New York City is one of the most exciting metropolitan centers in the United States. It is comprised of over 8.3 million people from every culture in the world. Being a leading global city, New York is considered a hub in commerce, finance, fashion, culture and entertainment. If you plan on visiting New York City, it would be impossible to fit in everything on a week or even month-long vacation. However, there are some highlights that you can’t miss. Below are five of my favorite sight-seeing spots.
The Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island: Technically, not a part of New York City, Liberty Island is actually a part of New Jersey, but don’t tell a native New Yorker. The island sits out in New York harbor and is the home to one of the most famous statues in the world – the Stature of Liberty. This was a gift from the people of France to celebrate the US Centennial, even though we received the statue in 1886. It is 151 feet tall and covered in sheeted copper. Up until people started trans-Atlantic flights, the Statue of Liberty was often the first sight people saw when coming to the United States before they came into Ellis Island. This is the next stop on the journey if you take the Statue of Liberty ferry. I found the tour of Ellis Island very interesting. Found at the mouth of the Hudson River, Ellis Island was the main facility for immigrants coming into the United States from Europe. Through these gates, more than 12 million immigrants were tested for diseases and processed into the United States. It was the final stop on the long journey to prosperity and freedom.
Times Square: Could it be that there is someone in the United States has not heard of the famous Times Square? Songs have been written about this famous intersection of at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. The Times Square area consists of the blocks between Sixth and Eighth Avenues from east to west, and West 40th and West 53rd Streets from south to north, making up the western part of the commercial area of Midtown Manhattan. One of the most memorable things about Times Square is the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop that has been going on since 1907. The annual event brings millions of people from around the world and is currently hosted by Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: There are so many museums in NYC to choose from, but the one that stands out the most has to be this one. Known as “The Met” to its patrons, it can be found on the east side of Central Park, along what is known as the “Museum Mile”. The Met holds one of the largest collections of art dating back to ancient times and offers modern collections, as well. The Met was founded in 1870 and as of 2007 occupied more than 2 million square feet of space! One of my favorite sections in the Met is the “arms and armor gallery”. This collection holds more than 15,000 medieval pieces from England, France, Persia, Rome, Egypt, and Ancient Greece. The Met could occupy a month of your time, just on its own. It is, by far, a place not to miss.
The Empire State Building Observation Deck: This 102 story building resides at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street and is named after the state of New York’s nickname. After its completion in 1931, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world for over 40 years until the World Trade Center’s north building topped it in 1972. The original design included a dirigible dock on the top of the building and an observation deck in which to see all of New York City. This observation deck has appeared in several films, such as: An Affair to Remember, Love Affair, and most recently, Sleepless in Seattle. (1938’s King Kong represented the whole building.) Over the years, more than thirty people have committed suicide by jumping off the observation deck. In 1947, a fence was put up to stop people from jumping or throwing items off the top of the building after five people had jumped in a three week span. More remarkably is the tale of Elvita Adams who leapt to her anticipated doom from the 86th floor in 1979, only to be blown by a gust of wind back onto the 85th floor. She lived and only suffered a broken hip. There is no news on what she is doing today, but someone didn’t want her to die.
Rockefeller Center: When I think of Rockefeller Center, I think of Christmas-time and the giant Christmas tree with ice skaters and people going with packages. Rockefeller Center is much more than that, though. It is comprised of 19 buildings that cover 22 acres of land in downtown Manhattan between 48th and 51st Streets. It was built by the Rockefeller family starting in 1930. Originally, the plan was to have an opera house on the land, once owned by Columbia University, but the stock market crash of 1929 forced the withdrawal of the Met from the project. Today, some of the most important buildings in New York City reside at Rockefeller Center. Here you can find the GE Building (formally the RCA building), home of NBC, the Today Show, and Saturday Night Live. Also, Radio City Music Hall is in Rockefeller Center where you can take in a show with the world famous Rockettes. More than 350 million people have taken in a movie or a show at Radio City, making it one of New York’s most famous buildings. Another point of interest when visiting here is “The Center”. An area put aside for public art and statues. This is where you can find that giant Christmas tree each December and the ice skating, as well.
There are so many sites in New York City that I didn’t mention in this list: Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, sports venues, Madison Avenue, Broadway’s Theaters, the fashion district, Little Italy, Chinatown, Battery Park and more. New York City is the place to go if you are looking to immerse yourself into global culture. If you are looking for some excitement, take a road trip to the Big Apple. You won’t be disappointed.