New York City for advanced learners

The Viennese photographer Luca-Mercedes Stemer lives in New York and reveals her favorite places – which are off the hotspots for first-time visitors.

In times when the flight to NYC – in other words “En Uai Ssieh” as the semi-professional puts it – is worth it for a long weekend, the majority of the USA visitors are repeat offenders. They have long since seen the must-sees – Time Square, the Empire State Building and the One World Center – and they no longer consider Highline Park and the Meatpacking District to be an insider’s tip either. The Viennese photographer Luca-Mercedes Stemer has lived in the Brooklyn district of Clinton Hill for some time and moves in areas of the city that have little or nothing to do with the classic tourist trails. And took us for a walk to the places where guests are welcome but outnumbered. And which you can report on after your return without having to listen to half the office: “Yes, we always go there when we’re in NYC.”


“The Bklyn House is the first boutique hotel in Bushwick, right in the heart of the district,” says Stemer enthusiastically of the house in the area that is being traded as the new Williamsburg. In which, for New York standards, you can stay overnight at prices from 116 US dollars per night and room. There are simple, but cool, industrial rooms in the middle of the area, which is popular with artists. Which can also be seen on the murals painted walls throughout Bklyne House.

If the still hip Williamsburg is to be the starting point for tours of the city that never sleeps, photographer recommends The William Vale. “From the rooms with balconies you can look directly over to Manhattan,” explains Stemer. There is also a rooftop pool, a gallery, large modern architecture – and above all an “eclectic crowd”. This is exactly the mix of people of all stripes that has made Williamsburg so hip in recent years. Rooms start at $ 207.

And the die-hard Manhattan fans, for whom accommodation outside the big apple is out of the question, the photographer recommends the Jane Hotel. This house was built in 1908 as accommodation for sailors and is one of the city’s landmarks today. “Welcome to a hotel in the spirit of director Wes Anderson,” says Stemer, describing the atmosphere of this historic landmark. “Sitting here on the roof terrace, sipping cocktails and looking over the Hudson River definitely catapults you into another era,” says the photographer. The rooms come from this other time, some of them are furnished in an exciting combination of bunk beds and heavy plush. The rooms at the Jane are available from $ 135 a night.

to eat and drink

“Oysters for happy hour and the nicest bartenders”: The Neo-New Yorker raves about The Wayland. Strictly speaking, the place is actually a cocktail bar with live music in the East Village, but the food here is at least as good as the drinks. “The Wayland is something like the watering hole in the heart of Alphabet City,” laughs the photographer. Definitely to try here are the crispy cauliflower, the tapas and the pork belly sandwich. “And the Kale Margarita. It sounds gruesome, but it’s incredibly delicious, ”says Stemer, leaning on the latest use of cabbage. There is also often live music. 700 East 9th St at the corner of Avenue C;

Whenever you ask Americans in hip locations for their three best restaurant recommendations, you’ll find at least one, if not two, Italians among them. This is a peculiarity that the Viennese immigrant has already adopted. Your personal tip is Santa Panza and is in the heart of Bushwick. “They have delicious Italian-style pizza and a fantastic house wine at reasonable prices,” she reports. Which, however – and this is unusual for NYC – are to be paid in cash. 1079 Broadway, Brooklyn,

The very best food in Bushwick or Brooklyn, if not all of New York, is available for the Austrian on the corner of Harman Street and Knickerbocker Avenue – at a street stall. “We call her the chicken lady because she makes the best chicken, potatoes and salad,” says Stemer of her favorite Mexican street food in town, but the cook doesn’t want to be photographed. “Five dollars can take you to a completely different world here,” she enthuses.


“Elizabeth Street is a whole street full of great boutiques,” says Stemer of a lesser-known shopping street in Manhattan. A stop at the Aesop shop should not be missed. This is the first branch of the Australian personal care product manufacturer in the USA. “The whole business is just really nice and the walls are made of New York newspapers,” she says. “The friendly staff washes your hands there, and you can buy the best creams and deodorants I’ve ever found.”

For the photographer, the best vintage shop in town is Worship on Wilson Avenue in Brooklyn. “It doesn’t matter whether you want to buy something or not, it’s just worth taking a look,” says Stemer. “And I’m almost certain that you will leave the business with at least one new piece. 117 Wilson Avenue, Brooklyn,

Art objects, soap, clothes, coffee, tea and charging cables: there is almost nothing that the Usagi does not have in a particularly beautiful form. The shop, which is also a gallery and eatery, is located in trendy Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) in Brooklyn. “Today’s fast-paced, networked world means that you have to wear many hats at the same time – and Usagi simply offers the ideal environment for interdisciplinary creativity and inspiration by combining food, drink, art and sales,” the photo artist explains what is special about the café Shop gallery. 163 Plymouth St, Brooklyn,

Go out and celebrate

“The perfect place for a date night is Featherwhite in East Williamsburg,” she knows from personal experience. There you can find the so-called speakeasy vibe – named after the secret bars during Prohibition – a cozy place where attention to detail is celebrated. “The cocktails here are great, and those who like gin should definitely try the Keep Calm and Carry on,” recommends the New Yorker by choice. 135 Graham Avenue at Johnson Avenue Brooklyn,

When it comes to a first-class view of Manhattan in addition to good cocktails, the Ides Bar at the Wythe Hotel is a good address for Stemer. “Here, as in all my favorite places and most of the young locations in NYC, it is less what you wear than what kind of mood you bring with you,” she explains the dress code. “If you feel like it, you can dress up, but you can also just dress comfortably.” 80 Wythe Floor N6, Brooklyn,

And a good mix of beautiful indoor and outdoor dance floors with lots of trees and excellent DJs can be found in the Nowadays, where the photographer is often due to work during the wedding season. “There is good food, good vibes and, recently, a sauna,” says the native Viennese. 56-06 Cooper Ave, Ridgewood,

Arts and Culture

“I love Jason Peters’ installations,” says Stemer, her favorite artist in New York. “It’s always worth looking at his exhibitions. The artist’s studio, who creates structures from modular elements or waste, is at 340 Morgan Ave 2 FL in Brooklyn.

“The only museum I’m a member of in NYC is the Brooklyn Museum,” admits the photographer, “and it’s really worth it.” The museum is one of the oldest and largest in North America and one of the best-stocked. 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn,

“And the Invisible Dog is one of my absolute favorite places when it comes to art,” says Stemer, recommending the unusual concept to visitors. “The building on Bergen Street is neither a gallery nor a non-profit, but rather a place where artists from all media can work and do what they couldn’t do anywhere else in New York,” she describes the experimental and collaborative one Idea. That is lived in a nearly 3000 square meter building from the late 19th century, which was discovered and developed by Lucien Zayan as a place for art in 2008 after over a hundred years of industrial history.

(“Die Presse”, print edition, May 25, 2019)

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