Day trip to Long Island City: The Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Strand Smokehouse

I recently went on a day trip with a friend to Long Island City (L.I.C.), Queens.  L.I.C. is a gentrifying industrial neighborhood, which is popular for its short commute from Midtown, several contemporary art institutions, and high-rise rental buildings with spectacular views of Manhattan.

Our first stop was the Noguchi Museum, which is about 40 minutes from Union Square by subway.  I had read about the museum in the book “New York’s 50 Best Places to Find Peace & Quiet” by Allan Ishac and it is certainly deserving of its inclusion.  The museum was founded and designed by the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi.  It was notably the first museum in the United States to be established by a living artist to display his own work. 

Isamu Noguchi was born in Los Angeles in 1904 and he had a prolific career, spanning from the 1920s until his death in 1988.  As the son of an unwed American mother and Japanese father, he struggled with his dual identity, which is explored in some of his work. 

Noguchi designed sculptures, gardens, furniture and lighting, ceramics, architecture and stage sets.  

Early in his career, Noguchi worked as an assistant to Brancusi in Paris and learned stone sculpture from him.  Brancusi’s influence is evident in Noguchi’s simple, elegant stone works. 

Unfortunately, the sculpture garden is closed for renovation until October, but the museum is still worth a visit.

                                                                                                                                   By Zachary Einzig

After a 45-minute guided tour, we walked to the Socrates Sculpture Park, a public park and sculpture garden. 

The park has panoramic views of Manhattan's Upper East Side.  There were people fishing and sunbathing.  It was quiet and serene.

Our last stop was for drinks at the Strand Smokehouse, a BBQ restaurant and beer garden near the Broadway subway station.  The prices were very reasonable ($8 for two tap beverages in mason jars), and the atmosphere was fun and festive.

It was a lovely day.  I would do it all over again and recommend the same! 

N.B. - The most famous museum in L.I.C. is the MoMA affiliate, P.S. 1, which is housed in a former public school.  I visited years ago and found the art unimpressive, but the exhibits change and the summer Saturday afternoon Warm Up parties are supposed to be great.  I hope to go before the end of the summer, or it will be added to my "must do" list for next year.