and from airport is easy, and the taxis don’t rip you off.  just act like you know what’s happening. one way will cost between 25-50$. Share with a friend and split the cost.  I know there are cheap buses you can take. my dad usually takes the 104 bus up broadway to 106th st., then catches the M50 bus which takes you to Laguardia. you can do the same route by bus from Lag to Manhattan, but it could be confusing. Just ask people.  I’ll be coming up from d.c. and staying with my sister who lives near david letterman studio.  can’t wait! and yes, i was born there!

  22. 22
    Trudy says:

    p.s.  re money – you needs lots of single bills and quarters if you use the bus or subway. and yes, tip the taxi drivers and anyone who carries your bags at hotel. tips at restuarants is usually 20 percent.

  23. 23
    Teresa says:

    We’re thinking of taking Amtrak. Then a taxi to the hotel, because we have luggage. How much for a taxi from the train station? What percent or set fee do you tip cabs in NY?  $1/bag at the hotel? I guess I’ll stuff my purse with ones.
    I’d love to know what is in the neighborhood around the hotel. Restaurants, shops, theatres, regular street vendors, etc.
    I see in another comment that there is a ticket booth in Times Square for 1/2 price show tickets. Do we take the subway from the hotel to get there?  I’m assuming Subway maps are easy to come by. How much is the Subway?
    Thanks for doing this. It’s a big help.

  24. 24
    Tamara Hogan says:

    Thanks so much!  I’d like to get a sense of the neighborhood around the hotel – coffee, shopping, light meals. I’d also like to get to Ellis Island for a day, and would appreciate some advice on safe, cost-effective ways to get there.

  25. 25
    Christina says:

    Ok, I know I’m gonna sound like a smalch, but is there any specific gift you would like as a thank you for these guides? This is gonna be my first trip out of Africa and you have manged to smother at least 5 potential mini panic attacks (the normal cure is standing in a book shop and breathing for half an hour, which isn’t so bad, but it can get expensive) just by mentioning doing them.

    It is a seriously nice idea.

  26. 26
    Rebecca says:

    p.s.  re money – you needs lots of single bills and quarters if you use the bus or subway. and yes, tip the taxi drivers and anyone who carries your bags at hotel. tips at restaurants is usually 20 percent

    Actually, the buses do NOT take bills, and subways do not take coins at all.  Buy a Metrocard at any subway station (either from the vendor or the machines) and refill as necessary.  Re: a comment further up the thread about sight-seeing: there ARE the “hop on hop off” type double decker tourist buses in New York, and if you are in the Times Square area there are lots of shills for them.  They are UNIFORMLY HATED by New Yorkers, because they clog traffic, and make unpredictable stops (speaking as a bicyclist, I hate them especially because they have no compunction about going in bike lanes), and also because they broadcast their annoying announcements NON-STOP, so if you happen to live along one of their routes you get VERY sick of them.  They also cost about $40 a person.  A MUCH better and cheaper option is to get an unlimited metrocard (usable for both subway and bus) and “hop on and off” a regular city bus, going in any direction.  You get to sit by the window and watch the sights, AND you get real New Yorkers, for free inside the bus.

    Re: off the beaten path touristy things, I firmly second the Tenement Museum that someone mentioned (great for lovers of historical romance).  For foodies, I’d suggest Zabar’s on the Upper West Side.  And for a truly romantic sight, walk out onto Pier 45 (Hudson River and Christopher Street) on Sunday or Wednesday evening at sunset, to see couples dancing tango on the water, with the Statue of Liberty silhouetted in the background.  In fact, the entire park along the Hudson River is lovely for biking, roller blading, or just strolling, and the summer river festival is usually in swing then, with free outdoor concerts and movie screenings, as well as lots of outdoor dance venues.  For July 4 weekend of course there are also fireworks.  I don’t know whether the main ones will be on the Hudson or the East River this year, but either way it’s something to see.  Oh, and the view of the Brooklyn Bridge from South Street Seaport is also classically romantic.  (Think lots of movies.)  And of course there is the Staten Island Ferry, absolutely the BEST way to see the Statue of Liberty, and absolutely free.  (Also the classic ride taken by Meg Ryan in “Working Girl.”)  To get to the ferry, and also the boats to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, just take the 1 train to the last station, aptly named “South Ferry.”  There are also a bunch of museums around that area (battery park), and it’s within easy walking distance of South Street Seaport.

    Newark Airport: There is a bus that drops you at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (42nd St and 8th Avenue – just one block west of Times Square and the hotel) which costs about $30 each way.  A taxi will be double that.  (Reminder: taxis have a FIXED RATE from the airports into Manhattan, not including bridge tolls and tip.)

    Final note (for now, unless I think of more): Regularly updated subway and bus maps are FREE at all subway stations (unless they’ve run out).  Don’t bother spending a lot of money for a teeny tiny wallet sized one unless you want it as a souvenir.

    Sorry to babble.  I love this place, and am always proud to show it off.  (Must admit that midtown is probably my least favorite area, since it’s too monumental for my taste, but you actually can get out of the 34th-59th Street area pretty easily.  The blocks are much shorter than Chicago, and easily walkable.)

    P.S. If anyone is interested in the actual Tom’s Diner, from Seinfeld, take the 1 train in the opposite direction, to 110th Street, and walk one block north to 111th St. and Broadway.  The food is truly terrible, but it’s next to a really awesomely good supermarket (West Side Markets), and near two cool independent book stores (Bank Street Book Store – for kids, and Morningside Books), and also the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and the campus of Columbia University (featured in “The Mirror Has Two Faces” and the 1968 riots) which is by Mckim Meade White, and worth a look.  It’s a neighborhood with a bit of a student vibe, and tons of really good places to eat, so after you look at Tom’s, go eat anywhere else.

  27. 27
    DianeN says:

    @Teresa re the TKTS booth: if you’re staying at the convention hotel you’re in Times Square. The TKTS booth is also in Times Square, so be brave, hustle your way through the throngs of people and walk right up to the window!

    Also, I’m not sure some of you realize just how many restaurants, diners, coffee shops, street vendors and other purveyors of food there are in Manhattan! They are literally everywhere you look, and you can probably find any kind of cuisine you want within walking distance. And not all restaurants are super-expensive. I saw The Lion King last Sunday, and my pre-show lunch, a delicious New York style pizza and 2 drinks at John’s on 44th St., cost less than $20!

  28. 28

    I’d like to know touristy, rube stuff about Amtrak since there is no public transportation where I live. How many hours beforehand do you have to show up to go through security and catch the train? One hour? Two?  And Penn Station is only 1 mile from the conference hotel, right?

    Also, what touristy things are worth doing and which ones aren’t? Empire State Building? Statue of Liberty? Visiting the NY public library? And good eats. Always on the lookout for info about good eats. ;-)

  29. 29
    SB Sarah says:

    “the Cooper-Hewitt, Neue Galerie” – OH YES. I love the Cooper-Hewitt. It never gets enough love, but it’s always so amazing to tour. And am I alone in having favorite paintings to visit at the Met?

    These are all awesome questions and suggestions.

    @shannonstacey: No question, yes, there are jeans-appropriate coffee places everywhere. Restaurants, too. Never fear. Casual is your friend.

  30. 30
    Janet S says:

    Strange but true – we travel to from mellow northern California to NYC as often as possible. We have even braved it with our 4 year old (3 times now!) and love it.

    My question is about the conference. Is it ok for readers? I mean not -in-the-industry types?

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