February 9, 2004 -- It's glitzy, it's glamorous, and it's faaaabulous, daaaaahling. New York City's biggest construction project has turned overnight into a glittery jewel on one of the city's most recognizable intersections, and there are plenty of reasons for tourists to take note.
The new Time Warner Center at 10 Columbus Circle, on the corner of Central Park, contains more than 40 shops and restaurants on four floors, a five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel, and the headquarters of the building's namesake globe-spanning media conglomerate.
The glittering halls make a great rainy-day window-shopping experience. And although many of the shops are high-end boutiques, there are several reasonably priced chain stores to shop in, including Borders, Williams-Sonoma, J. Crew and Sephora. You can grab some budget-friendly nosh in the gigantic Whole Foods supermarket café on the bottom floor, and the shopping area has public bathrooms. (Don't mock -- finding a good bathroom is an ongoing
challenge in Manhattan; that's the secret reason for Starbucks' wild success here.)
Two other tourist draws won't open until later this year. CNN will be offering tours of their studios in the building, similar to the ones they currently lead in Atlanta. And a major new concert hall devoted to jazz will be opening in the fall. If you're a jazz fan, keep an eye on www.jazzatlincolncenter.org to see when the first performances will be.
To get to the Time Warner Center, take the A/B/C/D/1/9 trains to 59th Street. The building is hard to miss.
Throw Away Those Subway Maps
New York's other big change isn't as glitzy, but it'll affect more people. Come February 22, several subway lines are changing their routes thanks to the completion of 20 years' worth of work on the Manhattan Bridge. That means all older subway maps, including the ones in Frommer's Guides, will be wrong in subtle but important ways. If you're coming to New York, you can pick up a new map for free from any subway station attendant. The official subway Web site, www.mta.info, will also be updated by Feb. 22. For now, though, here are some changes important to tourists:
For Ground Zero, Wall Street and the Staten Island Ferry, you used to take the N or R trains. Now, take the W or R trains.
There's a new route to Chinatown: you can now take the B or D trains to Grand Street.
To get from midtown locations like Rockefeller Center or Columbus Circle to Greenwich Village and SoHo quickly, you can now take the B and D.
Finally, beware! Unlike on your current map, the N train will now run express, jumping from 34th Street immediately to 14th Street, then Canal Street, then Brooklyn. As we said before, just get a new map.