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New York City

New York City Travel Guide

flights to New York City

To most of us New York is the quintessential image of America. An image ingrained in our psyche from viewing a thousand Movies and TV shows. An image that continues to inspire authors, poets and songwriters the world over. Anyone who’s anyone has been to New York. Many of them have made it their home. The lure of the Big Apple is a phenomenon almost out of control, as seven million cramped inhabitants are forced to step aside for 33mil visitors per year. But I guess that’s the price you pay for living in the most famous City in the world.

Be sure you arrive rested, ‘cause once you step of that plane to be sucked into the gateway to the USA you’re in for a fast and furious ride. Not only is New York unquestionably fascinating it is also incredibly demanding. It would take a lifetime to experience all there is on offer, so expect hefty schedule. NYC has 150 world class museums, 18,000 restaurants and over 10,000 stores and that’s before you’ve even started to check out the plethora of famous buildings and landmarks, or even considered what shows you want to take in. It’s no wonder that the natives refer to it as the capital of the world.

Gene Kelly wooed Vera Ellen on the observatory, King Kong fell off the top and Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin had it blown up on Independence Day. They may have built bigger but 70 years after it was opened the Empire State Building remains the definitive skyscraper. And rightly so! A unique, truly awesome structure, it sores over a quarter of a mile into the atmosphere and has seen more than 117 million visitors to date. Incredibly for the 1930s it took only one year and forty-five days to build at a cost of $41mil including the land. As you would imagine, the observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors offer sensational views, particularly at night when the myriad City lights create a vision of beauty quite at odds with Manhattan’s urban sprawl.

The Empire State’s main rival is arguably the most iconoclastic monument in the world. The Statue of Liberty says more about the country it represents than any other man made structure anywhere. It is the ultimate landmark. Built in Paris over ten years by French sculptor Frederic Auguste the 151ft copper figure was shipped to New York and assembled around an iron skeleton designed by Gustav Eiffel. It was unveiled in 1886 and instantly became the number one tourist attraction in the USA. Things haven’t changed much and the $100mil centennial face-lift has ensured it will remain at the top well beyond the foreseeable future.

In truth practically every corner you turn in New York reveals a familiar landmark or building. From the famous steps of City Hall to Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street’s temples of Commerce to the gigantic statue of George Washington at Federal Hall, the sights are uniformly spectacular and mind bogglingly varied. The exterior of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue may well be stunning, but nothing could prepare you for what lies beyond those imposing Romanesque columns. The collection is vast, comprising of over 2 million works of art both ancient and modern from all corners of the globe. Exhibits include the biggest collection of baseball cards in the world, seven centuries and five continents worth of fashionable dress, Graphic art of the Renaissance and after, the entire Temple of Dendur and the two-storey façade of the Branch Bank of the US. It is quite literally impossible to take in the entire collection during one visit.

New York’s history and celebrity are inseparable. It has successfully maintained a reputation for one of the most fashionable, exciting and diversely entertaining cities in the world. A reputation that’s not only upheld proudly but is regularly surpassed. There really is nothing you could wish for that can’t be found. From the densely populated avenues and alleys of Chinatown, home to around 300 restaurants and hundreds of fascinating shops, to the avant-garde ambience of SoHo with its impressive galleries, arty bars and chic boutiques. There’s Greenwich Village, all winding streets lined with old town houses, lively cafes, cool bars and superb restaurants. Or East Village and the notorious Alphabet City with it’s surprisingly open drug culture and cutting edge, often illegal club scene. Hit the lower East Side and your in hedonist youth culture territory, grunge rockers, punks, Goths and dance freaks mingle freely in an orgy of clubbing, live music and underage drinking. A more mature, decadent set frequent trendy Chelsea, where the intriguing straight/gay nightlife echoes the areas somewhat ambivalent history.

For most visitors New York means ‘It’s Showtime!’ and where else could be better to take in your favourite show than Broadway and the Theatre District. With over forty theatres presenting everything from Amadeus to Annie Get Your Gun, Dame Edna to Jackie Mason, audience participation to improvisation it is as much a place to be seen as a place to go see.

A city that has been the inspiration for so much music, it is only right and proper that there should be a thriving music scene and what a scene. Sophisticates and pseudo-intellectuals can enjoy stirring classical performances by world-class orchestras, opera and ballet companies at the Lincoln Centre and Carnegie Hall. Jazz clubs litter the city, with big hitters appearing at the Blue Note, Lennox Lounge and the legendary Apollo Theatre - once host to such luminaries as Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. Nowadays the Apollo books artists from the whole spectrum of popular music. It’s also worth checking out the guides to see if there’s anyone on in Central Park that way not only do you get to see an international name you also get a safe visit to the City’s number one beauty spot after dark.And lest we forget, no self-respecting pop music fan should visit New York without at least checking out Radio City and Madison Square Gardens.

It’s a crazy place for sure. But with the 90s implementation of Mayor Guiliani’s Zero Tolerance regime, the craziness is now under control and the streets of the Big Apple are safe to walk. New York should be on everybody’s list of ‘Places I Must Go’. Not only is it a hugely entertaining and endlessly fascinating metropolis it is an education, a startling insight into the most influential culture of the twentieth century.

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New York City Travel Guide, Attractions and Highlights
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