New York City, As Seen By the Class of 2021

As seniors say goodbye to their adolescence, they must also say goodbye to the special New York City spots that defined their high school years.

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Lucy Del Deo

The Met often displays exhibits outside its famous building; for example, the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden hosts a series that commissions pieces for its outdoor space. Pictured is the work that is currently on view, Alex Da Corte’s ‘As Long as the Sun Lasts,’ which can be seen through October 31st, 2021.

It is fair to say that the Bronx High School of Science stands apart from the average American high school. Of course, the eight Nobel laureates and seven Pulitzer Prize winners who have all graduated from our school factor into this recognition, but it is the minute details of our high school experience that set us apart. While public schools pictured in Hollywood movies are characterized by their football games and cheerleading squads, Bronx Science does not have either of these teams nor do we have a turf field to host them on. Yet where we lack in football games and pep rallies, we have one experience that is unsurpassable — growing up in the city of New York. 

Along with the opportunity to visit Central Park after a long day of classes, or a Broadway musical on a Friday night, Bronx Science students are uniquely able to become personally acquainted with the city that never sleeps, and find their favorite spots to call their own. As seniors head off to other cities or rural areas for the first time in their lives, they leave behind a catalog of places around New York for underclassmen to explore before they graduate as well.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan

More colloquially known as the “Met,” the renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art the largest art museum in the country is an extremely popular location within the Bronx Science community. Located on the Upper East Side, across the street from one of Central Park’s many eastern entrances, the Met makes for a perfect place to spend a summer day perusing pieces in the blazing morning, and hanging with friends in the park in the cooler evening. 

Home to thousands of fine ancient objects and exquisite paintings, the Met can be hard to navigate for students who have not yet visited it. Fortunately, Bronx Science’s frequent visitors to the Met have their own recommendations for which exhibitions to explore.“The obvious [exhibit to visit] in my mind are the Greco-Roman statue halls in the 160s because of the natural light provided by the skylights in the high ceilings. However, not enough people visit the Dutch masterpieces that are housed near the Robert Lehman Collection,” said Maanya Shah ’21. “The room is diamond-shaped, and the rooms 963 and 964 have some wonderful stained glass in them,” said Shah. Yet, as with all museums, different pieces stand out to different people. “I really love the costume vault because it’s so cool to look at clothes throughout time and how they are influenced by art!” said Lucy Del Deo ’21. “I’m really going to miss having access to such masterpieces, it’s not common to have such an amazing museum at your disposal,” Del Deo said.

Flushing’s Main Street, Queens 

A neighborhood in Northern Queens, Flushing is multicultural and diverse, with a wide-ranging array of eateries that reflect its inhabitants’ cultures. The city’s largest Chinatown can be found here, centering around Main Street and extending along Roosevelt Avenue. Many Bronx Science students consider the Main Street area in Queens to have some of the best food that one can get in New York City. “My friends and I love to go to Flushing on the weekends to get tasty, yet affordable, food. There are so many great restaurants in the area, but some of my favorites spots include The COOP and those at Queens Crossing,” said Avery Look 21. Due to the myriad of unique family-owned restaurants, students can always try the latest trends in food along the streets of Flushing, including “Tik Tok’s viral corndogs” and “brown sugar bubble tea,” according to Look. Bubble tea, one of the most popular drinks among young people, is extremely easy to find in Flushing. “The boba tea on Flushing’s Main Street is unmatched,” said Becky Chen ’21. “My favorite place to go is Xing Fu Tang. I am going to miss the convenience of having dozens of boba tea options all in one location,” she said. 

Bryant Park, Manhattan

For a day of free fun and games, many Bronx Science students will tell you to head to Bryant Park. In the warmer months, the Midtown Manhattan park hosts various sites for New Yorkers to enjoy a multitude of activities that do not require identification nor payment to participate in. Bryant Park has board games for people to play at picnic tables, and an Art Cart with arts and crafts supplies for anyone to use. 

For others, Bryant Park is at its best during the holiday season. New York City’s only skating rink with free admission can be found at the park’s Winter Village, along with a series of holiday shops. “I think Bryant Park just captures the magic of New York City and why people love it so much, especially during the winter months with the skating rink and the little shops and the holiday-themed decoration,” said Chritina Gao ’21. She enjoys sitting and watching the tourists who come for the festivities. “I’ll miss the ‘magic’ that New York City contains in general, but walking around Bryant Park and people watching with my friends is probably what I’ll miss the most,” she said. 

Right around the corner from the park is another student favorite: the main branch of the New York Public Library. The massive Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is not only famed for its majestic architecture, but also its exhaustive resources and research collections. The Reading Room of the main branch of the New York Public Library, located directly behind the park, was of great solace during the Great Depression era, as it provided unemployed intellectuals with a place to socialize. But for some students, it is the atmosphere of the library rather than its contents that makes it so charming. “I think I’m mostly going to miss the ‘studying with friends’ part a little bit more than the place itself. Of course, the library was a fun place in which to complete my work, but studying with my friend in peace is what made it so special,” said Hannah Goo ’21. 

The Gantry Plaza State Park’s waterfront is the ideal place in which to enjoy summer evenings, watching the sun sink behind the Midtown skyline.
(Lavanya Manickam)

Long Island City, Queens

Long Island City, a both residential and industrial area in Queens, is filled with a landscape of restaurants, cafes, and stores in which to spend time. The neighborhood is on the western tip of Queens and borders the East River. Gantry Plaza State Park sits on the waterfront, a gorgeous spread of green gardens and piers that face the midtown Manhattan skyline. For some students, like Adiba Aishi ’21, Gantry Park has a great significance to their friend group. “Whenever my friends and I want to have a picnic, our park of choice in Queens is Gantry Park. We love seeing the Manhattan skyline, eating birria tacos from the Chinelos Tacos NYC truck, and go people and dog watching!” said Aishi. 

Also near the waterfront is Sweetleaf, a local coffee shop that many students spend time in to complete homework or even to attend virtual Zoom classes during this past year. “The Sweetleaf cafe has a delicious brunch menu with a vegan BLT and a mushroom burger that are perfect when studying with a couple of friends,” said Shaira Jafar ’21. “The free WiFi and ample outdoor seating make the cafe a Bronx Science student’s dream,” she said. A short walk away is the now-gentrified Vernon Avenue that is filled with high-end restaurants, but also little shops native to the city like Book Culture. “Book Culture is a little petite book store right near my neighborhood where the people are always friendly. They sell so many things there, and I always feel good buying from them because it is a local business,” said Emma Nguyen ’21. The store has ample room for readers to browse through everything, including nonfiction classics, the booksellers’ featured novel recommendations, and a collection of trinkets and posters on display. 

Van Cortlandt Park, The Bronx

Van Cortlandt Park is another beautiful park in New York City, and it is the third largest one in the city. The city’s oldest golf course, horseback riding trails, outdoor pools, and hiking trails can all be found here. The expansive location is a gorgeous gem that many seniors will have a hard time leaving behind, especially Alina Hassan ’21. “In the city, we don’t really get our own backyards maybe if you’re rich or something but for me, I always thought of Van Cortland like my own house. It was not like I owned it, but it felt like a place that I could take care of and nurture, and it was somewhere that I could go at any time,” said Hassan.  “There is a certain location in the park that was special to me, because in the summer it’s hidden from the main lakeside, but when you actually sit there, you can see the entire park. It is beautiful, and I always thought it was my secret hideout as a kid,” she said. 

Travelling rings allow people to swing from one ring to the next using a combination of leg and arm moments. They are only found in a few places in the country, one of them being Riverside Park.
(Enza Jonas-Giugni)

Riverside Park, Manhattan

Bounded by the Hudson River, Riverside Park is a fantastic spot in which to enjoy the hidden tranquility and scenery of the city. With several sports courts, a skate park, and a launching site for canoes and kayaks, it is an amazing area for students who love the outdoors. “My Saturday morning bike rides from the north end of Riverside down to Battery Park helped me to make this huge city a little something of my own,” said Rohan Mehta ’21. “Beautiful skyline views, watching people play tennis early in the morning, observing kids running around with their parents — these constituted my tiny slice of the city,” he said. 

For other students as well, like Enza Jonas-Giugni ’21, the park played a significant part in their young adult years. “Growing up between the Upper West Side and Riverdale, with two sets of grandparents living right on West End Avenue, Riverside Park has always been a part of my life. Whether I was marveling at Grant’s Tomb, strolling along the banks of the Hudson River with friends, or trying to master swinging along the traveling rings and epically failing Riverside Park has always been a source of relaxation and fun,” said Jonas-Giugni. “This summer, I’m looking forward to enjoying the new outdoor art installation spanning almost 100 blocks of the park, called ‘Re:growth,’ before I head off to college,” she said.

Of course, there are other places and items scattered around the city that students hold close to their hearts — for one senior, Izzi Holmes ’21, that place is the ice rink at Chelsea Piers, for another, like Luke Siegel ’21, it is New York City’s classic dollar pizza. For many, their favorite spot is simply the subway, where you can read a book, watch the performers, or listen to music while you observe the tourists. 

While it is always difficult to depart from home, Bronx Science seniors will grow, learn, and find new places to love wherever they go. And New York City will always be there to come back to, just as it will always be our home.

Along with the opportunity to visit Central Park after a long day of classes, or a Broadway musical on a Friday night, Bronx Science students are uniquely able to become personally acquainted with the city that never sleeps, and find their favorite spots to call their own.

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