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New York City, New York is the largest city in the United States of America, with a metropolitan population of about 20 million people. One of the most important commercial, residential, cultural and governmental cities in the world, it is divided up into five boroughs-
Manhattan has a population of about 1,500,000 and is an island that lies between the Hudson River and the East River. When people think about New York, they usually think of Broadway, the Skyline, Wall Street, the Empire State Building and the United Nations Headquarters - which are all in Manhattan. It is the busiest1 and most crowded of the city's boroughs, with a population density of about 67,000 people per square mile. It is also famous for several small neighbourhoods in the island, including-
- Chinatown, which has a large Chinese population and in the opinion of many the best Chinese food in the US. It is a fun place to be, but keep in mind its reputation that most things that vendors are selling are fake products, and the unspoken rule that 'If you walk away with it and nobody says anything, it's yours' applies to your wallet.
- Little Italy, which has a large Italian population and great Italian food.
- The East Village, which is famous for its former association with the Lower East Side, which had a reputation as a slum and a home for strange people to live in.
- Harlem, a formerly infamous crime-filled neighbourhood currently predominantly occupied by African-Americans.
- SoHo, so named as it is South of Houston Street, was famous as a place for many artists to live, but is now a much more fashionable neighbourhood.
- Chelsea is a residential neighbourhood, in between the meatpacking and garment districts, but it is famous for having a large homosexual population.
- Greenwich Village - or 'The Village' - is home to New York University and Washington Square Park, and also has a relatively large homosexual or 'Bohemian' population.
Bronx, or 'The Bronx', with a population of around 1,300,000 is north of Manhattan, with the East River and the Hudson River along it. It is home to the New York Yankees (hence the nickname of that team, the 'Bronx Bombers') and Yankee Stadium, New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo.
Brooklyn, with a population of about 2,500,000 is situated on an island that is over 100 miles long, with the fitting, though not altogether catchy name, of 'Long Island'. The borough shares the island with Queens, and two much maligned counties, Nassau and Suffolk. Notice the British-like names, and then promptly forget them. These people are nothing like the folks back on that other big famous island. Trust us on this. Brooklyn is also known as the Borough of Kings, or Kings County. Despite the name, no kings actually came from Brooklyn, because it is in America, where they don't have kings.
Brooklyn is similar to Manhattan, its more famous sister borough, except that it's cheaper to live in, and the people are nicer. Brooklyn also has many charming, tree-lined streets of brownstone homes.
Some people, when in Brooklyn, say they are going to 'the city' when they are going into Manhattan. Brooklynites who say this are merely reminding you that 100 years ago, Brooklyn was a city in its own right, and, if it was still independent, would be the second largest city in America.
Brooklyn has several famous landmarks, one of the most notable being the Brooklyn Bridge. True New Yorkers may spend a lifetime in the city without visiting the Empire State Building, a landmark far too frequently associated with New York by outsiders, but few will fail to cross Brooklyn Bridge. Many will walk over it on the lovely boardwalk that is thoughtfully provided for pedestrians. Feel free to walk across the bridge when you come to New York, even if you aren't from Brooklyn.
Brooklyn is also known for its great neighbourhoods, beautiful parks, many, many churches, and its famous sons and daughters who have gone on to write books and play baseball.
Queens is the second most populous borough, with about 2,200,000 people living in it. It sits on Long Island, next to Brooklyn, and includes many dirty and poor neighbourhoods, but also has some charming and nice places to live. In Queens is Koreatown - an ethnic district known for a large Korean population and Korean food. Notably, Queens contains John F Kennedy Airport, La Guardia Airport (the only two airports in New York City), and Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets. Queens is also the home of the US Open (the top American tennis tournament) - its stadium is on the other side of the train station from Shea stadium, in Flushing Meadows-Corona park, a park already known for being the location of the 1964 World's Fair.
Staten Island has a population of about 450,000 people, making it the smallest of the boroughs. The island is slightly southeast of Manhattan Island, and can be reached from there by the famed Staten Island Ferry. The island has a reputation for being much less metropolitan than the other boroughs of New York City. It is very much like a suburb in some ways.
Besides these neighbourhoods, there are several small speciality districts in New York, including-
- The Restaurant Supply District
- The Garden District
- The Meatpacking District
- The Shoe District
- The Garment District
- The Plastic Tubing District
- The Financial District
Ways to Think About NYC
The Big Apple. The City that Never Sleeps. Gotham. New York City has been described in many different ways, but it's simply impossible to truly describe a city like New York.
The origins of the nickname The Big Apple is one of the great mysteries of the city. Some say that it came when musicians in the early 1900s said 'there are a lot of apples in the tree, but when you pick New York, you've picked the Big Apple' to describe the jobs that musicians can get in the city. Another theory is that Edward Martin coined the term in his book The Wayfarer, trying to use a metaphor to explain the idea that the city receives more than its share of money. Yet another story is that a sports reporter from the New York Morning Telegraph, John J Fitz Gerald named his horse-racing column 'Around the Big Apple'. The phrase was popular until the 1950s, and it resurfaced in the 1970s as a part of a tourism campaign for the city.
The City that Never Sleeps is another popular term for NYC, which simply notes that in this city, there is always something going on, no matter what hour it is.
Gotham was the nickname for New York when the British took it from the Dutch in 1664. It resurged in popularity after the 'Batman' comics came out, which were all set in a 'fictional-but-familiar' city called Gotham.
Tips for Tourists in New York City
If you're planning a visit to NYC, remember this about the people that live there-
New Yorkers are sometimes very hard-working, busy people. They often can't stand being delayed and will become quite irritable if unduly detained.
As a consequence, New Yorkers are often in a hurry. Their very existence depends on them being at some appointed place at a specific time.
And this means that New Yorkers are often very stressed. The city offers many high-paying, high-stress level jobs, unsurprisingly resulting in more than a few disgruntled and irritable individuals.
Ordinary New Yorkers are notorious for being rude, brash and unfriendly to tourists. They may steal your cabs or push you out of their way, without so much as an apology. However, the city doesn't live up to its reputation entirely, and it's obviously not a city entirely without friendly people. One h2g2 Researcher notes:
We aren't always rude and pushy. We can be very polite and gregarious.
Many people are of the opinion that the rudeness of NYC was significantly reduced after the Terrorist Attacks of 11 September, 2001.
New York City has a reputation (mostly from films and television crime dramas) as a haven for crime, but in recent years, though the reputation has stuck, crime has been reduced substantially, largely due to a zero-tolerance initiative undertaken in the 1990s. The famous New York Mafia is weakening and New York has recently been rated as one of the safest cities in America.
Places to Visit and Things to Do
New York City is full of places to visit and great places to go for tourism. Aside from Orlando, Florida, (home of the Walt Disney World Resort and dozens of other theme parks) New York has the most tourism of any city in the United States. It accounts for a large part of the wealth in New York, mostly due to all of the landmarks scattered about the city, such as:
Broadway, located in Manhattan is a famous street running North-South. It runs from the Bronx to the tip of the island - the only street to do that. The most famous part of the road is near Times Square, where several theatres and studios are - hence the term Broadway Musicals.
Times Square is on the intersection of Broadway and 42nd Street that is the media nexus of the city. The image of this street is that of a group of tall buildings with neon lights2. The area has several television shows taped in and around it, including Good Morning, America and TRL. Until recently, Times Square was a home for sexually oriented shops, 'peep-shows' and prostitutes. However, former NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani helped to clean up the area, making it a less dangerous, more tourist friendly place.
Perhaps the most famous aspect of Times Square is the New Year's Eve ceremony that occurs annually. For nearly a century, a large party has been held on New Years Eve in Times Square where a huge ball drops down a pole, timed exactly to the second of when it becomes a New Year, to symbolize the beginning of that year.
Central Park is the largest park in the city, and is in fact right in the middle of Manhattan. It features a zoo, theatre productions each summer, artificial lakes and two ice skating rinks! Central Park is often described as an oasis for Manhattanites from their busy lives.
The Flatiron Building (which is actually named the Fuller Building) is a famous tower on a triangular piece of land in between 23rd street, 5th Avenue and Broadway. It is one of the oldest skyscrapers in NYC.
Grand Central Terminal (also known as Grand Central Station) is a famous train station located at 42nd street and Lexington Avenue. It has 44 Platforms, making it the largest train station in the world. It is chiefly used by commuters from surrounding towns to get into Manhattan.
The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is among the most famous traditions of the city. Dozens of huge helium balloons parade down the streets as millions of people watch on television all over the world.
Ground Zero, the former home of the World Trade Center, is a popular tourist sight, perhaps more now than when the Twin Towers stood. People often go there to pay their respects to the many people who died on 11 September, 2001 when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a huge complex of several arts companies, such as New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, New York City Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera.
Madison Square Garden is the general name for four arenas at 33nd street and 7th Avenue. The name 'Madison Square Garden' came because the first group of arenas was located at Madison Square, which gave it its name, but a new group of arenas was made to replace these, it kept the name 'Madison Square Garden'. In it, the New York Knicks play basketball, the New York Rangers play hockey and many other large scale events - such as a circus - are held there.
New York Public Library is one of the largest libraries in the United States.
The Statue of Liberty is the most classic of tourist destinations in New York City. It is a symbol of freedom and a symbol of America. To get to Liberty Island, where it is located, you can start at Castle Clinton in Battery Park (which is on the tip of Manhattan), to get a ferry. Ferry rides come about every half-hour, starting at 9:15 AM.
Once at the statue, there are two long lines leading into the base. You can either ride the elevator to the top of the pedestal or climb the steps to the top of the statue. The staircase leads to the crown, where one can get a good view of NYC.
Wall Street is a street in lower Manhattan that provides a home to the New York Stock Exchange, and because of this, is in the middle of the Financial District. The term 'Wall Street' has since become a general term for finance in the US. The name of it came from the city wall of New York, which no longer exists.
The United Nations Headquarters is located on the East Side of Manhattan. In it, important meetings are held and the general assembly meets. The building and the area around the building are international territory, which means that local laws don't apply in it. Having this building in New York symbolizes that the city is important - maybe even living up to its self-proclaimed title of 'The World's Capital'.
Brooklyn Bridge crosses over the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan. It is one of the oldest and most famous suspension bridges in the world! It is about 1.3 miles long, which was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it opened.
Yankee Stadium in the Bronx provides a home to the New York Yankees (see below), a Major League baseball team. It is located at East 161st Street and River Avenue, and is known as 'The House that Ruth Built'3 and the 'Home of Champions'. It has a capacity for about 70,000 people.
Shea Stadium, named after William Alfred Shea is home to the New York Mets (see below), another Major League Baseball team4. It has a capacity for about 55,500 people.
The Empire State Building is one of the most famous buildings in the World, and is the second tallest building in the US. It was named this because of the nickname of New York State - the Empire State. The building was of course forever immortalized in the 1933 film King Kong, when the title character climbs to the top of the building and eventually falls off it.
The Chrysler Building in Eastern Manhattan was the product of a fierce battle in early New York City to build the World's tallest Skyscraper. Its design is considered to be 'art deco' and is very distinctive in the skyline.
Metropolitan Museum of Art is a huge museum, popularly referred to as 'The Met'. It is located along the east of Central Mark. It includes a large collection of art from several different places and time periods.
Guggenheim Museum (whose actual name is The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), near the Met, is a modern art museum in the Upper East side of Manhattan. It is best known for its distinctive spiral front building, in which the top is slightly larger than the bottom and the floor slants downward.
Rockefeller Center is a group of 19 large buildings named after John D Rockefeller. The largest of these buildings is the 71-floor GE Building (formally the RCA Building). Rockefeller Center is well known for having a large ice skating rink open in the winter.
St Patrick's Day Parade has taken place every year on March 17 since the early years of the city. The parade marches along 5th Avenue in Manhattan.
St Patrick's Cathedral is the home of the Archbishop of New York, and it is the largest Roman Catholic Cathedral in New York. It is famous for its pipe organ, with 1,480 pipes.
Washington Square Park, near New York University is right in the middle of Greenwich Village. It has a large fountain and a stone arch near the centre of it. It is very popular, used often by University students, which makes it sometimes difficult to find a place to yourself.
Ellis Island was a famous immigration centre for people who were trying to enter the US through New York City. In its history, it processed about 12 million immigrants before being closed in 1954. It is now a museum.
The Manhattan Skyline is just as much a landmark as the Statue of Liberty. Some researchers suggested views from nearby Hoboken, New Jersey, inside Central Park, from a boat, landing from an aeroplane, on television and from the inside looking up. Many of these views have been immortalized in textbooks, postcards and pictures.
Coney Island, while not actually an island5, but rather a two mile long stretch of land along the coast of Brooklyn, is a thoroughly entertaining place for New Yorkers to go. It has an amusement park, a boardwalk and roller coasters. For many years, it was the world's most popular theme park, but is not even nearly this now. It has still maintained much of its charm though, with Nathan's Famous Hotdog Stand, the classic boardwalk and many games from the early 1900s.
Places to Doo
Anywhere in the city - I'll tell you the best public toilet.
-George Costanza in the television show Seinfeld
In the above quote, the character of George shows one great aspect of living in New York: the public toilets. Many great places to relieve yourself can be found. Some have claimed that this is the only major advantage of major national chains encroaching on new developments. Although many toilets may appal the health department, there are so many everywhere that some are bound to be good. It's helpful to know which buildings to look in.
All hotels in New York are required to provide facilities for public use. There are dozens of good hotels in New York City, and the largest concentration of hotels is in Manhattan.
Restaurants, cafes and coffeehouses also offer free facilities. Many fine coffee shops like the Starbucks chain design their stores as modern, and of course the toilets are usually fashioned the same way.
Public places, such as theatres and museums or other civic buildings always offer nice bathrooms. Most buildings that are owned by the government provide nice restrooms.
The subway is infamous for its urine soaked trains and concrete. This wet graffiti has become a major source of embarrassment for many a New York City Sanitation Department and commissioner.
Living in New York
...is not all Coffee Shops and Fancy Apartments
Health code violations and roach and rat infestations...
Despite what one may perceive from watching television sitcoms set in New York City (and there are a great many), living in New York City is not as simple as it may seem.
Apartments have a reputation for being small, expensive and dirty - especially in Manhattan. It's amazing to see that this city that is ahead in many cultural, technological and political ways can still have brown water.
There is one basic rule for all visitors to New York who feel they have to drive a car through the city - don't. Driving in the city turns you into a mean, selfish, violent and generally upset individual, but if you really are adamant that you want to drive in New York, here are some pointers.
Taxi drivers are truly messengers of the Devil and will never admit that they are wrong. They will cut you off with the slightest of margins for error but will almost always miraculously fit, upsetting you and only reinforcing your belief in their infernal origin.
Everybody who is not actually in the car with you is your enemy. If you think of pedestrians as harmless, defenceless creatures who should be given the right of way, you're wrong. The best thing you can do for anybody who is walking in your way is try to make it clear that they are engaging in a dangerous activity by honking, lowering your window and screaming incoherently. All this while keeping their welfare in mind, of course.
If you see a police car, act like you haven't done anything wrong. The fact is that from their point of view you are guilty, you just don't know it yet.
If you are French or come from any other country with sporadic parking laws, remember that parking in New York is regulated. Plans to tear down Central Park and replace it with a parking garage are certain to be rejected by the city officials who are keen to preserve the image of the City That Never Sleeps - who further the impression by ensuring that dejected drivers are still looking for parking spaces into the wee hours of the morning.
New Yorkers claim the New York City Subway System6 is the oldest underground rail system in the world. This perhaps explains why is it inconsistent, complicated, and in desperate need of repair.
Trains are numbered from 1 to 9 and then A to Z (mysteriously missing, however, are trains 8, X, or Y). They are also coded by colour. Thus, the 1, 2, 3, and 9 are red, the 4, 5, and 6 are green, the 7 is purple, the A, C, E, and S are blue, and so on. It is easy to remember the colour combinations because trains of the same colour run on the same tracks, except when they don't. An unintelligible voice will announce it when this happens. Most trains have their number or letter in a little circle; some have a square or a diamond shape instead. This is to confuse you, and often works very well. Avoid the green trains during rush hour. Trust us.
Some trains are express trains and only stop at big stations. Some trains are local trains and stop at every station, except for the local trains that skip stations on odd Thursdays on a full moon. All of these exceptions are posted on handy signs in the station. Somewhere.
If you get confused, don't worry. All of the large stations have thoughtfully provided homeless people who can direct you to your required destination for a nominal fee.
The Taxis in New York City are all over, and are usually quite expensive - despite all the competition. To get a taxi, you must first wave a taxi to you. Do this by standing on an open part of the curb and trying to get the attention of an open taxi in any way you can. Flicking a wrist can do wonders.
If you're not from New York, taxi drivers can often overcharge you, so try not to give the impression of a tourist in the city.
New York supports four major sports teams-
The Yankees are undoubtedly baseball's strongest team through history, having won 26 World Series titles. They are in the Eastern Division of the American League and reside in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
The Mets are a relatively new team to baseball, formed when the Dodgers and Giants left New York for California. The Mets are in the National League, and have won two World Series titles so far.
The Knicks, whose name comes from an abbreviation for 'Knickerbocker' were formed in 1946. They currently play in Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers of Ice Hockey are a member of the National Hockey League, first forming in 1926. They currently reside in Madison Square Garden.
The Jets and Giants of Football share a stadium.
Media and News in NYC
New York is one of the most important places for media, news and entertainment in the world. Some important publications are-
Wall Street Journal is published in New York City, named after Wall Street - the street that represents the financial district. It is considerably influential and consistently reliable for financial news.
The New York Times, or The Times is an international newspaper that is one of the US's oldest and most important publications ever. It was founded in 1851 as an alternative source of news to the other New York Publications that were biased and unreliable. Its motto is-
The Village Voice is a weekly, alternative publication that is the most widely circulated publication of its kind.
All The News That's Fit To Print
A Short History
For many years, New York was home to several indigenous peoples of North America. The Canarsie people lived in the area when Europeans happened upon it. Giovanni da Verrazano was the first European to see New York Harbour in 1524 and Henry Hudson happened upon it in 1609. But Europeans first settled in New York in 1624. Many Dutch families settled on the tip of Manhattan, and they called the town Nieuw Amsterdam - or New Amsterdam (after Amsterdam - the city in the Netherlands). The Dutch colony was called New Netherlands. They named one area Breukelen (Brooklyn), another Haarlem (Harlem) and what is today the Bronx was named after Pieter Bronck.
In 1664, British ships arrived at New Amsterdam and took the city without a fight. The British gave the colony to the Duke of York, James, who was the King's Brother. He named the area New York and the city New York as well. Thomas Willett was appointed as the first mayor of the city.
The city grew rapidly, and it remained the most important city in New York colony. The city eventually became one of the largest of the 13 American Colonies. Around the time of the revolution, it was the second largest city in the colonies. The Battle of New York City took place in 1776, and Washington eventually retreated from New York. When the US became an independent country, New York City was even the country's capital for a short period from 1789-1790. George Washington was even inaugurated on the steps of Federal Hall.
By 1800, there were 79,200 people living in NYC. In 1835, the population increased to 242,300, making it the largest city in the country. Around the middle of the century, the population was about 700,000. By 1863 the American Civil War had begun, and Abraham Lincoln called for drafts to the army. On July 13, a large Draft Riot took place in New York.
The Statue of Liberty was placed in New York harbour in 1886, around the time that immigration to the US started to boom.
In 1898, the five boroughs joined together. Until then, New York City consisted solely of Manhattan and the Bronx, but Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island merged with them to create a huge metropolis. By 1900, the population was 3,347,000. At the start of the 20th Century, architecture became an important part of the city. The Flatiron Building - one of the city's first skyscrapers, was built in 1902. Elaborate, beautiful skyscrapers formed what was to become the famous New York City skyline. Around this time, population reached about 6,000,000. The Chrysler building was built in 1929 and the Empire State Building joined it in 1931. Of course, by this time, the Great Depression had begun. In 1934, Fiorello LaGuardia was elected to the office of Mayor, and he would become one of the greatest mayors the city ever had. LaGuardia airport is now in Queens, named after him.
NYC became an important cultural spot, and the first New York World's Fair was held on 1939.
The city grew steadily through the middle of the 1900s, and it slowly became one of the world's great artistic, musical and cultural centres. However, by the 1970s, the city had acquired the image of a crime-filled, dirty town. Tourism halted, and the city hit a financial crisis. Some feared that the city would have to declare bankruptcy. US President Gerald Ford wouldn't give the city Federal Money. Headlines in the New York Daily News read 'Ford to City: Drop Dead'. However, a clever tourism campaign in the 1970s, featuring the 'Big Apple' ads helped New York become a great city again.
The World Trade Center was built in 1973. Most New Yorkers regarded it as ugly, with a bad effect on the skyline.
By the 1990s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani helped to lead the city's economic boom. He helped to revitalize Times Square and bring down crime significantly. Giuliani led the city through the 11 September, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, making him a very popular mayor. It helped bring the city together and had a positive effect on the city as a whole in many ways.