As millions of individuals from around the world migrate and settle into New York City each year, thousands of high school graduates pack up their belongings and settle into their respective college towns. While these two groups may differ in age, gender, sexuality, race or religion, both have one thing in common: each is trying to find his or her place. From the two groups, many individuals strive to find a little slice of home: a sense of belonging and comfort in a new and foreign town.
After living away from home both in the United States and abroad, I certainly can attest to this scary and discomforting feeling.
While you cannot substitute many things from the United States in a foreign country, I believed I could adjust quickly after moving to another American city. However upon my arrival to New York, I found this was not always the case. I began missing my familiar Columbia hangouts and go-to spots. I didn’t have my usual places where I could guarantee the food was going to taste good or the atmosphere was going to be just right.
But here, in New York City in a sea of over 8.5 million global citizens, many ethnic groups have proved that is, in fact, possible to find a place of solace. Over the years, certain ethnic groups have claimed specific areas as their own that they can call home: the Chinese people have developed Chinatown, Italians have found respite in Little Italy while Germans have a large population living in the Yorkville neighborhood on the Upper East Side.
So, I decided that I, too, could try to make at least part of this city my own. I embarked on finding similar places to my beloved Columbia spots.
Through this, I put together “Little CoMo”
(The name being inspired by a cross between Little Italy and NoHo/SoHo).
The following list contains some match-ups and hopes of equivalency. However, it is a reality that the majority of Columbia to New York City places cannot be accurately compared.
1. Shakespeare’s Pizza — Lombardi’s
Location: 32 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012
Shakespeare’s Pizza has been the go-to pizza place in Columbia since 1973. Loved by Columbia residents, students, faculty, alumni and visitors, Shakespeare’s is an institution. It even has a connection to New York City: it’s ridiculous and unique advertisements have even been featured on The David Letterman Show.
Similarly an institution in New York City, Lombardi’s is supposedly the first pizza place in the city and arguably has the best pizza. Lombardi’s is a unique, family-owned specialty that is coveted by New Yorkers and visitors alike. Unlike its biggest competitor, Grimaldi’s, customers are able to visit Lombardi’s without having to wait in line for two hours and sit down at any time.
While the atmosphere is very different between the Columbia and NYC joints, the pizza is pretty similar in composition. Both Shakespeare’s and Lombardi’s “pies” have a similar sauce to toppings ratio and thin – but not too thin – crust. They’re also both extremely fresh!
2. Harpo’s — Blackstones
Location: 245 East 55th Street, New York, NY
Serving $3.00 domestic draughts and bottles and half-priced apple martinis and cosmos from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the weeks specials, Blackstones on 55th between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue aligns itself pretty closely with Harpo’s. This Irish pub, who claims it is a saloon, has three bars and ten different large flat screen televisions that have cable access to thirteen different sports channels. Blackstones is also very refreshing and warm, as you’re one in the family! The Mizzou NYC alumni group gets together at Blackstones to watch Tiger football and basketball every Saturday or Sunday of the season!
3. Ragtag Cinema — Film Forum
Location: 209 West Houston Street, New York, NY
Ragtag Cinema is Columbia’s go-to independent film theater. In 2000, Ragtag Cinema was opened by an all-volunteer group of men and women known as the Ragtag Film Society. It is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, community-supported theater that shows independent, international, documentary and narrative films. Many filmmakers, students and professors visit the theater and its’ Uprise Bakery every day to appreciate and discuss its films. Not only a movie theater, bakery and bar, Ragtag supports local artists by allowing them to perform live music, theater, comedy and poetry readings. Finally, Ragtag is a host of Columbia’s popular True/False Film Festival. Ragtag invites all citizens of Columbia and guests into encourage “dialogue between people of different cultures, backgrounds, and identities” as they “aim to foster a vibrant geographic core for the city” (Ragtag Cinema).
While New York City has nearly a half dozen of independent theaters, I believe Film Forum is the most equivalent match to Ragtag. While it is thirty years older than Ragtag founded in 1970, it too is a Film Forum is a nonprofit. According to Film Forum’s website, it is the only autonomous nonprofit cinema in New York City and one of the few in the country. Film Forum is open 365 days out of the year and shows American independent films and foreign art films. Film Forum supports local artists and filmmakers such as Ragtag inviting filmmakers to come speak. Film Forum believes, “As a cinema of ideas, Film Forum is committed to presenting an international array of films that treat diverse social, political, historical and cultural realities…Film Forum’s programs are thoughtfully curated, with attention to unique cinematic qualities, historical importance individually or within a genre and, particularly for documentaries, relevance to today’s world.” (Film Forum). Plus, it does not hurt that they have a delicious bakery too!
4. Déjà Vu Comedy Club — Comic Strip Live
Location: 1568 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10028
It seems like we have all been to Columbia’s downtown comedy club: Déjà Vu for one on-campus organization function or another. Established in 1975, the “Vu” serves as Columbia’s most popular, live stand up comedy club. Despite it’s mid-America location and cheesy promotions, it has hosted famous stand up comics from around the country such as: Tim Allen, Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, George Lopez, Drew Carry and Steve-O. In the fall, it will host Rob Schneider and its first international comedian.
Around the same time in 1975, Comic Strip Live, also know as “The Comic Strip” began providing entertainment in New York City’s Upper East Side. After trying out other acts, the club began providing only stand up comics and has been the most popular comedy club in New York ever since. According to their website, more major stars have started their careers at the Comic Strip than any other venue in the world. The Comic Strip first discovered Eddie Murphy, who then in turn discovered Chris Rock. Jerry Seinfeld worked at the Comic Strip for years as well. Other legends include: Adam Sandler, Sarah Silverman, John Henson and many more.
Both the Vu and The Comic Strip are extremely popular and have similar vibes. While Columbia’s club is two floors, it’s upstairs comedy floor has a similar setup to that of the Comic Strip. Customers at both venues are able to see the performing comedian regardless of their seats. Above all, each location provides a great laugh and a great time!
5. MKT Trail — The High Line
Location: The High Line stretches from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street between 10th & 11th Avenues.
Just want to get away? Both the MKT Trail and the High Line provide refuge for those living in Columbia and New York City.
The MKT trail is a trail built on the old rail bed of the MKT railroad and begins in downtown Columbia. Walkers, joggers, runners and bikers are attracted to the 4.7 mile trail as they are surrounded by nature and separate from the chaos that can ensue in Columba.
The High Line was built in the 1930s, but no trains have run on the High Line since 1980. There were plans to demolish the High Line, but a non-profit group who called themselves “Friends of the High Line” stopped this from happening in 1999. Friends of the High Line maintain and preserve the elevated trail and park. Construction began in 2006 with the first section opening in 2009. The first section stretched from Gansevoort Street in the Meat Packing District to West 20th. The second section opened last summer in June.
Both the MKT trail and the High Line are man made structures dedicated to serving the community. Both also serve as a natural respite to escape the busyness of each respective city. Finally, both areas have been restored and were built on old train tracks.
6. The Blue Note –– Bowery Ballroom
Location: 768 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10019
The Blue Note, Columbia’s most popular concert hall, was originally established in 1980. It moved into its Ninth Street location in 1998. The Blue Note has hosted famous acts such as Phish, Third Eye Blind, Girl Talk, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews Band, and many more. They have even hosted Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson.
Bowery Ballroom was built in 1929, but was used as a store for many years. In 1997, the space was converted into a music hall. Bowery Ballroom has hosted many famous acts such as: Eric Church, The Black Keys, Nada Surf and many more.
The Bowery Ballroom has a similar atmosphere, vibe and setup like The Blue Note. Similarly to The Blue Note, Bowery Ballroom has great acoustics and has an old warmth vibe that resonates within the venue. Bowery Ballroom has hosted dance parties and techno groups, but it is mostly known for having great, relaxed shows. It has a bar on all of its levels as well.
7. The Tiger Hotel — The Plaza
Location: 768 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10019
Since moving to Columbia in 2009, I have believed that The Tiger Hotel is the nicest hotel in Columbia. The Tiger Hotel is a historic landmark and a newly renovated, luxury boutique hotel in the heart of downtown. It has an ideal location of being blocks away from shops, bars and restaurants and our beautiful University of Missouri campus. The Tiger Hotel prides itself in providing excellence and luxury for all of their guests. They even provide in room spa sessions.
While I cannot justifiably say that the Plaza Hotel is an exact or even equivalent match to the Tiger Hotel, I can say that there are similarities as the Plaza Hotel is arguably the nicest and most luxurious hotel in New York City, The Plaza Hotel is impeccably located in a landmark as well on Fifth Avenue near Central Park, luxury shopping and many city attractions. The Plaza Hotel provides luxury for all of its guests including being the first hotel in the world to provide iPads for each room.
Both the Tiger Hotel and The Plaza Hotel have been recently renovated providing an even more luxurious and elegant stays!
8. Swank Boutique — Bergdorf Goodman
Location: 754 West 58th Street, New York, NY
While you’re staying at The Tiger Hotel, you can take a stroll over to Swank Boutique. Similarly if you are staying at The Plaza Hotel, you can cross the street and visit the opulent Bergdorf Goodman.
As a female living in Columbia, fine luxurious shopping is hard to come by. Also being the college student that I am, I cannot afford to participate in neither fine nor luxurious shopping. However, when I do treat myself, my first stop is Swank Boutique. Swank provides Columbia residents with the highest end designers and latest in women’s fashion. It prides itself on being Columbia’s most upscale and unique boutique.
Similarly to the Plaza Hotel, Bergdorf Goodman cannot truly and directly be compared. However, Bergdorf Goodman is New York’s nicest and most luxurious department store. Unlike its “competition” Barneys and Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman is unique to New York and is a city classic. It provides the highest end designers across the shopping spectrum. Like Swank, it prides itself on being one-of-a-kind. Similar to Swank as well, its employees are not pushy trying to make a sale. Bergdorf Goodman is also respected for the rich experience it provides.
While some of these comparisons are similar in physical layout or aesthetic, others have similar atmospheres or related relationships. Unfortunately, you can’t import Harpo’s or transplant The Blue Note in the big apple, but you can find pretty close and related cousins. While there are locations, atmospheres and memories from Columbia that cannot be duplicated or recreated in New York City, I think it is safe to say that if you open your mind you are able to find a “Little CoMo.”