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Photograph: Jay MuhlinNew York Originals: A Guide to the City’s Classic Shops & Mom-and-Pops
Born out of an Emmy-winning PBS series (which returns to WNET in January), this coffee-table tome also serves as a hardcover guidebook to New York’s precious, fading family businesses. See inside Williamsburg’s classic Bamonte’s, a fourth-generation red-sauce joint, and downtown’s Fountain Pen Hospital, an ink superstore that so charmed Bill Cosby that he recorded the shop’s voice-mail message (he’s a pen freak). Author Jamie McDonald profiled 70 cigar rollers, bakers and copper-pot makers for New York Originals—even Brooklyn’s gilded Grand Prospect Hall (you’ve seen its commercials; the family who runs this over-the-top venue are truly New York originals). newyorkoriginalsonline.com, $24.95
Photograph: Elena OlivoFriend of BAM annual membership
The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s lineup reads like a crash course in Brooklyn culture, with modern-dance premieres, star-led theater pieces and ahead-of-its-time fusion music. Members get an instantly hip rep, plus first dibs on ticket sales—key for when sellouts like Jeff Mangum come to town—and massive discounts on Artist Talks, Greenlight Bookstore purchases and BAMcafé snacks. There are even deals from 30 local restaurants. Access to member receptions and open rehearsals is free, but under-40s score an even better deal: invitations to free BAMfans parties, like the Persephone opening-night bash two years ago where members got to rub elbows with Julia Stiles. At last year’s Brooklyn Babylon opening-night event, the lucky youngsters even got the first taste of Brooklyn Brewery’s BAM Boozle Ale while simultaneously getting credit for supporting the arts. bam.org, $75
Photograph: Aseem ChhabraJackson Heights cultural walking tour
This Queens neighborhood truly embodies the borough’s famed diversity; on just one block you may hear residents speaking Hindi, Spanish, Bengali, Tibetan or English in a thick New York accent. Unearthing the flavors of Jackson Heights demands a private tour guide. Longtime Queens resident Aseem Chhabra provides an insider’s perspective on the nabe’s own Little India, followed by a traditional Indian lunch at Jackson Diner. The New York Times– and Boston Globe–published journalist guides groups of two to eight people through destinations such as Patel Brothers, a colossal grocery store stocked with subcontinental frozen foods and every lentil imaginable, as well as the shops along 74th Street, where Chhabra once counted 17 different jewelry stores selling 22-karat gold with South Asian designs. sidetour.com, $45 per person
Holiday gift guide 2012: This Week in New York
For this year's holiday gift guide, we've selected three unique presents for people who love New York and all this city has to offer.