Free in NYC


by Mallory Passuite, 08/24/2011

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There's always something exciting to do and see around the five boroughs that doesn't cost a dime. See our weekly picks below, and visit our calendar and special offers section for more free events.

August 24–30

Wednesday, August 24 
235th Anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn: The Magnificent Retreat with Paul Rush
The Battle of Brooklyn (also known as the Battle of Long Island) was the first major battle fought between American and British armies in the Revolutionary War. Realizing the importance of New York City to America's communications and morale, British troops invaded Brooklyn and, on August 27, 1776, defeated General George Washington's army. Washington ordered a nighttime retreat to Manhattan via the East River two days later, a move that prevented British troops from capturing the American army. Revisit Washington's retreat with this tour, beginning at 7pm at Main Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Space is limited; RSVP at

Thursday, August 25
Free Admission at Brooklyn Historical Society
Beginning at 7pm, Brooklyn Historical Society will offer free admission to its first-floor galleries, where visitors can explore Home Base: Memories of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field, as part of a special borough-themed event. Brooklyn Brewery will be taking over the center's patio; enjoy local craft beers for $5 apiece as Brooklyn's own BBox Radio spins tunes and The Get Down Boys perform bluegrass music.

Friday, August 26
Random Lunacy
David Pearlman, known to many as Poppa Neutrino, was the leader of a pack of roaming nomads. He (and his family) refused to bow to societal conventions—forgoing the need for a job, a permanent home or material wealth—and personified wanderlust. Among many romantic feats and adventures, Neutrino's most famous is his successful transit across the Atlantic in 1998 on a raft-cum-sailboat that he built from trash gathered from New York City streets. Poppa Neutrino died at 77 in New Orleans in January, but his legacy lives on. The documentary film Random Lunacy is but one example that the Neutrino narrative still continues today. And Constance Hockaday's Boggsville Boatel and Boat-In Theater in Far Rockaway (Marina 59, 5914 Beach Channel Drive) will be screening it on Friday after sunset, at around 8pm; fittingly, the event will take place on a floating wooden platform. RSVP at

Saturday, August 27
Afro-Punk Festival
Please note: due to Hurricane Irene, this event may be canceled. Please visit the official event website for updates. The lineup for this free two-day music festival, now in its seventh year, is impressive. On Saturday, catch acts like Santigold, Das Racist and Reggie Watts at Brooklyn's Commodore Barry Park. The day's happenings also include the first half of Nike Battle for the Streets, a skate and BMX competition; a custom bike show; and Bites & Beats Food Trucks (Taïm Falafel, Frites'N'Meats and more). And the beats continue on Sunday, when you can see Janelle Monáe, Cee Lo Green and others.

Sunday, August 28
US Open Practice Day
Please note: due to Hurricane Irene, this event may be canceled. Please visit the official event website for updates. That nearly 70 million tennis fans tuned in to watch last year's US Open can make the event seem larger than life, not to mention out of reach. But we're going to let you in on a secret. While opening-night tickets, if you're lucky enough to find some, start at $30 and run upward of $300, you can witness the action up close (for free) the day before, when tennis legends battle it out in practice. Gates to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center open at 10am; arrive early for good seats. For even more budget-friendly ways to enjoy the big event, check out our slideshow, "Free and Cheap US Open Deals."

Monday, August 29
Iain McKell: The New Gypsies
Iain McKell has documented a band of new gypsies—a modern nomadic subculture who retreated from London in the mid-'80s to wander in horse-drawn caravans of every color, in search of freedom and sustainability, and following a calendar marked by festivals—for more than two decades, providing a firsthand account of how the group has changed over time. The English fashion and documentary photographer has shot for publications like i-D, French Vogue and V Magazine, ad campaigns for Levi's and Diesel, and a young Madonna's first magazine cover. It is, perhaps, this background that lends such an editorial allure to The New Gypsies, a photo exhibition and book. The characters and their surroundings appear perfectly disheveled and beautiful. The show, which opens at Clic Gallery on Monday, runs through October 2.

Tuesday, August 30
Oedipus Rex
"Fear? What should a man fear? It's all chance, chance rules our lives. Not a man on earth can see a day ahead, groping through the dark. Better to live at random, best we can." Or so he believed. Sophocles' classic Athenian tragedy tells the tale of Oedipus' twisted fate, which ends, famously, with eye gouging. The Faux-Real Theatre Company offers a truly Dionysian depiction, with an all-male cast employing elaborate masks and costumes, on Tuesday at 8pm at the East River Park Bandshell.

related venues/(6)

  1. 1
    Brooklyn Bridge Park
    334 Furman St.
    Brooklyn – DUMBO
    NY 11201
  2. 2
    Brooklyn Historical Society
    128 Pierrepont St.
    Brooklyn – Brooklyn Heights
    NY 11201
  3. 3
    Commodore Barry Park
    Navy St
    NY 11201
  1. 4
    USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
    Flushing Meadows Corona Park
    Queens – Flushing
    NY 11368
  2. 5
    Clic Gallery
    424 Broome St
    Manhattan – SoHo
    NY 10013
  3. 6
    East River Park
    Houston Street at FDR Drive
    New York – Lower East Side

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