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The nine circles of summer hell you'll experience in New York

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

It’s that time of year again. The temperature is hovering above 90 degrees, the shortest of short shorts are perfecting acceptable, and the giant “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here” signs have been posted on top of all major bridges and tunnels leading into the city. That’s right, it’s late summer in New York.

As any New Yorker worth her sundress knows, there are some places that you avoid at all costs during the frying-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk months. But if you absolutely have to visit these magnets for sunburn and humidity, here are some tips on making the best of the situation.

First Circle: Hudson River Park 

You may be outside, but at least you're on the water. Hopefully, you'll be able to enjoy a slight breeze blowing off the river. If you have the time, take advantage of the park's free waterfront activities like kayaking or, at the very least, drink through your suffering at Grand Banks.

Second Circle: Central Park 

The temperatures are generally a bit higher here than on the water, but there are still plenty of cool activities to do like boating and fanning yourself in the shade. Find a nice, shady picnic place or enjoy the air conditioning at Tavern on the Green or The Boathouse. If you really need a mental escape, spend some time with the penguins at the Central Park Zoo. Just resist the urge to join them.

Third Circle: The Sidewalk

Photograph: Shutterstock

Exposed concrete being baked by a sweltering sun doesn't lend itself well to loitering. But be sure to slow down in front of any CVS or Duane Reade as their opening-and-closing doors blast sweet, air-conditioned air onto the street.

Fourth Circle: Times Square

Photograph: Wendy Connett

An oasis of concrete, steel and strangers not recognizing your personal space in the middle of Manhattan. If you manage to avoid the panhandling superheroes and human waves of slow-moving tourists, the lobby of the Marriott Marquis is a good place to cool down for a bit.

Fifth Circle: The line at Shake Shack

Photograph: © Peter Mauss Esto Photography

Woe to the fool who's willing to bake under the hot summer sun for a single order of burgers and fries. If you can, at least avoid the Madison Square Park and Times Square outposts. You'll still probably be waiting forever, but at least you won't be outside for as long.

Sixth Circle: Yankee Stadium and Citi Field

Photograph: New York Yankees

If you feel like sitting under a Serengeti-like sky with thousands of drunk sports fans for an afternoon, be our guest. But if the weather's too insane you might want to catch the game from a bar instead. You know, with a roof. And maybe a couple actual fans.

Seventh Circle: Your apartment

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Jeffrey Zeldman

Next time you're reflecting on the precariousness of modern urban life remember that your conditioned apartment is just one blown fuse away from becoming a Swedish sweat lodge. 

Eighth Circle: A subway platform

Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Susan Sermoneta

Not only will you have to suffer in sweaty silence as you wait for your probably delayed train to arrive, that sweat will instantly morph into skin icicles the minute to step onto that air-conditioned car. The further you go down, the hotter it gets, so try to stay clear of BDFM lines on truly hot days.

Ninth Circle: A subway car with broken air-conditioning

Photo: Courtesy Creative Commons

A level of suffering that no man deserves. There's really nothing to do in this situation but pray.

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