New York – Bars Nightlife and Entertainment.
New York. Also known as the Empire State – a term originating back to 1784 when George Washington referred to New York as the Seat of Empire – you can understand why New York Staters think of themselves as kind of special. This region of the USA has contributed big time to the Union’s history, growth and development and, indeed, when Washington was inaugurated as President in 1777, New York was the first capital of the new nation.
A British colony for over 100 years, New York declared independence in 1776 and was one of the original 13 states of the Federal Union. It played a significant role in the American Civil War with over a third of the battles fought here; the Battle of Saratoga one of the most famous and decisive.
New York’s importance grew with the completion of the Eerie Canal in 1825, triggering the development of cities and towns across the state. Further canals and waterways, the turnpike system, and railroads all helped to develop New York as one of the wealthiest states. The NY Stock Exchange, founded in 1792, becoming the centre of world finance to this day.
In the 19th Century, immigration into the USA was rife as the poor and the adventurous of Europe sought a new and better life. New York was the proverbial ‘melting pot’ and the Statute of Liberty, presented by the French in 1884, summed up the feeling of the time with its inscription: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’. Accordingly, New York State is very culturally and ethnically diverse with African Americans, Italians, Irish and Germans forming the major ancestry groups.
Uncle Sam, a term that personifies the US, also originates from New York. A meatpacker, Sam Wilson stamped US Beef on all his products during the 1812 War. He became known by soldiers as Uncle Sam and the term stuck.
New York State is the US’s third most populated state (after California and Texas) with a boundary that stretches 1,430 miles. The state has 70,000 miles of rivers and streams, including the Hudson River, plus 4,000 lakes including Lake Placid (beware the massive crocodile – film buffs will know what we mean!). It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania; shares a water border with Rhode Island, and has an international border with Canada (Quebec and Ontario). The capital is Albany but, as we all know, the heart is New York City – the Big Apple, where you’ll find 8.2m of the state’s 19.3m population. Buffalo, Rochester and Yonkers are the next three cities by size; in fact Albany comes in at number six.
Summarising nightlife in New York City is pretty impossible here, so we can only give a flavour (see individual page on New York City for more information). It’s a City that’s gone through some pretty turbulent times, but for visitors it has never been safer or cleaner with an ever growing choice of dynamic, top notch, classy, trendy, and ‘sexy’ hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs. Some New Yorkers might say that the city – particularly Manhattan – is becoming rather sterile and losing its identity – that’s a judgement you’d need to make for yourself.
It hasn’t stopped some 44 million plus tourists visiting New York for the sights (try the Rise Bar in the Ritz Carlton Battery Park Hotel for magnificent views); for the shopping (hope your credit card has lots of credit); for the jazz (NYC is the heart of the jazz world and there are some fabulous clubs like the Village Vanguard, Dizzy’s Club on Upper West Side or the Oak Room at the Algonquin on W 44th St), for the club culture and music (try Cielo in the Meatpacking District or BB King’s Blues Club on W 42nd St Cain ) and – well just for the sheer thrill of being there
Buffalo- despite a name which conjures up a city more out of the west than the east – is really rather cosmopolitan, boasting all sorts of attractions from sports teams to art museums, interesting architecture and history to local beauty (it’s close to the Great lakes and Niagara)…and pretty decent entertainment and nightlife as well. Whether you’re looking for traditional, friendly pubs like Irish Eddie Brady’s on Genesee St; live music bars such as 67 West on W Chippewa St or the Lafayette Tap Room in the hotel of the same name; or funky clubs like Club Diablo on Washington Street or La Luna on W Chippewa St; Buffalo has it all.
Rochester, sited on the southern edge of Lake Ontario, does as well. One of the northern gateways to the Lake country, and the third largest city in the state, Rochester is an attractive, green city, worth visiting for its history and culture, family friendly environment, outdoor recreation and local natural beauty. A buoyant and busy manufacturing town (Kodak, Bausch and Lomb and Xerox are all here), means Rochester is full of young executives looking for places to let their hair down after a busy day at the photocopier. Like Buffalo, whether you want quiet and romantic, cool and classy, or loud and funky, Rochester delivers.
There is a specific Entertainment District in Rochester; Lawrence Street being the heart and moving into East Avenue and Alexander Street. Here you’ll find a variety of music clubs ranging from the country music and rock and roll of Daisy Dukes to young and hip Coyote Joes and the 80s/90s classics played at Vinyl. Most are open from Thursdays-Saturdays til 2am. For something a little different, try The Chocolate Bar with its range of chocolate and cheese fondues, live acoustic music and excellent choice of wines and martinis.
As for Albany, well the Capital ‘s bars and restaurants are not as heaving as they once were. It’s a political thing – which means the politicians who a decade ago would do their lobbying and fundraising over a drink or 20 and dinner, are now more likely to be found eating donuts in a coffee shop. So the cheques may not be as big, but for those who aren’t ruining their careers by enjoying themselves, Albany offers a wide range of pubs, clubs and restaurants, particularly around the Lark Street area, though probably fewer late late venues than Buffalo or Rochester. The historic Albany Pump Station on Quackenbush Square is a brewpub well worth a visit, or for a more upscale lounge bar, try Blue 82.
Albany is well known for excellent restaurants of all types. Jack’s Oyster House on State St, Bombers Burrito Bar and McGuires on Lark St are all worth trying.
Albany does have a thriving live music scene – The Egg, the strange shaped building on the Plaza, plays host to live music from rock to classical all year round, while Justin’s on Lark Street is the ‘in’ place for Jazz. Clubs? They do exist. Try Noche Lounge in the upcoming warehouse district.
If you only go to New York State for New York City, you’re missing out on an awful lot of history, culture and beauty that reminds you that Central Park is just that – a park. Get out there and explore.