An aerial of New York City shot from an airplane window.

Processed with VSCO with fp1 preset


Being a student at NYU means learning from the city and from the classroom. For me, studying sustainability and design means searching NYC for inspiration.

New York is a dense city; each urban mile is packed with people, shops, restaurants, venues, galleries, and more. Whether it’s a cool coffee shop or a pop-up installation, each interaction between city-goer and space comes as a result of design. People flock towards aesthetically pleasing things. When New Yorkers are talking about or flocking toward new happenings in the city, there’s a lot to learn.

Now, of course, the aesthetics of New York go deeper than casual things like coffee shops and pop-ups. That’s why the scale is important. Living in New York means valuing space. With some of the most expensive real estate in the world, space is often maximized in this city. This means the beauty and infrastructure found within just one block of the city is only a tiny taste of what it actually has to offer. From hole-in-the-wall spots to huge public spaces, there is so much design in NYC. The city has a variety of resources for visual inspiration and enjoyment.


Now that I’ve established the visual nature of this amazing city, I’ll give you three main sectors to explore:

Cafes & Restaurants

New York is known for its food scene—especially with food trends. With so many options to choose from, restaurants and cafes rely on their own unique brand and look to stand out from others. From lunch in a greenhouse garden to sipping a matcha latte in front of a bright neon sign, it’s easy to escape the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle when you have options like these.

Shops & Markets

New York is home to many artists, designers, and creatives. There are plenty of ways to support local art and get immersed in it. One great space to check out cool local creations is Artists & Fleas. Surrounding yourself with new and interesting finds—ranging from jewelry to prints—is a necessary visual indulgence if you want to take advantage of the city.

Parks & Museums

Unlike the first two areas above, this is a sector of the visual NYC world which is (mostly) free to access. From Central Park to the new Domino Park in Williamsburg—parks can give you a space for some much-needed rest and relaxation. Green space is KEY in urban areas. It provides a much needed natural aesthetic to city life—so it’s super important to take advantage of it. Museums are a must when soaking in the visuals of NYC. The Whitney, for example, lets you in for free with your NYU ID. The views of the Meatpacking District from the outdoor decks at the Whitney never get old.


With so much going on in this city there is no way to know about every interesting place located here. As frustrating as this may sound, it’s actually freeing to embrace the unknown of NYC. It makes the search for “what to do” even more exciting—and endless.
There are three main ways to find the most aesthetically pleasing places in the city:

Social Media

Obviously, social platforms are going to allow you to scope out where your fave celebs frequent and where Instagrammers are going, but don’t be afraid to dig deeper on your sites. For example, click on the location link in someone’s Instagram story or post to see similar posts in that space (this’ll help you figure out the overall vibe of a space or a special event).


Articles are KEY. There are p-l-e-n-t-y of sites that post about New York and things to see. One of my favorites is Secret NYC. Once you subscribe to journals you can trust, you’ll have updates flowing in. This goes hand in hand with social media, as many of the best sources happen to have great social media.

Word of Mouth

Last but certainly not least, don’t underestimate the power of personal recommendations. The professors at NYU are cooler than a lot of students realize, and they’re really well-connected in the happenings throughout the city. Your classmates at NYU come from a variety of backgrounds and find themselves in a variety of friend groups and organizations here on campus. There is so much to find out about if you’re willing to ask. 

Animation of the subway.


And keep those eyes peeled :)

How’s it going?! I’m Jimmy, a senior in NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. I’ve created my own concentration of Sustainability of Design and I’m minoring in Social Entrepreneurship which takes place in the Stern School of Business and the Wagner School of Public Service. I’m from Rochester, New York and my favorite color is blue. I love exploring New York and I’m a foodie at heart. I’ve studied away at both NYU Florence and NYU Sydney!