Six ways to enjoy Madison Square Park

Manhattan has a lot of great parks – but a handful tends to hog all the attention. Central Park is what it is; there’s just now way to compare it to anything else. Bryant Park has live performances and exhibitions (not to mention a starring role in Fashion Week) and is only a block from Times Square. And, there are others that would come to mind before you work your way down the list to one of my favorite open spaces in the city: Madison Square Park.

Don’t be misled – this park is nowhere near the “garden” of the same name. It sits between East 23d Street and East 26th Street and between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue, in a small pocket of New York that most visitors tend to skip. So, catch the R or W train to the East 23d Street stop, and get ready to enjoy Madison Square Park in six different ways.

1. Take care of two buildings at once
The uniquely shaped Flatiron Building is right across the intersection from the southwest corner of the park, where Fifth Avenue and Broadway meet. What you may not realize, though, is that the northwest corner of the park (East 26th Street and Fifth Avenue) provides a great view of the Empire State Building. Crowds tend to form, for some reason, during morning rush hour (which sucks for the locals). Also, avoid lunch hour and evenings, as people who work nearby will get in the way of your shot.

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2. Watch some television – live
It’s not unusual to find camera crews in and around Madison Square Park. Plenty of shows shot in New York use the space. So, while you wander through, you may be lucky enough to bump into one of your faves.

3. Go to the bathroom
If you aren’t fortunate enough to spot a celeb, drink some water. This will have the predictable effect and send you to one of only a handful of self-cleaning public toilets in the New York City. It’s on the southeast corner of Madison Square Park, and a quarter buys you 15 minutes. That should be plenty of time to take interior photos of the device that guest-starred on CSI:NY.

4. Enjoy some art
There’s always a public art display of some kind in Madison Square Park. Right now, it’s Markers, an installation by Mel Kendrick, a Boston-born artist who’s now a resident of New York. This project consists of five pieces reflect the “rippling surfaces contain the fossil memory of the actions taken over time.” Like almost all the public art in Madison Square Park, Kendrick’s installation is definitely worth a look.

5. Grab a bite
Sure, it’s tempting to head over to the storied Shake Shack in the southeast corner of Madison Square Park (near the toilet/TV star/murderer). But, if you’re looking for a substantial, enjoyable sit-down meal, go up to Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse, a few blocks north on East 28th Street and Fifth Avenue. Definitely make the ribeye your meal (it was amazing), but you’d be nuts not to start with the seafood platter. Take your time, and rest your feet for a bit, especially if you’ve been wandering around the city all day. The staff is attentive and accommodating, and they will not rush you. This is a great alternative to the long waits and hope-you-can-pull-it-off reservation situations at the steakhouses in mid-town. And, the dark-wooded interior drives home the insider feel that makes any steak dinner in Manhattan complete.

6. Grab a cigar (for those inclined)
For many, the only way to finish a hefty steak dinner is with a cigar. Go local with a stick from Martinez Cigars, a few blocks away on West 29th Street and Seventh Ave. Grab a maduro, and go back to the park (while you can still smoke there). If nobody’s around, chill for a bit on the new pedestrian area just west of Madison Square Park.

Fashion Week’s travel theme!

Bryant Park -- Fashion Week
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is moving — this is the final year of tents in Bryant Park — so it’s the perfect season for a travel theme.

No, we’re not just talking about having a couple of cars in the foyer of the tents (though there are both a Mercedes-Benz 2010 E63 AMG and a 2010 E550 Coupe); this year there are fabulous luggage displays and even the outside of the tents are decorated with a suitcase theme (above).

We had a quick chat with spokesperson and current L’Oreal model Dayle Haddon (pictured in the gallery) about Mercedes-Benz’s collaboration with Modelinia.com and Narcisco Rodriguez to bring the worlds of fashion and travel together. The display they’ve curated looks at the way fashion and the automotive industries have “traveled together” over the years, and features items from one of New York’s leading vintage fashion resources, Southpaw.

“They [fashion and travel] have tremendous crossover. If something gets sleeker in one area, it can influence the other,” Haddon commented. “They both make the world smaller.” Haddon also noted that she was donating her earnings for the unveiling of the travel exhibit to Unicef (in particular the Believe in Zero campaign, which aims to keep children from dying of preventable causes), for whom she’s an ambassador — which we think is pretty cool.

Check out our gallery for a sneak peek inside the tents during a busy day at Bryant Park.
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Bouncing Brit babes help hotels launch free nights offer

InterContinental Hotels kicked off its biggest free nights promotion with a hell of a bounce. Around the world, the hotel chain invited people to bounce on oversized beds in an attempt to set a world record. In all, more than 20,000 bouncers bounced in Paris, New York, Shanghai and London for 16 hours.

The highlight for most was probably the presence of Olympic gymnasts at each of these locations, but it’s hard for anyone to compete with The Sun‘s famous “Page 3” models, who made an appearance at London’s Covent Garden for a bit of bouncing.

In New York, the crowed gathered in mid-town’s Bryant Park (which I walked by, but didn’t see any Page 3-caliber hotties).

Why all the fuss? InterContinental Hotels was just psyched to dish out 4,000 free room-nights at its hotels. Scoring with a Page 3 girl would have just been a bonus.

To see all the bed-jumping action in one place, click here.

World’s largest snow globe

The world’s largest snow globe wouldn’t fit in a carry-on bag even if TSA said you could hand carry-it on a plane. This globe hails from Ontario, Canada. This past December it made its appearance in New York City’s Bryant Park. I became obsessed with finding its subsequent appearances. Who wouldn’t? It’s big enough for people to fit inside thus turning its winter scene to life. What a great concept. This globe is marketing genius.

Considering that I merely came across its picture in regards to an event that already passed–and that compelled me to go on a personal hunt, indicates the power of the largest snow globe in the world.

The quest led me to the WinterinOntario.com Web site that highlights Ontario’s winter wonders. This is exactly what the creators imagined. Created as a promotional tool for Ontario Travel, the snow globe is still on its advertising circuit. These are the places and dates where you can find an Ontario Snow Globe event. [via Gothamist]

January 18-20, 2008 – Winterfest in Hamilton
January 26-27, 2008 – Niagara Falls during the Niagara Ice Wine Festival
February 2-4, 2008 – Bon Soo Carnival in Sault Ste. Marie
February 9-10, 2008 – WinterWorld in Mississauga
February 22-24, 2008 – IceFest in Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville area

Even more ‘World’s Largests…’

Check ’em out!