Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Places to write in New York City (an ongoing post)

More editing and writing being done. As far as output seen by you, that doesn't mean much, but rest assured that When Gods Fail III is thoroughly being dissected right now.

In the meantime (this has been an ongoing post, I've finally added enough for it to be helpful) here is a list of cafes which I've found to be helpful when considering places in the City where I'd enjoy studying. Basically, these are places that serve good coffee while having the ambiance (be that table space or the right kind of din) for a person to write (or study). Now there are no rankings, since these factors can oscillate through a day/season. Also some places haven fallen out of favor and I'll list the reasons for that, so you can see if that matches up with what you want.

Nevertheless, I've personally searched for this list online and I'm always disappointed in what I find. Yes, it's troublesome that Google can't answer all questions, so for now I'll try to make my mark.

Of course I enjoy getting work done in other areas. The subway (especially when I'm taking it from here in the Bronx and can stretch out) is a great place to people watch and jot down notes, or bury yourself under editing (due to the shakes it's not so good for writing). Kerouac did call it the "living room of the world," and I'm sure most people will agree. A side note: for some reason I can never get the same amount of work done on the NJ transit or MTA North.

The Bronx Botanical Gardens is also a great place to write (the cafes there have only subpar coffee, but it's usually quiet enough to get a lot of work done).
These places are not included. But you should give them a try.

Butler Library in Columbia University is a great place to get work done (outside of finals and midterm weeks). Though I'll admit I haven't been there in quite some time. Also, my all time favorite place to get work done, all over the world is still Cafe Coco in Nashville. Simply hasn't been beat, and I don't see how it can be. Hoping to be proven wrong. (also my drink of choice is an Americano [aka espresso with water, or a long black] or sometimes an espresso, also green tea). Also looking for a decent 24 hour place, but that's harder to find than I thought it'd be.





So here's my list. All focused in Manhattan since I can't find anyplace to get work done in the Bronx, outside of my apartment. One day we'll get a Starbucks here in Norwood and all will be grand!

Enjoy:

Think Coffee: Their coffee, and teas are spot on. Right now the one on Bleeker street is my favorite as the one near NYU is usually too busy a place to get things done (and the music there is always blaring... I suppose they want it to be a bar?). There's one by Union Square, and though it has a nice layout its proximity to Union Square makes it hard to find a place to sit. It too suffers from unbearably loud music from time to time (the one in Chelsea also suffers from this problem and I can't recommend it based on that factor). Also, they're usually good with the amount of outlets for a laptop.

Hungarian Pastry Shop: Really the only cafe to hang around near Columbia University, which is a real shame. Nevertheless the coffee here is weak. Never cared for it. The pastries are solid. It's a pain to get a seat, but you'll have to jostle for one, hopefully near a light because the lighting is meant for dates, not studying. Still, it's a great place if you do get a spot because the din is perfect to concentrate with. Hard to charge up a laptop, though.

Cafe Reggio: Was an old favorite of mine. It's a cash only place. It can tend to be crowded, and dark, but if you get a decent table (usually by the walls) you can focus on your work and space out. Also there aren't many people after a certain time (on weekdays at least). The coffee isn't bad here. Also, the waitstaff are usually friendly, though in the past few turns here they seemed to be hostile. Not sure but I haven't had luck working here for quite some time.

Housing Works cafe: A great place to get work done (once again if you can find a place to sit, and also not coincide with one of their events). The coffee and tea are weak, though the sandwiches are great. You can also browse books (decent used book selections) on your off time. I prefer going to the second floor. The layout of this store is perfect for people watching, and it's rarely too loud. One of my favorites.

McNally's: The coffee here was subpar only a few years ago. Now it's superb! Ditto the tea. Hard to find a place, but the  bookstore itself is addicting. My girlfriend and I always find ourselves looking for books (and buying tons of them!). I dare say the book selection is one of the best I've ever seen. As for the studying I can usually get a lot of it done. The limited seating makes it hard to find them, but when I do, I can get some decent work done (sometimes the din is too sporadic, read the person next to you dominates and you can't get much done).

Kaffe 1668: Decent coffee, though this place is very over priced. If you can get a seat downstairs, it's a great place to study. Upstairs seems like more of a place to meet, but it's still nice. I like it. It's a great place to people watch.

Birch Coffee is a great place I've found recently. It has a small library (take and leave as you choose) upstairs that allows you to (usually) get away from the noisier customers downstairs. Love it. I'm partial to the one on 27th st.

Argo Tea near Union Square is a great place for anyone to study. Surprisingly it's rarely crowded. Okay coffee, but great tea!

That's it for now. I will update this post as I find (or remember) new places.

update Feb2015: I am now out of NYC. I do think that the better places to study moved further north as the area south of Midtown either changed or became too crowded. And so it goes, I suppose. Upper West side tended to have better places, but for now that is neither here nor there as I'm sure things will change very quickly. Anyone is more than welcome to place something up there. Thank you.



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