New York City


Manhattan sights and attractions


Manhattan is by far the most famous of New York’s five boroughs and it has without a doubt the most significance. New York County, consisting almost exclusively of Manhattan, is the county with the highest population density in all of America with more than 27,000 inhabitants per square kilometer. By area, it is the smallest of the boroughs with about 87 km². Here, there are not only the city’s world famous sights but here is also where the economic heart of one of the most important global cities is. Hundreds of thousands of people come to Manhattan to work every day. By far the highest salaries of the city are being paid here and countless important companies have their seats or at least an important branch here, among them being many foreign corporations that orchestrate their America business from Manhattan. The most influential industry is Finance, not only thanks to the two most influential American stock exchanges having their seat here. In contrast, jobs in manufacturing have become rare and today only account for a small fraction of the employment market.

More than 1.6 million people live in Manhattan and among those are many who were born outside of the US and who often have stamped whole neighborhoods with their cultural identity. Often, these neighborhoods are among the most visited sights for tourists - and most tourists don’t get to see more of New York City than Manhattan anyway.

NYC View from ESB

Greenwich Village:    
The artists the Village was known for have meanwhile moved away and thus they made room for those capable of paying rents that have virtually exploded. The neighborhood lies in the West of Downtown between 14th Street and Broadway; here you will also find Christopher Street, namesake for the famous LGBT rights parades. The Village’s notoriety however is derived from its past as the home of authors and artists of the Beatnik generation. Among others, writers such as Truman Capote, Maya Angelou or Jack Kerouac made their home here. Greenwich Village has an equally large significance for music. African-American artists like Ella Fitzgerald or Nat King Cole were allowed to perform here in mixed clubs long before race barriers were torn down and later, the neighborhood’s music bars served as springboards for greats such as Simon & Garfunkel, Joan Baez or Bob Dylan. Until today, many celebrities make their home in the Village, whose liberal atmosphere is valued by its residents.

Known as a Bohemian neighboorhood, Soho derives its name from its location South of Houston Street. When rents in Greenwich Village had risen too high, SoHo had become the new place for artists, but soon enough SoHo took the same course. In former factory buildings and warehouses, there can nevertheless be found artist’s studios and galleries, which have become complemented by trendy fashion boutiques and other, rather exclusive shopping opportunities. Many buildings in the neighborhood are examples of the famous cast-iron architecture of the second half of the 19th century, these have been listed as a National Historic Landmark. In the Northern part of SoHo, tourists often try to find original bargains at street vendors and in many small stores.

The largest Chinese city outside of China. Population estimates put this Downtown neighborhood near a number of 100.000. The exotic goods in the windows, the foreign signs on the faces of the buildings and the Buddhist temples make visitors forget they are still in America. Chinatown by now has grown so much that it swallowed the previously adjacent Little Italy entirely except for one street. The neighborhood’s history goes back to the end of the 19th century, while later immigration waves (especially after the relaxation of immigration laws in 1965) brought a steady stream of further inhabitants. Apart from Chinese grocery stores, visitors will also find many restaurants here and merchants with not always entirely authentic branded goods.

High Line Park:   
In June 2009, the first sections of the ambitious project to turn shut-down railway tracks on Manhattan’s West side that had primarily served the Meatpacking District into an urban retreat was opened. Over a total length of more than two kilometers, the park stretches from Gansevoort Street to 30th Street and is being adorned by a number of sculptures created by various artists. Access to the park is possible daily between 7 am and 8 pm via the stairs that can be found each approximately three blocks from the next.

Financial District / Wall Street:    
The most important address of the global finance business is in Downtown Manhattan. Here, as well as in the adjacent streets, are the office buildings of many banks and finance-related institutions and of course the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, two of the most important stock exchanges of the world. In the neighborhood, there are numerous skyscrapers hosting companies in the finance industry. In earlier times, the area around Wall Street used to be almost completely deserted after office hours, but today there are about 25,000 people living here in many new, often expensive, apartment buildings.
One of the sights is the Customs House, built in 1842, which today serves as Federal Hall National Memorial, because it occupies the spot where New York’s first city hall had been erected in 1700. This city hall had temporarily served as first Capitol Building of the US and George Washington had been sworn in as first American President here. The building, which had been the target of a bomb planted by anarchists in 1920, is open daily from 9 to 5 for guided tours.
Tourists also favor the building of the Federal Reserve Bank on Liberty Street, where a major portion of the US gold reserves are being stored. Guided tours which are offered daily at varying times allow visitors to cast a look into the vault.
The neighborhood is in some places blocked for through traffic for security reasons. Visiting the stock exchange is no longer possible for visitors.

Brooklyn Bridge:     NYC Brooklyn Bridge 2
Connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn across the East River over a length of 1.8 kilometers, the bridge is one of the most important traffic arteries of the city, carrying more than 120,000 cars per day (trucks and buses are not allowed on the bridge). A pedestrian walkway and a bike route lie above the six traffic lanes and from up there, it is possible to enjoy great views of Downtown and Midtown. When the bridge was completed in 1883, it was the first bridge construction in the world using steel rope. Brooklyn Bridge was built after the plans of the German engineer John August Roebling, but when he died and his soon was severyl injured by an accident shortly thereafter, his daughter-in-law Emily Warren Roebling took over a large part of the guidance duties for the construction.
The bridge was a favorite of New Yorkers from its first day and thanks to its filigrane construction, it quickly became a hallmark of the city that is often visited by tourists (access from Manhattan via Centre Street), while New Yorkers enjoy jogging here.

Fifth Avenue:    
This street’s name translates into “shopping” for many people around the globe. In fact, there are countless temples of consumerism along this street and those, especially between 45th and 60th Street, have mostly to be attributed to an upscale price segment. Fifth Avenue also serves as a dividing line between East and West Side of Manhattan. Apart from famous stores such as Tiffany`s there are many exclusive hotels here and, on the upper floors, some of New York’s most expensive apartments. Famous department stores Saks and Bergdorf Goodman also are located at Fifth Avenue. Thanks to its central location, Fifth Avenue is often being used for parades and is widely cordoned off in these cases, for example on the occassions of Thanksgiving or St. Patrick’s Day.

Rockefeller Center:    
Rockefeller Center at Fifth Avenue (between 48th and 51st Street) consists of a total of 19 structures, whose construction began in 1930; the final four buildings were constructed in the 1970s. The original had been financed completely by oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller Jr.. From the start, sculptures on the perimeter were included in the concept, like the one depicting Prometheus. It stands in front of the GE Building - also called “30 Rock” - , the tallest structure of the complex with a height of 266 meters. Here, there are the headquarters of the TV channel NBC and also some of its studios, as well as the observation platform called “Top of the Rock”, stretching over three floors and affording a breathtaking view of Midtown - although for a hefty entrance fee (open daily 8 am-11 pm). Also famous is the square in front of the building which hosts an outdoor café in summer and an icerink in winter. For Christmas, a huge tree will be set up here each year with the lighting unveiled in a great event. Altogether, the entire complex encompasses more than 740,000 square meters of office and retail space, the latter is mostly located in an underground shopping arcade.
Further, Radio City Music Hall belongs to Rockefeller Center, one of the most famous and most storied concert stages of the country. After being used as a studio for concerts broadcast by radio in the beginning, it was converted into a movie theatre for a while until this, too. was not profitable enough anymore in 1979. Today, the landmarked Music Hall serves as stage for high-profile events such as award shows or concerts. Both Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center can be explored in guided tours.

Chrysler Building:    
It is neither the tallest nor the most important of Manhattan’s skyscrapers, but many people think it is the most beautiful. It was built in Art Deco style between 1928 and 1930 and is located at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street. On the building’s face, there are a number of references to the automobiles made by Chrysler, for example the hood ornament which is shown on the battlements. When the skyscraper, which today is in the possession of an Arabian fund was built, more than 3.8 million stones were set by hand. The Chrysler Building has a height of 319 meters, but unfortunately does not have an observation platform. It is Manhattan’s fifth-tallest building. There are no guided tours, but taking a look into the freely accessible lobby (during office hours) is also interesting. Because of its location, taking pictures of Chrysler Building is rather difficult; one of the best shots can be had by walking from 6th Avenue towards 42nd Street.

St. Patrick`s Cathedral:     
This church, across the street from Rockefeller Center at Fifth Avenue, forms a fascinating contrast to the huge glass front of its surroundings, in which the church’s mirrored image becomes visible. Inside, there is enough room for 2200 people and three million people visit the building every year. It was built in 1858 and it is the seat of the archbishop of New York. Worth seeing are the marble covering on the outside and altar, which was made by Tiffany’s. In a crypt below the altar, former archbishops and other Catholic dignitaries are entombed.

Empire State Building:    
The Empire State Building, located at Fifth Avenue, was the world’s tallest building from its completion in 1931 until World Trade Center was erected in 1971. It regained the title as New York’s highest skyscraper temporarily after 9/11, but the new World Trade Center construction has reclaimed it in 2012. Thanks to its Art Deco architecture, Empire State Building is listed as a National Historic Landmark. In 2009, it was renovated for more than 500 million dollars, among others, the observation platform on the 86th floor received an update.
The platform allows for a fascinating view of Manhattan. There is an additional viewing area on the 102nd floor (extra fee applies). However, tourists fear the sometimes seemingly endless wait queues before one is allowed to go up, extensive security measures in place since 9/11 have even made this worse. Nevertheless, the platforms are the building’s most important revenue source - in fact, they contribute more income for the building owners than renting office space. The decks are open daily from 8 am to 2 am and the last elevator, bringing visitors to the platform in no more than 45 seconds, departs at 1.15 am. Another tourist attraction is the simulated “New York Skyride” on the 2nd floor.
Since 1964, floodlights have been installed at Empire State Building which are used to illuminate the building in different colors depending on the occassion. There are usually several occassions per week, a current schedule is published on the building’s website.

Times Square:    
Probably Manhattan’s most vibrant location. Here, Seventh Avenue crosses Broadway, here are many theatres and stages and here are the giant, colorful billboards including tickerNYC Times Squares shouting out the latest news nonstop. To be noticed here, one needs to be special; even the McDonald`s located near the intersection is notably different. For a long time, Times Square was something like New York’s dirty corner, lined with adult stores and ambiguous movie theatres, but former mayor Giuliani cleaned out these establishments and replaced them with more family-friendly tenants, such as a  Disney Store, a Toys-R-Us and the New York branch of Madame Tussaud. In addition, a number of TV shows are regularly being taped here, conveniently in ground floor studios, so that usually a crowd assembles in front of the windows with people hoping to be caught by one of the cameras.
Times Square, often nicknamed “Crossroads of the World”, every year hosts the country’s most famous New Year’s Eve party, which is always visited by several hundreds of thousands of people and which is also broadcast on TV nationally. Since February 2011,  Times Square is a non-smoking area - getting caught here with a cigarette will result in a ticket worth $50.

Grand Central Terminal:    
Located at the corner of 42nd Street and Park Avenue, Grand Central is not only the gateway for tens of thousands of daily commuters from the suburbs and the main junction of public transport in Manhattan, but also an architectural highlight and listed historic building. By number of tracks, Grand Central is the world’s largest railway station. Around 20 million people use the station annually, and with its restaurants, bars and elegant shops, it is indeed much more than just a station. The terminal was opened in 1903 and is famous for its metres high windows which create special light effects on the inside, but also for tons of lightcolored marble, an astronomy-themed painting on the ceiling and excellent acoustics in the Main Concourse with its height of 38 metres. The face of the building is adorned with a watch made of Tiffany glass and a few statues. Grand Central has served as a backdrop for various Hollywood productions.

United Nations Headquarters:    
The main seat of the United Nations i9s located at First Avenue along East River, near the intersection with 48th Street. The building was opened in 1952 and is located on international ground within New York. Guided tours which allow - outside of assembly being in place - a look into the chambers of the General Assembly or the Security Council start every 30 minutes between 9:45 am and 4:45 pm on workdays. Tours last about 45 minutes, for languages other than English reservations should be made in advance. In addition, self-guided audio tours are available. Many visitors stop by the post office in the basement, where unique United Nations stamps are being sold. 

Central Park:    
The famous park that stretches over 340 hectares especially on the weekend is the place where New Yorkers meet to sunbathe, play baseball or fottball, skate or just to take a walk. It is the best visited public park in the US. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmstedt and Calvert Laux from 1858 on; back then Manhattan only stretched to 39th Street and Central Park, beginning at 59th Street, seemed to be miles away from hectic urban life. By now, it is located right in the middle of the city, but it appears to take only a few steps to leave the noise behind. At the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street carriage rides through the park are being offered, which are rather expensive. Central Park is a unique urban oasis of relaxation, at whose borders some of the most affluent residential areas of the city can be found.
Included in the park are concert stages, various ponds and lakes and apart from a number of gardening elements also Central Park Zoo, which opened its doors in 1864 and again in 1988 after a comprehensive redesign. There are not so many animals on display in this zoo and mostly, big attractions are missing, apart from the rare snow leopard. For a wider choice, visitors should take a look at Bronx Zoo with its polar bear area and an indoor rainforest.



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