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A Magazine Map of Manhattan

By Matt Miller

The crowded, colorful borough of Manhattan is fertile ground for magazines and their bewildering variety of uses and users. Up and down the narrow island, magazines can be found serving subcultures, providing company for lonely diners, stacked in sterile waiting rooms and keeping cool people ahead of the curve. Here, then, is a sampling of places where magazines can be found in action, an atlas that aims to shed light on New York’s local landscapes by charting who is reading what, where and why.

1. The Carlyle Hotel,
35 E. 76th St.
Despite their fancy, international styles, most of the hotel’s guests aren’t looking for the latest issues of French Vogue or Vanity Fair. More mundanely, they can be found reaching for weeklies with lots of listings for movies and cultural events—making New York and The New Yorker the Carlyle’s best sellers.

2. HDS Eastern News,
MetLife Building
Home to banks and bankers who occasionally sleep in their offices, this mid-20th century skyscraper is served, on the magazine front, by the HDS Eastern News concession in the building’s lobby. While YD Yacht Design and the architecture journal Arbitare ($14.50) add the requisite dash of worldliness to the comprehensive array of magazines available here, it’s People, InTouch and Us Weekly that move the most issues. And why not? They’re up front, with the Nestlé Crunch bars and Raisinets. Gossip magazines and bags of candy—what better balm for a tanking economy?

3. Jean Paul Pascal Hair Salon,
230 E. 44th St.
The interior of this barbershop hardly lives up to the promise of its swanky name. Here, on a bleak Midtown side street, banks of fluorescent bulbs illuminate a tired space where the local corporate soldiery retreats for a quick snip. The barber, George, has been at it for 60 years and by now knows what magazines his clients like to thumb through while they wait for their haircuts: Playboy and Penthouse; and, for the ladies, InStyle.

4. Hudson News,
Penn Station
The frazzled commuters who shuffle through Penn Station’s Hudson News outlets on their way home each evening opt for InStyle, InTouch and Star magazines—the paper equivalents of prescription pills for that long, wretched trek home on a crowded, dirty train.

5. Forbidden Planet,
840 Broadway
This famed comic book emporium, just south of Union Square, has creepy aliens filling its windows, a hulking sculpture of Batman by the entrance and all sorts of sci-fi journals and fantasy magazines under the registers. Among the people who live for this stuff, the most popular magazines are Wizard, a monthly compendium of comic books, video games and geek culture; Dr. Who Magazine, focusing on—well, Dr. Who; and Lee’s Toy Review, where a $43.95 subscription will get you 12 issues and a trio of blast-apart droids.

6. Cafe Gitane,
242 Mott St.
A tiny restaurant in tiny Nolita, Gitane serves French-Moroccan dishes to slim, pretty people. It’s informal and easy, luring the insouciant youth of downtown for breakfasts of baked eggs and café crème by providing a reading rack of fashion and lifestyle magazines like Jalouse, Flaunt, Surface and Oyster. But does anyone here actually read them? Scanning the room, it’s hard to say, yet the high-concept covers definitely lend the space a certain with-it hipness and help define the identity of both Gitane and its diners, proving that sometimes you don’t need to read magazines to use them properly.

7. The Odeon,
145 W. Broadway
In 1980, when The Odeon first started serving its interpretation of bistro fare, the restaurant was a pioneer: Downtown was a wilderness and there were no compelling reasons to venture out to the just-named neighborhood of TriBeCa. As the badlands ’hood it served was transformed into a community of families and finance guys, the magazines favored by its customers became less edgy. Nowadays, it’s mainly worn copies of Time and The New Yorker that are pawed through by diners as they wait for their tuna burgers.


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