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Travel Guide for Mama sumeja tulic

INTRODUCTION This travel guide is based on Wikitravel’s guide to New York City. This is a personalized guide, informed by the experiences and views of a dozen women I interviewed. Some of them are New Yorkers, some are tourists, but all wore the veil at the time of the interview.


5 boroughs

7 understand


15 climate

19 people

27 get around

37 see

49 do

55 buy

59 eat & drink

67 stay safe

73 acknowledgments


The five New York boroughs are Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Iswland. A large Muslim population lives om Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Midwood/Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, Boerum Hill/Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, Jackson Heights, and Astoria Queens, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Harlem, Manhattan.


New York City is one of the global centers of international finance, politics, communications, film, music, fashion, and culture, and is among the world’s most important and influential cities. It is home to many world-class museums, art galleries, and theaters. Immigrants (and their descendants) from over 180 countries live here, making it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Travellers are attracted to New York City for its culture, energy and cosmopolitanism. English is the primary language spoken by most New Yorkers although in many communities it is common to hear other languages that are generally widely understood. In many neighborhoods, there is a large Latino/Hispanic population, and many New Yorkers speak Spanish. Most cab drivers speak either Arabic, Hindi or Bengali. There are also many neighborhoods throughout the city that have a high concentration of Chinese immigrants where Mandarin or Cantonese may be useful. In some of these neighborhoods, some locals may not speak very good English, but store owners and those who would deal frequently with tourists or visitors all will speak English.


At the center of New York City is the borough of Manhattan, a long, narrow island nestled in a natural harbor. It is separated from The Bronx on the north east by the Harlem River (actually a tidal strait); from Queens and Brooklyn to the east and south by the East River (also a tidal strait); and from the State of New Jersey to the west and north by the Hudson River. Staten Island lies to the south west, across Upper New York Bay. Although Manhattan runs northeast to southwest, it is referred to as if it ran north-south. Thus, "uptown" means north, and "downtown" means south. Street numbers continue from Manhattan into the Bronx, and the street numbers rise as one moves farther north (however, in the Bronx, there is no simple numerical grid, so there may be 7 blocks between 167 St. and 170 St., for example). Avenues run north and south. In Brooklyn the opposite is true, as street numbers rise as one moves south. Queens streets are laid out in a perpendicular grid - street numbers rise as one moves toward the east, and avenues run east and west. Staten Island has no street numbers at all. The term “the city” may refer either to New York City as a whole, or to the borough of Manhattan alone, depending on the context. The other boroughs, which are Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens, are sometimes referred to as “the outer boroughs.” The term "upstate" generally refers to any part of the State of New York outside of New York City (Long Island being a notable exception), but not neighboring New Jersey or Connecticut.

CLIMATE People still ask fundamental, banal questions about hijab. Usually, the questions are innocent, asked out of genuine wish to know more about it.

Why do you wear it? What is its purpose? Is it hot underneath it? There are people who ask questions without really seeking answers. They have their own idea about it and don’t want to get otherwise. At times this is very clear because the questions are of the like Why do you wear a turban? Who made you wear it? Some people just ask questions to be rude and ignorant. Questions like How do you shower with it on? or When you are changing your cloth do you make sure it is still on? leave one with a bitter smile. Still, you need to take these questions with patience and grace. Respond to them in the most informative way. You should give people the opportunity to learn. Lots of people are islamophobic and have negative attitudes because they are misinformed. Lots of discrimination against Muslims comes from the fact that New York is far from being a post-racial city. Lots of Muslims in New York are also people of color which brings a whole new spread of prejudices. Discrimination in New York is subtle and not straight in the face like in other states. You should be able to recognize that and educate those who ask you. If they continue to be ignorant, you should step back and contain yourself. Try not to do anything that could misrepresent the hijab. You will not always be successful. You should try hard not to spaz out or course at those people. At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. At the same time it is not to say be too nice. Sometimes you need to put people at their place. There are times you should be sassy and sort of mean.

Women who wear niqab and take the bus are often asked insulting questions like Are you going to blow us up? My cousin was asked that once. So, I felt like returning the “favor.” I answered instead of my cousin with Yes and when we do it (activate the explosive), I will make sure you are around. Yes, we are on a mission to be good and set a good example, but sometimes we will retaliate. Radwa 20 year-old Engineering student

New York State government holidays 1

New Year’s Day


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

january january


World Hijab Day



Lincoln’s Birthday



Washington’s Birthday





Memorial Day


Independence Day

september october



Labor Day Columbus Day



Election Day



Veteran’s Day



Thanksgiving Day



Christmas Day


The diverse population runs the gamut from some of America’s wealthiest celebrities and socialites to homeless people. There are hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the city. New York’s population has been diverse since the city’s founding by the Dutch. Successive waves of immigration from virtually every nation in the world make New York a giant social experiment in cross-cultural harmony. The city’s ethnic heritage illuminates different neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs. Manhattan’s Chinatown remains a vibrant center of New York City’s Chinese community, though in recent years the very large Chinese community in Flushing, Queens, has rivaled if not eclipsed it in importance, and three other Chinatowns have formed in New York City: the Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park; the Elmhurst Chinatown in Queens; and the Avenue U Chinatown located in the Homecrest section of Brooklyn. Traces of the Lower East Side’s once-thriving Jewish community still exist amid the newly-gentrified neighborhood’s trendy restaurants

and bars, but there are Chassidic communities in Borough Park, Crown Heights and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Harlem has been gentrifying and diversifying and remains a center of African-American culture in New York. East (Spanish) Harlem still justifies its reputation as a large Hispanic neighborhood. Little known to most tourists are the large Dominican neighborhoods of Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. Brooklyn’s Greenpoint is famous for its large and vibrant Polish community, and the Flatbush section - once home to the Brooklyn Dodgers - is today a huge and thriving Caribbean and West Indian section. Queens and Brooklyn are known for being home to many of New York’s more recent immigrant groups, which since 1990 have included large numbers of Russians, Uzbeks, Chinese, Irish, Italian, French, Filipinos, Yugoslavians, Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Japanese, Koreans, Thais, Africans, Arabs (from throughout the Middle East and northern Africa), Mexicans, Dominicans, Ecuadorians, Brazilians, Colombians and Jamaicans.

“The hijab for me . . . in many (not all) experiences was a statement against the traditional male gaze that owns the femme/queer/ gender non-conforming body. And it represented my relationship to Islam in a world filled with islamophobia and the hatred of women who were making decisions for their own body. Growing up in New York, I still experienced cat calling and relationships with sexist misogynist men who used patriarchal notions of modesty and honor to perpetuate oppression. Many of my relationships were tied to these notions of sanctity that created the virgin/whore dichotomy, while also creating a hidden space to explore/discover sexuality and the freedom to define these experiences before committing myself to someone ‘forever.’”

Sharmin Hossain, 21

Ex-Hijabis Reflect on Decision to Remove Veil

We News, June 23, 2014


Most of NYC is laid out in a grid. By convention, Manhattan is spoken of as if it runs north to south (it’s actually northeast to southwest), with streets running east and west and avenues running north and south. This makes it relatively easy and straightforward to find your way. Streets are numbered (except in downtown Manhattan) and the numbering rises as you go north. Most avenues are numbered from east to west (so First Ave is east of Second, etc.) below 59th St. Building numbering on avenues starts at the south end of the avenue and rises as you move north, while building numbering on streets starts at Fifth Ave (for the most part - see below) and increases as you go east or west crosstown. As a convenient guide to distance, there are 20 blocks per mile along the avenues (walking north/south). The average person can walk roughly 1 block per minute, or 60 blocks (3 mi) per hour. Walking east/west on the streets, blocks are generally much longer. In Queens, avenues, roads, and drives generally run east/west and increase numerically as you proceed south. Streets run north/south. Queens and Northern Blvds run east/west. The Bronx is a continuation of the Manhattan street numbers. 3rd Ave is the only numbered avenue in the Bronx.

pedestrian basics Jaywalking is extremely common among New Yorkers; an average New Yorker typically jaywalks 10-15 times a day. However, it can be extremely dangerous. If you cannot properly gauge the speed of oncoming cars, it is recommended you wait for the walk signal. Do not blindly follow someone crossing, as while they might have time to make it across, the person behind them might not. If you do jaywalk, remember that in the US, people drive on the right side of the road on two-way streets so remember to look left to check for oncoming traffic on your side of the road. Be aware that many streets are one-way, so you may have to look right. beware of bicyclists unlawfully going against the proper flow of vehicular traffic — or, for that matter, police or other vehicles doing the same. Remember that even if you have a walk signal, police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances can bypass red traffic lights. Always defer to these vehicles when walking. If you do not wish to jaywalk, be considerate of New Yorkers by not blocking them from jaywalking while you are waiting for your signal. It’s New York City. It’s crowded on those sidewalks— especially in Manhattan—so when someone accidentally

“bumps” into someone else, it is not only acceptable, but generally expected for one to say “Excuse me”, or “I’m sorry”. Be especially careful when you are carrying an umbrella to ensure that it does not catch a passer-by in the eye. Just like when driving -- stay to the right (e.g. on subway staircases), let people pass if you are a slow walker, and don’t stop suddenly or cut people off. If you are with a group, it is considered extremely poor etiquette to block the sidewalk without providing space for others to pass or overtake you. Texting (or, by extension, even reading texts) on one’s cellphone while walking, is completely unacceptable -and could lead to everything from angry encounters, to injury, or even to death (Fort Lee, New Jersey is among the first cities in the U.S. to make the practice a misdemeanor -- and illegalization is gaining popularity, nationwide). reading a book -- one can become much more likely to collide with a passerby. Collisions can be disastrous and lead to multiple injuries, as well as costly damages.

If you see someone who is in obvious distress -stop and offer to help them; call 911 if necessary. NYC may be large -- but it is still a relatively closeknit “community”; and New Yorkers generally take care of New Yorkers -- visitors (on both sides of the fore-mentioned coin), included. A simple, common-sense “Rule of thumb” which most of us learned back in Nursery School (yet, to this day is all-too-often ill-applied) will always work wonders on the streets of NYC (most notably Manhattan): WALK in the areas that are meant for WALKING; STAND in the areas that are meant for STANDING: and SIT in the areas that are meant for SITTING -- and DO NOT EVER “mix” any combination of the three. To sum up -- the general, basic rule of the NYC sidewalk: “Watching out for others at all times”. In the most fundamental sense, this means “preventing collisions”. When not paying attention, like when talking on the phone, texting, admiring the skyscrapers and their inherent architectural beauty, or even reading a book -- one can become much more likely to collide with a passerby. Collisions can be disastrous and lead to multiple injuries, as well as costly damages.


Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island

Wall Street Federal Hall

World Trade Center Site

Grand Central Terminal

Chrystler Building

Christmas Treet and Skating Rink Central Park

New York Stock Exchange One World Trade Center Brooklyn Bridge Empire State Building

Rockefeller Plaza Time Square

United Nations New York Public Library

general advice on sightseeing in New York

Tourists often spend their entire vacation in New York standing in line (or as New Yorkers say, "standing on line"). This is often unnecessary; there are usually alternatives. For example, one can choose to avoid the Empire State Building during the day (it is open, and empty, late, until midnight or 2AM on weekends during summer), skip the Statue of Liberty in favor of the Staten Island Ferry, and stay away from the Guggenheim on Monday (it is one of the only museums open that day). Also, there is no reason to stand in line for a Broadway show if you already have a ticket with an assigned seat. If you prefer, get a drink nearby and come back closer to curtain time, when you can walk right in. The lines for bus tours can be absurd because tourists all seem to have the exact same Be careful! Have a phone on you at all time. Download plenty of phone apps that will help you get around the city. Make sure you have always enough cash on you so you can take a cab. Most of the cab drivers are Arab and Muslim. They will help you out. Avoid the yellow line on the subway. Over the years, many people who even looked Muslim or Oriental have been pushed under the tracks when the train was coming. I always make sure you are far away. I live here and have been taking the subway for a while now. Still, it is scary for me. I make sure I am as far as possible from the yellow line. Be safe! Sarah, 20 year old student of Sociology and Anthropology itinerary - which is get on a bus in the morning in Times Square, get off for the Statue of Liberty, and finish on the East Side in the afternoon. Why not go downtown in the morning, and save Midtown for the afternoon? You will thank yourself for avoiding the crowds. Also, understand that buses are the slowest way to go crosstown in Midtown Manhattan during peak hours, and taxis are not much better. You are often better off on foot.

parades new york’s village halloween parade  Each Halloween (31 Oct) at 7PM. Anyone in a costume is welcome to march; those wishing to should show up 6PM-9PM at Spring St and 6th Ave. macy’s thanksgiving day parade  The morning of each Thanksgiving on Central Park, this parade attracts many spectators and is broadcast on nationwide television. st. patrick’s day parade  The largest St. Paddy’s parade in the world! Celebrations in pubs citywide happen the rest of the day and night until the green beer runs out. labor day parade  (aka West Indian Day Parade or New York Carribean Carnival). The Labor Day Carnival, or West Indian Carnival, is an annual celebration held in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. coney island mermaid parade  The Mermaid Parade is held in celebration of the beginning of the summer season, and so it traditionally takes place on the Saturday closest to the calendar start of summer, regardless of the weather. The Mermaid parade is well known for extraordinary marine costumes, and for the occasional partial nudity; it is legal in New York State for women to be topless in public. The parade is however very much a family event; it is quite common for at least one little girl’s birthday party to march as part of the parade.


for Mama and Fred

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in Manhattan, New York City on March 25, 1911 was one of the deadliest industrial disasters in the history of the city, and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. It was also one of the deadliest disasters that occurred in New York City – after the burning of the General Slocum on June 15, 1904 – until the destruction of the World Trade Center 90 years later. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers – 123 women and 23 men – who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. The first person to jump was a man, and another man was seen kissing a young woman at the window before they both jumped to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three; of the victims whose ages are known, the oldest victim was Providenza Panno at 43, and the youngest were 14-year-olds Kate Leone and “Sara” Rosaria Maltese. Because the owners had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits – a common practice at the time to prevent pilferage and unauthorized breaks– many of the workers who could not escape the burning building jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors to the streets below. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers. The factory was located in the Asch Building, at 23–29 Washington Place in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, now known as the Brown Building and part of New York University.

Have a phone on you at all time. Download plenty of phone apps that will help you get around the city. Make sure you have always enough cash on you so you can take a cab. Most of the cab drivers are Arab and Muslim. They will help you out. Avoid the yellow line on the subway. Over the years, many people who even looked Muslim or Oriental have been pushed under the tracks when the train was coming. I always make sure I am far away. I live here and have been taking the subway for a while now. Still, it is scary to me. If I am your mom, I would make sure I am as far as possible from the yellow line. Be safe Sumeja’s mom! Sarah, 20 year-old Sociology and Anthropology student


buy New York is arguably the fashion capital of the United States, and is a major shopping destination for people around the world. The city boasts an unmatched range of department stores, boutiques, and specialty shops. Some neighborhoods boast more shopping options than most other American cities and have become famous as consumer destinations. Anything you could possibly want to buy can be found in New York, including clothing, cameras, computers and accessories, music, musical instruments, electronic equipment, art supplies, sporting goods, and all kinds of foodstuffs and kitchen appliances.

“Sometimes I go into a store and the store clerk keeps looking at me as if I am about to steal something. Sometimes they say that I’ll need to buy the things I take to the cashier. It just amuses me how they think that the basic principle of acquiring goods and services is unknown to me. I come from Egypt. We invented trade.” Gamila, 54 year-old bookkeeper

eat & drink

New York has, as you might expect, all the eating options covered and you can find almost every type of food available and every cuisine of the world represented. Maybe it’s the size of New Yorkers’ tiny kitchens, or perhaps it’s the enormous melting-pot immigrant populations, but either way, this city excels at every kind of restaurant. Thousands of delis, bodegas, and grocery stores dot every corner of the city and DIY meals are easy and cheap to find. Street food comes in various tastes, ranging from the ubiquitous New York hot dog vendors to the many carts with Middle Eastern cuisine on street corners in mid-town. However in mid-town be wary of restaurants and bars both immediately on and around Times Square, or near the Empire State Building - many are tourist traps cashing in on travellers’ gullibility and lack of local knowledge. New Yorkers wouldn’t dream of eating out in such places; you shouldn’t either! As in the rest of the United States, tipping is expected in New York restaurants. New Yorkers often calculate the base tip by doubling the tax.

dress code

Restaurants with entrees under $20 are unlikely to have any preference about what their customers wear. Of course, like most major cities, New York has some expensive, extremely fashionable restaurants that care about, and enforce, a certain level of dress among their customers - but “jackets only” restaurants are very uncommon nowadays. If you’re from elsewhere in the US and wish to “pass” as a local within Manhattan, pay attention to your shoes and coat. Most local exclusiveness is pretty understated, but where it exists it’s generally from nightlife commuters from New Jersey and Long Island that supposedly threaten to rob bar-filled neighborhoods of their local color. Therefore, if your style doesn’t fit in but is obviously from outside the US, you may find yourself as welcomed as graciously as any local, if not more so.

smoking Smoking in public places is highly restricted. It is prohibited in indoor sections of bars, restaurants, subway stations and trains (all transit system property), public parks, public beaches, pedestrian malls, both indoor and outdoor stadiums and sports arenas, and many other public places. If you light up in any of these places, you are subject to a summons and fine, ejection, and/or indignant reactions from residents. There do remain a small number of legal cigar bars that are exempt, as are the outside areas of sidewalk cafes and the like, but these are very much the exception. If you need to smoke while eating or drinking, be prepared to take a break and join the rest of the smokers outside, whatever the weather; many establishments have large space heaters. As in most US cities, drinking alcoholic beverages on the street is illegal, so bars will not let you take your drink outside.


Commonly believed to be very dangerous, New York is statistically the safest large city in the United States, and its crime rate per person is actually lower than the national average and the crime rate of many small towns. You can also be assured of a high police presence in Times Square, public transportation hubs and other major crowded places.

Despite the stereotypes, many New Yorkers are nice people and don't mind giving out directions (time allowing), so don't be afraid to ask! If you ever get into trouble, approach the nearest police officer. You'll find them to be friendly, polite, and very helpful.

The most common crime against tourists (not including being overcharged!) is bag snatching. Never let go of your bag, especially in the subway but also when eating at a restaurant. Take special care if sitting outdoors or in a crowded self-service restaurant. Leave your passport and other valuables in a hotel safe or hidden in your suitcase, and don't flaunt a wad of money. While muggings are rare, they do happen. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you find yourself on a lightly traveled or poorly lit street. Certain neighborhoods that are off the tourist path should be avoided in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Riverside Park and Central Park can be dangerous at night. If you go to an evening outdoor concert at one of the parks, follow the crowd out of the park before heading toward your destination. In a post 9/11 New York, airport style security is becoming a common sight at a growing list of buildings, museums and tourist attractions, even the Public Library. Generally you can expect to have your bags checked (either manually by a security guard or through an x-ray machine) and walk through a metal detector. Unlike their counterparts at JFK and LaGuardia, security screenings at building entrances are surprisingly quick and efficient - and you can even leave your shoes on! If you think you've inadvertently wandered into a dangerous area, hop into a cab, if available, or into the nearest subway station and go elsewhere. If a subway platform is deserted, stay within sight of the station agent if possible. Otherwise, if you are on the streets of an unfamiliar neighborhood, acting like you know where you're going - even if you don't - goes a long way. Criminals tend to look for easy targets - don't be one! New York has its share of odd people: talkative pan-handlers, lonely people just wanting a chat, religious preachers, people with psychological disorders, etc. If you prefer not to speak with someone who approaches you for a chat, do what most New Yorkers do: completely ignore them or say "Sorry, gotta go" while continuing to walk at a brisk pace.

2013 A white man verbally and physically assaulted a Muslim woman during a pro-democracy rally at Times Square, New York. During the incident – which was caught on video– the man is seen calling the woman a “[expletive] terrorist” and forcefully throwing a sign at her head. september

2014 A man on board a New York City bus allegedly spat on a 15-year-old Muslim girl, pushed her, and called her a “terrorist.” The teen was wearing a traditional headscarf while riding the Q88 bus on her way to school in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens. According to The New York Post, she accidentally brushed her bag against the man, sending him into a hate-filled tirade. The man, who is described as a 5-foot-7 middled-aged white man, allegedly raised his fist at the teen, threatening her. Although the man allegedly pushed the girl, spat on her three times, called her a terrorist, and threatened to kill her, she says no one on the bus helped her. “They were laughing,” she told ABC of her fellow passengers. “What if that were your daughter? Wouldn’t you stand up for her?” The man reportedly got off the bus when it stopped along Kissena Boulevard near Queens College. april

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This project would not been possible without the help of Abbas Hajimohammadi, Aaron Breetwor, Loubna Mrie, Robert Godden, Yuyang Liu, many New Yorkers who took time to help or to pose for the photographs. To Fred Ritchin, Susan Meiselas, Ed Kashi, and Liz Kilroy thank you for your inspiration, support, and belief.

Profile for Sumeja Tulic

Travel Guide for Mama  

Hijab in NYC

Travel Guide for Mama  

Hijab in NYC