When you go to New York City, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that so many of our literary classics drew inspiration from this city. In more modern times, it has become the backbone of some of the best television shows and movies, but there is just something about the way that literature captures the hustle and bustle that no camera ever could. Part of that is because writers see the world just a little differently.
If you find yourself in New York City and you have some time to kill, check out these literary destinations:
The Plaza Hotel
The Plaza is a fantastic space in and of itself with a deep history and an even more beautiful façade. In literature, it also serves as the climax point of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Tom Buchanan and Gatsby faced off in one of those hotel rooms. If you can, get a room and just imagine the opulence that those who stayed there must have felt. If you can’t afford a room, at least try the champagne bar on site that has parties as lavish as those that Gatsby himself used to have.
The Brooklyn Bridge
One of the most iconic and breathtaking sights in all of New York City. Spend some time walking across this bridge and looking first at Brooklyn approaching and then at the wonder of Manhattan and all that it promises. You’ll remember the scene from the novel Brooklyn, when Francie is first exposed to city life as she walks across that very bridge for her new job and (hopefully) a change in fortunes. There is something so special and lifechanging about putting yourself in her shoes.
Central Park Carousel
One of the most beloved books that takes place in New York is J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. This novel follows angsty teen Holden Caulfield as he visits many New York sites that you want to see, including The Museum of Natural history and Rockefeller Square. However, his trip to the Central Park Zoo and the carousel is a haunting image for many literary fans who remember just how Holden felt watching Phoebe ride around and around. Of course, if you go in the winter maybe you will be able to answer his question: Just where do the ducks go when the water freezes?
Washington Square Park
In a novel named after this bustling park, Catherine Sloper and her father, Dr. Austin Sloper, live together in a grand home here in the 1880s. The duo fight over (what else) a boy and what his intentions are with her. Take your own family for a walk in the sun and then head over to The Strand to pick up your next novel.
Tiffany & Company
Truman Capote wrote of Holly Golightly in his 1958 book, a love of literature fans long before it was made into a movie. The story of a lonely country girl that joined the ranks of New York socialites is a classic that women and men of all ages appreciate.
Go in the morning with coffee and a pastry, put on your best little black dress, and you’ll likely see other people enjoying Breakfast at Tiffany’s as well.
Central Park Conservatory
If you are traveling with children, they will surely recognize the Conservatory as the place where Stuart Little was involved in a boat race. You can rent your own boat or play with one of the motorized ones. It is one of the best things to do in the park. If you aren’t that adventurous, just take your time to walk around the water and appreciate the calmness that you will find in the middle of the noise.
The River Café
Want something a little more sinister? The American Psycho himself Patrick Bateman spent much of his time here in the 1990s. The Wall Street broker turned serial killer wined and dine people here, showing off his power and fortune. This is certainly an exclusive restaurant, but for those who enjoyed the book (or movie OR musical) it is a fantastic space to spend some time.
The Chelsea Hotel
Patti Smith talked candidly about her time here in her book. She wrote about her relationship with photography Robert Mapplethorpe as well as some of the other characters that you could find here. This hotel was once the breeding ground for some of the best art in any genre – music, literature, and fine art. While it isn’t open to the public anymore, you can walk by and just picture Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin Andy Warhol, or Arthur Miller creating here.
Going to the Met (the Metropolitan Museum of Art) definitely requires a good pair of shoes (seriously, you will be walking). However, you will also be able to take in the opulence that the characters in Edith Wharton’s Victorian scandal The Age of Innocence enjoyed. The book itself explores the love affair between Newland Archer and the Countess Ellen Olensk. They agree to meet up at the Met to have trysts.
The Bethesda Fountain
Angels in America is a very gripping play that tackles a lot of the same issues that we are facing in today’s society: gender, AIDS, and love. Prior Walter spends much of his time at the Bethesda Fountain and sees an angel appear in front of him. There is a bronze statue there that was the basis for the angel and it is rumored that if you make a wish there, it will come true.
All of these destinations are quick visits, making them the perfect destination if you are between Broadway shows or just need some time to kill before your next activity.