- Discover New York
30 rock | Top of the Rock | Rockafeller Plaza | Radio City Music Hall | Ice Rink | Empire State Building | Chinatown | Grand Central Terminal | St Patrick's Cathedral | Times Square | Central Park | Madison Square Garden | Statue of Liberty | Ellis Island | Staten Island | Skyscrapers | Museums | Shopping | Areas of New York|
The best time to go to New York would probably be September and October. The humidity has died down, but it’s still nice and warm. August is very humid but the upside is there are less people around and there’s plenty to do, such as outdoor festivals. Winter of course is very cold but the Christmas in New York is very special. You have the Christmas tree and the ice rink at 30 Rock, the NYE party in Times Square, there’s plenty of reasons to visit at this time too.
30 Rockefeller Plaza, otherwise known as 30 Rock or the slab is officially called the GE Building (changing to Comcast Building in 2015 to reflect new corporate owner). It is most famous for being home to NBC. You can take a tour of the NBC studios where you can see where Saturday Night Live is filmed. Also the award winning comedy, 30 Rock is based on SNL and the NBC studios in this building. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is filmed here also. It is also famous for the picture of the construction workers having lunch on a beam high above the streets of New York, without any harnesses, during its construction. The Photo is known as “lunchtime atop a skyscraper”.
On the 67th – 69th floor of this building is the observatory. Go up during the day for spectacular views of Central Park or during the night to see the lights of Manhattan. One of the advantages of 30 Rock opposed to the Empire State Building observatory deck is that you get a great view of the Empire State lit up at night. You can pay to go up twice in one day , dawn and dusk, for around $30 or just the once for $21.
The “greatest urban complex of the 20th century” provided work for a quarter of a million people during the great depression. The GE Building at 30 Rock is the centrepiece but there are 19 buildings altogether in the complex spanning the area between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue.
Rockefeller Plaza is sometimes known as Radio City and the theatre in the plaza is known as Radio City Music Hall and was once the largest tourist attraction in the city. It’s the home to the Roquettes and hosts the Radio City Christmas Spectacular every year. It has also hosted the Grammys and the Tony Awards.
The world famous ice rink sits in the concourse of the GE Building each christmas.
The queues can be notoriously long to get up to the observation deck. There are three queues, one for the tickets, one for security, and one for the lifts. You can get your tickets beforehand and that will save you time. You could also pay for an express ticket where you will be put to the top of each queue. However you may pay $70 for an express ticket and get to the building and find that there are no queues whatsoever. Just get there as early as you can and cross your fingers.
The ESB was completed in 1931 and was the highest building in NYC until the World Trade Centre was built in the 1970’s. It has once again become the tallest building after the destruction of the twin towers. ESB is 1250ft high with 102 floors. The main observation deck is on the 86th floor; however for $15 extra you can get another lift to the very top. It’s good to be able to say you went to the top but if money is tight, save it as the view is impressive enough from the 86th floor.
Be sure to get the audio tour. It’s just a small handheld device. It gives you lots of interesting info on the history of the city and info on the building and boroughs. You can see all of Manhattan and as far as the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and New Jersey. It’s a great way of getting to know the city before you head out onto the streets.
Between Canal, Worth and Baxter streets lies the world’s largest Chinatown. It’s great for cheap jewellery, watches, NY t-shirts etc. Offer 50% of what vendors are asking and you’ll meet somewhere in the middle. Don’t be afraid to walk out, the traders will come down in price. Also don’t feel bad about haggling, it’s expected and they won’t sell it to you if they’re not making a profit.
You’ll only ever skirt around the environs of Chinatown, it remains a secretive world where its inhabitants keep largely to themselves. The Chinese are generally a hard working people and very friendly.
Grand Central Station or Terminal (all tracks terminate here) in its current state was built in 1913. There are 2500 stars on the ceiling. Visit the oyster bar or the food court. The three spectacular arched windows are 75ft high Beaux Arts.
The biggest Roman Catholic Cathedral in the US and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. It’s located between 50 and 51st street on the east side of Fifth Avenue facing Rockefeller Centre. The Cathedral was completed in 1878 and Manhattan was much less populated and stands out spectacularly among its more modern neighbours. Although a large building, St Pats is dwarfed by the skyscrapers surrounding it. No matter what religion you are the neo-gothic building is spectacular and is a must see on your visit to New York.
Named after the New York Times, Times Square is the unofficial centre of NY. Times Square is unrecognisable from the 70’s for example when porn and drugs were rife. A regeneration took place in the 90’s and the Times Square we now know was born.
The annual ball drop on New Year’s Eve happens at 1 Times Square, home to the New York Times originally.
The neon lights of Times Square are iconic and known throughout the world. The world famous Broadway theatre district starts here and houses many plays, especially musicals such as Mamma Mia and the new Spiderman musical.
Times Square is also home to Robert Burck, otherwise known as the ‘naked cowboy’. You will see him busking around the square and posing for pictures. Be sure to leave a tip in the pocket behind his guitar for the privilege).
Central Park is known worldwide, and has featured in countless movies and TV programmes. Coming from a country or part of the US with plenty of wide open spaces and countryside, you may well wonder what the big deal is. Just spend a few days or even hours in the bustling streets of New York and then head to the relative peace of Central Park and you will begin to understand the attraction of Central Park to the inhabitants of Manhattan. The park offers an escape to locals and visitors alike to the madness, and in the summer, to the stifling heat. It is a hive of activity itself with joggers, cyclists, rollerbladers and walkers using the many paths. There’s a zoo, a carousel, a couple of lakes with boating, playgrounds, and an ice rink in the winter. John Lennon is commemorated in the Strawberry Field, close to the Dakota Building where he lived and outside of which he was shot dead. Take a horse and carriage ride around the park. Avoid walking in Central Park at night, it is not safe.
Situated above Penn Station, Madison Square Garden is the home of the NBA basketball team, the New York Knicks. It is also a major music venue and there are bars and restaurants.
The Statue of Liberty, or ‘the Green Lady’ is the symbol of freedom, the American Dream. She was given to America by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and historian Edourd – Rene de Laboulaye as a monument to freedom and a token of friendship between France and the USA in the 1860s.
Dwarfed by the towers of the nearby Financial District in Manhattan she still cuts an incredibly impressive figure, standing in the middle of the bay with her centenary flame pointing to the sky. This would have been a wonderful sight for the immigrants from Europe who arrived into the bay dreaming of a better life. Combine a trip to nearby Ellis Island with your trip to Liberty Island. Most ferries stop at both islands. If you’re counting the pennies or don’t fancy the long queues, take the free ferry to Staten Island; you will sail past the statue and get great views. Plus you can have a look around Staten Island and get some pizza.
They say that half the population of America can trace their roots back to Ellis Island in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The exhibition will give you an insight into what the 16 million immigrants who passed through here went through. This is where they were processed. The ferry for Ellis Island and Liberty Island leaves from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan.
Staten Island lies across New York Bay to the south. It’s the least populated of the five boroughs. It’s easily accessible via the Staten Island Ferry from Battery Park.
Famous recently for being the headquarters of the Daily Bugle in the Spiderman series of movies and years ago was the Channel 6 headquarters in the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles cartoon series.
Once the tallest building in New York (and now the fourth tallest), the Chrysler Building was the headquarters of the Chrysler Corporation at one time. It is considered one of America’s favourite buildings and is easily distinguishable from the many skyscrapers around it.
As seen on episodes of the Apprentice, the Trump World Tower is an all residential skyscraper across from the United Nations building.
Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
The Met is absolutely huge and you will never come near to seeing everything. Highlights include the Temple of Dendun 15 BC, American Period Rooms, a replica Ming Dynasty scholars’ courtyard. Start at the information centre on the ground level. There are over three million objects in over 20 collections.
The Museum of Natural History covers three city blocks. Inside you can discover the entire evolution of earth. The museum has 36 million items including dinosaurs, a massive blue whale and an astonishing Planetarium, an 87ft sphere in a glass cube.
Woodbury Common – NJ
You can get a tour bus from your hotel. Just talk to your concierge or your hotel information desk. Be aware however that the bus might not drop you back at your hotel. Bring a large empty rucksack. They have lockers out there; however they are not big enough for suitcases. You can drop your shopping in as you go around.
Another outlet village, these places are full of retail outlets which are a lot cheaper than the high street, ie Nike, , Gap, Old Navy, etc.
Macys is a mid to high range Department store, which until recently was the largest department store in the world. Its flagship store is on Herald Square in Manhattan. It has a very diverse range of merchandise. Also Saks on Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side is another very famous department store, selling high end products.
Check out the following places for the ultimate in high fashion in NYC. Victorias Secret in Soho, also Banana Republic, Old Navy, Bloomingdales. There are so many great little boutiques in this area too. Nolita is another area worth checking out. Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue are not to be missed either. Wear some comfy shoes and just walk. The great thing about New York is you can walk everywhere, it’s easy to find your way around. Also there’s the subway and a whole lot of taxis if you do get tired.
Upper West Side
Above 59th Street, it is an upscale residential neighbourhood. The Lincoln Centre is here, shopping at Columbus, the New York State Theatre, home of the New York State Ballet. Also there’s the American Museum of Natural History. And of course there is the Dakota apartment building where John Lennon was shot.
Upper East Side
Has some of the most expensive real estate anywhere in the world. The Whitney Museum, the Met, and the Guggenheim are just three of the nine magnificent museums on the Museum Mile. Try some window shopping down Park and Fifth, where some of the most upscale designer shops in NY reside.
The centre of Harlem is around 110th street. Harlem remains predominantly African American and a great place to witness and enjoy black culture.
The Financial District
It is here where Wall Street lies, the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The famous Twin Towers stood here untill September 2011 and a single tower is currently being built to replace them. The Financial District is on the Southern tip of Manhattan. Battery Park is on its edge, where ferries leave for Liberty Island. Trinity Church, located at Broadway and Wall Street is one of the oldest churches in the world, first built in 1697, although it has been destroyed and rebuilt twice, most recently in 1846. Many volunteers working at the site of the world trade centre after 911 bedded down in this church after a long day at work.
Soho – (South of Houston) Upscale shopping
Tribeca – (Triangle below Canal Street) Upscale shopping
Lower East Side
Little Italy – Best Italian retaurants and cafes
Chinatown – restaurants, fresh food and fish markets, bargain shopping
Chelsea/garment district – gay community, arts, nightlife
In Queens. An hour and a half to Manhattan. Taxi costs around $55. Make sure to agree the fee beforehand. Do the same with the shuttles. They tend to conveniently forget to mention the tax, an extra $10 at least.
An hour to Manhattan. A train will bring you directly to Midtown, Penn Station, this is a major advantage over JFK.
Around an hour to Manhattan, there are shuttles and taxis.
Flight times to New York
Dublin 6.5 hours | London 7 hours | Hong Kong 16 hours | San Diego 5 hours | Sydney 19.5 hours
The subway is the best way to get around New York. It’s cheap and very easy to use. It costs $2.50 if you purchase a MetroCard. These can be refilled when they ran out. The subway operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Pick up a free subway map from booth attendants.
Buses also accept the MetroCard. They run every 5 to 15 minutes, 24 hours a day and service most parts of the city. You could take a hop on hop off tour if you really want to get to know the city.
New York taxis are yellow. The light on top will be illuminated if available. Hotel doormen can hail them for you, make sure to tip them $1. Tip the taxi driver 15 to 20%.
New York is one of the safest large cities in the US. There are a few precautions you should take:
Don’t take too much cash around with you.
If someone approaches you claiming to have been robbed, lost their wallet or some other story, tell them to speak to a police officer. Don’t take out your wallet.
Be aware of your surroundings whilst watching street performers or anything else that might distract your attention, in case of pickpockets.
Take care at night, don’t walk down dark streets, take a cab whenever you can.
911 is the emergency number.
New York has some of the most expensive real estate in the world, so accommodation here is not cheap. If you are prepared to travel, base yourself outside of Manhattan where accommodation is much cheaper. However if you are only here for a short stay, as most visitors are, it would make more sense to base yourself in the city.
The hotel chains are the cheapest i.e. Super 8 and hostels of course. Midtown has many luxury hotels, very pricey. You could stay somewhere like the Pennsylvania Hotel on Seventh Avenue. It’s decent accommodation, near Madison Square Garden and the ESB.