Free This Week


by Christina Parrella, 02/19/2014

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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 deals section for more free events.

February 19–25

Wednesday, February 19
Pianist Edna Stern
Where: Czech Center New York
When: 7pm–midnight
Pianist Edna Stern, who has earned international acclaim (and awards) for her work, will perform piano sonatas by Beethoven, as well as by Gideon Klein and Karel Reiner, who were both interned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. Reiner, the only composer to survive Theresienstadt, returned to Prague and continued to compose until his death in 1979; this concert marks the New York premiere of his work. Stern, who has made a career of interpreting classical and contemporary music, is known for both the intelligence and intensity of her playing. She will discuss the evening’s pieces with New York University professor of music, Michael Becker, before the concert.

Thursday, February 20
Tuskegee Airmen
Where: Floyd Bennett Field, Ryan Visitor Center, Golden Age Discovery Zone
When: 1pm–2pm
In the early 1940s, a generation before the civil rights era, African American participation in the Army’s aviation unit was limited. Yielding to pressure, the Army trained a group of qualified African-Americans to become pilots at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Approximately 1,000 skilled aviators who completed this program became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-Americans to enter the Army Air Forces and serve as military pilots during World War II. This story-time event highlights the history and accomplishments of these celebrated for the younger set.

Friday, February 21
The Impact of the African Diaspora on Fashion
Where: Leisure Life NYC
When: 6pm–8pm
As part of Black Artstory Month, free performances and exhibitions, inspired by the migratory experiences of African-Americans, will be offered throughout the month in the Fort Greene area. This event focuses on the effect of the African diaspora on fashion as seen through the eyes of leaders in the fashion world. Uchea Nwabuzor of label Ana Kata and Brandice Henderson, CEO and founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row, are among the evening’s speakers. They’ll also discuss how their own personal experiences with migration have impacted their work.

Saturday, February 22
Urban Park Ranger Nature Hike: Siwanoy Trail
Where: Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum
When: 11am–1pm
The Native American Siwanoy once inhabited Pelham Bay Park, using lands along its shorelines for sacred ceremonies and burial grounds. The tribe also traded and traveled along a 1.8-mile route, now known as Siwanoy Trail, that went from the Hudson River to points along the Long Island Sound. The trail, which opened for public use in 1989, is home to a plush array of plant life including oak, American beech, black birch, tulip trees and dogwood. During this park-ranger-led hike, tour goers will get a chance to learn about the forest's flora and fauna. Event organizers recommend wearing comfortable shoes and packing water and snacks.

Sunday, February 23
Free Garment District Walking Tours
Where: Seventh Avenue and West 39th Street
When: 2pm
Explore New York City's Garment District during this tour led by guide Mike Kaback. The expedition, which can last up to two hours, makes a number of stops, which might include a private showroom, a sample sale, Mood Designer Fabrics shop and more. Participants will learn about the neighborhood's historical significance, not to mention get a peek at Project Runway’s stomping grounds. Though it's free, reservations are required; secure your spot by emailing

Monday, February 24
Motown: The Truth Is a Hit
Where: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
When: 10am–6pm
Founded in 1959 by former Detroit boxer turned songwriter Berry Gordy, Motown Records became a black-owned soul and pop hit factory of legendary proportions, forging its own genre of music, known as the "Motown Sound.” The label launched the careers of artists such as Marvin Gaye, the Supremes and the Jackson 5. This exhibition, named after a saying of Gordy’s, traces the history of African-American music and, furthermore, explores the label’s pivotal musical contributions to American history via the civil rights movement. Motown provided both narratives and soundtrack for a generation of African Americans involved in the civil rights movement and protests against the Vietnam War. The exhibition explores such involvement and the label’s continuing influence on subsequent generations of musicians and antiwar movements.

Tuesday, February 25
Harriet the Spy 50th Anniversary Celebration with Rebecca Stead and Elizabeth Winthrop
Where: McNally Jackson
When: 7pm
Lovable spy Harriet M. Welsch turns 50 this year, though she'll always remain 11 in our hearts. This fictional sleuth, imagined by writer Louise Fitzhugh, keeps track of her classmates' and friends' every move in a notebook she carries everywhere. When she loses track of her log and her private thoughts are revealed, Harriet tries to find a way to put her spying to good use and win back the friends she’s hurt. Authors Rebecca Stead and Elizabeth Winthrop, who have contributed to the book’s 50th-anniversary edition, will participate in a discussion of the book and its impact on generations of young readers.

related venues/(5)

  1. 1
    Czech Center New York
    321 E 73rd St
  2. 2
    Floyd Bennett Field
    50 Aviation Road
    NY 11234
  3. 3
    Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum
    895 Shore Rd.
    Bronx – Pelham Bay
    NY 10464
  1. 4
    Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
    515 Malcolm X Blvd.
    New York – Harlem
    NY 10037
  2. 5
    McNally Jackson
    52 Prince St.
    Manhattan – NoLIta
    NY 10012

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