NEW YORK CITY — Europe's beaches may be known for topless sunbathers, but NYC has its own hotspots for women to relax in the sun, bare-breasted, without fear of cops or lecherous onlookers.
After the NYPD recently instructed its 34,000 officers not to arrest a woman for being topless in public, as The New York Times reported, the city has become a beacon for topless women once in danger of being cited for public lewdness or indecent exposure.
Alethea Andrews — an alias used for privacy — is one of the founders of a reading club called The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society and has been leading bare-bosomed buddies through the jungles of New York City for two years. She shared her best-kept secrets on where to go bare with DNAinfo New York.
New York's newest park has a downtown vibe, and "people in the Meatpacking District won't raise an eyebrow over a bared nipple," Andrews said.
She led a group of women to read on the benches and sun chairs of the park and everyone had an easy, relaxing day.
The stage area near the 17th Street entrance is a good spot to hang around topless with a group of friends, and the sunbathing chairs near the 14th Street entrance and in various locations along the park provide cozy sanctuaries to lay out.
The scenic park that runs four miles along the Upper West Side’s waterfront has plenty of rocky precipices, green lawns, and elm tree groves.
"The Upper West Side may not be the Village, but attitudes are still pretty liberal," Andrews said.
Andrews’ group of topless warriors laid out on the rocks at “Mount Tom” where Edgar Allan Poe used to sit and ponder. Andrews calls the giant boulder “one of New York’s most private public places.”
The park also has stone benches for European-style sunbathing, according to Andrews.
Sheep Meadow, Cedar Hill, and the Strawberry Fields in Central Park
Andrews calls Central Park “the biggest and ironically now the safest of city parks for baring your breasts.” The police are well trained not to hassle women in the park and sometimes even check in to see that everything is going OK.
With multiple exits, escapes are easy if women do start to get hassled.
The hordes of “European tourists who take toplessness in stride” also make lying around bare-chested in the park an enjoyable experience, Andrews said.
Washington Square Park
The expansive lawns and shady areas provide a refuge from the summer heat. Plus, nothing beats the fountain for a quick and liberating cool down session.
“Washington Square Park is surrounded by NYU students and would-be flower children,” Andrews said. “You'll be welcomed with the Village's live-and-let-live attitude.”
Private rooftops and hotel sundecks
Often referred to as New York’s tar beaches, a sturdy, sunny rooftop is an ideal spot to lay out topless and catch some rays in privacy. Most rooftops also boast views that you just can’t get on solid ground.
The only potential downside per Andrews’ experience is if anyone does see you, it'll be one of your neighbors.
Many hotels also have their own rooftops. You’ll most likely have to rent a room to get access but the privacy, views, and chair service might be worth it.
The Colonial House Inn in Chelsea boasts Manhattan's only officially clothing optional roof, meaning you can go either topless or fully nude without getting a second glance, Andrews said.
A day at the spa
For those who prefer to forgo getting topless outside, Russian and Korean bathhouses can be great places to be indoors, next to water and topless. Not all spas allow toplessness, so check the website before you go.
And Andrews says “it’s not too unusual to see a girl schvitzing bare from the waist up,” at the Tenth Street Baths.
Jacob Riis Beach
Located in the Far Rockaways, this beach is notorious for its nude section. Though it takes approximately an hour and a half to get there from Midtown Manhattan and requires a train and a bus, this beach is clean and no one bats an eye if you frolic in the sand and swim in the ocean topless.
Rumor has it that if you are discreet; you can toss your bottoms aside too.
There is also a famous 1930s Art Deco bathhouse to explore while you’re in the area.
Tips for the topless
Even though New York City is becoming more tolerant of women who want to go bare-chested, safety is still a concern.
Andrews gave DNAinfo New York a list of tips that every woman should consider.
She advised women to go in a group — at least two people — so you're not alone and feeling vulnerable if someone tries to bother you. Don't announce in advance that you're going to be doing it and where, that includes tweets and Facebook updates.
“You'll never believe how many people show up to watch if you do,” she said.
Also, print out a copy of the legal ruling and keep it with you, choose a top you can get on and off quickly and be prepared for random passers-by to take cell phone pictures of you.
Also, don’t forget sunscreen.