U.S.A. - New York, The City So Nice They Named It Twice

Author: Sue Rogers
Date: 15th December 2007

New York, New York

It’s easy to see that Wikipedia is mostly edited by Americans. According to this unimpeachable source of information, New York is the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban area, situated on one of the world's largest natural harbours. It’s the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, significantly influencing commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, dining, art, fashion, and sports. It’s also, they say, the most photographed city in the world.

New York Nicknames

New York also seems to have more nicknames than any other city.

Not only The City So Nice (from George Russell's album New York in 1959), but The Big Apple (something to do with horse racing, but I’m not sure what), The Capital of the World (apparently because the United Nations is based there) The Center of the Universe (particularly in reference to Times Square- but what?), The City That Never Sleeps (Scorsese film New York, New York), The Empire City (of the New World – from George Washington), The Five Boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx , and Staten Island), Fun City, (satirical title given by mayor John Lindsay at a tough time), Gotham:(the city at night, Washington Irving  and then Batman), The Greatest City in the World (yet again what?), Knickerbocker, (from Dutch), The Melting Pot ( Israel Zangwill), Metropolis, (Superman comics and the city in daytime),The Modern Gomorrah, (say no more), America's City and The City of Neon and Chrome (musical, Rent).

That’s not the end. New York was originally known as New Amsterdam: the name of the original Dutch colony) prior to the English capture and renaming of the colony after King Charles II’s brother, the Duke of York, in 1665. The Dutch reclaimed it for a year, when it was called New Orange.

New York - the Number One Tourist Destination in the USA

New York's still a great place to travel. The City So Nice I visited it - well - more than twice. At the end of my East Coast trip and a couple of visits to stay with friends working there. Not to mention a short stay with Hugh when I did my Fifty States Journey. It’s not the number one tourist destination in the USA for nothing. My source tells me that New York has three of the world's ten most visited attractions: No. 3 Times Square, No. 4 (tie) Central Park, No. 10 Grand Central Terminal. This is what I did:

Walking Through Manhattan

  • Strolling - Manhattan is surprisingly easy to walk: through Tribeca (Triangle Below Canal Street), Battery Park, Greenwich Village, Soho (little French restaurants) and up Broadway through Times Square (the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway Theatre District and one of the world's busiest pedestrian intersections) and to Harlem and the edge of the Bronx. Once known for crime and poverty after the Great Depression of the 1930s and the deindustrialization of New York City, Harlem is still colourful, but now quiet and gentrified.
  • Window shopping in Saks, Barney’s, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s department stores
  • Wandering in crowded Central Park - brunch at the café by the lake (terrible service). there's a Strawberry Fields monument to John Lennon. The Dakota Building, where he lived, is close by.
  • Ambling up the affluent Upper West Side of Central Park), taking in the grand brownstone apartments. Not forgetting to visit Zabar’s Delicatessen, stacked high with bagels, smoked fish, olives, and cheeses.
  • Sightseeing on the open top Big Apple bus - a circular route - so a great way to get round the city when you've had enough of walking
  • Sauntering across Brooklyn Bridge at night - the East River and amazing scraper views

Eating and Drinking in Manhattan

  • Eating enormous pastrami sandwiches in Katz’s Deli on East Houston Street. They pronounce it House-ton here. (And Soho is South of Houston.) There’s a sign to show where Harry met Sally in the film made here – ‘I’ll have what she’s having!’
  • Dinner in the elegant restaurants of the Meatpacking District, north of Greenwich Village, which went through a decline after the rise of supermarkets and arose again as a high end boutique area
  • Drinking cocktails on the roof of the Gansevoort Hotel, the first luxury hotel in the meat packing District, admiring the Hudson River view
  • Visiting the overflowing and tempting Dean and Deluca delis
  • Buying provisions in the feast for the eyes, as well as the stomach, organic Wholefoods Market - it's the biggest grocery store in New York
  • Eating steak on Colombus Circle
  • Devouring sticky ribs in Tony Roma's
  • Drinking margaritas in the iconic bar at Grand Central Station

Culture in Manhattan

  • Wandering the Museum Mile district on the Upper East Side (of Central Park)
  • Appreciating the artworks in the spiral of the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum (the Met) and, my favourite, The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
  • Listening to rock music in a club on Houston Street

Landmarks of New York

  • Admiring the bull, on Wall Street, which marks the New York Stock Exchange (as well as the huge American flag) and the Financial District
  • Up the iconic Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the world and symbol of the Empire State, for the views
  • To the top of Rockefeller Tower (for the better views) and the glass walkway
  • Taking photos of my favourite scrapers - the Art Deco Chrysler and the Flat Iron
  • Popping inside mock Gothic St Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue
  • Sailing to wonderfully informative Ellis Island where immigrants landed.
  • Catching the no ticket ferry to Staten Island to get the free view of the Statue of Liberty and avoiding the horrendous queues to get inside. There's also the bonus skyline view of Manhattan. The Staten Island Ferry is the busiest ferry route in the United States and the world's busiest passenger-only ferry system (of course).

Brooklyn

  • Catching the train out to Brooklyn and Coney Island. Strictly, Coney Island is now a peninsula, connected to the rest of Long Island by land fill. But it was formerly the westernmost of the Outer Barrier islands on the southern shore of Long Island. We have  Brighton Beach to the east and Gravesend to the north, so it’s almost a homecoming. It’s famous, of course, for its amusement parks.  I'm singing Lou Reed.

Christmas in New York

  • Admiring the decorations in Macy's Department Store
  • Watching the skaters at the Rockefeller Centre
  • Wandering in Central Park - it snowed

Read more about the U.S.A. here.

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