How to Experience the Renaissance of This Classic New York City Neighborhood
Surrounded by excellent dining and cultural activities in the NoMad district, The Evelyn hotel’s art deco style offers a contemporary version of Manhattan’s turn-of-the-century elegance.
In the city that’s forever reinventing itself, one area in the midst of a robust revival offers an opportunity to explore Manhattan’s rich past while reveling in its current heyday. NoMad (North of Madison Square Park) is where music publishers and tunesmiths of the glory days of Tin Pan Alley, from Irving Berlin to George Gershwin, crafted the hits of the day from 1855 to the 1920s.
It’s also where the very first “Armory Show” was held in 1913 (at the landmark Beaux-Arts 69th Regiment Armory Building), disrupting the art world with works from the likes of Matisse and Duchamp in the inaugural exhibit of Modern Art in the States. This era also saw Gotham crown its very first “it” girl, model and actress Evelyn Nesbit. The head-turning fashion plate, revered for her impeccable taste, even served as muse for photographer Charles Dana Gibson’s iconic “Gibson Girls,” the idealized beauty standard of the early 20th century. Like Nesbit, The Evelyn, the eponymous hotel inspired by her, embodies classic sophistication and high style in today’s bustling NoMad neighborhood.
An Art Nouveau Beauty
First designed in 1903 as a hotel, the revived building that houses The Evelyn maintains the hallmarks of its Beaux-Arts origins, ideal for travelers who expect modern amenities and sleek design while still wanting the authentic character of New York that towering chain hotels can’t deliver. The renowned firm Parts and Labor Design reimagined the hotel’s chic lobby and restaurant space in the art nouveau and art deco styles that were popular during the period when the hotel was first constructed. Along with nods to its music and art heritage, it’s a rare mix that reads as a contemporary version of “Old New York.”
In the complete renovation, they kept many features of the original design, from the mosaic tile floor in the lobby and restaurant to the wood-paneled private dining room, complete with the original oversize fireplace and wrought-iron staircases. Stay here and you just might feel like you’re stepping back in time to the turn of the 20th century’s buzzy heyday.
A Premier Dining Destination
NoMad, and its neighboring Flatiron district, have no shortage of some of the best restaurants in Manhattan. Dine well at notable, upscale eateries all over this area, from renowned mainstays like Eleven Madison Park and Black Barn to an exciting range of newcomers such as Michelin-starred chef Hiroko Odo’s Gallery and Sushi Muse on West 20th Street.
In fact, thanks in part to the area’s proximity to Koreatown, there are several buzzy Asian-inspired places worth seeking out reservations for in the area, including the minimalist Korean spot Atoboy, the Korean-American restaurant Barn Joo, and Little Mad, a Korean-French-Italian fusion restaurant with former Le Coucou chef Sol Han at the helm. Plant-based eaters can get in on the Asian fare as well—check out the new Planta Queen, the first of the chain to open in NYC, on West 27th Street, for vegetarian takes on the classics, like General D’s Cauliflower or a vegan poke bowl.
If you’re in the mood for something more casual, head to Mario Batali’s lauded Eataly, a bustling Italian one-stop shop for a range of eateries, cafes, and gourmet specialty foods. Hill Country dishes up finger-licking BBQ classics, or opt for a to-go option, like a classic burger-fries-and-shake combo at the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Satisfy cravings for sweets with creative treats like Cereal Milk soft serve at Milk Bar’s flagship. And for another only-in-New-York experience, have a drink at Oscar Wilde’s marble bar to enjoy the kitsch of the over-the-top, Victorian-style décor (especially worth checking out during the holidays).
Easy Access to a Multitude of Cultural Activities
Wherever you decide to eat, you’ll be plenty hungry after a day spent exploring this vibrant neighborhood, full of historic buildings—like the landmarked Manhattan Appellate Courthouse with its Beaux-Arts exterior and impressive stained-glass dome (open to the public when court’s not in session), and the ornate, eight-story Gilsey House—that have been lovingly refurbished. Stop for a selfie in front of the iconic triangular-shaped Flatiron Building and get inspired at the Museum of Sex or the Museum of Mathematics.
You’ll find a peaceful place to stroll and check out year-round public art installations at the quiet, leafy Madison Square Park. And there are all kinds of interesting shops to browse, from the fashion-forward looks on display at Dover Street Market to the impressive roster of coffee table books at Rizzoli Bookstore. Check out the collection of Art Nouveau works—the style that inspired The Evelyn—and political propaganda among the treasure trove of graphic design and advertising posters at Poster House.
Sports spectators and music fans, note that Madison Square Garden is within walking distance, as is Chelsea Piers, where you can ice skate or golf along Manhattan’s West Side. And the Highline, which offers elevated scenic Hudson River views and plenty of art installations along the 1.5-mile walking trail, is nearby too.
Centrally located, NoMad offers easy access to a multitude of other classic New York neighborhoods, either by foot (stroll over to Union Square Park to check out the famous farmer’s market or head to Chelsea to tour the galleries) or subways that are just a block away and will take you uptown or down. No matter how you spend your time, rest assured that when you’re done for the day, you’ll slumber in spectacular style and experience classic New York City at The Evelyn.