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NEW YORK, NEW YORK : BOROUGH-ING INTO THE BEST OF THE BIG APPLE.

Byline: Gary A. Warner Orange County Register

There's a sound stage in New York City where the Marx Brothers made movie magic and a classic baseball park where the game's greats once played.

The city boasts an urban park that America's master landscape architect called his finest work, and an island where you can find old barns with roosters behind 100-year-old fences.

All in New York. None in Manhattan.

So these gems remain largely unknown to the legions of visitors who believe New York City begins at the South Street Seaport and ends at the top of Central Park.

Beyond the Brooklyn, Triborough and Verrazano Narrows bridges are the four other boroughs of New York City. Dozens of neighborhoods and millions of people, undiscovered in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island.

While no one would suggest skipping Greenwich Village or Times Square for Sheepshead Bay or Fresh Kills, the intrepid tourist can find a huge, rich mosaic beyond the East River.

Here are three great neighborhoods where you can get a taste of life beyond Manhattan:

Park Slope, Brooklyn

Brooklyn once meant the Dodgers and the Brooklyn Heights home of the twin cousins on ``The Patty Duke Show.'' But the Dodgers are gone and the media image of the borough has taken on a rougher edge in movies such as ``Crooklyn.''

But there are many charming neighborhoods in this city within a city - home to 2.5 million people. If it hadn't made what some call the Great Mistake, merging with New York City in 1898, Brooklyn would be the fifth-largest city in the United States.

But because it is just a section of the larger metropolis, Brooklyn today is virtually ignored by visitors. That's a shame.

``In Brooklyn, you are experiencing a completely different New York - real neighborhoods where people work and play and live,'' said Liana Paolella, who owns a Brooklyn bed and breakfast. ``There are people living here who travel all around the world but don't go into Manhattan more than once or twice a year.''

For a quick day trip to Brooklyn, a good choice is Park Slope, the neighborhood abutting beautiful Prospect Park.

From Manhattan, take the No. 2 or No. 3 subway to Grand Army Plaza, the massive marble memorial to the victorious Union armies of the Civil War. From the plaza, walk south past the splendid art-deco public library and into Prospect Park, perhaps the prettiest park in a city full of parks.

The green space was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same masterful landscape architect who planned Central Park.

The 526 acres are Park Slope's back yard - weekends you'll find parents pushing babies about in prams, West Indian men in dreadlocks and crisp white uniforms playing cricket, and lovers cuddling on park benches. Plant lovers flock to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

In winter, there's ice skating at Wollman Rink. Spring brings smells of blooming flowers. In summer, there are pedal boats on Prospect Lake. Fall turns the trees gold and red.

The neighborhood gets its name from the sloping hill below Prospect Park. Park Slope is still an upper-class bastion more than a century after it was laid out, narrow streets of 19th-century brownstones under canopies of old trees.

Neighborhood life centers around Seventh Avenue, the main shopping drag for residents, with not a tourist trap in sight. Grab a cup of coffee and a hot apple pastry at Cousin John's Bakery, or dinner at Aunt Suzie's Kitchen.

Astoria, Queens

With just less than 2 million residents, it's larger than Denver, Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Portland - combined. Known as Manhattan's bedroom, much of Queens is closer to Grand Central Terminal than are many Manhattan neighborhoods.

Astoria, once known as Hollywood East, is an easy trip from midtown on the N subway line. Most attractions are between the 30th Street and 39th Street stations.

Astoria retains a lot of the old New York melting-pot flavor gone from most of Manhattan's neighborhoods. Italians, Jews and a smattering of Indians and Pakistanis live in the enclave. But above all, Astoria is New York's center of Greek life. A place where afternoon coffee comes with baklava.

Grab a lunch of fried calamari or lamb kebab at Karyatis. Or just get some strolling goodies at the El Greco Market, a cornucopia of olive oil, stuffed grape leaves and huge round cheeses. If you are early enough, grab a loaf of warm bread at Parisi Bros. Bakery.

The district is a must-see for film buffs. Before California's year-round weather lured nearly all filmmakers west, the neighborhood was the East Coast's answer to Hollywood.

The Astoria Studios churned out silent movies starring Gloria Swanson and Marx Brothers' classics such as ``The Cocoanuts.'' Paramount had its East Coast studios nearby. With the Great Depression of the 1930s, the studios consolidated operations in Hollywood. But the once-shuttered studios have enjoyed a renaissance of late with more filming of commercials and television in New York.

The nation's best movie museum is not in Hollywood but in Astoria. The American Museum of the Moving Image, just across the street from the old Astoria Studios, appeals to hard-core filmologists and those who just like old movies.

The museum recently unveiled the results of a major renovation. Space has been added to show the 70,000 items ranging from Jerry Lewis hand puppets from the 1950s to Tex Avery's original drawings of Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny to the mask Robin Williams wore for his gender- and age-bending role in ``Mrs. Doubtfire.''

Another window into Astoria's sometimes opulent past is the Steinway Mansion, home of the scion of the great piano-making family. Built in 1856, the home once hosted President Grover Cleveland. It's open to the public.

Beyond the mansions and museums, the fun of Astoria is simply strolling the commercial strips and side streets, stopping to chat with the residents who gather on the sidewalks for impromptu bull sessions. Most of the modest row homes are immaculate with well-tended small gardens.

``There's a lot of pride in Astoria - people have lived here all their lives and they just love the place,'' said Anne Milliken, a 45-year resident. ``You walk down your street every morning and talk to the same people you've been talking to for 30 years.''

Yankeetown, the Bronx

No borough has gone through as rapid a rise and fall as the South Bronx, a district that has become synonymous with urban decay. Until the 1960s, it was a vibrant urban center with beautiful art-deco apartment buildings and mansions.

A pocket of pleasure is the area around Yankee Stadium, the city's most venerable shrine. Since it opened in 1923, generations of fans have made the pilgrimage to baseball's most famous stadium. Here Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson all helped make baseball the national pastime.

It's easy to get to Yankeetown. Take the C, D or No.4 subway lines to 161st Street - Yankee Stadium.

Yankeetown hums with activity on game days. There are bars and food stands around the stadium where you can share a pitcher of beer and the latest hardball gossip with Yankee fans.

Before games and on days when the Yankees aren't playing, the team offers a $6 tour of the historic ballpark.

Baseball may be king within the confines of ``The House That Ruth Built,'' but the neighborhood parks next to the stadium are filled with weekend soccer tournaments.

Mohammed Abbadi, who runs a souvenir stand on River Avenue near Yankee Stadium, wishes more of his customers would linger after the day games.

``A lot of people get up here five minutes before the game and are gone five minutes afterward - and then they say they have been to the Bronx,'' he said. ``New York is not just Manhattan, you know.''

On Location

It's easy to visit most of New York's five buroughs with a guide from Big Apple Greeters (212) 669-2896. The nonprofit group will link you with a local resident for a walking tour.

To arrange walking tours of Brooklyn's brownstones, call (718) 399-8744. The American Museum of the Moving Image is at 35th Avenue at 36th Street, Queens; call (718) 784-0077. For tickets and tours of Yankee Stadium, call (718) 293-6000.

Here are some other interesting neighborhoods beyond Manhattan:

Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn: One of New York's oldest suburbs is just across the East River. Beautiful views of Manhattan. Excellent restaurants - check out the River Cafe. A good self-guided tour of Brooklyn Heights can be found in ``New York Walks'' (Henry Holt; $12.95).

Jackson Heights, Queens: New York's Little India, home to 65,000 Indian and Pakistani immigrants and a collection of spice shops and restaurants. Centered around 74th Street at Roosevelt Avenue.

Belmont, The Bronx: New York's true Little Italy, a working enclave of Italian immigrants just north of the South Bronx wasteland. Home to the '50s doo-wop group Dion and the Belmonts, the markets and cafes along Arthur Avenue between East 183rd and East 189th streets make for a fun afternoon. Try the spaghetti at Dominick's and buy some cheese at Calandra.

Tottenville, Staten Island: It's off in the hinterlands of New York's ``forgotten borough,'' the one where most residents want to secede from New York City.

Information: New York City Visitor Information Center at (212) 397-8222 for information on specific neighborhoods. For more information on New York, call the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau, (212) 484-1200.

CAPTION(S):

4 Photos, Box

Photo: (1--Color) The Bronx's Little Italy area bus tles with activity.

(2--Color) Yankee Stadium isn't the only sight to see in the Bronx.

(3--Color) An automotive throwback at Coney Island.

(4) The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx offers 45-minute golf-cart tours to see all the flowers in bloom.

Box: On Location (See text)
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:TRAVEL
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 21, 1996
Words:1632
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