They say New York (NYC) is the city that never sleeps. And boy! is it just an understatement… New York is a crazy, complete and fascinating city that enchants whoever visits it, and yeah, it’s also the vision of the American dream achieved.
New York has the largest population of any city in the United States and is the second largest city in the world, just after Tokio. And followed by Mexico City.
As one of the most famous cities in the world, New York is a place that many people should visit at least once in their life. The city has a history that goes back more than 400 years, and from these humble origins, New York City quickly became the thriving community it is today, also known as the big apple.
New York history
New York was founded around 1624 thanks to a Dutch trade agreement. The Dutch called the city initially as New Amsterdam, in reference to the city of Amsterdam in Holland, however, when the city was under English control about 40 years later the name was changed to New York. Today New York is divided into five different counties, these include Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx and Brooklyn.
Through the 2oth Century
- In the 1920s, it became a destination for African-Americans from the South, and Harlem was reborn. They are also times of prohibition. The great skyscrapers are built and it becomes the most populous city in the world, surpassing London.
- The 1930s bring expansion. More immigration and the return of Vietnam veterans favor the expansion of Queens. Wall street is witness to economic leadership, the United Nations Headquarters is witness to political leadership.
- The 1960s are hard, riotous, crimes and racism reach their highest peak,
- The 1980s industry upsets and New York improves economically.
- The 1990’s are marked by a shift in immigration: Asia and Latin America. The new technologies put the city on top of the world again.
- In September of 2001 it undergoes several terrorist attacks. Two planes crash into the twin towers causing their collapse, more than 3,000 people to die. Consequently, today it houses a memorial for the victims and the Freedom Tower is a project to surpass height of the original towers.
Now, traveling New York
When travelling New York, no amount of time is enough. You will always find a new spot, a hot club, a restaurant opening, New York Fashion week, models in the subway, celebrities in a café, struggling artists… You name it, NYC has it.
What are the places to see in New York on a first visit? The question has a difficult answer, since New York houses a lot of interesting sites. Although it is a possibility you may not get to see everything. There’s just so much to see! And of course, bring your camera, and take the best photos because New York doesn’t wait for anyone! Furthermore, enjoy the simple pleasures like walking, talking and enegaging in the many activities that are always going on outside. You won’t want to miss protests, live movie shooting, public concerts… Everything you ever thoight you’d see!
The musts of NYC
Empire State Building
Built in 1931, this iconic 443.2 meter skyscraper was the tallest building in the world until 1970 and is currently the second tallest in the city.
From its beautiful views you get to contemplate the Empire State and also Central Park. And during winter, you can skate in the plaza.
Statue of Liberty
An inescapable classic. The mythical Statue of Liberty, located on Liberty Island, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was inaugurated in 1886 to commemorate the 100 years of the Declaration of Independence and was a gift from France.
Another of the great symbols of New York. Opened in 1883, this bridge connects the districts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Its pointed arches and huge steel cables are an inseparable part of the New York skyline.
Following with the most famous icons of New York, you can not miss a visit to Central Park, one of the largest urban parks in the world. The “Manhattan Lung” is one of the most used movie and TV series, so everything there is familiar.
One could spend a week in New York visiting only its museums.
There are so many to see, (free and not), but in a city so expensive and distracting, I put together a list of the ones that are free, and also amazing.
- American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West and 79 St)
- Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 5th Avenue)
- Hispanic Society of America (613 West 155 St)
- Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street)
- Staten Island Museum (75 Stuyvesant Place, Staten Island)
- Queens Museum of Art (Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens)
- Museum of Arts and Design ( 2 Columbus Circle)
- New Museum (235 Bowery)
- MOMA, Museo de Arte Monderno (11 West 53 St)
- Whitney Musem of American Art (945 Madison Avenue and 75th St)
An extra: The Sex Museum
This not-so-well-known museum is also known as Mosex. It has everything, but its main mission is to highlight sexuality from the point of view from its history, evolution and the importance that has this pleasant aspect in the culture. They manage from the didactic to the playful, to the temporary exhibits and its 25, 000 objects that are part of the permanent one. It does not only talk about human sexuality, but also about the peculiarities of sex between animals.
The Financial District of New York is recovering its splendor over the years after the fateful 11-S. Not to be missed are the famous Wall Street with the New York Stock Exchange building, the Federal Hall, and the flirty Trinity Church with its small cemetery.
New Yorkers are fired up in the year, and tourists flock to the stage at any time to watch the neon signs, the huge advertising videos, the frenzied pace of pedestrians, and the hustle and bustle of hundreds of Yellow cabs… And broadway.
Experiences in New York
Even more than places to visit, there are spots or times that make NYC simply magic. Among some of the most iconic experiences are movie settings, special shops and old houses and establishments that once were houses to mafia kings or historical milestones.
Winter in New York: Not only is it a beauty, but with the holiday season approaching, window and mannequins dress up in quite a spectacle. Do wear very warm and covering clothes, because its not only the cold and the snow, but the wind is freezing!
Central Park goodies: If you are into the traditional experiences, sit in Central park and enjoy food from a stall. Hotdogs, pretzels, churros, corn… I am a vegetarian, so hot dogs are a no for me, but I tried stuffed pretzels, AND I HATED THEM. But Maybe you have a better experience. Most of all, sitting around and enjoying a hot something in the cold of Central Park was still enjoyable!
Film tour: New York is like a film set in real life. Hundreds of movies have been made inspired by and rolled in NYC. If you are into the film and series scene, you will find restaurants, bars and landmarks that have been in movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Godfather, When Harry met Sally, Friends, Sex and the City, Spiderman and hundreds of others!
Great Central Station: If you like history and architecture this walking tour is perfect for you. It is a free tour that takes place every Friday at 12:30 at 120 Park Ave, right across from Grand Central Station. Furthermore, be sure to enjoy riding the subway from any station. It is quite an experience you don’t want to miss, inside and outside.
Breweries: Beer lover? Then you can not miss the tours through the factory in Brooklyn or Chelsea because they are also completely free! For a brewing tour in Manhattan, go to the Chelsea Brewery at Pier 59. There’s free beer!
History in the making
- Go to the corner of Lexington Avenue with 52nd Street, where is the famous subway vent that allowed his legs to show Marilyn Monroe in the famous scene shot by Billy Wilder.
- Tour the sea perimeter of the island of Manhattan. The boats leave from pier 78. The trip takes about two hours.
- Although it is a classic, don’t miss taking a helicopter ride on the big apple. As many of you know were banned for a time for security reasons, but have already resumed. The shortest, but spectacular, only lasts 5 minutes.
- For the romantics I especially recommend hopping on the ferry to Staten Island, which passes right by the Statue of Liberty, plus the trip is very cheap. You know I am almost always alone an single, so that’s not for me haha..
- Finally, do not miss the mythical Empire State. Its elevators cover the distance in a few seconds, but if you are not claustrophobic or you like sports challenges you can try to climb the 1,575 steps from the ground floor to 86.
- In conclusion, don’t leave any rocks unturned, because you may find that NYC is your paradise! Especially noteworthy is finding how you don’t even notice that it’s all city, and no nature. That’s exactly why Central Park is so important – Perfect balance.
Oh, something very important. Pay attention to people. People watching is one of the best things that happens in New York. First, people are in a hurry, always havind a place to get to; yet, you will find people that are breathtakingly beautiful too. Especially relevant are the entretainers in Times Square. You will have a blast! Costumes, crazy people and just strange individuals will make you have the time of your life!
Probably, a one time experience in New York is not enough. Play around, discover, and almost get lost. You will find yourself again in the jungle of a city that never sleeps. I know I did, and as a result, I can’t wait to go back again!
Above all, enjoy New York. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss!