There is a wonderful moment (actually, 47 seconds, to be exact) during the sky pod ride up to One World Observatory in NYC’s One World Trade Center when you can get a humbling sense of how far the city has come from its untapped beginnings 500 years ago. While facing the back of the elevator, a virtual time-lapse video recreates the development of the Manhattan skyline starting in the 1500s to the present day. And while, yes, this 22.7-square-mile island that sits in New York Harbor is the nation’s 21st-century epicenter of finance, culture, shopping, dining and theater and, you can still find narrow, cobblestoned streets in Lower Manhattan, where revolutionaries would distribute protest pamphlets against the tyrannical King George III of England; buildings built in the 1700s that still house shops and restaurants; and grand mansions, theatrical palaces and statues from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries that tell the story of New York. In any season, there are endless things to do and see here, from our world-famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes in November and December, to food fairs, parades and the country’s biggest Independence Day fireworks show in July. Finally, you will find it surprisingly easy to get around town: For the most part, our island is built on a grid (until you get below 14th Street, when things get a little more inexplicable).
If you are an art junkie, all you need to do is start walking south on Fifth Avenue and 110th Street, to get more than your fill of the iconic paintings, statues, sculptures and mixed-media pieces you will find in such hallowed institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim. Off of Fifth Avenue on W. 53rd Street, make sure to visit the Museum of Modern Art, and at some point you will want to go to the Upper West Side for the American Museum of Natural History. Meanwhile, down in the chic Meatpacking District is the Whitney Museum of American Art, adjacent to the High Line, our elevated walking park built on an historic freight rail line. A jazz fan? The Blue Note, the Village Vanguard, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola: Some of the world’s greatest jazz venues, all here in our pocket of the world. For classical dance, music and theater, it’s Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and New York City Center. And if sports are your thing, you do not want to miss a New York Knicks basketball or New York Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden; the Brooklyn Nets basketball team at Barclays Center, or a Giants or Jets football attack at MetLife Stadium.
There are so many reasons people come to New York: for their first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, the seat of where 12 million immigrants first entered the United States between 1892 and 1954; to see one of the world’s first skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty; for John D. Rockefeller’s corporate complex brainchild, Rockefeller Center; and for our more bucolic areas, such as Central Park. Finance professionals come to Wall Street for wheelings and dealings; fashion industry people purchase luxurious fabrics and meet with designers in the Fashion District and hobnob during Fashion Week; foodies love our wildly diverse restaurant scene; and art lovers can spend days in Chelsea, the Lower East Side and the Upper East Side visiting our spectacular selection of art galleries.
If you are here to catch a few Broadway shows, you will no doubt make the Times Square area your base, which now houses a public square, shops such as the Disney Store and M&M’s World, new restaurants and more dazzling billboards and videos that you will ever experience in one compact area. Lower Manhattan, now with two huge shopping districts (Westfield and Brookfield Place), the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the Museum of the American Indian and, of course, Wall Street, has something to offer everyone, from the shopper to the culture maven. The Upper West Side is home to the Shops at Columbus Circle, Lincoln Center and Central Park. And for cozy, interesting boutiques, shops, brownstones and galleries, make sure to visit TriBeCa, SoHo, the Meatpacking District and Greenwich Village.