The World Beyond Manhattan

Students talk about reasons to step out of your comfort zone and visit the outer boroughs.

The boardwalk at Coney Island quiets down as visitors dwindle for the day. Peaceful moments can be hard to find in Manhattan, causing students to branch out and explore different boroughs. (Staff photo by Alex Tran)

When Washington Square Park students visit their friends at Tandon, they jokingly call it “going abroad.” For many, crossing the East River is not just entering a different borough of the city but stepping into a totally different world.

Tisch sophomore Deborah Shonack, a Gramercy Green resident, admitted that she only leaves Manhattan about once per month but appreciates the diversity of the outer boroughs.

“I think each borough has its own different personality in a sense, and there are a lot of things you can’t find in Manhattan that are in the other boroughs and vice versa,” said Deborah Shonack.  “All of the boroughs make up the city. Manhattan isn’t just it.”

There are many features of the outer boroughs that Manhattan can’t beat. One of them is green spaces. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, known for its world’s fair memorabilia and for hosting the U.S. Open since 1978, is one of Shonack’s favorite places in the outer boroughs to visit.  

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“It’s like, really, really huge and has the Queens Museum in it. My friends and I were enjoying the cherry blossom season last year, and they looked really pretty, and we had a picnic, and it was just a lot of fun,” she said.

Other students also seem to enjoy the parks in the outer boroughs. CAS sophomore Ian Miller is a commuter from East Flatbush and said that one of his favorite places is Prospect Park in Brooklyn. He believes that students who don’t explore the outer boroughs are missing out on learning about other communities in the city.

“An expanded worldview,” Miller emphasized. “If [students] just stay in this little bubble, they won’t see what life really is outside of the student view.”

Sebastian Anlas, a CAS sophomore from Forest Hills, raved about the outer boroughs.

“[There’s] cheaper stuff, just less pollution, a little bit,” he said. “Something that I miss is just being able to go on long stretches of walks without having to encounter vehicles too much.  Here there’s constant traffic.”

But the main draw for these students is the drastically more prevalent multiculturalism in the other boroughs.

Shonak said that she searched hard for Peruvian spots in Manhattan last year and didn’t find anything. Eventually, she ventured out and found what she was looking for in Queens and Jackson Heights.

“I just really like walking down Roosevelt Avenue,” she said. “There are a lot of shops playing music out loud; it just seems very festive over there. They have a lot of colorful different shops, and I really like going into Latin American supermarkets and seeing all of the cultural things that they sell.”

“The minority populations are much more vibrant [outside of Manhattan],” Anlas agreed.  “Like in Roosevelt, there’s a big Latino population; in Elmhurst where I grew up there’s a big Chinese population, stuff like that.”

The fact is that neighborhoods like Greenwich Village have everything a student could need — trendy food, a plethora of stores, entertainment and a secure campus community — and many students don’t feel the need to leave. But by branching out, students will discover that there’s so much more to New York than just Manhattan.

Email Sabrina Choudhary at [email protected]

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