Film buff Nora Armani's advice for becoming a New Yorker: "Do the legwork"

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As a multi-hyphenate actress, filmmaker, and curator, Nora Armani is the quintessential New Yorker, which is to say: busy. She's also the  Founding Artistic Director of the SR Socially Relevant Film Festival, which is heading into its third year with a round of screenings and events from March 14th through the 20th. Ahead of this year's festival, we caught up with Armani about the architectural charms of the Upper West Side, the importance of navigating the city on foot, and more:

1.  What neighborhood do you live in?

I live in Morningside Heights.

2. Is this your dream neighborhood or is there someplace else in NYC you’d prefer to settle in?

This is my dream neighborhood, even though dreams may change. I love this neighborhood because it has a mix of great architecture—Columbia University and the colleges that are quite old compared to the rest of New York, but unlike the old buildings in the Lower East Side or other neighborhoods, these are stately buildings patterned after those of the Italian Renaissance. I also like the cultural diversity; the many and varied restaurants and choice of cuisines; the parks; the proximity to the Hudson River and the West Harlem Piers; Riverbank State Park with its indoor and outdoor pools, sports and recreation facilities; and the spacious streets.

3. Do you own or rent?

I own.

4. How’d you find it?

Through a lot of legwork, going to open houses, talking to realtors, brokers, agents, and scanning the internet. 

5. What’s the one thing you love the most about it?

My 16th-floor spacious [enough] balcony with river views and a view of Fort Lee, New Jersey across the way.

6. If there’s one thing you could change about your apartment, what would it be?

I'd add an additional bedroom.

7. In three words, describe the first apartment you've ever lived in.

Corner unit, three bedrooms, good sized balcony, spacious living and a dining rooms.

8. Do you dream of old New York or prefer the 2016 version?

I like a mix of the two. Some neighborhoods are so charming and old New York, and should be left alone. That is the character of this city. I am not too fond of super-modernization as some of these new buildings are very impersonal and cold.

9. Tell us about the favorite apartment you’ve ever had.

My present apartment.

10. And the worst?

Don't have one. They were all good and charming in one way or another.

11. Name one NYC service you couldn’t live without.


12. What's your favorite spot in the city?

The area near Lincoln Center.

13. Which would you rather: Brooklyn brownstone or a penthouse in a shiny, new condo?

Penthouse in a new condo. Doesn't have to be that shiny. I also love brownstones, though not necessarily in Brooklyn. Maybe a townhouse or a brownstone in Manhattan?

14. If you could live elsewhere, where would it be?

I have lived in many places, including Paris, London, Cairo, Rome, and Los Angeles for considerable lengths of time. After experiencing all these cities, I think I want my 'elsewhere' to still be New York.

15. Any advice for a recent New York transplant?

Do the legwork. The best way to see a city and feel it is to walk its streets, and explore every corner as much as possible on foot. Manhattan is relatively small compared to London for example, therefore exploring it on foot is feasible. You can concentrate on a different neighborhood every week. Welcome to the Big Apple!