The metropolis of New York (also referred to as "New York City" or
"the Big Apple") is at the bottom of the Hudson Valley in New York state.
It is part of the Mid-Atlantic region on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA.
The New York Metropolitan Area extends across four states, including
lower New York (including parts of Long Island), northeastern New Jersey,
parts of southwestern Connecticut and northeastern Pennsylvania.
It is the USA's largest metro area and is easily one of the world's greatest cities. The city is a major center for media, culture, food, fashion, art, research, finance and trade. It also has one of the largest and most famous skylines on earth, dominated by the iconic Empire State Building.
New York City is divided by its residents into various districts and quarters, as well as into several official governmental divisions. New York City proper consists of five boroughs, which are actually five separate counties. Each borough is administered by both a borough government and a county government and has a unique culture, each could be a large city in its own right. Within each borough individual neighborhoods, some only a few blocks in size, have "personalities" lauded in music and film. Where you live, work and play in New York says something to New Yorkers about who you are.
The five New York boroughs are:
- Manhattan (New York County) , located on the famous island between the Hudson and East Rivers; includes many diverse and unique neighborhoods and is the most-visited area of New York City.
- Brooklyn (Kings County) , the most populous borough, at one point a separate city. Located south and east of Manhattan across the East River.
- Queens (Queens County) , U-shaped, located to the east of Manhattan, across the East River, and north, east, and south of Brooklyn.
- The Bronx (Bronx County) , located immediately north of Manhattan Island. This is the only part of New York City that is physically connected to the continental U.S.
- Staten Island (Richmond County) , a large island situated within New York harbor, south of Manhattan and just across the narrow Kill Van Kull from New Jersey.
New York City is one of the global centers of international finance, politics, communications, music, fashion, and culture, and is among the world's most important and influential cities. It is home to many world-class museums, art galleries, and theatres. Many of the world's largest corporations have their headquarters here. The headquarters of the United Nations is in New York and most countries have a consulate here.
Immigrants (and their descendants) from over 180 countries live here, making it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. Travelers are attracted to New York City for its culture, energy, and cosmopolitanism.
The focus of interest for most travelers are the areas in and around Manhattan island. When most people think of New York, they think of Manhattan and in fact, Manhattan is generally referred to as "the city", while the other four boroughs are typically called "the Outer Boroughs". The island of Manhattan is long and narrow, positioned squarely within the harbor of New York and separated from the Outer Boroughs and New Jersey by the Hudson River (to the west), the East River (actually a tidal strait between Manhattan and Long Island) and the Harlem River (actually a tidal strait between Manhattan and the Bronx).
Famous landmarks of New York include:
- Statue of Liberty. The ferry leaves every 25 minutes from Battery Park and stops at Liberty Island and Ellis Island. You must (in advance) reserve a time slot to enter the museum at the base of the statue, and then undergo cumbersome security procedures to actually enter the museum in the statue's pedestal (visitors are no longer allowed in the crown, much less the torch). The Immigration Museum at Ellis Island is worth a visit, and it is free. Both Liberty Island and Ellis Island are open every day of the year except December 25 from 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (with extended hours in the summer).
- Brooklyn Bridge. You may walk across this historic bridge in either direction (takes about 30 minutes each way), or bike across it, for no toll. The view is quite nice going into Manhattan. On the Brooklyn side, you can get pizza, or dine by the waterfront in the DUMBO (Down Under [the] Manhattan Bridge Overpass) area, which is gentrifying with lofts and cool dining places. You can also take the F train to York St, hang out in the DUMBO area and then walk across the bridge back into Manhattan.
- Central Park with its lawns, trees and lakes is popular for recreation and concerts and is home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park Zoo.
- Times Square, centered on 42nd Street and Broadway, a place filled with video screens and LED signs. A world wonder or a tourist nightmare depending on your perspective, the "New" Times Square is a family-friendly theme park of themed restaurants, theaters and hotels, as well as a developing business district. Those looking for the seedy Times Square of old will find it around the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and around Broadway several blocks to the south.
- Lincoln Center, Broadway at 64th Street. The world's largest cultural complex. See theater, symphonies, ballet, opera, movies, art exhibits or just wander the architecturally beautiful buildings. Subway: 1 to 66th St. or walkable from A, C, and E trains at 59th St. or the 2 and 3 trains to 72nd St. The buildings are modern, and even have modern chandeliers. There are two opera companies, and the famous Julliard School of Music is also here. Within a few blocks are a large Tower Records, a large Barnes and Noble Bookstore, three "art-house" movie theatres and an AMC movie theater which includes New York's only commerical IMAX screen.
- Rockefeller Plaza, 630 5th Avenue. The Christmas Tree, the Skating Rink, the shops and hubbub, you can't miss it. The Christmas Tree and the Skating Rink are not year round. You may take skating lessons. There are several dining establishments overlooking this area. The art deco buildings of Rockefeller Center are quite cool. Saks Fifth Avenue is across the street, and there are many other stores throughout the complex. Subway: B, D, F, V to 47–50th Streets-Rockefeller Center.
- St. Patrick's Cathedral, Fifth Ave between 50/51st Streets. The largest Catholic cathedral in the United States. A big, grand Episcopal church is in this area as well. These churches are close to the reopened MOMA, now expanded and renovated after several years of being closed.
- The United Nations, 1st Avenue at 46th Street offers a park overlooking the East River and tours of the general assembly and secretariat.
- Flatiron Building Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street. Reportedly the most photographed building in the world, the Flatiron perches over the intersection of Fifth, Broadway, and 23rd, necessitating its unusual shape. Stop in nearby Madison Square Park for a lovely rest.
- World Trade Center Site Trinity Place and Fulton Street. For better or worse, the site of the September 11th terrorist attacks has become popular with visitors. Various plaques are on display documenting the history of the WTC.
- New York Stock Exchange 20 Broad Sreet (at Wall Street). The most important stock exchange in the world, the NYSE is the most watched indicator of economic performance in the global economy. The activity on the trading floor is astonishing. Visitors should beware, however, that security is tight, and sudden closures are a possibility. Subway: 4, 5 to Wall Street; J, M, Z to Broad Street (weekdays only)
- New York Public Library Corner of Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. After the Library of Congress, this is the largest non-academic library in the United States. It is housed in a beautiful building by Carrer and Hastings, which is seen as the greatest example of Beaux Arts architecture. The main reading room is magnificent, and the library contains numerous important rare items, like Jefferson's handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence.
- Grand Central Terminal 42nd Street and Park Avenue. One of the busiest train stations in the world, Grand Central is also a must for architecture lovers. Its vaulted ceiling, covered with a medieval zodiac design, is staggering.
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