The complex will include an art house movie theater and a satellite office of the city's tourism agency. The city's Economic Development Corp. on Monday issued a request for proposals for developers to bid on the project, which will be a further step in Harlem's growth as a tourist destination.
"Harlem more than ever has become sort of a global icon for the city," said George Fertitta, the head of NYC & Co., the tourism agency. "It's a magnet for visitors from all over the world."
True. But I wonder how New York jumped on this before New Orleans, which is regarded as the birthplace of jazz music.
On a slightly different cultural tack, I see that Brooklyn's famous Coney Island amusement park, home to the historic Cyclone roller coaster and Wonder Wheel, got some new neighbours with the opening of a new park named for an old one: Luna Park.
The 19 new rides at Luna Park will be phased in, and they'll have some famous company: the Cyclone, a wooden coaster built in 1927, and the giant Wonder Wheel, which stands 150 feet (45 metres) high and was built in 1920. Both are New York City landmarks. Nathan's Famous hot dog eatery is a few blocks away.
The new Luna Park is named for a now-defunct park that opened in 1903. In its heyday, it attracted 90,000 visitors a day.
The first Luna Park featured hundreds of thousands of lights — such a spectacle that people started using the phrase, "It's lit up like Luna Park." By 1907, visitors were mailing more than a million postcards a week out of the Coney Island post office.
Luna Park was destroyed in a 1944 electrical fire. An estimated 750,000 people stood watching the 10-alarm blaze from the Coney Island beach.
I've never been to Coney Island. But there's a great, old amusement park in northern California called the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, with a rickety old rollercoaster, great arcade rides and a real, old-fashioned feel. It's about 90 minutes south of San Francisco on the north shore of Monterey Bay.
Lots of folks visit San Francisco and don't have time to do the famous stretch of Highway 1 between Monterey/Pebble Beach and San Simeon, the part that includes Big Sur. But there's dramatic coastlines and fun places to stop on the road from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, and you can go from San Francisco to Santa Cruz in less than two hours along the coast, making it a fun day trip. It's especially nice in the fall, when northern California typically has its best weather.
PARK HYATT TORONTO BIKES
Just in time for Toronto Bike Month, the Park Hyatt Toronto has brought back its Bicycle Valet program. It's a free service for guests in which Trek Cruiser bikes are available in four-hour increments, although a waiver, understandably, has to be signed. Guests are given a lock, helmet, basket, a bottle of water and a biking map. They also can request a gourmet picnic lunch.
Park Hyatt folks recommend three particular routes: The Martin Goodman Trail on the Toronto waterfront, the Toronto Islands and the Don River system. As something of a fair weather biker, I'd endorse those. The Island is a great spot, especially down around Wards Island with its funky houses and the Boulevard Cafe, a lovely garden-setting with good food in a quiet spot. The Goodman Trail can get a little hairy around Harbourfront but it's beautiful once you get out of the downtown core. And the Don River system is always a treat, especially with the work done to restore part of the Lower Don. If you've got the energy, continue up north through the Don system to Sunnybrook Park and check out the police horses or the cricket players.
Toronto's ravines aren't a highly visible attraction to many visitors, but they're one of the great things in the city.
As well as those routes, a dash from the Martin Goodman Trail onto the Leslie St. Spit is highly recommended, as is a detour to High Park to watch the fishermen and maybe check out the small zoo. And don't forget Riverdale Farm and Cabbagetown. The cars aren't going so fast so there's plenty of room for bikes in Cabbagetown.NEW VEGAS HOTEL
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas will open in December (the only new hotel opening in Las Vegas this year), in a prime location on the Strip, right next to the Bellagio. Housed in two 50-storey towers the Cosmopolitan will offer a "boutique" experience with 2,995 rooms, each with open air balconies and residential style furnishings.
That's what I read. Boutique? 2,995 rooms? 299 would be far too big for a boutique hotel. 2,995? I don't think so.WINDSOR-CALGARY
Folks in southwestern Ontario have more options today; and more ways to avoid Pearson. WestJet on Monday afternoon will launch seasonal, daily, nonstop flights between Windsor and Calgary. WestJet will fly daily between Windsor and Calgary until October 30, 2010.
The flight from Windsor to Calgary departs daily at 4:15 p.m. EST, while the flight to Windsor leaves Calgary at 10 a.m. local time.