Monday, March 1, 2021

Rep Your City with Conversations: Jennifer Ann Smith (Queens, NY)

Rep Your City with Conversations


Name:   Jennifer Ann Smith, Esq. 

City/State:  Queens, NY (NYC)

How long have you lived in your city? I was born here, went to high school in nearby north NJ in Bergen County, left for college to go to the University of Michigan, and moved around the country to various military bases for a little bit but came back to NYC for law school.  Been back ever since!  Growing up in NYC, then in very different northern NJ, and then experiencing the military world and small towns across America all provided me with such varied perspectives and an opportunity to experience very different ways of life.  It also served to teach me and help me gain an understanding about what makes a community and how things like socioeconomics, urban planning, and discrimination can impact entire societies and groups of people in disparate ways.  

What makes your city special for you? NYC is a place where you can find and experience every culture and background within one small area.  You get to enjoy cuisines, art, history, culture, traditions, religions etc. from all over the world without leaving home.  Because NYC is inhabited by people from all over the world with all different backgrounds, experiences, and histories it brings a richness and diversity that you cannot find anywhere.   Queens, NY is believed to be THE most diverse place in the world in that more countries and backgrounds are represented here than in any other place.   Especially right now, when it is difficult and unsafe to travel, you can still learn and experience all sorts of cultures and backgrounds and celebrate diversity right here without having to hop on a plane.  

What is your city known for?   Diversity, activism, amazing food & entertainment, and as the city that never sleeps. 

Any best-kept secrets in your city?  The touristy areas are not the places to have real NYC food even though it is advertised as such.  The real food, pizza for example, isn't from a chain. It is from the mom and pop Italian places all over the city, and you won't find it near the tourist attractions. NYC of course has chain restaurants, but real NYers know that the best food here regardless of the type of cuisine is always the mom and pop local places where recipes have been handed down over generations and the owners/workers care and become part of the community.  There is also some really spectacular fine fining with tons of famous chefs all in one place.
   Another tip is to not limit your visit to just Manhattan.  There is so much history and amazing things to see in the rest of NYC (Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx). If you want to get some great views that aren't just an overpriced crowded touristy place like the top of the Empire State Building (which is still lovely but packed!) check out rooftop restaurants/bars especially at night such as The Westlight In Brooklyn or Ravel Hotel rooftop in Queens.  Amazing views! 

Favorite Restaurant:  Christos Greek Steakhouse in Astoria Queens, NY for delicious steaks, lobster mashed potatoes, drinks, and appetizers!   Also tasty, Pho Bac in Elmhurst Queens, NY for authentic, & fresh Vietnamese food.  The Westlight in Brooklyn for tasty bites and the most l incredible 360 degree views both inside and on their rooftop deck.   

Have a favorite 'home away from home' in your city you can share?  Julia's Beer & Wine Bar in Ridgewood Queens. It is that kind of tiny chill place to grab a drink and a tasty snack in an atmosphere where the staff become friends.  Also Domino Park in Brooklyn is a lovely place for a waterside picnic with a view.  

Why should people visit?  NYC has so much history and so much to impart to visitors. Everything has value in experiencing.  Museums, Art both in galleries and even on the street, restaurants, exhibits, monuments...there's so much to learn, see, and do.  Even just walking around and seeing the very different neighborhoods and boroughs there's something new around every corner.  In NYC, you get this unique experience of being able to experience cultures from all over the world which have been incorporated into the fabric of nyc and in many ways are just as much a NY experience as they are authentic and true to their origins.  

Photo: The Westlight Bar & Restaurant, Brooklyn, NY

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