Last week, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” played on Low Steps. In a classic moment, Matthew Broderick breaks the fourth wall, saying to the camera, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So this week, take an afternoon, skip a class, and go look around. The Whitney Museum is running an exhibit called “I, YOU, WE,” and we’re using that concept to suggest places to see before finals. Check out places to be alone (“I”), places to people-watch (“YOU”), and places to share with friends or go on a date (“WE”).
Between Broadway and West End and West 94th and 95th streets
There's a small gate on 95th Street that can take you back to Tudor London. This isn't the wardrobe to Narnia—it's a short street tucked between apartment buiildings where people live in old-fashioned houses with shuttered windows and flowebeds. Not to exhaust the British fantasy references too much, but I'll call it the Diagon Alley of Manhattan.
Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum
770 Riverside Drive (between 153rd and 155th streets)
Most people we deal with at Columbia are unusually young. Take a walk around Manhattan's last active cemetery to see the headstones and grave monuments of some of old New York's important politicians and socialites. It doesn't have to be morbid—a warm spring day turns it into an ideal reading garden.
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
107 Amsterdam Ave.
Pick up the New York Times, sit in the pews, and reflect on your religion or non-religion while struggling to finish the crossword puzzle. Watch curious tourists meander and stare up at the ceilings, give up on the puzzle, meander with the tourists, listen to their accents, check out the art installment at the back of the chapel, notice the sign that says 'Chapel closed for art installation,' and appreciate the irony. (Props for finishing any puzzle beyond the Monday or Tuesday ones.)
Round-trip bus route
Ride a city bus and stay on until you've come back to where you started. It's like the subway, but with more room to observe other passengers. The M60 is pretty borting (the LaGuardia portion is especially bleak), but most of the Manhattan routes snake through enough neighborhoods to give you a good idea of where to venture next.
Harlem Meer turtle-watching
Central Park North and Fifth Ave.
When it's sunny and at least 50 degrees outside, count on seeing a few dozen turtles at the Harlem Meer, the pond at the north end of Central Park. You don't really have to do anything—just bring a friend and argue about whether turtles are reptiles or amphibians based on elusive memories from grade school biology. I think it's safe to say that turtles make any conversation better.
Roosevelt Island Tramway
Entrance at Tram Plaza, 60th Street and Second Avenue
For a single Metro card swipe, take a three-minute ride in a cable car a few hundred feet above the East River. Then, brag about how adventurous you are next time you watch Vampire Weekend's new music video for "Step." Don't actually do that, but do take the ride for great views of the Queensboro Bridge and the east side of Manhattan.