After the beautiful Canada it was time for “magical” United States. Country extremely diverse in terms of nature and culture. Shiny city, dangerous slums, peaceful farms or delightful nature – everyone will find a place for themselves. Our “American Dream” was to see and learn as much as possible. Therefore, at the beginning of our adventure in the United States we chose a city that for many people can make their dreams come true – New York.
“Capital of the World”
New York is a special place in many ways. It’s the largest city in the United States and the most linguistically diverse area in the world. The diversity of architecture in various parts of New York allows to admire both buildings in the classical style, as well as amazing skyscrapers, with some of the tallest buildings in the world.
New York being considered an important center for international affairs – here United Nations has its headquarters. Stock exchange, business, media, art, modern technologies – everything that happens in these areas in New York, influences many aspects of life in different parts of the world.
It’s estimated that each year the city is visited by over 50 million tourists. While walking through the streets of the city, you can tell who’s a tourist in the blink of an eye. How you ask? It’s very simple – New Yorkers live quickly, moving from point to point, stopping only while waiting for the green light at a pedestrian crossing. Tourists stroll slowly, usually along the middle of the pavement and they stop in place to check on the map if they’re going in the right direction. You don’t want to look like a tourist in New York? For starters, walk faster and don’t stop to often to check the map – and certainly don’t do it in the middle of the pavement 😉
Visiting the city
In fact, it’s hard to say what we liked most in New York. One thing is certain – we were neither surprised nor disappointed in the city. New York looks exactly like we imagined it to be. Take a quick look on things we saw during our couple days there.
Statue of Liberty
Without any doubts a showcase of New York. Designed and manufactured in France, the Statue of Liberty was a gift of the French nation to commemorate the alliance of France and the United States, presented on the anniversary of US independence. Measuring 46.5 meters of height, the statue holds a lighted torch in the right hand and a board with inscribed date of US independence in the left one.
Since 1924 the Statue of Liberty is considered a National Monument USA. It’s open to the public 7 days a week.
The Statue of Liberty didn’t make a big impression on us – it’s much smaller than presented in the pictures or in movies. We were glad that we didn’t buy a cruise to Liberty Island.
Times Square and 5th Avenue
Times Square, otherwise known as “The Crossroads of the World”. It’s the most crowded square of New York. It’s known for its many Broadway theaters, cinemas and the largest number of electronic billboards in the city. Times Square is one of those places that make New York the city that never sleeps. At any time of the day or night you can meet crowds of people here. Each year one of the world’s largest New Year’s Eve is organized at Times Square, with about 1 million people attending – New Yorkers and tourists alike. The highlight of the event is the moment of dropping the ball from atop of One Times Square to symbolize the coming of the New Year.
Fifth Avenue and Wall Street are the most well-known streets of Manhattan. While Wall Street is mostly associated with the stock exchange and business, 5th Avenue is the most exclusive shopping street in New York. Interestingly, it’s also known as one of the most expensive streets in the world. You can find the shops of almost all the largest and most respected global brands. However, Fifth Avenue is not just about shops. As it gets closer to the Central Park it becomes more “residential” (houses here are the most expensive in the whole city). You can also find here some of the most interesting museums – the Museum of New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Guggenheim Museum.
Located in the center of Manhattan, with an area of over 340 hectares – Central Park is the largest park in New York. It’s the place where you can relax or spend time more actively surrounded with beautiful nature. The park has several lakes, theaters, fountains, tennis courts and playgrounds for children.
You can meet artists singing opera arias or playing various instruments, cartoonists, take part in a roller disco or sign up for free dance lessons.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Near Central Park, on 5th Avenue is located the largest Catholic church in North America. Beautiful neo-Gothic style cathedral stands out from the surrounding buildings.
Financial District and skyscrapers
The vast majority of the buildings of Lower Manhattan are skyscrapers. Numerous banks, office or residential buildings and hotels – regardless of purpose, they create the unique atmosphere of the city.
Many of these buildings are on the list of tallest buildings in the world, and among them the most famous are Empire State Building, Bank of America or the Chrysler Building. In our opinion the best skyline view is from Hamilton Park in Weehawken, New Jersey.
One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial
Currently the tallest building in New York is One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower. It’s the first of four high-rise buildings to be built at the site of buildings destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. You can admire the skyline of New York City and surrounding areas from the observation terraces on floors 100 to 102. During the elevator ride very interesting animations are shown to tell the history of the city and the construction of One World Trade Center. We really liked the elevator descent “interactive” experience – it gives you the feeling of flying over Manhattan (you can see how it looks here).
Next to Freedom Tower base, at the point where the twin towers of the World Trade Center stood before 2001, are located 9/11 Memorial and a museum commemorating the victims of the terrorist attack of September 11th.
Grand Central Terminal and NY Public Library
Walking around New York, it would be a shame not to visit Grand Central Terminal and the NY Public Library. Beautiful architectural design and their importance makes both of these buildings very popular among tourists and residents of New York City.
NY Public Library is available to the public completely free of charge. You can visit the building and learn its history with free audio/video guide, as well as take advantage of the rich library resources.
Museum of Modern Art
Something for fans of Modern Art. The New York Museum of Modern Art – MoMA – is definitely worth recommending. It’s known as one of the most important in the world. Among the approximately 150 thousand exhibits you will find works of such masters as Monet, Van Gogh or Dali and a large collection of works, among others, Rousseau, Matisse, Cezanne, Picasso, Pollock, Kahlo, Mondriaan, Léger and Liechtenstein.
In our opinion, one of the best views of New York is from the Brooklyn Bridge that connects Manhattan with Brooklyn. Being one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world, thanks to its unique design, Brooklyn Bridge was named one of the top engineering projects of XIX century. As a side note – during the construction of the bridge Brooklyn was a separate city. Fifteen years after the opening of the bridge, it was decided in a referendum to join Brooklyn and New York.
There’s a path on top of the bridge for pedestrians and cyclists – not only it gives you the opportunity to reach the other side of the river, but also offers an amazing view of the bridge and the skyscrapers of Manhattan.
- New York is a city where you can take advantage of CityPASS. For a price of around 114 USD, you can choose to visit 6 out of 9 available biggest tourist attractions in the city. Detailed information can be found on the website www.citypass.com.
- If you don’t want to buy CityPASS but still would like to see the Statue of Liberty from a closer perspective, we suggest two solutions. First is to visit www.statuecruises.com and buy a ticket for a ferry to Liberty Island with admission to the Statue of Liberty (richer version also contains admission to the crown of the statue). For those who don’t feel the need to stand next to the Statue of Liberty or paying extra money, we recommend the second solution – completely free of charge. Take a free ferry from the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan that will take you to Staten Island. The ferry doesn’t go directly next to the Statue of Liberty, but still gives a good view of the famous monument from the deck. The ferry runs every day, approximately every half hour and is completely free.
- To see the Manhattan from a completely different perspective one should go to one of several observation decks available for the public. The most popular of them are Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and since May of 2015 – One World Observatory. Ticket prices for each of these terraces start at about 30 USD, so it’s only up to you to decide which of the buildings you want to visit.
- If you need access to the Internet you will always find it in places such as Starbucks, McDonald’s and… Public Libraries. In the latter, you can also make use of computers and printers, in case you need to print a document.
- Admission to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) costs 25 USD. MoMA from time to time also offers various promotions, for example. When buying tickets to both MoMA and the Top of the Rock you can save 10 USD. Detailed information or other promotions available on this website.
- The BEST street food in New York can be found near the MoMA. On Hallal Guys stand for only 7 USD you can get a large portion of chicken with rice and vegetables. The portions are so large that we were sharing one for two people. Believe it or not – the food is great! And the best proof is always the long line in front of the stand, in which you have to wait at least 15 minutes.