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The city of cities. The city that never sleeps. The Big Apple. They are just a few characteristics of New York and they are absolutely true. But they are also clichés that won't mean anything to someone who's never been there. And someone who has been there more often will say that no clichés fit New York. Because if there is one city that always changes, it is New York. This versatile, dynamic, hectic and hurried city is the product of people from many cultures who have settled here. New York is a real melting pot: it is perhaps therefore the least American city in the United States. New York is just New York!
To someone who arrives in New York for the first time, the cityscape can feel familiar. We have already seen the streets and the skyline of the city so many times on television and in movies. After the destruction of the Twin Towers the Empire State Building (with two observation platforms) is once again the tallest building of the city. Until the new World Trade Center is ready that is, because the new towers will be even higher than the old ones.On the roof of the General Electric Building (Top of the Rock
The General Electric skyscraper is part of the Rockefeller Center, a complex of buildings in the heart of Manhattan. The Center is formed by Rockefeller Plaza, where a large image of Prometheus stands and where, a few weeks before Christmas, a enormous christmas tree is put up and decorated. One of the attractions is the Radio City Music Hall, a concert and theater hall in art-deco style, formerly known as The Showplace of the Nation.
Talk about shows. There is no shortage of those in New York. The heart of the theater is of course Broadway with the brightly lit Times Square and its side streets (off Broadway), but there also theaters in the rest of the city. Broadway has a magical sound, but not everything that is being performed is a success. There are productions that completely fail on Broadway, but there are examples of performances which started in a small theater in a back street and made it to Broadway too. For the big and popular shows you should purchase a ticket well in advance. For less popular shows, or shows that haven't yet been 'discovered', you can buy tickets at one of the ticket stalls on Times Square.
There is an abundance of Museums in New York and as goes for all attractions of the city: you will have choose what you want to see. Just for modern art alone there are three world-renowned museums in the city: the Guggenheim Museum, the MoMa (Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The history, rituals and uses of the original population of America in the National Museum of the American Indian. A fantastic natural history museum The American Museum of Natural History, with the possibly even more spectacular Rose Center for Earth and Space. Artworks, photographs, models and costumes bring the city's history alive in the Museum of the City of New York.
Another familiar sight: the Statue of Liberty. But it's something different to look at the Statue of Liberty from up close as opposed to on a television screen. For security reasons, Lady Liberty's crown is no longer accessible. However, you can go from the Statue of Liberty to Ellis Island, the former arrival point for immigrants. It is sometimes also referred to as the Island of Tears, as some people were denied access to the Country of Unlimited Opportunities after a long sea voyage.
You can shop anywhere in New York, but the nicest shopping street is Fifth Avenue. You can find the shops of top designers. Only for people with a large budget, but did you know you can buy clothing of top designers with a sharp discount in New York too? At Century 21, which was several shops spread out over New York. There is a Century 21 at Ground Zero. South Street Seaport is a cozy shopping district too, but it is a lot more than just that. There are some fine restaurants and you can enjoy a fantastic view on the Brooklyn Bridge. Also in Greenwich Village - usually referred to as The Village - are nice shops with often original items.
Central Park is the green lung of New York. There is always something to do in this enormous city park. Do you want to know what and where? Then go to the visitor center - The Dairy - at the southeast entrance. In addition to buying a map, you can get information about events here too.
New York is an enormous city so you're well on your way before you're free of the hustle and bustle of the city. Long Island, east of New York, consists mainly of suburbs. Beaches lie on the southern coast of this elongated peninsula. They aren't quiet, because those millions of New York and suburb residents know where to find them too. There are beaches and seaside resorts south of the city too, including at the gambles paradise Atlantic City.
If you drive up north from Manhattan - using the George Washington Bridge - you will end up in the Hudson River valley. Along the banks lie forested hills and the color festival in the fall (what the Americans call Indian Summer) is amazing. A little further north lie the Catskill Mountains. You can make hour long walks through extensive forests with some scattered lakes or a river in which trouts swim. The artist village Woodstock (yes, from the famous pop festival in 1969) lies in the Catskills too.
Further north you'll end up in Albany, the capital of the New York state. Albany lies at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk River and was founded by the Dutch in the seventeenth century as Fort Orange. This historic bond is underlined every year with the Tulip Festival. You can visit exhibitions, galleries and concerts for free very first Friday of the month.
There is no lack of accommodation in New York, but hotel room prices are high in Manhattan. Alternatively, you can book a hotel in New Jersey or in the Queens district. Thanks to the excellent public transport you'll be in downtown Manhattan in a heartbeat. New York is an active business and congress city and a huge touristic attraction. Therefore, book your hotel well in advance.
We definitely advise against driving in downtown New York. The traffic is very busy, it is particularly difficult to find a parking space and the parking rates are high too. Some hotels do offer parking, but usually for a (large) extra fee. But for day trips in the vicinity of New York a rental car is a great means of transport.
The main airport of New York is John F. Kennedy Airport, commonly referred to as 'JFK'. It is accessible with a rental car via the Van Wyck South and the Nassau Expressway. the Van Wyck is a particularly busy road all day long. A drive from Manhattan to JFK can easily take up two hours!
Budget airlines fly on Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, southwest of Manhattan. The road network around Newark can be confusing for drivers, so prepare yourself well for the route you want to follow.