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The Big Apple, Gotham City, Center of the Universe, The City That Never Sleeps.
This is all New York City!
New York City sits on a large natural harbour on the Atlantic coast of the Northeastern United States. The city is divided into five boroughs or counties: Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. It has a population of 8.4 million. It is the most densely populated major city in the United States.
Basic History and Information
New York was discovered in 1524 by an Italian explorer in the service of the French crown. At that time it was inhabited by Lenape Indians. It was eventually founded as a commercial trading post by the Dutch in 1624. The settlement was called New Amsterdam until 1664. At this time, the Dutch surrendered the city to the English after Second Anglo-Dutch War. The English renamed the city New York.
During the American Revolutionary War (1775 – 1783) many battles were fought in and around the city and state. It became the main British military base until the British surrender after the Battle of Yorktown. New York became the capital of the newly independent United States of America until 1790.
Many immigrants entered the USA through Ellis Island in the 19th century. These new immigrants would make up the melting pot of New York and of the whole country. However, during the American Civil War (1861-1865), the draft riot of 1863 occurred. It was fueled by immigrant anger over military conscription.
From 1898 onwards to the 20th century, the modern city of New York with its tall skyscrapers began to take shape. The start up of modern subways, underground tunnels and factories made the city highly urbanized. War veterans after World War One (1914-1918) and after World War Two (1939-1945) created an economic and population boom.
Many districts and landmarks in the city have become well known throughout the world. The Statue of Liberty greeted millions of immigrants as they came to America in the 19th and 20th centuries. Times Square became the “The Crossroads of the World” as the brightly illuminated hub of Broadway theatre and a major centre of the global entertainment industry. Wall Street is the rival of London as the financial capital of the world. The New York Stock Exchange is the world's largest stock exchange.
The height of New York's popularity came during the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The destruction of the twin towers resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths.
Tourism is one of the main industries of the city. It attracts more than 40 local and international tourists annually.
New York is dotted with museums, cultural, artistic, entertainment and performance arts institutions, skyscrapers, major global events, and other odds and ends of tourism. Each unique attraction draws in its own tourist market share. This is what makes New York unique to tourists.
The Manhattan Skyline of New York is famous for its 5,538 skyscrapers. It is second only to Hong Kong. Many buildings have entered the list of tallest buildings in the world. Two of the most famous are the Empire State Building (1931) and the Chrysler Building (1930). Guided tours of the buildings are an everyday occurrence.
The New York Park System shows off many natural and man-made parks. The most famous are Battery Weed, Fort Tompkins and Central Park. The city's zoo, conservatory garden, Belvedere Castle, picnic lakes and ponds and skate rinks are all in Central Park.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art or The Met is an art museum located on the eastern edge of Central Park. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works of art that includes the largest collection of medieval art.
New York City is the second largest center for theatre arts and film industry. It has more than 2,000 performance and film organizations in Broadway and Times Square. The Lincoln Centre, Jazz Centres, opera theatres, ballet and orchestral centres as well as the numerous movie cinemas are unparalleled in the world. More than half of New York's tourism is raked in by Broadway and Times Square alone.
The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) is a gigantic sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. The giant statue is a gift to the USA from France after the American's defeated the English. It was designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. It is a robed female figure of Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. It also bears a torch and a law tablet inscribed with the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become the main American symbol and icon for freedom.
New York also attracts thousands of tourists to its many sports events distributed throughout the year. The city is home to two major league baseball teams, The New York Yankees and the New York Mets (April – October).
American Football season (September – February) is represented by the New York Jets and New York Giants. The National Hockey League (October – April) is headquartered in New York City. The city fields two teams, the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders.
The National Basketball Association (NBA, October – June) is fielded by the New York Knicks. Recently, major league soccer has become popular in the USA. New York has the Red Bull New York for this.
Queens is a constant host to the US Open Tennis Tournament. The annual New York City Marathon attracts thousands to run each year. And Madison Square Garden has hosted thousands of boxing matches. The most recent one was the September 18, 2010 fight between Sugar Shane Mosley and Sergio Mora.
Surprisingly, the majority of tourists go for the 5 star, 4 star and 3 star hotels of New York. In fact, the city has the most number of hotel accommodations in this category per square mile.
Still, many medium range and cheap luxury accommodations are available throughout the city. You can actually find accommodations for every type of budget or nationality. Some New York accommodations cater to a particular nationality like Japanese hotels. Others cater to style like boutique hotels.
There are also accommodations like short-term Rental Apartments good for families or large tour groups. There are also the discount Guesthouses, Pension Houses and hostels where you can cook your own food.
Accommodations can sometimes be scarce or even non-existent. It is advised to search for a hotel and make reservations early.
Money exchange is found in almost all hotels in New York.
Cuisine and Restaurants
There is no such thing as pure American cuisine in New York. The city's food culture is influenced by a variety of world cuisines from the city's immigrant history.
Immigrants have made New York famous for its fast foods, bagels, cheesecake, styled-pizzas and mobile food vendors. There is also the famous kebabs, hotdog sandwich and pretzels.
However popular these foods are, New York remains the centre for the finest and most diverse haute cuisine restaurants and chefs in the whole world.
How to Get Around the City
Mass transit in New York is 24 hours. The New York Subway system is the ultimate way to go. There are subway stations for almost every major street in the city. The islands are interconnected by a series of bridges, tunnels, and ferry systems.
Tourists should try to ride the ferries. They are fun ride experiences.
The bus system serves mostly the suburb areas that connect to major centres.
The famous yellow cabs of New York are slowly being replaced by Yellow Hybrid Clean Air Natural Gas Taxis.
Security and Safety
Contrary to popular belief and media hype, tourists are generally safe in New York. Over the last decade, the city has experienced a dramatic drop in its crime rate.
Nevertheless, New York is a major metropolis, and you should always stay alert and use common sense.
Leave valuables in the hotel safe. When taking a walk around the city, hold your bag across your shoulder and in front of you at all times. Place your bills in an inside or front pocket. Do not display expensive cameras, jewelry, or electronic equipment as you walk around the city. In theatres, restaurants, subways, and other public places, keep a hand on your possessions at all times.
Medical, Police or Fire Emergencies – 911
Useful Hot Lines:
All-purpose 311 phone line can give useful information as well as take taxi and consumer complaints.
The 24-hour Crime Victims Hot Line is tel. (212) 577-7777
Traveler's Assistance – (718) 656-4870
Some Big Apple Facts
New York City has 722 miles of subway track.
The first capital of the United States was New York City. George Washington took his oath as president on the Federal Hall balcony in 1789.
Sam Wilson, a meatpacker from New York, is the personification of the Uncle Sam caricature. During the War of 1812, he stamped “U.S. Beef” on his products which soldiers interpreted as meaning Uncle Sam.
The Big Apple is a term coined by musicians meaning “to play the big time.”
The nickname “Gotham” was popularized by Washington Irving and others in Salmagundi, a series of satirical sketches in 1807. The term was eventually borrowed for every Batman TV and movie series.
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