United States

New York City, New York

An Incredible Fascinating City

New York City is one of the most amazing and beautiful cities in the world. It is one of those cities you return to and visit again and again as there is so much to explore

If you have been to New York before, you will most likely have your favourite spots that you want to check every time you visit. You can easily spend two or three weeks in town, just bear in mind that accommodation is very expensive which may put a limit on how many days you want to stay.

New York City is located on the very southern tip of the state of New York and is the most populous city in the United States. It was the  country’s capital from 1785-1790. The city is split in the five different boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. These were consolidated into one city in 1898 but historically, the city dates all the way back to 1624.

It’s highly recommended that you visit all five boroughs, it really depends on how much time you have. All the major and mainstream sights are on Manhattan. If you are in town for about a week you should spend most of you time in Manhattan checking out the highlights and head a bit of the beaten track. You should definitely also spend at least one day on Brooklyn.

If you have a couple weeks in town or if you are returning for a second or third time, you should still focus on Manhattan but also check out the other four boroughs. Each borough is so different each other and has something unique to offer and have their individual charm. Even the different neighbourhoods within the boroughs, especially Manhattan, are so unlike the other, which makes New York City so fascinating and diverse.

There are many ways off exploring New York City. The best way is by foot, but since the city is huge, you have to travel big distances and the way to do this is by the Subway System also known as the MTA. It covers New York City really well and especially on Manhattan you will find a Subway Station within walking distance.

History

The first documented visit by Europeans was in 1524 when Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzo claimed the area on behalf of France, which he served, in 1524.

The first non-Native American to become a New Yorker was Dominican Trader Juan Rodriguez who arrived in Manhattan during the winter of 1613-1614. He was trapping pelts and traded with the locals on behalf of the Dutch. Broadway from 159th to 218th Street is named Juan Rodriguez Way as a homage to him.

Lower Manhattan was a fur trading post of the colonists of the Dutch Republic and was named New Amsterdam in 1626. Present day New York City was inhabited by the Lenape people until European settlement began. The first fort was built at the Battery to protect the colonial province of New Netherland. The Dutch West Indies Company imported slaves from Africa to build a wall to defend the town against attacks from the British and the Indians.

It is said that Dutch colonial Director-General Peter Minuit purchased Manhattan Island from the Canarsie, a small Lenape band, for 60 guilders, which would be the equivalent of 1,000 USD today. This story has been disputed though.

In 1664 the British conquered the area and renamed it New York after the Duke of York. At the time the population consisted of 40% African slaves. A lot of them had been freed under the Dutch and worked on farms in the area of present day Washington Square.

The New Yorker

One of the many great things about visiting New York is meeting the locals. The New Yorker is an interesting character. It is hard make a generalisation as the city is so big and diverse. As mentioned earlier, there are many different neighbourhoods each with its own particular character and many nationalities and people of a wide variety of descents.

Stereotypically speaking, the New Yorker has got attitude, is a bit abrupt, short and straight to the point…to some it seems a bit rude but in general the New Yorker is quite friendly. People in major cities are just more fast and brash in comparison to people from the country side.

In general the New Yorker is helpful and kind but they don’t have much tolerance for BS. So they will let people know if they don’t want to deal with that. Bear in mind that it’s a city that moves at a fast pace, but if people have time you can easily strike up a conversation.

The New York Accent

When you are in town you will notice the awesome New York accent. It’s got a bit of an attitude. The accent doesn’t have the R sound of the standards American accent. The R-sound of accents of the New England area and New York is a bit similar to the R-sound of the Queen’s English. When words ending on an R, the R tends to disappear, such as words ending on -er, like “lawyer” becomes “lawya”, “river” is “rivva” and “water” is “worta”. You’ll notice how there’s an extra emphasis on the V in “river” and how the A in the middle of words become “or” like in “water”.

You also have other cases where the R-sound disappears at the end of words. Like “here” becomes “hea” and “door” is “do-ah”.

The New Yorker also tends to contract words, like in the case of “out of” is “outta” or “want to” becomes “wanna”.

The O-sounds in some cases sound more like an A, so “doctor” becomes “dacta”. In other cases the O-sound turns into more of an “or” sound of “-our” like in “your”. So for instance “on” becomes “orn”, “coffee” is “courfee”, “boss” is “bourss” and so on.

Some words are just pronounced completely different to the standard American accent and the Queen’s English, like “huge” is “yuge” and ”Foe-ward” instead of “forward”.

Manhattan

Manhattan is the most visited New York borough. There are so many things to see. As mentioned in the introduction, most of the major sights of New York City are located here along with a lot of interesting sights more off the beaten track.

Manhattan is the birthplace of New York City. The borough mainly consists of Manhattan Island but also includes Roosevelt Island, Liberty Island, Ellis Island and some smaller islands. Manhattan is known as the financial capital of the world with the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ located on Wall Street in the Financial District. It has also been referred to as a cultural capital with regard to the Broadway shows, the clubs, music venues and all sorts of entertainment.

There are many different neighbourhoods in Manhattan, or “neighborhoods” as the Americans spell it. Each is very different to the other, their unique charm and a wide range of things to see and do.

You will notice when doing your research and when visiting New York City that the geographical boundaries and names of the neighbourhoods are different in the various guide books and websites. There are official neighbourhood names but some overlap with each other, some use neighbourhood distinctions that cover broader areas than others. In several cases the boundaries are not officially determined. In this article we will use the broader definitions with reference to the smaller districts on occasion.

Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan is the southernmost part of Manhattan. This is where the neighbourhoods Greenwich Village, the East Village, SoHo, Little Italy, the Lower East Side, TriBeCa, Chinatown and the Financial District are located. There are many highlights in this part of town such as magnificent skyscrapers and beautiful historic high rise buildings. Here you have the access points to the Brooklyn Bridge, Liberty Island and Ellis Island.

Geographically it’s commonly defined as the area south of 14th Street, demarcated to the West by the Hudson River, to the east by the East River and to the south by the very southern tip of Manhattan Island.

Financial District

The Financial District is located on the very southern tip of Manhattan and is roughly the location of the original settlement of New Amsterdam in the 17th century.

Many of the financial institutions of the city have their offices and headquarters in the Financial District such as the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It’s been referred to as the most economically powerful city and the leading financial centre of the world. On Wall Street, in the heart of the Financial District, you will find the New York Stock Exchange which is the largest stock exchange in the world by total market.

The boundaries are roughly east of West Street and Battery Park City, west of the East River, south of Chambers Street and the Brooklyn Bridge all the way down to the southern tip of the island.

The neighbourhood used to be known primarily as place for office workers and traders but has had a massive growth in full time residents. In 2010 there were 61,000 as opposed less than 20,000 in 2001. Many offices buildings were converted into apartments and condominiums during the 1990s and 2000s.

There is plenty of exciting architecture such as the Word Trade Center complex, the Woolworth Building, the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Hall National Memorial with the George Washington Statue and New York by Gehry.

City Hall Park is also a nice little breathing space where you can chill out. If you want to cross the Brooklyn Bridge by foot, City Hall Park is the place where you will commence your journey towards Brooklyn.

Battery Park

On the very southern tip of Manhattan Island you will find Battery Park which is an important part of the history of New York. The park was named after the artillery batteries that protected the settlement to the north from attacks from the sea. It was built in the 17th century by the Dutch when the area was known as New Amsterdam. The battery continued to be in operation during the colonial times of the British.

Just before the war of 1812, the West Battery was completed on an island nearby, to replace older batteries in the area. It was later renamed Castle Clinton after mayor DeWitt Clinton. When the land of Battery Park was created it was incorporated in the land. At the time it was renamed Castle Clinton, it was taken over by the city which turned the facility in to a beer garden and a promenade. When a roof later was added it became a one of the most popular theatrical venues of the country and contributed a lot to making New York City the theatre capital of the United States.

During the mid-19th century the wave of immigrants increase a lot of settled down in the area around the Battery. This was not favourable for the theatre and the beer garden which led to its closure. The structure was subsequently converted into the world’s first immigration depot where it processed 11 million of immigrants from 1855 until Ellis Island took over 37 years later in 1892. This was managed by New York State officials. More than 100 million Americans can trace their ancestors to this early immigration period.

From 1896 to 1941 it was the location of the New York Aquarium. It was thereafter threatened by demolishment but was thankfully declared a national monument in 1946 and later restored in 1975.

Castle Clinton is based in the north western end of the park and is last remnant of the park. Along the waterfront you will find the ferries that go to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. The Battery is also the site of ticket sales to these two sights.

The more modern park area of the facility was created in 1855 as a landscaped open land which is a wonderful place to have a stroll around. The park is abruptly faced with the surrounding massive skyscrapers of the Financial District which is a marvellous contrast.

Liberty Island: History

Liberty Island was known as Bedloe’s Island for a long time until the name was change in 1956. The Island is located in the Upper New York Bay between Jersey City in New Jersey and Manhattan Island. It is a part of the borough of Manhattan.

After the surrender of Fort Amsterdam in 1664 by the Dutch to the British, the island was granted to Captain Robert Needham. It was sold to Isaac Bedloe in 1667 and remained his estate until it was sold for five shillings to New York merchants Adolphe Philipse and Henry Lane. During their ownership it became a smallpox quarantine station. It was sold several times since then and during the American Revolutionary War is was used by the British for refugees.

At the time of the construction of the Statue of Liberty, the 11-point star shaped walls were used at the base of the statue. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France in connection with the centennial of the United States ten years later in 1886.

The style of the copper statue is neoclassical designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Batholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue is of a robbed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess, bearing a torch and tablet with the inscription of the date of the American Declaration of Independence. The statue is a symbol of freedom and has greeted immigrants arriving from overseas onto Castle Clinton and later Ellis Island.

Exploring Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty

Going to both Liberty Island to watch the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are absolute musts. To get you will be travelling by ferry which departs from Battery Park where tickets can also be purchased if you haven’t pre-booked.

The Statue of Liberty

When going to Liberty Island it is highly recommended that you head down the departure point at Battery Park as early as possible as the line to the ferry can be very long and you want to spend as much time exploring the attractions as possible as opposed to be standing in line.

On the ferry journey, the first stop will be at Liberty Island. You can can stay on the ferry and continue to Ellis Island, but it is highly recommended that you disembark, have a walk around probably for about 30 minutes or so depending on your desire.

You can view the statue from all sorts of angles and take great pictures of it and the Manhattan Skyline. You have the option of head up the statue and visit the crown but due to extreme popularity this only accessible when reserved in advance.

In 1800 New York State Legislature decided to build a fort along with Governors Island and Ellis Island. The construction an 11-point star shaped battery began in 1806 and was completed in 1811. It was named Fort Wood in 1812.

Ellis Island: History

The State of New York leased the island in 1794 and began fortifying it the following year. At the end of the War of 1812, Fort Gibson was built and it remained a military post for 80 years until it was turned into an immigration inspection station.

Ellis Island

In 1890 the federal government decided that they would assume control of immigration as opposed to be managed by New York State. They approved the construction of the first federal immigration station on Ellis Island. At the time it was a much smaller island, so it was largely created through land reclamation. The first station was a three storey tall wooden structure. It opened on 1 January 1892 and three large ships arrived on the first day with 700 immigrants. Nearly 450,000 people were processed the first year of operation.

On 15 June 1897 the building burned to the ground. The cause is unknown but it is assumed it could have been faulty wiring. There was no loss of life but all immigration records for the first five years were lost. About 1.5  million people had been processed during this period. It was decided to build a fireproof station to replace it.

During the construction the immigrants were processed through the Barge Office. The new station was designed by Edward Lippincott Tilton and William A. Boring and they created the main building as a French Renaissance Revival style structure with red brick and a limestone trim contributing to its iconic look. The facility opened on 17 December 1900 which is the building we see today.

By the time the immigration station closed on 12 November 1954, 12 million people had been processed through Ellis Island.

It wasn’t until 1982 on the request of President Ronald Reagan that funds were raised to restore Ellis Island and by 1990 it was re-opened to the public. The rooms in the main building have been restored to what they looked like in its heyday.

Exploring Ellis Island

When you are finished exploring Liberty Island, catch the next the ferry bound for Ellis Island.

Sailing slowly into the dock of Ellis Island is an experience in itself when you think about the historic significance of the place. This is where about 12 million people were processed through to immigrate to the United States from 1892 to 1954.

Imagine arriving at Ellis Island back in the late 19th century or early to mid-20th century after several of days on board a crowded ship, leaving your home country behind in Europe to create a better future for yourself and your family. What thoughts would be going through people’s heads? All starting a new chapter in their lives. If they would pass through immigration there would most likely be no turning back. Some didn’t even speak English upon arrival. They would have to find a job and make a living in this new world. Absolutely fascinating!

Ellis Island is located in Upper New York Bay north of Liberty Island. Much of the island, which includes the entire south side, have been closed to the public since 1954.

There are many interesting exhibitions in the buildings of the facility which houses the new Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Located outside the main building you will find the “The American Immigrant Wall of Honor” which is a permanent display of individuals and family names of people who immigrated through Ellis Island. The exhibit is open for new entries which can be requested.

Ellis Island is very fascinating and a whole day can easily be spent here.

17 State Street

On 17 State Street you will find an interesting curved class 42 storey tower simply known as 17 State Street, fronted on street level with impressive and massive pillars supporting the structure. The skyscraper is 165 metres (542 ft) tall and was completed in 1988.

It certainly stands out on the forefront of the skyline at the tip of Lower Manhattan, facing Battery Park and close to the Staten Island Ferry terminal. If you stand right in front of the building you can get some killer shots of the pillars and the curved façade from many different angles.

The Staten Island Ferry

The Staten Island Ferry is one of the last remnants of a ferry system that would commute between the different boroughs before any bridges were built. Today the Staten Island Ferry transports 22 million people a year between Staten Island and Lower Manhattan. That’s about 70,000 people a day over 109 trips. The ride is 8.4 km (5.2 miles), takes about 25 minutes and is free of charge.

Going on the Staten Island Ferry is awesome and it is a fantastic way of experiencing the city. The ride is great as you have amazing views of the Lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

“Between you and me and the Staten Island Ferry” – Billy Joel from the song “Everybody Loves You Now” from 1971

One World Trade Center: History

One of the latest major additions to the skyline is located in the Financial District on 285 Fulton Street.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attack, proposals for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center were presented almost immediately, but due to disagreements on the construction and design, it wasn’t until 2005 the final design for the new One World Trade Center were revealed.

It took many years to build and for many years it seemed like there was a standstill. But construction got on its way and by 3 November 2014, One World Trade Center was officially opened.

One World Trade Center

One World Trade Center, which is the primary building of the new World Trade Center complex, is 104 storeys tall, the tallest skyscraper in the United States and the seventh tallest in the world with its 541 metres (1,776 ft). It was finally completed and opened in 2014 after construction has been on the way for many years after the 9/11 terrorist attack.

A three storey observatory is based on floor 100 to 102 which will give you a 360 degree view of the city and its surrounding areas. The views of New York City and the surrounding areas are absolutely stunning but if you are a keen photographer you are faced with the challenge seen on many observatories around the world.

Unlike the observation decks in the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center, you have to take your shots through a glass façade which is a major issue due to sunlight and reflection in the glass. You would why they architects didn’t think about this.

The structure was designed by David Childs in the style of contemporary modern architecture. The base of the building is cubic and footprint measures the same as the original Twin Towers 60.96 metres by 60.96 metres (200 ft by 200 ft). The design is geometric with eight isosceles triangles (a triangle with two sides of equal length) rising from the cube base, creating a perfect octagon.

The 9/11 Memorial

The 9/11 Memorial  is located within walking distance from One World Trade Center and is  part of the World Trade Center complex.

The memorial was open on 11 September 2011 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attack.  It was designed by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker. The memorial consists of two man-made waterfalls, the largest of its kind in the United States, based on the footprints of original Twin Towers.

9/11 Memorial

The sound of the waterfalls is intended to mute the sounds of the city, making it a sanctuary. The panels of the waterfalls have inscriptions of all the names of the victims who died during the terrorist attack on 11 September and the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

The Memorial Plaza is filled with 400 swamp white oaks, making a stroll around the waterfalls very pleasant along with the stunning view of One World Trade Center. The whole complex is beautiful and have been created in a very tasteful manner.

New York by Gehry

In the Financial District in Lower Manhattan another Frank Gehry building is located on 8 Spruce Street. This is his second building and first residential building constructed in New York. It’s has be known as simply 8 Spruce Street but the official name is New York by Gehry. It’s a 76 storey skyscraper and one of the tallest residential buildings in the world. It was completed in 2010 and is one of the more recent additions to compliment the Manhattan Skyline.

The architectural style is deconstructivism and very Gehry-esque with the wavy design of stainless steel. It reflects the changing light which transforms the appearance of the structure during the day. It’s an amazingly stunning building and you can spend lot of time studying the details of the structure. It’s a bit odd how the building itself has been placed on top of this older structure which is completely different style-wise. It sort of clashes a bit, but if you concentrate on the Gehry building itself, it is awesome.

“If I knew where I was going, I wouldn’t do it. When I can predict or plan it, I don’t do it” – Frank Gehry

New York by Gehry offers a big variety of residences with exceptional views of the skyline of Lower and Midtown Manhattan, the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, the East River, the Statue of Liberty and so much more.

The building has more than 200 floor plans with asymmetrical bay windows that expand into the apex of each curve. These free form bays gives the residents fantastic views of the city. Not only is the unique design of the exterior an amazing sight but the organic shape also offers great opportunities with niches that have been formed to give the residents an incredible view. All the interior finishes and fixtures have been designed by Gehry as well.

As a resident you have access to an array of features such as an indoor skylit swimming pool, health services, a library, a custom designed amphitheatre by Gehry which can be reserved for private parties and an outdoor grilling terrace with the perfect view of the Woolworth Building.

The Woolworth Building

On 233 Broadway you will find the Woolworth Building which is one of the early skyscrapers of New York City. It was completed in 1913 and was designed by Cass Gilbert. It was the tallest building in the world until it was surpassed by the 40 Wall Street building in 1930.

Now more than a century after its completion it is still one of the 100 tallest buildings in the United States and among the 40 tallest in New York City at its 241 metres (792 ft) and 60 storeys.

The architectural style is neo-Gothic and the building is located between Park Place and Barclay Street opposite New York City Hall.

The Manhattan Municipal Building

The Manhattan Municipal Building is located at 1 Centre Street in the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. It’s a 40 storey building that was completed in 1914. The description of the architectural style has been debated but it’s definitely got influences from the Roman Imperial, Italian Renaissance and French Renaissance.

The population in New York City had increase to more than one million in the 1880s and the city hall had become too crowded. After the consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898 there was a need for even more space for the employees of the government.  Four architectural competitions were commissioned between 1888 and 1907. By the time the winning design was selected in 1908, the population of the city had increased to 4.5 million.

The main building has 25 floors and there are an additional 15 storeys in the tower. It’s 180 metres (580 ft) tall and is one of the tallest governmental buildings in the world.

New York City Hall

Located at the centre of the City Hall Park you will find the New York City Hall. This is the seat of the New York City government. This is the oldest city hall in the United States that houses its original governmental functions. The mayor’s office is based here as well but his staff members are located in the Manhattan Municipal Building.

Wall Street

Wall Street in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan

This 8-block street is best known as being the home of the New York Stock Exchange and the name Wall Street has become a metonym for the United States financial markets.

Wall Street has more to offer such as Federal Hall, another historic structure, with the famous statue of George Washington fronting the building.

Broadway

Broadway is the only street which is not completely straight on the grid map as twists its way through the borough.

The street runs from the very tip of Lower Manhattan all the way through Manhattan, continuing through the Bronx, Yonkers and further up state all the way to Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County where it terminates.

Broadway is best known as the centre of the theatre scene and is a metonym for this industry. It is also the name for alternative theatre venues which are known as Off-Broadway shows.

Brookfield Place

Four of the buildings that used to be a part of the World Financial Center are now the core of the Brookfield Place. It is based to the west of West Street at the Hudson River together with the Winter Garden Artrium and the New York Mercantile Exchange building in the Battery Park City.

All four buildings were designed by César Pelli and have a similar streamlined design that really makes them stand out in the Lower Manhattan skyline even though they are not the tallest structures but they based on the edge of the Hudson River. All four buildings became a part of Brookfield Place and 2014 and were subsequently renamed.

200 Liberty Street

Carrying the name of its street address, located on 200 Liberty Street, is a skyscraper formerly known as One World Financial Center. It was was built in 1985 as a part of this complex, has 40 storeys and is 176 metres (577 ft) tall.

Similar to the other buildings in the Brookfield Place complex the structure has a truncated square pyramid roof. It is also connected with the rest of the buildings of the complex via a sky bridge across Liberty Street.

The building was severely damaged during the attacks of 9/11 with the initial cloud and explosions crashing window. It was closed for several months and reopened after restoration.

225 Liberty Street

The building 225 Liberty Street, located on this address, was formerly Two World Financial Center. It has a similar design to 200 Vesey Street but has a dome shaped roof as opposed to a pyramid with a postmodern architectural design.

It’s the second tallest building in the Brookfield Place complex with 44 storeys and a height of 197 metres (645 ft). It is connected with the rest of the complex via a courtyard leading to the Winter Garden. The building was significantly damaged during the attacks of 9/11 and had to be closed due to the falling debris caused from the disaster. The building was reopened again in May 2002.

200 Vesey Street

Formerly Three World Financial Center, the structure known as 200 Vesey Street is located on this address. The building has 34 storeys, is 225 metres (739 ft) tall and was completed in 1985. The architectural design is also postmodern.

The skyscraper is connected with the rest of the complex via a courtyard leading to the Winter Garden. The building was also damaged during the 9/11 attacks by the falling fragments on the southeast corner, but it was not serious enough to create a threat of collapse. It was closed until May 2002 due to repairs.

250 Vesey Street

The structure 250 Vesey Street based on this address used to be known as Four World Financial Center but the name was changed when it became a part of the Brookfield Place complex in 2014.

The building has 34 storeys, is 150 metres (500 ft) tall and was completed in 1986. The roof was heavily damaged during the attacks of 9/11 but the building itself was a not as massively hit as the rest of the buildings in the complex.

The Winter Garden Atrium

Located on Vesey Street you will find the Winter Garden Atrium which is a part of the Brookfield Place complex. It’s a 10 storey glass pavilion constructed in 1988 which houses plants, trees and shops. It was severely damaged during the attacks of 9/11 by the dust clouds and debris. It was rebuilt and reopened in September 2002.

Tribeca

The name Tribeca or TriBeCa is a portmanteau of “Triangle Below Canal Street”. The boundaries are roughly Canal Street to the North, Vesey Street to the South, West Street to the West and Broadway to the East.

If you are staying further uptown and you want to catch the subway to Lower Manhattan to explore you could get off at Canal Street and walk through Tribeca down bound for the Financial District. On the way you will experience the nice architecture and vibe of Tribeca. You will also be treated to amazing views of the One World Trade Center building. You can get some killer shots of both of Tribeca and with One World Trade Center building as the backdrop.

The neighbourhood known for being the home of the Tribeca Film Festival. The Tribeca Historic District is definitely also worth exploring.

It was the first residential area built outside the city boundaries of the colonial times during the late 18th century. By mid-19th century Tribeca had turned into a commercial centre with stores and loft buildings established along Broadway in the 1850s and 1860s. The development of the area was sparked by the construction of the subway with lines opening in 1914 and 1918.

During the 1960 the industrial base had vanished and the empty commercial space attracted a lot of artist during the 1970s and 1980s which transformed Tribeca into an prosperous residential area.

Soho

The neighbourhood Soho or SoHo is also a portmanteau. It comes from being “South of Houston Street”. As the name suggest the area is bounded by Houston Street to the north, Canal Street to the south, 6th Avenue to the west and Crosby Street to the east.

Soho is also known for having attracted artists who occupy the lofts and have art galleries throughout the area but it is also known for having many upscale boutiques.

The neighbourhood is famous for having a lot of cast iron buildings. Most of the cast iron buildings of New York are based here and a big part of the neighbourhood is known as the Soho Cast Iron Historic District. Cast iron was initially used as a decorative façade on pre-existing buildings and that way industrial structures became attractive to commercial clients. Most of these facades were constructed during the 1840s to 1880s but some were also completed later to spice up older building.

Incorporating cast iron into architecture was an American invention and it was much cheaper to use as opposed to stone of brick. Molds of ornaments were prefabricated in foundries and used for many buildings. They were therefore replaceable as a broken piece could easily be recast. The buildings were completed fast and in spite of the short construction period this did not compromise the quality.

A lot of the side streets are covered with Belgian blocks also known as setts. These are not cobblestone was some people may mistakenly call them. Belgian blocks are quarried to a regular shape whereas cobblestone are normally smaller and naturally rounded rocks.

During the colonial period the area was farmland given by the Dutch West Indies Company to free slaves and was the first free black settlement in Manhattan.

Greenwich Village

Based on the west side of Lower Manhattan you will find Greenwich Village, also dubbed the Village by the locals. The name Greenwich as an anglicised version of Groenwijck, the Dutch name for the area.

The boundaries of Greenwich Village are the Hudson River to the west, Broadway to the east, Houston Street to the south and 14th Street to the north.

It’s been famous as an artist and bohemian capital with colourful residents and alternative culture from the early and mid-20th century with art galleries and experimental theatre. Due to major gentrification and commercialisation the housing rates have increased since the end of the 20th century, so a lot of the artists have moved to other neighbourhoods such as Soho, Tribeca, Dumbo, Williamsburg and Long Island City.

The Village has been known for its cabaret and music scene. The Blue Note is one of the most famous jazz clubs of New York which opened in 1981 and still hosts some of the biggest names in jazz on a regular basis. Three members of the Mamas & the Papas and Bob Dylan lived in the neighbourhood. A lot of other major in folk and rock artists got their break in the Village during the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s such as Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Carly Simon and the Lovin’ Spoonful.

Greenwich Village used to be an isolated rural hamlet from the European settlement on Manhattan Island during the 17th century. Therefore the street layout is more organic and more like the planned grin pattern of the rest of Manhattan. The neighbourhood was allowed to keep the organic layout which is found west of Greenwich Avenue and 6th Avenue. This very different street layout to the rest of the city really give Greenwich Village a lot of character with the narrow and curved streets. This part is also known as the West Village.

More of the streets north of Houston Street normally have numbers. But in Greenwich Village most streets are named as opposed to numbered.  A lot of the structures are mid-rise apartments and 19th century row houses which are in sharp contrast to the skyscrapers of Midtown and Lower Manhattan.

East Village 

The definitions of the boundaries are disputed but in general are considered to be 4th Avenue to the West, East River to the east, 14th Street to the north and Houston Street to the south.

Present day East Village was originially a farm owned by Dutch Governor-General Wouter van Twiller. In 1651 Peter Stuyvesant, who was the Dutch Governor-General from 1647 to 1664, received the deed to the farm and it was owned by his family for seven generations until a descendant began selling of the property in parcels in the early 19th century.

German and Irish immigration came in the 1840s and 1850s and landowners began renting out rooms and apartments to the growing working class. From around the 1850s until the 1910s the neighbourhood had the largest German urban population outside Vienna and Berlin. It was the first foreign language neighbourhood in the United States.

The Music Scene of the East Village 

Until the mid-1960s, the area was a part of the Lower East Side. During the 1950s and 1960s a lot of hippies, musicians and artists moved to the neighbourhood and has been known for its vibrant nightlife and artistic community.

In 1968 impresario Bill Graham opened the legendary but short lived Fillmore East concert venue on 2nd Avenue at East 6th Street. It was the counterpart to his San Francisco venue Fillmore and it was quickly dubbed “The Church of Rock’n’Roll”

Graham held two-show concerts several times a week and he used the venue to established British band in the United States such as The Who, Pink Floyd, Cream and Led Zeppelin. Other noticeable artists to have performed were Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, Joe Cocker and Miles Davis.

A lot of artists have release live recordings from the Fillmore East. Some of the notable recordings are “4 Way Street” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and “Performance Rockin’ the Fillmore” by Humble Pie, both from 1971. A lot live recordings have been release many years after the venue was closed which as a real homage to the legacy of the Fillmore East. Due to changes in the music industry and the large growth in the concert industry the venue was closed in 1971. Today the street level of the building is a bank branch.

The neighbourhood is also known for the birthplace of punk rock mainly with reference to the nightclub CBGB which was located at 315 Bowery. A lot of artists got their start here such as the Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie. It was opened in 1973 by Hilly Kristal and closed again in 2006 due to a rent dispute. Today it’s a store owned by fashion designer John Varvatos.

Due to a big decline in the presence of the performance and art scene a lot of young artists have moved across the East River to neighbourhoods such as Williamsburg in Brooklyn. It is argued that this is due to gentrification during recent decades.

The Location of the Movie Classic “The Godfather Part II”

A big part of the movie classic “The Godfather Part II” was filmed in the East Village. The location was on 6th Street between Avenue A and B. During this part of the film we follow the young Don Corleone, played magnificently by Robert de Niro, in what is portrayed as Little Italy in 1917.

The area looks completely different to what you see in the film, obviously as it was set in a different era. It is still very interesting to see the location, especially if you are a fan of the Godfather films. It is quite an experience to have a stroll through the street imagining what it actually would have been like to live here back in 1917. It is astonishing how they managed transform this street to a setting in 1917 back in 1974. Imagine Robert de Niro and Bruno Kirby playing their legendary roles and scenes in this street.

You wonder what it would have been like to be a poor Italian immigrant during this time. You arrive to a new country on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, don’t know the language and have to make a living for you wife, kids and yourself.

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” – Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) from The Godfather Part II

Chelsea

Chelsea is a neighbourhood on the West Side of Manhattan. The boundaries are roughly 14th Street to the south and 30th or 34th Street to the north, the Hudson River and West Street to the west and 6th Avenue to the East. The neighbourhood mainly consists of residential housing and contains the Chelsea Historic District. Its retail businesses reflect the ethnic and social diversity of the population. Chelsea is also known for being one of the artistic centres of the city due to having more 200 galleries.

Chelsea got its name from the Georgian-style property of the retired British Major Thomas Clarke who obtained it when he purchased a farm in the area on 16 August in 1750. He named it after the manor of Chelsea in London. From this time on the land changed owners several times and was mainly used as a place of industry with freight lines, warehouses and passenger shipping through the rest of the century. It wasn’t until 1820 it was developed into a residential neighbourhood with refined townhouse blocks and the neo-Gothic General Theological Seminary being established.

The neighbourhood has a big gay presence which started to come during the 1970s and it was also during this period the nightclubs started emerging and later followed by the art galleries. The area know for being a centre of culture while it still maintains its residential feel so there is plenty to see and do such as the checking out the Chelsea Market, the Chelsea Piers, the High Line, the IAC Building and Madison Square Garden among other things.

The High Line Park

One of the most unique and amazing sights in town is The High Line Park or better known as simply the High Line. This is an elevated walkway located about 9 metres (30 feet) above street level, stretching from West 34th Street between 10th and 11th Avenue to the corner of Gansevoort Street and Washington Street.

Walking down the High Line is such a delight as you will be treated to a lot of great views of the city and major sights such as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, many different unit blocks and streets below the park. Most of the attractions are located in Chelsea including an overhang near the 18th Street entrance to the park that gives you an amazing view of the city. The park continues down to the Meatpacking District.

The High Line Park

On the walkway you will find benches and larger areas along the way where you can sit and have a chill. There are vegetation and plants which creating a cosy atmosphere. You will get up close to the surrounding buildings and the park is generally not too busy. Cafés are located in specific areas where you can relax, have a drink and a snack.

There are frequently events on the High Line such as art tours, tours of the park, stargazing, meditation, Tai Chi and much more. The tour of the park is for free and done by volunteer guides twice a week for 75 minutes between 3 May and 29 October. You don’t have to sign up for the tour beforehand.

There is a lot of art work along the way as well, from sculptures to murals and much more. It’s such a vibrant and happing place in the middle of the city. So awesome!

The High Line Park: History

The High Line originally used to be the track for freight trains dating back to the 1930s carrying goods to and from the largest industrial district of Manhattan. Due to several decades of growth in interstate which led to a decrease in rail traffic throughout the country, the High Line was finally closed in the 1980s.

A demolition was planned by during the 1980s. A local Chelsea resident, activist and railroad enthusiast by the name of Peter Obletz challenged the demolition in court and tried to re-established the railroad traffic. During the late 1980s the north end of the High Line was disconnected from the rest of the country’s railroad system as a demolition was expected.

A community called Friends of the High Line was founded in 1999 and fought for the preservation. Local residents Joshua David and Robert Hammond formed this non-profit organisation and today they run the programming of the park with coordination with the city.

They fought for the preservation of the High Line and the idea of using it as a public open space. Fundraising was done by different people who believed in the project and the public support increased. By 2004 the New York City government committed 50 million USD to the establishment of the park. There was raised more than 150 million USD in today by funders of the High Line Park.

Barry Diller, who is the head of IAC, was involved as well and got in on the project during the early stages. He made three donations of 35 million USD in total together with his wife Diane von Fürstenberg.

On 10 April 2006 an official ceremony presided by Mayor MIchael Bloomberg, who was a big supporter of the park, marked the beginning of the construction, designed by landscape architect James Corner.

In 2009 the first section of the park was opened to the public. In 2011 the second section was opened and in 2014 the final and third section was opened.

The IAC Building

One of the most interesting structures in New York is the IAC Building, located in Chelsea at 555 W 18th Street.  This is the headquarters of InterActiveCorp.

It’s a stunning building by famed Canadian architect Frank Gehry, his first in New York City. He is known for his contemporary architecture and most of his work has been categorised as deconstructivism. Gehry is responsible for many breathtaking structures around the world. His designs are unique with the typical odd shapes with curvy facades and crooked but yet stylish features.

The IAC Building

The IAC Building is a hidden gem and an interesting building to explore if you want to do something off the beaten track. It’s a mystery why this building is not a major tourist attraction as it is so unique, but in a way it makes sense as it’s not really mentioned in guide books and on the traditional travel websites. You will noticed when exploring the structure that you will most likely be the only person present. This will give you a chance to have it all to yourself.

The view and look of the building completely changes as you walk around even just slightly. If you are into your photos you can spend a lot of time here taking pictures of this amazing building. You can easily send half an hour, or even more if you are into architecture. It is located right at 11th Avenue, so if you cross the street to the other side you will have a full view of the structure. It’s a big of a challenge when you’re trying to photograph it as you will have cars and lampposts as obstructions. But if you find something you can stand on top of you will have a better chance to get great shots.

The glass structure has interesting combined white and clear appearance. The look of the building changes dramatically between a day with blue skies to a day with overcast to the night time as well. The contrast between the white coloured glass and the clear class is much more apparent on a clear day as opposed to a grey day. During the night the building is lit up giving it a completely different and stunning look.

The building is split into two sections. The bottom is a base of large twisted tower-like columns and on top of those you will see columns that have sail-like appearance. It’s such an amazing looking structure. What seems to look like two storeys is a 10 storey building. Gehry is a keen sailor and also ventured into designing boats as well by creating an entirely wooden yacht for himself.

“Some people may say my curved panels look like sails. Well, I am a sailor, so I guess I probably do use that metaphor in my work – though not consciously” – Frank Gehry

The head of the IAC, Barry Diller, was very much involved in the project. It was his decision to use smooth glass on the façade as opposed to wrinkled titanium as Gehry had originally planned and which is one of his signature elements. Titanium could have been factory shaped prior to installation and the thick glass panels could not. Therefore the glass was bent during construction. It was the first so-called glass curtain wall to be cold warped bent on site in the world. A glass curtain is the outer covering of the building which is not structural. Basically it just separates the weather on the outside from the occupants on the inside.

The glass façade contains a special coating with ceramic particles embedded which increase the energy efficiency. Each curtain wall unit contains three sheets of glass, two laminated and one tempered, separated by an insulated air space. There are 1,450 curtain wall units and 1,150 are unique. They are about 10.7 metres (35 ft) by 6.7 metres (22 ft).

The unusual shape of the structure has create a variety of interior layouts such as the lobby that has the largest high-resolution video walls in the world. In some cases the glass twists 150 degrees from ground to roof.

Diller said that he chose Gehry for the job as he was able to create a space where the workers could collaborate and be in an open atmosphere which he thought wouldn’t be possible in a classic boxed office building.

You can see the building from the High Line Park and you could exit the park to check out the building. If you are already exploring Chelsea you could also head down to the building on street level.

100 Eleventh Avenue Condominium

Across 19th Street from the the IAC Building the amazing high rise building called 100 Eleventh Avenue Condominium is based. It’s is 23 storey tall residential building with a beautiful curved façade and a mosaic look. The units of this complex are blessed with stunning views of the city. The curved design gives the apartments street frontage views with light and views of the southwest.

The building was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. According to him the structure was specifically created for this location and could not imagine it being based elsewhere. The building was completed in 2010 way behind schedule and over budget. The construction was faced with challenges such as poor ground conditions.

As the structure is located right next to the IAC Building you have the opportunity of getting amazing shots of the two buildings together. The Condominium will have a reflection of the IAC Building in the glass façade from a certain angle.

The complex is made up of 72 units consisting of 1 to 3 bedroom apartments. There are five penthouse apartments and the ground floor has spa, gym and pool facilities. There is a garden and a restaurant with a dining patio. The building is designed to take full advantage of the site.

In the area you will find many shops, galleries and restaurants which are also located within walking distance to the Highline.

The New Yorker Hotel

One of the most beautiful Art Deco buildings in Manhattan is the New Yorker Hotel, located in the Garment District of Chelsea on 8th Avenue and 34th Street. The hotel was completed in 1929 in an era where Art Deco was a very popular style of architecture. The top of the structure has the iconic “New Yorker” sign and the design of the tower itself is setback and pyramidal. In the day, the setbacks where used for structural reasons, to increase the height and not for design, but luckily it is a very neat look of some of the classic Art Deco buildings. Another great example of this design is the Empire State Building.

The New Yorker Hotel

When the hotel opened in 1930 it had 2,500 rooms and was the largest for many years in that respect. The New Yorker virtually doesn’t have any ornaments on its façade but it does consist of alternating vertical bands of grey brick and windows giving an impression of boldly modelled masses. The hotel has a deep cut courts where light and shade enhances at night.

Through the 1940s and 1950s it was among one of the hippest hotels and would be the place to be for celebrities, actors, athletes, politicians and mobsters. Big bands led by Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey played at the hotel and notable people such as Spencer Tracy, Joan Crawford and Fidel Castro were guests. Inventor Nikola Tesla spent the last ten years of his life in one of the suites in near seclusion.

Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden is a legendary venue located in Chelsea between 7th and 8th Avenue and 31st and 33st Streets next to Penn Station. It’s a multipurpose indoor venue best known for sports and music events. The current location is the fourth venue to go under the name Madison Square Garden. The first two go back to 1879 and 1890 and were based on Madison Square, hence the name, and the third was located at Madison Avenue, which carried the name from 1925 to 1968.

Four franchises that reside at Madison Square Garden. They are the hockey team the New York Rangers, the two basketball teams the New York Knicks and the New York Liberty and musician and songwriter Billy Joel who is the latest to be added to the list.

Madison Square Garden opened at its current location on 11 February 1968. It’s the most active sporting venue in the New York Metropolitan Area and the oldest arena in the National Hockey League. It is also the fourth busiest music venue in the world in terms of ticket sales.

The current venue was one of the first of its kind to be constructed above platforms of an active railroad station. The original Pennsylvania Station was demolished in 1964 which caused a public outcry as it was a beautiful Beaux-Arts building. This led to the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Madison Square Garden is located in the complex known as Penn Plaza which is also the home of Penn Station and a lot of other shops. It’s a really busy and buzzing place, especially during rush hour.

Taking a tour of Madison Square Garden is very interesting with different tours to choose from. The tours will give you an insight to the history and how the venue is operated. One night a hockey match with New York Rangers will be on and the next day it’s New York Knicks playing basketball. During basketball events, the ice is based below the court. This is one of the reasons why you can’t have dog shows  in the Garden as the dogs can sense the ice below making them uneasy. When games are played they can also be watched on a big screen on the square just outside Penn Station.

Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden is known for its many great live shows. Billy Joel has the record of playing the most shows and has sold out the most nights in a row which was 12 breaking Bruce Springsteen’s 11. At the main arena at Madison Square Garden a banner has been raised honouring this amazing record with stating “Billy Joel – 12 – Longest Run of a Single Artist”. He released the live album “12 Gardens Live” to commemorate the 12 consecutive nights he sold out in early 2006, released on 13 June 2006.

He also have the record of having played the most times in total at the venue, also noted on a banner in his honour saying “Billy Joel – the number of performance – Most Performances by a Single Artist”. The number keeps increasing so it will change.

In 2013 Billy Joel became the first ever music franchise of Madison Square Garden and is now the fourth franchise of the venue along with the sports teams. He will play one show a month as long as there is a demand. When it was announced that Billy Joel had become a franchise of Madison Square Garden, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called it a momentous occasion and said it was particularly fitting that two great icons were coming together to make entertainment history.

“Performing at Madison Square Garden is a thrilling experience. I’ve played different venues all over the world, but there’s no place like coming home to The Garden” – Billy Joel

As Billy Joel will be performing once a month you can plan your trip ahead a book a show. The dates of the shows are announced several months in advance, leaving you plenty to choose from, but bear in mind that the shows sell out fast, so make sure you reserve tickets in due time.

Billy Joel – A Son of New York

One of the many famous musicians to come out of New York is Billy Joel. He’s been the perfect ambassador for both New York City and the United States by delivering an amazing soundtrack accompanied with captivating lyrics about the daily life on Long Island, his love for New York and the many challenges the United States have faced over the times.

Several of the songs on Billy Joel’s album “Turnstiles” from 1976 is a tribute to the Big Apple. The album was written and recorded after his venture in Los Angeles on the West Coast and a lot of the songs are about returning home and about how much he loved and missed New York.

On song “New York State of Mind” a line goes “I’m taking the Greyhound on the Hudson River Line” which was exactly what he did when he got the idea for the song. He started writing the song in a notebook as he was on his way home to Highland Falls, which is a village in the southern part of New York State. As soon as he got home he went straight to the piano and finished the lyrics in about an hour. The song was written on the day he moved back from Los Angeles to New York.

“I’m takin’ a Greyhound on the Hudson River Line, I’m in a New York State of Mind” – Billy Joel

Another song from “Turnstiles” is “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” which is about Billy Joel’s feelings about leaving Los Angeles and returning back to New York. Not in a mean sarcastic way, but it was goodbye to the West Coast and a return to his native New York.

The song “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)” was written as a reaction to his issues with living on the West Coast and how he missed his hometown. New York was in a deep financial crisis in 1975 and President Gerald Ford had proclaimed in a speech that the federal government would not bail out the city from bankruptcy. Billy Joel lived in Los Angeles at the time and felt he didn’t get much sympathy from the locals as they were hoping for New York to go bust.

This really sparked Joel’s urge to return to New York. He wrote “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out On Broadway)” taking place in a future setting, imagining what New York would look like after apocalypse in the year 2017, as a reference to the challenges the city faced at the time and as a worst case scenario. It was from the view of a man who had moved to Miami after the apocalypse. The lyrics sort of resembled what happened on 9/11, a bit more than 25 years after the album was released.

The song “Summer, Highland Falls” also has a New York reference in the title but it really all about being manic depressive.

Billy Joel held the last two concerts ever at Shea Stadium before it was demolished. On 16 and 18 July “The Last Play at Shea” was staged where Joel and his band along with special guests such as Roger Daltrey and Paul McCartney played in front of 110,000 fans combined. One of the highlights was the performance of “New York State of Mind” with follow New Yorker and entertainment legend Tony Bennett.

Frank Sinatra at Madison Square Garden

Frank Sinatra did a six night run at Madison Square Garden in October of 1974. The last of the shows from 13 October 1974 was released as the album “The Main Event” the same year. The introduction to the performance was done by Howard Cosell, who was a sports journalist known for being cocky and pompous. It was announced as a boxing match as the stage setup was like a boxing-ring in the centre of the arena.

Frank Sinatra delivered a killer performance and was at the top of his game. He was known for changing the words of his songs a bit during his shows and never did the same version of a song by varying his phrasing. This is definitely no exception as he really stretches it by being loose and improvising, he makes the odd joke here and there and keeps the performance groovy. He shows and definitely afirms that he is “The Chairman of the Board”.

Sinatra fronted the band on the stage with the Woody Herman and the Thundering Young Herd in the orchestra pit beside him. The big band was conducted by Sinatra’s long time pianist Bill Miller. The recording is top notch from beginning to end with many highlights. One of the highlights is Sinatra’s monologue about growing up in Hoboken, New Jersey and his memories of New York and what the city meant to him.

Another memorable moment is the introduction to the saloon song “Angel Eyes” and the performance which is simply Sinatra’s vocals accompanied by the piano, leaving the whole crowd captivated.

The song “Autumn in New York” is, as Sinatra mentions during the intro, “the perfect time of the year, and the perfect song”. It is magnificent emotional delivery of the composition for this occasion in New York. The thunderous, at the time, newly revised version of “My Kind of Town” is  amazing and the hip version of Stevie Wonder’s “You Are The Sunshine of My Life” is phenomenal, especially with his unique phrasing and the way he bursts out the word “you”.

Several celebrities attended the show such as Robert Redford, Walter Cronkite, Buddy Rich, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Liza Minnelli among others.

Elvis Presley at Madison Square Garden

Elvis Presley was the first artist to sell out four shows in a row at Madison Square Garden. The evening show from 10 June 1972 was released as “Elvis As Recorded at Madison Square Garden” only eight days later on 18 June 1972. These shows were Elvis’ first in New York since the 1950s.

The album “Elvis As Recorded at Madison Square Garden” is an amazing concert and captures Elvis Presley at his finest and probably during his best period in the early 1970s. His backing band was absolutely awesome with James Burton on lead guitar, Jerry Scheff on bass and Ronnie Tutt on drums, Glen D. Hardin on piano and John Wilkinson on rhythm guitar, together with two fantastic groups of backing singers, the female group the Sweet Inspirations with Kathy Westmoreland and the male group J.D. Sumner & The Stamps Quartet. They were backed by the great Joe Malin Orchestra.

There are many highlights during the show. Elvis and his band both played revised versions of old classics like “That’s Alright”, “All Shook Up” and “Hound Dog”, really giving it their all. They also performed more contemporary songs like “Proud Mary”, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” and “Suspicious Minds” bringing the setup more up to date along with more traditional tunes such as “American Trilogy”. Elvis definitely proved yet again, that he was and is “The King”.

Many celebrities attended the four shows such as George Harrison, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and all the members of both Ten Year After and Led Zeppelin. Paul Stanley, later the singer and guitarist of Kiss, was a struggling musician at the time. He did not attend the show, but he was working as a cab driver and drove several people to and from the show. When he heard about the excitement from customers who attended the shows, he promised himself that he would fill up Madison Square Garden once himself. He managed to do this with Kiss in February 1977 only five months before Elvis passed away.

Midtown Manhattan

There are different definitions of the neighbourhoods of Manhattan and the demarcation is disputed as well. Therefore we will not go into an exactly definition of the borders of the neighbourhood.

Midtown Manhattan covers a big area. Some split this into smaller sections like West Midtown, East Midtown, Times Square, Murray Hill, Garment District, Gramercy, Stuyvesant Town and even Chelsea as well. In this section of the article we will concentrate on what is defined as West Midtown, East Midtown, Times Square and a couple of the sights on the border of these districts.

Many of the highlights of Manhattan are based in Midtown such was the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, the Rockefeller Center, 42nd Street, Bryant Park and the Headquarters of the United Nations.

Most of the skyscrapers of the city are located in Midtown. It is one of the largest central business districts in the world and the largest commercial, entertainment and media centre of the country.

42nd Street: Amazing Architecture

A stroll down 42nd Street is highly recommended especially if you are into architecture. 42nd Street stretches from the East River to the Hudson River and features many spectacular buildings such at Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building, one of the most beautiful of Art Deco genre.

The view of 42nd Street & the Chrysler Building from the bridge at 1st Avenue

To get a phenomenal view of 42nd Street, head down to the bridge at 1st Avenue. Looking South East you will see of the United Nations Building and looking in the opposite direction you have a view of the Chrysler Building among other great pieces of architecture.

You can get some cool photos of Grand Central Terminal against the Metlife Building in the background and also some abstract pictures of the Chrysler Building against the other buildings.

The News Building

Another noticeable Art Deco building on 42nd Street is the News Building on 2nd Avenue which is recognised for its originality in design and influence on later work. It’s worth a visit inside to have a look at the lobby as well.

The Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building, situated on Lexington Avenue, is 319 metres tall (1,046 ft) and ties with the New York Times Building as the fourth tallest of the city. A visit inside the lobby is highly recommended. An interesting feature is the usage of car fenders as a part of the interior design. Parts of Chrysler cars are also used on the façade of the building on the crown ornaments.

The Chrysler Building is probably the most beautiful building in New York City. It is Art Deco at its very best. It is quite difficult getting a decent shot of this magnificent structure, especially the closer you get. Still you have to have look of the building up close, but it is better to view the Chrysler Building from a distance from many different parts of town. If you are on 42nd Street you can get some abstract pictures of the Chrysler Building against the other buildings. It’s difficult to get a proper shot of the building. You have to turn the camera to alternative angles to get photos without any obstructions such as lampposts, traffic signals and so on.

The Chanin Building

The Chanin Building, located on 122 East 42nd Street on the corner of Lexington Avenue, is also an example of great Art Deco architecture. A visit inside the lobby is worth while. The interior is quite interesting due to different Art Deco metal panels and grilles. The mailboxes and doors of the lifts are decorated in the same style.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Station or officially known at Grand Central Terminal is a railroad terminal located on 42nd Street and Park Avenue. It’s the largest of its kind in the world, a beautiful historic building and is associated with interesting history.

Exploring Grand Central Terminal and its interior is an absolute must while you are in Manhattan.

The interior of the terminal building is absolutely stunning. It has two levels – one is the main concourse which is simply beautiful. The whole terminal has a great buzz to it with all the people commuting through, having lunch at one of the eateries or even grocery shopping.

When you enter the main hall of the terminal you will feel the amazing atmosphere of the place being the busy central station of New York City where loads pass through when commuting. Observe the wonderful decorated ceiling, which was designed by French oil painter Paul César Helleu.

Notice all the art work and the fantastic contrast of the turquoise colour of the ceiling. Note the small arch windows in the top of roof and the three big arch windows at the end of the hall, all bringing in great natural lighting. At both ends there are balconies on which you can stand and have a prefect view of the hall. A truly beautiful piece of architecture.

All of Grand Central Terminal is very consistent in its style of architecture and interior design. The terminal is very well sign posted making it easy to find the tracks for the relevant train you may want to take. Signs are posted indicating to which streets or avenues the different passages lead such as 42nd Street or Lexington Avenue.

A dining concourse is located on the lower level where there are plenty of opportunities for having a meal. The passage leading down to this area is marvellous feature in itself as it slopes down till the food court area with a bridge crossing it, and then it goes upwards again. When you walk down this passage, look up again. Notice the art work, the glass windows in the top roof and the chandeliers but also the turquoise ceiling of the main hall which can also be seen here. Really beautiful with a many interesting details.

The Vanderbilt Hall is a highlight along with the different passages such as Lexington Passages. Just around the corner from here you will find the Grand Central Market. Here you will find all sorts of food retailers such as representatives of the Farm to Table concept. The quality is top notch.

Check out some of the entrances to the train tracks as well. It’s so fascinating to see how they are designed. Again with consistent sign posting and great art work engraved in the walls.

Yet another interesting spot is what is known at the Whispering Gallery. This is located in the walkway below the main concourse on the lower level just outside the Oyster Bar. Make one of your mates stand facing the corner on one side then go to the opposite corner, face the wall and whisper. Due to the acoustics the voice will be carried across perfectly. You will probably notice that a lot of people are doing just this.

Grand Central Terminal: History

The Grand Central Terminal was opened in 1913. It is the third station to occupy the site though. Businessman and one of the richest Americans in history, Cornelius Vanderbilt, was responsible for building the Grand Central Depot back in 1871. The railroads quickly outgrew the building so it was demolished in 1899 and a new one was built with was named Grand Central Station. But a few years later in 1903 the project for the current building was initiated and was opened ten years later.

Grand Central Terminal has been used in a lot of movies over the years. The first one ever to be shot there was Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest”.

The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library Main Branch is located on 42nd Street at 5th Avenue is a beautiful historic building. With nearly 53 million items and 92 locations it’s the second largest public library in the United States and third in the world.

The library is a private and an independently managed non-profit organisation. It receives both private and public funding but is non-governmental.

The Main Branch was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and is the flagship building of the New York Library. The marble of the building is around 90 cm (3 ft) thick and the structure was constructed with Vermont marble and brick.

The interior has four accessible floors. Each floor is stunning in their own right. The grand Astor Hall with its stone interior and magnificent arches. The Rose Main Reading Room with its impressive Renaissance architectural style and nearly as large as the Grand Central Terminal’s Main Concourse.

Bryant Park

Bryant Park is located between 5th and 6th Avenues and between 40th and 42nd Streets right next to the New York Public Library. It’s a small public park that serves as a little breathing space in the city in the middle of towering skyscrapers giving you a great view of the Midtown skyline. Some of the most notable buildings are the Empire State Building, the American Radiator Building and the more recently completed Bank of America Building.

Even though Bryant Park is a part of the New York City Department of Parks it is privately managed by a non-profit organisation called Bryant Park Corporation and has been noted for its successful private-public partnership.

The spot where present day Bryant Park is located was already designated a public space back in 1686, when it was a wilderness area, by colonial governor Thomas Dongan. The first park opened on the site in 1847 as Reservoir Square and was renamed Bryant Park in 1884 in honour of William Cullen Bryant who was the editor for the New York Post.

The park suffered from neglect by the 1930s, but the park was redesigned during 1933 and 1934 in connection with Great Depression public works. A new lawn was added along with hedges and later an iron fence.

During the 1970s the park deteriorated again and became known for having drug dealers, prostitutes and homeless people. From 1979 to 1983 a park advocacy group called Parks Council organised books and flower markets, cafés, landscape improvements and entertainment which brought new life to the park. This positive involvement continued over the years with the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation, founded in 1980, which included prominent New Yorkers such as members of the Rockefeller family.

The Bryant Park Restoration Corporation initiated a restoration and redesign of the park in 1988 which was privately funded. They wanted to enhance the French garden design, make the park more visible from the street, improve and restore paths, monuments and toilet, and build restaurant pavilions and four concession kiosks.

By 1992 the park was reopened to rave reviews and have become a great example of city’s revival in the 1990s. The Bryant Park Restoration Corporation was renamed the Bryant Park Corporation in 2009.

The Bryant Park Corporation was initially funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Now it’s funded by assessments on businesses and property adjacent to the park and by revenue generated on events in the park. Even though it’s a public park it receives no government funding.

The park is one of the most densely populated urban parks in the world, filled with office workers, locals and tourists.

Bryant Park is such an awesome spot in the middle of Midtown Manhattan. If you are out exploring the town this is just a perfect place to have a chill right next to the amazing 42nd Street. Chairs are available where you can sit and have a look at the lawn and the surrounding walls of skyscrapers.

You can head down to the seating area where tables are available. Here locals playing chess against each other. You will notice that people just turn up for these games if they are in area. The people playing against each other don’t necessarily know each other. Such a cool vibe.

W.R. Grace Building

An interesting structure that stands out on 42nd Street is the W.R. Grace Building. The curvy slope façade at the bottom is quite notable which is a bit similar to the Chase Tower building in Chicago.

The building is located 42 nd Street between 5 th and 6 th Avenue facing Bryant Park. The building is 192 metres (630 ft) tall, has a floor count of 50 and was completed in 1974.

The New York Times Building

Just around the corner on 8th Avenue between 42nd and 41st Street the New York Times Building is located. This skyscraper was completed in 2007, is 319 metres tall (1,049 ft) and as mentioned earlier it ties with the Chrysler Building as the fourth tallest building of New York City. An interesting aspect is that it is a so-called green structure being very efficient on the usage of energy such as maximising the amount of natural light, furthermore on the floors occupied by the New York Times Company, a raised floor system is used which increases the air flow and therefore decreases the usage of air-condition.

B.B. King Blues Club & Grill

A bit further to the west on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue you will find the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill which is a great place to hang out both for a nice meal, a drink or a great show. One part of the club is the Grill called Lucille’s where you can enjoy lunch or dinner and during the latter there may just be a show on by a local band. Lucille’s Grill has got a great vibe to it being a mahogany framed bar with really cosy lighting. The food here is excellent as well. This restaurant area was appropriately named after B.B. King’s guitar which also really sets you in for a good mood.

If you go to the main venue, the blues club itself, there quite often will be shows by major artists. So if you are in town or are planning to go you could check if one of your favourite artist is playing. You can pre-book or you there is a ticket counter where you can purchase tickets. At the entrance to the club there’s a little merchandise stand which is quite cool where you can get the club’s t-shirts, accessories and other merchandise.

Mind you that this club has a different owner to all the other B.B. King’s Blues Clubs around the country like in Memphis and Nashville which have a slightly different more laid back concept. Note that the New York club has a slightly different name and the logo is different too. Unlike the other clubs around the country this one is split into the two sections and is a bit more up-scale and fine dining without being all fancy pants.

Yellow Matter Custard at B.B. King Blues Club

Some great live recordings have been made here such as The Beatles cover band Yellow Matter Custard who recorded two live shows at the club. The first was on 18 May 2003 and the second was on 28 February 2011 and both were double CD/DVDs of amazing material. A lot of the lesser known Beatles songs were played and on the second record there wasn’t one single repeat from the first show. The band consists of Mike Portnoy (Winery Dogs, Flying Colors, Transatlantic, Dream Theater), Neal Morse (Transatlantic, Flying Colors, Spock’s Beard), Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big, Racer X), Kasim Sulton (Utopia, Blue Oyster Cult) on the second show and Matt Bissonette (David Lee Roth, Joe Satriani) on the first show.

Times Square

Times Square is right in the heart of Manhattan and is based right in the junction between Broadway and 7th Avenue – stretching from 42nd to 47th Street. This is a very happening area both during the day and night. All sorts of people will be displaying their art, some will try selling you stuff and some will be performing. At night it can be very busy, but the area has such a great buzz to it…the people, the great billboards and displays on the surrounding buildings. There are plenty of interesting shops around and if you are into surf wear there is both a Quiksilver and a Billabong store in the area.

The Headquarters of the United Nations

At the very eastern end of 42nd Street at 1st Avenue the Headquarters of United Nations are situated (from 42nd to 48th Street). It is possible to enter the General Assembly building. This is next to the skyscraper known to most people which is the Secretariat building that houses administrative staff. Doing a tour of the General Assembly and surrounding buildings is interesting. The entrance is at 47th Street at the North Lawn Building where you have to go through security. The tour will contain the history behind the organisation, how peace, security and human rights are addressed and includes visits to the Security Council Chamber and the before mentioned General Assembly.

The Bank of America Tower

Located at 6th Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets is a recent addition to the skyline just opposite Bryant Park. It is 366 metres (1,200 ft) tall, as 55 storeys and was completed in 2009. It is the 4th tallest building in New York City and the 6th tallest in North America. It was designed to be environmentally friendly and sustainable. Technology has been used such as floor to ceiling insulated glazing to contain heat and maximise light. The tower also has a system that captures rainwater for reuse. 87% of the tower was erected using recycled material.

The tower is sheared in to two halves that have increased the verticality of its proportions and the surface areas exposed to daylight. It’s got an amazing oblique design which really makes it stand out in the Midtown skyline. With its folded façade the building changes with the sun and sky.

The American Radiator Building

A really interesting sight in Midtown Manhattan is the American Radiator Building. The structure is located at 40 West 40th Street between 5th and 6th Streets facing Bryant Park. You can get a great view of it from the amazing Bryant Park together with the Empire State Building.

The American Radiator Building & The Empire State Building looking through Bryant Park from 42nd Street

The architect was given the special task to create a building which looked like a fire. It really stands out in the Midtown skyline as it a completely black skyscraper with gold coated friezes at the top and at the bottom as well. The building has 23 storeys, is about 103 metres (337 ft) tall and was completed in 1924. The architectural style is Art Deco with it decorative elements and the classic setbacks with gives the structure such as beautiful look. Furthermore it’s got Gothic characteristics as well such as the pinnacle shaped design on top of the building.

The Empire State Building

In Midtown Manhattan one of the most famous New York landmarks is located. On the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street you will find the Empire State Building. This 103 story building, which is 443 metres tall (1,454 ft) including the antenna, was the tallest building in the world from 1931 to 1970. The architectural style is Art Deco and it is definitely one of the most beautiful and classic skyscraper of New York and North America. On the 86th and the 102th floor the observation decks are located which will give you amazing views of the city. Getting up here can be a bit of a hassle and take some time but it is definitely worth the wait and an absolute must.

Heartland Brewery

On the ground floor of the Empire State Building there is a fantasic brewpub and restaurant called Heartland. They serve great food and locally brewed craft beer. The amber ale called Red Rooster Ale is really good and their IPA called Indiana Pale Ale is highly recommended if you’re into hoppy beers.

Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building is based at 175 5th Avenue and is an awesome triangular landmark building. The structure was built in 1902, is 93.6 metres (307 ft) tall and has 22 storeys.  It was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham who have to give the building its distinctive shaped to fit the property location at the intersection of Broadway and 5th Avenue. The property had been known as the “flat iron” as in the household appliance and it’s said that is where the name Flatiron came from.

The Flatiron Building

The unique look of the building has definitely made it a symbol of New York City. The building was considered a ground breaking skyscraper upon its completion. The architectural style of the steel-framed terracotta and stone clad structure is a combination of French and Italian Renaissance.

At the time of its completion it would not be the tallest building in town. The Park Row Building completed in 1899 held that spot, but it would be one of the most unusual structures and most skyscrapers will be massive block based towers

Fun fact…When the building opened, it suddenly became apparent that the designers of the structure had forgotten to include ladies’ restrooms. Therefore the building management had to designate washrooms for man and women on alternating floors.

MetLife Building

59 storeys at 200 Park Avenue at East 45th Street…street walking towards it and Grand Central Terminal…

The Rockefeller Center

Another major sight is the Rockefeller Center which absolutely awesome.

The Rockefeller Center consists of 19 several buildings and is located on Midtown Manhattan between 5th and 6th Avenue. Most of the buildings are of great classic architecture like the GE Building which is an Art Deco style skyscraper serving as the centrepiece of the complex. The three buildings on 6 th Avenue which have been dubbed the XYZ Buildings are categorised as Modernism…split up between the different buildings…

The XYZ Buildings of the Rockefeller Center on 6th Avenue

A guided tour of The Rockefeller Center is interesting as well. On a tour here you get an insight to the history of the center, J.D. Rockefeller and his son’s involvement in the creation of the complex, the interior design and the architecture.

Top of the Rock

Going to the Top of the Rock to view the Manhattan Skyline is absolutely amazing. This observation deck is not as busy as the ones at the Empire State Building and in a way it is actually a greater experience. In comparison, it is less of a hassle getting up there. It’s faster, there are less people and there is less security. You get to the very top of the building where there are three levels, and at the very top there is no glass partition or fence. Therefore, if you like taking photos there will be great opportunities for that up here as you will have no obstructions. You will have a perfect view of the Empire State Building and Central Park.

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall is also a part of the Rockefeller Center. A tour here is a great option which offers an insight to the history behind this venue of entertainment. Among other things you will see the Grand Foyer and if you are lucky you can have a peak into the Auditorium which is really stunning. Furthermore you will get to meet one of the ladies from the Rockettes which is a dance company performing at the venue. She will answer questions from the group and individual pictures can be taken with her.

Historic Recordings at the Radio City Music Hall

Several great concerts have been recorded at the venue over the years as well such as the “All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson” on 29 March 2001 which featured legendary artists such as Billy Joel, David Crosby, Paul Simon, Elton John, Jimmy Webb, Carly Simon, Heart and others. Also prog metal/rock band Dream Theater recorded their final show of their 20th anniversary tour here on 1 April 2006 which was released under the title “Score”.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Opposite the Rockefeller Center on 5th Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets

Lipstick Building

The Lipstick Building is a skyscraper that really stands out in the skyline. When you see the building you will know how it got its name. It clearly has the shape and the colour of a tube of lipstick. It is located at 885 3rd Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets. It is 138 metres (453 ft) tall and was completed in 1986. 34 floors. Three sections of the structure are setback which is due to regulations of the area where you have to allow a certain availability of light into the area.

The Lipstick Building

The unusual shape of the structure allows for additional pedestrian traffic at its base. Here you will also see the massive columns supporting the building which are nine metres (30 ft) tall which is the equivalent of 2 storeys. You will be able to get some great shots of the columns and the skyscraper if you stand right below it.

The Hearst Tower

Going further north, also in Midtown Manhattan. An interesting piece of architecture not too far from the Columbus Cirle and Central Park is the Hearst Tower located at 300 West 57th Street. This is an office building of the Hearst Corporation. Actually an interesting story about this building, the bottom part which is the cast stone façade has been preserved as a landmark site and it was supposed to be a skyscraper when the construction began back in 1928 but the project was stopped due to the great depression. The new glass tower on top of this structure was completed in 2006. The building is 182 metres tall (597 ft) and the architectural style is categorised as Structural Expressionism. This style became apparent in the 1970s and another great example of this style of architecture is the John Hancock Center in Chicago.

Carnegie Hall

Tchaikovsky inaugurated the concert hall in 1891 which is the oldest in town. The acoustics are said to be fantastic and has attracted some amazing artists over the years like Toscanini, Herbert von Karajan, Billy Joel, The Beatles and Bill Haley.

Time Warner Center

At 10 Columbus Cirle right at the bottom western corner of Central Park you will find the amazing twin towers known as the Time Warner Center which was completed in 2003. Both towers are 229 metres (750 ft) tall, have 55 storeys and the whole structure has 77 levels in total. The complex consists of office space, an upscale shopping centre, residential condominiums and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

The Upper West Side

The Upper West Side is mainly a wealthy residential neighbourhood with residents working in commercial areas such as Midtown and Lower Manhattan.

The boundaries are the Hudson River to the east, Central Park to the west, West 110th Street to the north and West 59th Street to the south.

The neighbourhood experienced a building boom from 1885 to 1910 due to the establishment of the first subway line of the city in 1904. This stimulated the further residential development of the area. The tall apartment blocks 11th Avenue and townhouses between Riverside Drive and 10th Avenue were all built prior to the Great Depression and really contribute to the character of the neighbourhood.

New great development in building techniques, low land costs in comparison to Lower Manhattan and the arrival of the new subway made it possible construct big apartment blocks for the middle class. The large scale and style of the buildings is one of the reasons why the neighbourhood has remained the same into the 21st century.

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

The Lincoln Center was the first cultural centre in the United States built on the initiative of J.D. Rockefeller and was completed in 1966.

The complex consists of seven buildings dedicated to music and theatre. There are 12 concert halls which can accommodate 12,000 people in total. There are the Metropolitan Opera with Chagall painting in the foyer, the David Geffen Hall, the David H. Koch Theater and so on.

The Dakota Building

On 1 West 72nd Street facing Central Park you will find the amazing building, the Dakota. This is one of the most mysterious exclusive residences of Manhattan.

The architecture is a blend of German Gothic, French Renaissance and English Victorian styles with gables, dormers, balconies, turrets, ornate stone and ironwork trim all elements giving the Dakota its classic look.

The Dakota Building

The Dakota Building was constructed from 1880 to 1884, commissioned by Edward Clark, the director of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. It’s the first complex in town with luxury apartments and was designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh. When it was being built it was situated far away from the residential areas of the city where many wealthy people owned townhouses.

The legend has it that the building got the name “Dakota” as it was located remoted from the city as far away as the Dakotas, referring to the Dakota Territory which at the time had not yet been admitted into the Union. That was not the case though. The name was due to Clark’s love for the Dakotas.

Clark thought that many wealthy people would want to live in multiple-dwelling structures as if offered appealing economic advantages such as reduced domestic staff, greater security and shared amenities like central heating and a concierge service. Furthermore it has an inner garden with a croquet and tennis court. Each of the 65 apartments are unique, have grand high ceilings with stunning views and rich adornments.

The building had no vacancies for the first 45 years it was opened which is quite an achievement.

Some fun facts…The building has no fire escapes. Hardenbergh used mud from the neighbouring Central Park between the layers of the bricks in the floor construction to both fireproof and soundproof in the units…The tenants are not allowed to throw away original doors or fireplace mantels. If they want to get rid of these there’s a storage room for that…Look atop the building entrance and you may spot a Dakota Indian keeping watch.

It’s a co-op building and the board are said to be very strict on who they allow to move in. They don’t shy on rejecting rich and famous people they don’t see fit for the building. Celebs like Billy Joel, Gene Simmons, Cher, Madonna, Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas have been rejected. As a part of an application to move in you have to pay a fee of more than 1,000 USD. Then you have to submit several years of financial statements, tax returns and go through a background check. After all this you may still be denied.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky is said to have lived at the Dakota even though he died in 1893, so he must have been a resident before the building was completed. The Steinway Family, known for Steinway Pianos, were among the first residents and the units were sold out before its completion thanks to a very positive review in the New York Times. Other famous residents over the years have been Lauren Bacall, Rosemary Clooney, Leonard Bernstein and John Lennon.

Leonard Bernstein’s old apartment was the most expensive when it was sold. It was listed at 25.5 million USD and was sold for a staggering 21 million USD. It was located on the second floor, was a four bedroom unit with four bathrooms, a library, a formal dining room, a wood fireplace, a kitchen and breakfast area with an amazing view of Central Park.

The Dakota Building: The Film Location of “Rosemary’s Baby”

The Dakota Building was used on the set of the classic horror movie “Rosemary’s Baby” directed by Roman Polanski from 1968. It was used as the location for the imaginary Bramford Building. Polanski didn’t think the hallways of the building were dark and worn enough for what he was searching for. The owners of the building wouldn’t allow interior filming anyway so it was only used for exterior shots such as a panoramic aerial view of the in the beginning of the movie and filming at the entrance with Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes.

The author Ira Levin had the Alwyn Court Apartments in mind for the Bramford when writing the story. This is a French Renaissance style building decorated with comprehensive terracotta ornaments, located at 180 West 58th Street, completed in 1909.

The Dakota Building: The Life and the Murder of John Lennon

Lennon lived here from 1973 till 1980

John Lennon was murdered just outside the entrance of this building on 8 December 1980. Just opposite the building in Central Park you will find Strawberry Fields dedicated to him where there is a memorial mosaic on the ground with the caption “Imagine”. If you are a fan of The Beatles and John Lennon both sights are absolute musts to visit.

The entrance to the Dakota Building. The exact spot where John Lennon was murdered in 1980

You will most likely see tourists and John Lennon fans at the gate entrance and around the building. You cannot get beyond the point of the guard who is based at the gate. This is the very spot what John Lennon was murdered.

The San Remo

Located at 145 Central Park West between West 74th Street and 75th Street you will find the stunning San Remo Twin Towers. This co-op apartment building opened in 1930 and is located at an amazing spot overlooking Central Park. The complex is known to have a more lenient admission standard in comparing to some of the other the other side of the park but also on this side where you have the strict board of the Dakota.

Architect Emery Roth took advantage of new zoning rules in New York which allowed the construction of twin towered apartment blocks. At the 18th floor the building splits in to the towers and each tower has 10 storeys, topped with a Renaissance style Corinthian temples crowned copper lanterns which are 6.7 metres tall (22 ft). The construction began in 1929 just a week prior to the market crash that initiated the Great Depression.

The view of the Upper West Side with the San Remo Twin Towers from Central Park

The twin tower design was innovative at the time and was an influence on other structure such as the Majestic, the Eldorado and recently the Time Warner Center.

The average apartment contains eight rooms over approximately 280 square metres (3,000 square ft). The lower 14 floors have typically been divided into seven units. Two on each side of the street wings and three fronting Central Park. There are a several setbacks on each wing of the building allowing for terraces.

All units in the north tower contain one level of about 230 square metres (2,500 square ft), are generally two bedroom apartment with all public rooms facing park. The floors in the south tower are slightly bigger and two storey units of around 540 square metres (5,800 square ft). The towers also have a series of setbacks allowing for terraces.

The view of the Upper West Side and the San Remo twin towers as seen from Central Park

The San Remo was converted in to a co-op in the 1970s and it is one of the most desirable and expensive and expensive apartment buildings in Manhattan. Tiger Woods purchased his unit in 2008 for 28 million USD. Demi Moore owns the last remaining two storey unit at the very top of the south tower. It has multiple terraces, a 360 degree view from all floors and is more than 650 square metres (7,000 square ft) big. As of May 2015 Moore was trying to sell it at an asking price of 75 million USD.

Several celebs have resided at the San Remo such as Stephen Sondheim, Steve Spielberg, Glenn Close, Tiger Woods, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Martin, Demi Moore, Bruce Willis and Rita Hayworth spent her last years in the complex as well. In 1985 Madonna applied to buy and apartment but was rejected by the board.

Central Park

Central Park definitely has to be visited when you’re in town. The design of the park was based on Birkenhead Park of the town of Birkenhead in Merseyside, England. One of the architects of Central Park, Frederick Olmsted, was very impressed by the Birkenhead Park upon a visit to the town in 1850. Central Park was established in 1857 and in 1858 it was decided to improve the park. The park was completed and expanded to its current size in 1873. It is the most visited urban park in the United States. The park was created on land that consisted of quarries, pig farms, swampland and shacks.

The Bethesda Fountain with the Angel of the Waters statue in Central Park

You will see hills, lakes and meadows throughout the bedrock. Furthermore there are playgrounds, skating rinks, ball fields and areas for other activities such as chess, croquet to concerts and other events.

Several roads lead through the park, known as transverse roads. On weekends no cars are allowed which makes more space for bicyclists, skaters and joggers.

There are several highlights of the park. The before mentioned Strawberry Fields being one of them, but also the Hans Christian Andersen Statue which is based at 74th Street near 5th Avenue. The Sculpture is of Andersen seated with an open book while what one must assume is a duckling is looking at him. Alice in Wonderland…the lawn…the reservoir…

Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park

During summer the park is several degrees cooler than the surrounding streets making it a preferred retreat during very hot days.

Footpaths, bridges, arches link the park….

A walk around the lake is also a great experience as you, depending on the direction in which you are walking, will have great views of the lake itself, but also skyline of the Upper West Side with the San Remo Twin Towers and Upper East Side in the other direction (more specific)…

Walking from Harlem all the way through Central Park…

The Upper East Side

The Upper East Side is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods of New York City.

The neighbourhood is bounded by 5th Avenue to the west, the East River to the east, 96th Street to the North and 59th Street to the south.

In the 19th century, present day Upper East Side was still farmland and the Boston Post Road went through the district and from 1837 so did the New York and Harlem Railroad. To the north the land sloped steeply to the wetlands that separated this suburban from the village of Harlem.

In 1878, the Third Avenue El opened and the Second Avenue El the following year. The “El” stands for elevated railway. This made it easy for the middle class of the Upper East Side to get to the city centre of Manhattan. The elevated railways was closed and demolished by 1955 and made room for apartment blocks and the gridded streets. The subway line, dating back to 1904, was not the only train line which made the housing rates increase.

Several famous people have resided on the Upper East Side such as Andrew Carnegie, the Rockefellers, Roosevelts and member of the political Kennedy dynasty and Woody Allen is still a resident. The Marx Brothers’ childhood home is also located in the area which is awesome.

The Guggenheim Museum

Right next to Central Park on the Upper East Side at the corner of 5th Avenue and 89th Street the Guggenheim Museum is located. This is worth a visit for several reasons. The building itself is very interesting and stands out. It was designed by famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and is categorised as modernist architecture. The building is striking viewed from the outside with its conically shaped cylindrical structure and on the inside there’s a continuous ramp design from the ground floor to the top floor. Furthermore you will most likely find various interesting exhibitions.

The Marx Brothers’ Childhood Home

Also on the Upper East Side, the Marx Brothers’ childhood home is situated. It’s on 179 East 93rd Street and has clearly been restored since the day they lived there. There is no plaque on the building determining the historical significance, but in a way that is also pretty cool because then it’s little hidden gem for Marx Brothers fans

Harlem

Harlem is a neighbourhood in the northern part of Manhattan, known as Upper Manhattan also referred to Uptown by the locals. Originally is was a Dutch village established in 1658 named after the Dutch city of Haarlem.

The boundaries are Hudson River to the west, the East River to the east, 155th Street in the north and an uneven border in the south along 125th Street, down Broadway to 10th Avenue, around the western curve of Morningside Park down to 110th Street.

Before the European settlers arrived present day Harlem were occupied by semi-nomadic native tribes such as the Manhattans and most likely also the Lenape. The flatlands of what is now Harlem was farmed by the Dutch between 1637 and 1639 and settlements were established. During the American Revolution the British burned the area to the ground. Harlem was rebuilt slower that the rest of Manhattan but went through an economic boom after the Civil War starting in 1868.

During the early 20th century a great migration of black people took place from the south to the north as many wanted to get away from the racial segregation of the south. They wanted to find better jobs and escape a culture of lynching. The industries of the north provided jobs for black labourers. In 1910 the black population of Harlem was 10% and by 1930 it had reached 70%. However during the Great Depression in the 1930s a lot people of Harlem became unemployed.

In the 1920s and 1930s the Harlem Renaissance took place which was a period of great artistic work within theatre and music. Between 6th and 7th Avenue there were 25 entertainment venues, bars, cafés, clubs and so on. 133 rd Street was known as “Swing Street” known for its cabarets, jazz clubs and speakeasies during the prohibition and was also called “Jungle Alley” due to is inter-racial interaction in the streets. Some jazz venues like the Cotton Club where Duke Ellington played was restricted to whites only. Others were integrated such as the Savoy Ballroom.

Harlem has ever since the 1930s been known as a black neighbourhood but since gentrification and economic grown of the late 20th century the population has increased but the amount of blacks have decreased. By 2010 the black people was 54% of the population and the white population was nearly 10%

Cruise Around Manhattan Island

Taking a three hour cruise around Manhattan Island is an option and a great experience. You will get to see the Manhattan Skyline from all sorts of angles, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Roosevelt Island and the Brooklyn, Manhattan and George Washington Bridges up close and so on. There are several options but if you take the three hour cruise it will take you all around the island.

Brooklyn

Brooklyn has had a bad reputation previously but it is really safe in general. Use your common sense, which is a good piece of advice no matter where you a travelling in that respect. Crime rates have dropped in recent years due to the bigger police presence in the bad neighbourhoods. Also a lot of places are opened around the clock so there will always be people around and you will rarely see dark and empty streets.

The Brooklyn Bridge

One of the coolest things and activities you can do in New York City is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Not only is it a very nice hike, there is also an awesome buzz on the bridge with people walking or running, you will have the amazing construction and architecture of the bridge at first hand you can check out both the Manhattan Skyline changing as you progress, the harbour, the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Skyline.

Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn Heights is a really nice neighbourhood in Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Heights Promenade

While you’re in Brooklyn Heights you definitely have to pay the Brooklyn Heights Promenade a visit. From here you will have awesome views of the Lower Manhattan Skyline and you will also be able to see the Statue of Liberty. It’s a 557 metre (1,836 ft) long platform and pedestrian walkway located about the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. The promenade was created as a by-product of different proposals for highway routes during World War II. It was constructed after the war.

You could enter the promenade from Montague Street. Walk south towards the end, which is not far, and check out the view. Then turn around and stroll all the way down towards the other end where it will take a curve through the Fruit Street Sitting Area and terminate at the street called Columbia Heights. Take your time walking down the promenade and experience the cool atmosphere. You will have killer views of Lower Manhattan. Take it all in and take some great photos.

From Columbia Heights you can continue north on this street to the Squibb Park Bridge which will take you to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Dumbo

The name of the neighbourhood Dumbo is an acronym and not a portmanteau like Tribeca and Soho.  The name stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”.

Dumbo has become one of the trendiest neighbourhoods of Brooklyn. It contains a lot of art studios, technology companies and up-scale apartments and what naturally comes with that are fancy bakeries, independent bookstores and designer boutiques.

If you are staying Manhattan it is easy to get to Dumbo. You can either take the awesome walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and you will arrive in Dumbo when you enter the Brooklyn side. Again, as you see often in the New York, the boundaries between the neighbourhoods are not official, so the border between Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights to the west is disputed. That being said, you will definitely arrive in Dumbo. The neighbourhood is approximately based between the Brooklyn Bridge to the west, Bridge Street to the east and east and by the East River to the north and York Street to the south. It split into two sections, one between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and one between the Manhattan Bridge and Bridge Street.

If you don’t feel like doing the hike you’ve done it before you can also take the subway. Take the F train and get off at York Street which is located just outside the neighbourhood at the Manhattan Bridge. Walk down Jay Street towards the East River and you will be in Dumbo is no time.

It’s a small neighbourhood and nice to have a stroll around to check the architecture and the streets with a big portion of it being paved with Belgian blocks. You can get some awesome shots of the streets with the Empire State Building framed by the Manhattan Bridge from Washington Street and of the Brooklyn Bridge from Plymouth Street.

Walking under the bridge to Dumbo….

Williamsburg

Are you up for checking out an alternative part of town? Then you have to pay Williamsburg a visit. It’s really reminiscent of the awesome neighbourhood Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco with its off beat vibe. You will see many different kind of people in Williamsburg wearing all sorts of different outfits. If you are walking down the street of chilling at a bar facing Bedford Avenue, it is just perfect for people watching.

If you are staying in Manhattan you can take the subway from Downtown Manhattan to Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. The L Train.

Trendy…it’s packed with boutiques, vintage stores, restaurants and bars…vendors on the street…

The main street of Williamsburg is Bedford Avenue and this is the most happening area…North 7 St and Bedford Ave

Greenpoint

Greenpoint is the northernmost neighbourhood in Brooklyn. It is bordered by the East River to the west, the Newtown Creek to the north and Williamsburg and East Williamsburg to the south.

Jackson Heights

If you want to check a really awesome neighbourhood in Queens you have to go to Jackson Heights. This very multicultural area with a lot of influence from Latin America. You can walk around here and only hear Spanish and no English at all, unless you speak to people in English and they answer back. To get here you could take the subway to Roosevelt Av-Jackson Heights Station and walk from here. This station is located in the very south west corner of the neighbourhood.

Have a stroll down Roosevelt Avenue (?) and check out all the different shops. This is a very busy area and you will most likely find something that takes your fancy. Have a walk down to 37th Avenue (?) where you will also be find some cool restaurants as well where you can have lunch or dinner.  If you continue further up north in the neighbourhood you get to a residential area where you will great views of amazing houses and great architecture.

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