York City Attractions
American Museum of Natural History
Founded in 1869, this museum began with a mastodon's tooth and a
few thousand beetles; today, its collection includes more than 30
million artefacts, interactive exhibits and loads of taxidermy.
It's most famous for its three dinosaur halls, which underwent a
complete overhaul several years ago and reflect current knowledge
on how these behemoths behaved.
Enthusiastic guides roam the dinosaur halls ready to answer questions,
and the 'please touch' displays allow kids to handle many items,
including the skullcap of a pachycephulasaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur
that roamed the earth 65 million years ago.
Other treasures in the permanent collection include the enormous
(fake) blue whale that hangs from the ceiling above the Hall of
Ocean Life and the Star of India sapphire in the Hall of Minerals
and Gems. Newer exhibitions, such as the Hall of Biodiversity, feature
a strong ecological slant, with a video display about the earth's
habitats. The Butterfly Conservancy is a popular recurring exhibition,
open from November to May and featuring 600 butterflies from all
over the world (admission is extra). The building itself is amazing:
turn the corner to admire the 77th St facade.
This vast rectangle of green is a welcome contrast to the concrete
and traffic mosh of the rest of Manhattan. Inevitably the city's
commotion does seep in, through skaters, joggers, musicians and
tourists, but there are quieter areas to be enjoyed, along with
free theatrical performances in summer. There's a small zoo in the
park, organised and casual sport (predominantly baseball and Frisbee)
to watch or play and a swimming pool.
Empire State Building
New York's original skyline symbol, the Empire State Building, is
a limestone classic built in just 410 days during the depths of
the Depression. It stands 102 storeys and almost 449m (1472ft) tall.
The famous antenna was originally to be a mooring mast for zeppelins,
but the Hindenberg disaster put a stop to that plan. One airship
accidentally met up with the building: a B25 crashed into the 79th
floor on a foggy day in July 1945, killing 14 people. Taking the
ear-popping lift to the 86th or 102nd floor observation desks can
entail a bit of waiting around, but it's worth it when you get there.
Come very early or very late; a late-night trip to the top makes
a wonderfully romantic interlude.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Upper East Side is home to New York's greatest concentration
of cultural centres: 5th Ave above 57th St is known as Museum Mile.
The big daddy of these is the Metropolitan Museum of Art ('the Met'),
New York's most popular tourist site, which functions something
like a self-contained cultural city-state with three million individual
objects in its collection. It's best to target exactly what you
want to see and head there first, before culture and crowd fatigue
sets in. Exhibitions range from Egyptian mummies through to baseball
cards so even if (when?) you get lost, you're sure to stumble upon
some interesting stuff.
Museum of Modern Art
The new MoMA, back where it belongs in renovated Midtown digs after
a two-year stint in Queens, is undoubtedly one of New York's finest
museums. In its new location on W53rd st, between Fifth and Sixth
Aves, the MoMA is a perfect excuse to explore its 100,000-plus paintings,
sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models
and design objects. Its collection of masterpieces includes Picasso's
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Van Gogh's Starry Night and Piet Mondrian's
Broadway Boogie-Woogie. Claude Monet's Water Lilies rates a whole
gallery to itself.
Although the pulse of New York's finest art galleries beats in West
Chelsea these days, SoHo (from 'south of Houston') retains its trendy
appeal with a bumper crop of upmarket designer-clothing stores and
shoe boutiques selling oh-so-precious curios. The district is a
paradigm of inadvertent urban renewal, having transmogrified from
the city's leading commercial district in the post-Civil War days
to a tuned-in artists colony in the 1950s, to the impossibly expensive
platinum card excesses of today. Its beautifully restored cast-iron
buildings are some of the best examples of this style in the world,
take a good look around.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty stands at the crossroads of Old World and
New. The Lady with the Lamp represents not only the shining ideals
of democracy but, over the years, has become a shorthand visual
for the immigrants' lament inscribed on her base: 'Give me your
tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...'
Back in 1865, however, it was only even meant to be a rather grand
gesture on the part of political activists Edouard Ren?Lefebvre
de Laboulaye and sculptor Fric-Auguste Bartholdi. The two of them
came up with the idea at a dinner party and went away to build a
monument, their paean to the American conception of political freedom,
which they would then donate to the Land of Opportunity. Twenty-one
years later, on 28 October 1886, the 45m (151ft) Liberty Enlightening
the World, modelled on the Colossus of Rhodes, was finally unveiled
in New York Harbour before President Grover Cleveland and a harbor
full of tooting ships. It's a 354-step climb to the statue's crown,
the equivalent of climbing a 22-storey building, and if you want
to tackle it, start early to avoid the crowds - it's hard to contemplate
the American dream with your nose to the tail of the person in front.
Dubbed the 'Great White Way' after its bright lights, Times Square
has long been celebrated as New York's glittery crossroads. The
Square went into deep decline during the 1960s when the movie palaces
turned XXX-rated and the area became known as a hangout for every
colourful, crazy or dangerous character in Midtown. A major 'clean-up'
operation removed most of the sleaze and now the combination of
colour, zipping message boards and massive TV screens makes for
quite a sight. Up to a million people gather here every New Year's
Eve to see a brightly lit ball descend from the roof of One Times
Square at midnight, an event that lasts just 90 seconds and leaves
most of the revellers wondering what to do with themselves for the
rest of the night.
This neighborhood of old warehouses and loft apartments has a fair
share of sceney restaurants and bars, along with Robert De Niro's
Tribeca Films production company. It's not unusual to spot a star
hanging out at a local restaurant or bar, and Tribeca's desolation
chic makes the area a favorite for fashion photographers. Though
not as touristy or architecturally significant as SoHo, Tribeca
has an even cooler etymology: it's the 'TRIangle BElow CAnal' St.
The neighborhood went through an amazing transformation prior to
September 11, with huge lofts, top restaurants, historic bars and
a strong shopping and arts scene. The tragedy of 9/11 rocked the
area as it bordered the WTC site and is only just recovering.
West (Greenwich) Village
The Village is one of the city's most popular neighbourhoods, and
a universal symbol for all things outlandish and bohemian. It's
still a vibrant area, packed with cafes, shops and bars, all of
them huddled around Washington Square Park, purportedly the most
crowded recreational space in the world.
The Village (as New Yorkers call it) is kept humming by the endless
supply of New York University (NYU) students and nostalgic tourists.
Once known throughout the world for its swinging, smoky arts scene,
the neighborhood can seem downright somnolent these days. The area's
reputation as a creative enclave can be traced back to at least
the early 1900s, when artists and writers moved in, followed by
jazz musicians who played at famous (still functioning) clubs like
the Blue Note and Village Vanguard. By the 40s the neighborhood
was known as a gathering place for gay people. The coffeehouses
on Bleecker St hark back to New York's beatnik 50s and hippie 60s.
Bob Dylan reputedly smoked his first joint in the Village, Jimi
Hendrix lived here and the Rolling Stones recorded here.
Of course nobody can afford to actually live in the Village today,
perched high in the Manhattan real estate stratosphere. Yet somehow
it still packs some kind of energy.
Navigating the Tribeca Film Festival
With more than 200 films and almost as many parties, what to do?
» Read more
Metropolitan Museum of Art
"The Met is a universal museum: every category of art in every known medium from every part of the world during every epoch of recorded time is represented ...
» Read more
This 57,545 seat stadium is home to the New York Yankees, baseball's most successful team.
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
JFK, in Queens (at the south end of the Van Wyck Expressway),
primarily handles international flights.
General Info: 718-244-4444
Parking Info: 718-244-4168
Visitor's centers can provide you with free maps and general information about New York.
For information on visiting New York, contact the New York Convention and Visitor's Bureau. You can also call them at 800-NYC-VISIT (U.S. and Canada) or 212/397-8222 (elsewhere). To speak with a multilingual counselor: call 212/484-1222 Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm EST.