Thursday, August 31, 2017

Newest Hot Spot? Check Instagram

Kristin Vincent, the owner of Sel Rrose, in front of the restaurant’s pink doors, a popular location for photos posted on Instagram. CreditAmy Lombard for The New York Times
When Ashley Buchanan, a graduate student from Tampa, Fla., visited New York City a few weeks ago, she skipped the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the top of Rockefeller Center and headed to a tourist attraction she had bookmarked after seeing someone posing beside it on Instagram: the pink door of a restaurant on Delancey Street.
“You know what the big cities are, so it’s: What else can you see in a city? What’s new? What’s exciting? What’s beautiful?” said Ms. Buchanan, who swiftly uploaded a picture on Instagram of her posing before the doors of the restaurant, Sel Rrose, on the Lower East Side. “I don’t know why more restaurants aren’t doing this,” she said. “You could become super successful by just painting a wall pink.”
The photo-sharing site Instagram is a birthplace of its own culture, with influencers (humans, dogs and even monkeys) who promote brands or are professionally fabulous. But within the app’s endless photo stream, amid the silent competition for the best cappuccino foam or the perfect backdrop, a new style of travel has emerged: people who build their itineraries around the images, and seek out not, say, places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art for what it is, but also for the cool wall where they can pose in front of and post on social media.
The global phenomenon can sometimes be problematic — a tranquil swimming hole in Denning, N.Y., became overwhelmed after serene photos of it spread on the internet. But in a city as overexposed as New York, where 12,000 filming permits are issued per year, according to City Hall, the practice of visiting popular Instagram-able places has a special bent; repeat visitors like Ms. Buchanan, and even locals, say, it allows them to find something new and hidden — at least until the “likes” from followers start pouring in.
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The candy shop at Metrograph, a cinema and restaurant on Ludlow Street in Manhattan, has become a highly “grammable” location. CreditAmy Lombard for The New York Times
At Metrograph, a quirky cinema and restaurant on Ludlow Street in Lower Manhattan, a few people each day duck through the glass doors and head to the concession stand, strike a pose, take a photo and swiftly leave.
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“You try to give them the friendly hello you’ve given to everyone else, like, ‘Hi! Welcome to Metrograph!’,” said David Knuckles, 25, the box office manager. “But they’re not even looking at you; they go straight to the candy store.”
Backlit, with a jewelbox-like display of exotic sweets, Metrograph’s candy shop has become a highly “grammable” set-piece. A scroll through Instagram shows many who have succumbed, crouching, silhouetted, caught mid-artful-reach for a tub of popcorn.
Creating a shrine for Instagram pilgrims was unintentional, said Alexander Olch, 40, the cinema’s founder who designed the concession display. But he doesn’t mind, he said — even when they leave without movie tickets or even so much as Swedish Fish.
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The pale pink velvet banquettes at At While We Were Young, a restaurant in the West Village, are a particular hue so beloved on social media that the color has a name: millennial pink. CreditAmy Lombard for The New York Times
“The Metrograph experience is about sharing the magic of cinema beyond the rectangle of the movie frame,” he said. “If there is something that feels special enough to be photographed with, if there is some feeling in sharing of that magic, that’s a win for us.”
Hopefully, he added, “someone also takes a program.”
In the West Village, with its pale pink velvet banquettes (a particular hue so beloved on social media that it recently garnered the name “millennial pink” and more than one think-piece) the restaurant While We Were Young was recently named one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in New York City by BuzzFeed.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” said Bradford Dunigan, the owner. “People come here just for a photo and sometimes people are scared away who want to eat dinner and not deal with flash photography and people rearranging plates.”
Visitors from around the world tell Mr. Dunigan they were drawn by others’ artful pictures; some dart in just for a photo and leave. Others try to stand on the banquets for the right camera angle. “Obviously New York has a lot of iconic things that are very Instagram-friendly. But I don’t know I would travel that way,” Mr. Dunigan said. “Are you just going somewhere just to get a photo?”
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While We Were Young was recently named one of the most Instagrammable restaurants in New York City by BuzzFeed. CreditAmy Lombard for The New York Times
Kate Lumpkin, 25, a casting director who lives in Sugar Hill in Manhattan, said she has had to check herself when she explores the city via Instagram to make sure she’s taking everything in.
“I feel like a lot of people are location-scouting their lives,” she said. “And not taking the time to enjoy the location.”
On her Instagram, she was pictured mid-stroll in front of the pink doors of Sel Rrose on Delancey this week, a matching millennial pink handbag in hand. She said she did not stop to eat there.
And yet, in some ways the practice has deepened her experience of places, she said. A frequent visitor to the Met, she only recently discovered Louis Valtat’s 1903 work, “Woman with a Cat,” she said, after seeing it on Instagram and seeking it out.
At Sel Rrose, where some evenings the doorman has to clear away Instagrammers from the entrance to let actual customers through the pink portal, Kristin Vincent, the owner, said she designed the paint job with social media in mind. That’s because Ms. Vincent, who lives on the Lower East Side, curates her own experiences of the city by following Instagram accounts she admires, she said, as she sat on the pink velvet banquette at While We Were Young, where she had stopped in after seeing it on her Instagram feed.
“It’s a New Yorker’s way of seeing the city,” she said. “It’s not just the pink doors.”

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