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New York City
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrNew York City, the largest city on the east coast, the largest and most populous city in the United States with over 8 million people and 23 million in its metropolitan area, is probably the most famous city in the world. The city is one of the fifteen-largest metropolitan areas in the world. New York City – as it is called to distinguish the city from the State of New York – is also known as NYC and The Big Apple. Covering 305 square miles, the city is located at the mouth of the Hudson River in the southwestern part of the state.
New York City is a powerful global city and a major world hub of media, arts, fashion, technology, entertainment, and finance. It is also where the Headquarters of the United Nations are located, making it a center of international diplomacy. Additionally, New York is also one of the world’s financial capitals. Moreover, the city boasts one of the most recognizable skylines on the planet, which is also one of the most extensive skylines.
More than 55 million people visit New York every year. The city is jam-packed with iconic buildings, structures, parks, and plazas. World-famous examples are Times Square, which is sometimes called the Crossroads of the World; Wall Street; the Brooklyn Bridge, One World Trade Center, Central Park, and the Empire State Building. Chinatown in Manhattan has the largest Chinese population in the Western Hemisphere.
New York City is a city of immigrants. Ever since the Dutch founded the city, it has attracted people from all corner of the world. With more than 200 languages spoken, New York is in fact one of the most ethnically diverse places on the planet. Nowadays, more than one-third of the city's population are immigrants. There are large ethnic groups and enclave to be found all over New York City. The biggest ones are made up of Greeks, Irish, Jews, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Italians, while minor communities are the Central Americans, Jamaicans, Mexicans, Germans, Dutch, Belgians, Russians, Indians, etcetera.
Five BoroughsThe city is made up of five different boroughs. Each borough is so large that it could easily be a separate city and consists of several neighborhoods.
ManhattanThe borough of Manhattan is the most famous of the five. It is located on an island between the Hudson and East Rivers and is home the vast majority of New York City’s attractions.
BrooklynBrooklyn is another borough, the most populous one, located to the southeast of Manhattan and home to many artists, beaches, upscale houses, and music venues. Brooklyn used to be an actual separate city before it joined the New York City.
QueensQueens is the largest boroughs in terms of size and is home to the city’s two major airports, John F. Kennedy International Airport and La Guardia. Queens is also where the US Open tennis championships take place and the home base of the New York Mets. The city’s second-largest Chinatown is situated in Queens. More than 170 languages are spoken in Queens, making it the most diverse area in the United States and one of the most diverse in the entire world.
The BronxThe Bronx, located in the north of the city, is the borough with the worst reputation. Although there are places where it’s not safe, there are also a few attractions to be found there. Examples are the New York Botanical Gardens, the Bronx Zoo, and the Yankees Stadium.
Staten IslandStaten Island is the fifth borough and the one that is least like the image most people have of New York City. It is a large island south of Manhattan and has a distinctly suburban feeling. There are no skyscrapers.
HistoryAfter Henry Hudson had sailed up the then-called North River and back in 1609, he claimed the area for his employer, the Dutch East India Company. The North River was later renamed Hudson River. The Netherlands claimed the entire region between Cape Cod and Delaware Bay and named it Nieuw-Nederland (New Netherland).
The first permanent Dutch settlement was established in 1624 in the form of a fur trading post on Governors Island . In 1625, construction of a citadel began on the lower tip of Manhattan Island. It was first called Fort Amsterdam and later Nieuw-Amsterdam (New Amsterdam). The colony of New Amsterdam was situated on what now is Lower Manhattan. Peter Stuyvesant, the Director-General of the colony, surrendered New Amsterdam to the British in 1664 to prevent war. The British immediately renamed it New York, after the Duke of York, who would later become King James II. New York City's Dutch origins can be seen in many names of streets and areas in the city. Place names such as Broadway, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Coney Island, Flushing and Harlem are all derived from Dutch.
Under British rule, New York grew in importance and became a large trading port. It also became a center of slavery, with almost half of the city’s households holding one or more slaves. In 1776, the area that is modern-day Brooklyn was the setting of the largest battle in the Revolutionary War: the Battle of Long Island . Shortly after the end of war and American victory, New York became the first capital of the brand new country. 1789 was a year of massive importance, not only for the city, but for the entire nation. It was then that, at Federal Hall on Wall Street, President George Washington was inaugurated, the first United States Congress and Supreme Court was assembled and the United States Bill of Rights was drafted.
New York City grew and grew, surpassing Philadelphia as the country’s largest city in 1790, and London as the world’s largest urban area in 1920. In 1930, it passed the 10-million-residents' mark, making it the very first megacity in human history. The first half of the 20th century was characterized by a skyscraper frenzy, a time when dozens of towering buildings were erected.
The city’s darkest point in history happened on September 11, 2001, with the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. The city bounced back though, as it always does, and now the skyline is home to a brand new skyscraper, One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
SightseeingNew York City has dozens of major landmarks and attractions. There are world-class museums, amazing architecture, great parks, towering skyscrapers, bridges, and statues. You will need at least a week to see all the main sights, and another week to see and explore some of the neighborhoods. It’s a vast city and there really is no city quite like it when it comes to livelihood and culture. New York City is called ‘The City that Never Sleeps’ after all. The bulk of visitor attractions can be found in Manhattan.
Times SquareTimes Square is arguably the world’s most famous square. It is located in Midtown Manhattan at the crossing of Broadway and 7th Avenue and extends between West 42nd Street and West 47th Street. With its enormous electronic billboards and flashing advertisements, it is one of the very icons of American culture. Even in the middle of the night, the bright ads make it feel like it is broad daylight. About 330,000 people pass through the area on a daily basis; most of them are people on their way to work or tourists. Times Square is by far one of the most visited destinations on the planet, with a dazzling number of 39 million annual visitors.
Empire State BuildingThe Empire State Building is a true icon of New York and of the United States in general and has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The skyscraper has played a role in many of Hollywood movies, the most notable of which was the 1933 movie, King Kong. The Empire State Building is located on 5th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets. The building lies within walking distance from many attractions in the city. There are two observation platforms which can be accessed for a fee. The entrance queue may be very long however, and you may want to consider the nearby Top of the Rock observation platform instead, which offers a similarly breathtaking but less crowded experience. Also consider going after sunset, to see the lights of New York.
Statue of LibertyThe Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous statues in the world. This enormous statue is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor and is one of the most well-known landmarks in the United States. The total height of the structure, including statue and pedestal, is 93 meters. It is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy and, since its inauguration, has welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States.
The Statue of Liberty can be reached by ferry from Lower Manhattan and Jersey City. Entrance to the Statue of Liberty National Monument is free, but all visitors have to pay for a ferry ticket as private boats aren’t allowed to dock at Liberty Island. People who want to enter the pedestal or climb the staircase to Lady Liberty’s crown must purchase an additional museum/pedestal ticket with their ferry tickets. A free way to get close to the Statue of Liberty is the Staten Island Ferry, a commuter ferry that runs between Manhattan and Staten Island and passes by the statue.
Central ParkCentral Park is 4 kilometers long and 0.8 kilometers wide. The surface area is 3.41 square kilometers. It is crisscrossed by walking paths, roads, and cycling lanes and it takes at least a full day to see most of it. Although it looks natural, the entire park has been landscaped. There are many lakes and ponds, walking tracks; ice-skating rinks, a zoo; sculptures, statues; theaters, playgrounds; and so on.
One World Trade CenterOne World Trade Center is a building in Lower Manhattan. It is the main building of the new World Trade Center complex and is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the fourth-tallest in the world. One World Trade Center, including its spire, is precisely 541 meter high, symbolizing the year 1776, which is when the United States became independent from Great Britain.
It is a major landmark in the city, dominating the skyline from every point of view. The World Trade Center complex has six other skyscrapers and office buildings, known as Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, and Seven World Trade Center, and the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, which is located at the site where the Twin Towers used to stand.
Rockefeller CenterRockefeller Center is one of the most visited destinations in the city. It is the location of numerous events in New York City. The 75-foot-tall Rockefeller Christmas Tree and popular Ice Skating Rink in the winter holiday season are what draws in most people throughout the year. The biggest event is the lighting of that Christmas tree, taking place each year at the end of November. This event is witnessed by thousands of people and is even broadcasted on TV. Additionally, the complex is also home to numerous shops, cafés, and restaurants.
Wall StreetWall Street is an eight-block-long street in Lower Manhattan, a short distance from the World Trade Center. Wall Street has become a synonym of capitalism and finance and is the world’s epicenter of the financial sector. It is home to the New York Stock Exchange, the largest stock exchange on the planet. It is a fun place to walk through; a highlight is the Wall Street Bull statue.
Metropolitan Museum of ArtThe Metropolitan Museum of Art is an enormous art museum in central Manhattan. Covering about 2,000,000 square feet, it is the largest art museum in the United States and among the ten largest in the entire world. The Met, as it is often called, is located on Manhattan’s so-called Museum Mile on Fifth Avenue and on the eastern edge of Central Park.
The museum boasts nearly two million works of art, spanning more than 5,000 years. It is truly one of the finest museums on the planet and it takes days to see everything. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has vast collections that include not only modern and American art, but also works from Ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt; paintings and sculpture from almost every single European Master; and African, Oceanic, Asian, and Islamic art. An example of a highlight in the museum is the Egyptian Art Gallery which houses an entire temple that was shipped there. In addition to all that, there are also costumes, jewelry, weapons, armor, and musical instruments from all over the world.
Brooklyn BridgeThe iconic Brooklyn Bridge is a combination of a cable-stayed and a suspension bridge and is one of the oldest bridges of those types in the country. The Brooklyn Bridge connects the two boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Bridge has wide pedestrian walkways, which can be used by walkers and bicyclists. It is situated in the center of the bridge and above the road. Now, more than 3,000 cyclists and 4,000 pedestrians have crossed the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan or vice versa. Pedestrians can access the Brooklyn Bridge from Tillary and Adams Streets and via a stairway on Prospect Street in Brooklyn. In Manhattan, they can get to the bridge from Centre Street and a stairway at the Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall – Chambers Street subway station.
American Museum of Natural HistoryThe mammoth American Museum of Natural History is located in the Upper West Side and is stuffed with exhibitions and displays on people and animals throughout the ages. It covers every single aspect of nature, from space and the origins of life to atomic beings and plant life. The dinosaur wing is an absolute highlight, as are the museum’s own planetarium and IMAX theater.
Lincoln CenterThe Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a huge building complex in Midtown Manhattan, a short distance west of Central Park. It consists of thirty indoor and outdoor performance facilities, such as movie theaters, exhibition halls, concert halls and theaters. This is the place to go if you want to catch a performing arts performance. Lincoln Center is beautifully lit at night and is home to institutions like the New York City Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic.
Chrysler BuildingThe Chrysler Building is yet another famous skyscraper in Manhattan and is also a result of the skyscraper frenzy of the 1920s and 1930s. The Chrysler Building is in fact one of two building that make up Chrysler Center in Midtown Manhattan. From 1930 to 1931 the structure was the world's tallest building, before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building, which is locate only a few blocks away. It is one of the most-recognizable buildings in the skyline of New York City because of its striking and shiny spire of stainless steel.
Grand Central TerminalNew York's busiest train station is also the busiest train station in the entire nation. The building is grand indeed and has been named as one of the world's greatest railway stations. It is hugely popular, probably because it's free to visit and you can get there easily by train and subway. Grand Central Terminal attract more than twenty million visitors per year.
Other highlights of New York City are the Bronx Zoo, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, Federal Hall and the New York Public Library, among many others.
The city also has several impressive cathedrals and churches. The most famous ones are the St Patrick's Cathedral, the Cathedral of St John the Divine and the Holy Trinity Church.
Parks worth visiting are Bryant Park, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, The High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park, etcetera.
ShoppingNew York City is one of the world’s fashion capitals and a huge shopping destination for people from all over the world. The city’s number of department stores, boutiques, specialty stores, flagship stores of major brands is unparalleled anywhere else on the planet. Even some of Manhattan’s neighborhoods have more stores than most other American cities as a whole.
Shopping in New York City literally offers unlimited options. You can buy all kinds of art, the latest technological inventions, toys, food, household appliances, and clothing, etcetera.
Especially 5th Avenue and Times Square are world-renowned for their large retail and department stores, as well as headquarters of many major American stores. Major stores in central Manhattan are the Apple Store, Century 21, American Eagle, Forever 21, Sephora, the Lego Store, Walt Disney Store and so on.
DiningAll kinds of cuisine and every single dish can be enjoyed somewhere in New York. It is one of the most diverse urban areas on the planet and you will have no trouble finding exactly what you are after. There are tens of thousands of restaurants – tens of thousands! – offering everything between 1-dollar pizza slices and 1,000-dollar sushi in Michelin-starred restaurants. Additionally, there are thousands and thousands of small cafés, delis, coffee shops, bakeries, and so on.
New York is also famous for its street food. Unlike most other American cities, carts can be seen on most street corners, selling the classic hot-dogs, salty pretzels, and Middle Eastern food. Another traditionally New York snack are bagels; and there are countless bagel cafés and shops in the city.
The best bars are generally found in the ‘quieter’ neighborhoods. Popular neighborhoods for a fun night out are Greenwich Village, Chelsea, the Meatpacking District, Bay Ridge, and East Village. Times Square, of course, has a vast selection of both restaurants and bars, but prices are higher there.
AccommodationUnfortunately,the prices of accommodation in Manhattan, which is where most visitors will want to stay, are among the highest in the world. All other boroughs’ accommodation prices are also generally higher than average. Even hostel are extensive and you should expect to pay $50 for a dorm room. Prices for a budget hotel room vary between $100 and $200, while mid-range hotels with room service charge between $250 and $350 for a night. To top everything off, New York City is home to some of the most expensive hotels on the planet, where you pay thousands of dollars for a night in a massive suite.
Luckily, there is a lot of choice and even in the high season, you will most likely be able to find a room. All major hotel chains, such as Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn, and Hyatt have several hotels in the city. Alternative accommodation options are AirBnB, which has more than 1,000 listings in New York City, and couch-surfing.
TransportationThe New York Metropolitan area has three international airports, namely John F. Kennedy International Airport colloquially called JFK in the east; the Newark Liberty International Airport in the west, and LaGuardia, to get in and out of New York City.
An extensive subway system connects the five boroughs. With more than 450 station, it is in fact one of the most extensive subway systems in the world and the busiest one in the Western Hemisphere. It is said that one two of three railway passengers in the United States live in New York’s metropolitan area. The subway is by far the most convenient and fastest way to get around the city. You can buy single tickets, pay-per-ride cards, unlimited ride cards, and 7-day express bus plus cards, which allows you to travel on the subway, as well as buses. The subway operates 24/7 and, in spite of its reputation, is a completely safe way to get around. Do pay attention to your belongings though.
Buses are another good option to get around. They’re cheap and are generally the best way to make a city crossing – say from east to west. The bus fleet in the region is the largest in the world, consisting of 7,000 buses. Port Authority Bus Station, in the heart of Manhattan, serves 200,000 commuters per day and is the world’s busiest bus station.
In addition to public transport, you will have to get around on foot as well, if only to get to and from the stations. Luckily, the city has a grid layout and navigating is fairly easy. All streets have wide sidewalks and walking is definitely the best way to actually see New York City.
Another type of public transport are taxis. The yellow taxis in Manhattan are world-famous and are a convenient way to get from point A to point B, if those points are located a short, not-walkable distance from one another. Long taxi rides in Manhattan can last a while and can be extremely expensive.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Jan 24, 2015