New York City Things to Do Tips by Christophe_Ons Top 5 Page for this destination
New York City Things to Do: 5,407 reviews and 8,843 photos
Federal Hall in lower Manhattan
This classical Dorian style building used to be the US Customs House - and later a bank, but now houses an interactive computer exhibition about the constitution. The original building was demolished in 1812, the current one was built between 1834-1842. The bronze statue of George Washington on the steps outside marks the place where the first president of the United States of America took his oath of office on April 30, 1789.
- nearby places of interest :
The New York Stock Exchange is across the street. Trinity church is at the western end of Wall St and can be seen from Federal Hall.
Address: 26 Wall St
Directions: opposite the New York Stock Exchange on Wall St in lower Manhattan.
Subway : 2,3,4,5 to Wall St
Phone: (212) 825-6870
billboards / citylights on Times Square
Times Square, the heart of the Theatre District and named after the headquarters of the New York Times newspaper, has seen mostly middle- and low-brow entertainment for the last century.
It's one of those places you "must" see because it's, well, sort of unique and visually exciting, but not so much because of what you can actually see, do or experience there - other than gazing at the light show and snapping some colorful pictures.
It's terribly crowded - tourists flock in herds and it actually feels very "un-New York" once you've seen (and familiarized with) other parts of the city. Other than the theaters in the area, Times Square feels kind of junky with all of its fast food places, cafés, shops that sell tourist kitsch and branches of stores like Disney Store and Virgin Megastore. Most of it is bloody expensive, too.
Neon billboards have been here since the 20's. After a long period of decline starting during the Depression, during which Times Square was a scene of sex shops, drug dealers and prostitution, "rejuvenation" (read : "Disney-fication") of the district began in the 1990's, with many themed stores and -restaurants, and, on the plus side, improved safety. You'll see plenty of police on patrol here so it's much safer than before - crime stats continue to drop considerably. Still, be aware of your surroundings when you take a stroll here, and mind your personal belongings.
-feel free to check my "tourist trap" entry for Times Square, "prepare to be disNYfied - resistance is futile" which has links to live webcams on Times Square, as well.
Address: Midtown Manhattan @ 42nd Str, Broadway & 7th Ave
Directions: Subway at 42nd / St Times Square - Broadway
beautiful town houses in the village
Greenwich Village is a great place for idle wandering and people-watching from sidewalk cafés. New Yorkers call it simply "the Village" since the area began as a country village - in most of the western part, narrow brownstone-lined streets reflect early farm boundaries and meander haphazardly through the village without regard to grids.
The Village first became fashionable in the 1830s, when elegant townhouses were built around Washington Square. It has remained a bohemian haven that has been home to many artists and writers, and today many of the city's media power elite live here -- they fill the bistros and bars that line Bleecker and Hudson Streets, the area's main thoroughfares.
The area of Washington Square Park is home to the New York University - the park hums with musicians and street artists. Eight Street is a long procession of punky boutiques, shoe shops and piercing-parlors - however, most non-conformists tend to live in the East Village, as Greenwich Village - including West Village (west of 6th Avenue) which is a popular gay district - has become more mainstream and very high priced during recent years.
Directions: Bordering streets are 14th St in the north, Broadway in the East, West Houston in the south. "West Village" is bordered by the Hudson. New neighborhood names pop up all the time, the part around Broadway north of Houston St is often called NoHo nowadays.
WFC at night, seen from New Jersey
The World Financial Center, completed in 1988, consists of 4 glass-and-granite post modern office towers and sits near the Hudson River. It is the center of Battery Park City, in the western part of lower Manhattan, and has played a crucial role in the revival of this area.
The WFC houses the headquarters of some of the world's most important financial companies. The four towers are connected to eachother and house the world headquarters of prestigious international corporations, including American Express, Merrill Lynch, and Dow Jones. The WFC also features over 30 specialty shops, restaurants and services, including Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Godiva Chocolatier, Eckerd, The Grill Room and American Express Travel.
At the heart of the complex lies the glass roofed Winter Garden, a vast public space filled with 50ft (15m) palm trees from the Mojave desert. It is a venue for concerts, dance, theater, and other forms of entertainment, most of which are free. From here you can walk out to the piazza behind the WFC, at the Hudson waterfront which overlooks New Jersey.
Address: West St. in Lower Manhattan
Directions: subway 1,2,3,9,A,C,E to Chambers St or 1,9,N,R to Cortlandt St
Phone: (212) 945-0505
the lions named Patience and Fortitude
On the site of the former Croton water reservoir, the beautiful Beaux-Arts building of the New York Public library was built in the beginning of the 20th century, it opened in 1911 and is the world's 7th-largest research library.
The main entrance is on the west side of Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd St, the two impressive stone lions that guard the steps were named "Patience" and "Fortitude" by Fiorello LaGuardia, New York City's mayor in the 30's.
There is an immense reading room on the third floor, the Rose Main Reading Room, which stretches two blocks. It reopened in 1998 after a $ 15 million renovation. Below it are 88 miles / 140km of shelves, holding over seven million volumes. The original library combined the collections of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox, the collection includes Thomas Jefferson's hand written copy of the Declaration of Independence.
Adress : 5th Avenue at 42nd St
Opening hours : Mon & Sat 10am-6pm, Tue & Wed 11am-7:30pm - hours vary and there are also tours available, check web site.
Bryant Park spreads out behind the library, an elegant lawn usually filled in the warm months with lunching office workers; the stage at the head of the park hosts free cultural events throughout the summer, including screenings of classic films and jazz concerts. In spring and fall, world-famous fashion shows take place here. The park used to be a hangout for drug dealers and other undesirables in the 60's - it was closed and renovated in 1989 and is now considered safe (open 7am-9pm).
Address: Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
Directions: Subway :
D,F to 42nd St (at 6th Ave / Bryant Park)
N,Q,R,S,1,2,3,9 to Times Square / 42nd at Broadway St (then walk one block east to Bryant Park)
4,5,6 to Grand Central Terminal (42nd St) (then walk one block west to the library)
7 to 5th Ave / 42nd St
Phone: (212) 869 - 8089
Radio City in bustling midtown
Since its doors opened as a part of the Rockefeller Center on December 27, 1932, more than 300 million people have come to Radio City Music Hall to enjoy stage shows, movies, concerts and special events. There's no place like it to see a show or stage a show. Everything about it is larger than life.
Radio City Music Hall is among the largest indoor theatres in the world. Its marquee is a full city-block long. Its auditorium measures 160 feet from back to stage and the ceiling reaches a height of 84 feet. The walls and ceiling are formed by a series of sweeping arches that define a splendid and immense curving space. Choral staircases rise up the sides toward the back wall. Actors can enter there to bring live action right into the house. There are no columns to obstruct views. Three shallow mezzanines provide comfortable seating without looming over the rear orchestra section below. The result is that every seat in Radio City Music Hall is a good seat.
For decades, America's most popular entertainers have thrilled audiences here. Radio City has also hosted the Grammy's and the Tony's, The MTV Video Music Awards and the ESPY Awards.
The art deco building underwent an $ 70 million restoration in 1999. The Radio City "Stage Door Tour" is a one hour, walking tour of the interior of Radio City Music Hall that departs from the Music Hall lobby (daily, 11am / 3pm). For more info and tickets see the official web site.
Address: 1260 Avenue of the Americas
Directions: 6th Avenue at 50th St.
Take the B, D or F subway to Rockefeller Center/50th st
GE Building in Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center, an official landmark since 1985, is a 3-block square complex of business, retail, entertainment and dining in midtown Manhattan - 19 buildings in all between 48th-50th St and 5th-7th Ave. The site was once a botanic garden owned by Columbia University, and was leased in 1928 by John D. Rockefeller. What's really impressive about this masterful use of public space is that it was built during the Great Depression, and the beautifully decorated art deco complex, designed by a team of top architects headed by Raymond Hood, remains one of midtown's focal points to this day.
In the middle is the sunken Rockefeller Plaza, probably most associated with Christmas, from its famous tree to the ice skating rink, and the stores in the Center itself and on 5th Avenue.
The NBC television network's studio at the southwest corner draws a weekday-morning crowd. In the northwest corner is Radio City Music Hall (see tip below), and across 5th Ave are Saint Patrick Cathedral (the largest catholic cathedral in the USA) and the department store Saks 5th Avenue.
Address: 47th-51st Streets and between 5th and 6th Avenues.
Directions: B,D,F,V Subways to 47-50th Sts, Rockefeller
The Lake, one of CP's many lovely, scenic spots.
Central Park - this vast, lush 843-acre park was designed in the 1850's by journalist and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and architect Calvert Vaux. It took 20 years to complete the scenic hills, lakes and meadows, but over the years the park has further blossomed with an amazing amount of plant species. Central Park is scattered with playgrounds and quiet spots but also offers a myriad of sporting and cultural activities. There's something for everyone here, whether you're into sports, birdwatching, or just want to take a stroll along the park's lovely lanes - or simply read a book on a bench and forget you're in hectic New York City for a moment.
I'll cover some spots I went to (e.g. Strawberry Fields, the Bow Bridge, Sheep Meadow) in my off the beaten path tips, but Central Park is so huge it's just not possible to do it all in one visit - I have yet to discover some beautiful spots there, myself.
Check the official Central Park website for detailed maps, info and pictures of all of Central Park's lovely spots.
Address: smack in the middle of uptown Manhattan
Directions: Subway lines B/C run the length of the park on the west side; 59th St/Columbus Circle (the park's SW corner) is served by the 1/9; the N/R stops at 57th St near the southern end of the park; and the 6 runs three blocks east across the length of the park.
NYSE, seen from the stairs of Federal Hall
Wall Street, home to the New York Stock Exchange, is where America made its first audacious architectural assertions, as there are many great buildings here by grand old banks and businesses. Wall Street itself took its name from a small wooden defense wall the Dutch built in 1653 to mark the northern limit of New Amsterdam.
Commerce has always been the backbone of New York City's prosperity. In 1792, 24 brokers signed an agreement only to deal with eachother, and the NYSE was born. Membership is strictly limited - in 1817 a seat cost $ 25, today it's over 2 million dollars. There are 17 trading posts which each consist of 22 sections of traders and technology, each trading the stock of up to 10 listed companies.
The most severe "crashes" of the NYSE were "Black Friday" - the gold crash of 24 September 1869, the Wall Street crash of 29 October 1929 which marked the start of the Great Depression, and 19 October 1987 - "Black Monday" - when the Dow Jones index dropped 508 points.
The public viewing gallery has been closed since the 2001 terrorist attacks on Manhattan, but it's really worthwile to take a stroll along Wall Street and the surrounding area. Enjoy the wonderful architecture, some of the other landmarks nearby, and watch besuited brokers march up and down Broad Street, glowing with confidence and trying to look very, very important.
Address: NYSE : 20 Broad St
Directions: area : Lower Manhattan / Financial District
Trains 2,3,4,5 to Wall St,
or N, R Train to Rector St
the East Village doesn't come alive until noon ...
Far scruffer than its western counterpart, the East Village has a long history as a countercultural mecca.
During the nineteenth century millionaires like the Astors and Vanderbilts had homes in East Village. But the waves of Irish, German, Jewish, Polish and Ukrainian immigrants who flooded into New York City in the 1900s soon displaced the elite, who moved uptown.
Since then, the area has been home to the “beat generation” of the 1950s, Hippies in the 1960s, and later the Punks. The latest musical styles and avant-garde theater are presented here and the East Village contains the most varied assortment of ethnic restaurants in New York City. Their cuisine ranges from Indian eateries on the south side of East Sixth Street to McSorley’s Old Ale House, a pub that seems unchanged since it first opened in 1854, located on East Seventh Street. Once the home of the Astor Library, the restored Public Theater has been the opening venue for many now-famous plays.
A haven from the pressure of classes at New York University, students regularly gather around the Alamo at Astor Place. The Alamo is a 15-ft (4.5m) steel cube designed by Bernard Rosenthal that revolves when pushed. Across the street is the location of the old Astor Place Opera House. In 1849, trouble broke out here when English actor William Macready criticized American Actor Edwin Forrest. Forrest’s fans rioted and police killed thirty-four people.
St. Mark's Place (8th St between Lafayette and Avenue A) is lined with bars squeezed into tiny basements and stores overflowing onto the sidewalks. It's packed until the wee hours with crowds browsings for bargains in T-shirt shops, record stores and bookshops.
On 6th St between 1st and 2nd Avenues is Little India - roughly two dozen Indian Restaurants sit side by side here.
The East Village is also home to the headquarters of the Hell's Angels (3rd St between 1st and 2nd Avenues), and the infamous Punk club CBGB-OMFUG (315 Bowery)
Directions: The East Village is located in Manhattan, between Houston and 14th streets, east of 2nd Avenue.
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