Since I call NYC home I must give a bit more history about this amazing place. This area of North America was originally inhabited by the Lenape tribe of Native Americans, specifically the Unami.
Though European settlement began around 1609, modern New York City began with the formal creation of the five boroughs in 1898, and mass immigration followed in the early 20th century.
Each new community established roots in a different neighborhood, giving the city areas like Chinatown, Little Italy and the Lower East Side – a stronghold of Jewish immigrants. African-Americans migrated from the south and helped fuel a cultural boom of art, music and literature in Harlem.
Despite the Great Depression of the 1930s, development continued, and skyscrapers began to shape the city’s aesthetic. Art deco buildings went up, as did as bridges and parkways, right through until WWII.
A post-war economic boom saw a real expansion of the residential boroughs, as Wall Street and the United Nations led the way in world economics and political affairs. Shipbuilding and fabric production declined but hotels, restaurants and bars opened up on an astonishing scale, transforming the city into a service economy.
New York in the 1960s shook with race riots, gang wars and activism on a proactive scale. Even through to the late 1970s, much of the city remained edgy.
As Wall Street took center stage during the materialism of the 1980s, crime and unemployment stayed high, but as the 1990s approached, reform and social recovery were in the air. The dotcom market roared into life, fueling a building boom across the city. Meanwhile, tough-talking Mayor Rudy Giuliani tackled crime, helping make New York, America’s safest big city.
2001 was defined by the horrendous terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, when 3,000 people died. The trauma eventually fortified the city, and New York set about rebuilding itself, both psychologically and physically.
The 2000s saw New York on the ascent. New projects reshaped the city, from waterfront parks on Manhattan’s West Side and Brooklyn to new stadiums and ballparks (including new arenas for the NY Yankees, the Mets and the Brooklyn Nets).
Did you know?
- In 1789, New York City became the first capital city of the US.
- A B-25 Bomber crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building in 1945, leaving a 20-foot hole in the side.
- In 1944, the lights in the crown of the Statue of Liberty flashed dot-dot-dot-dash which means ‘V, for Victory in Europe’ in Morse code.
- The Mandarin Oriental – For heart-stopping views, nothing beats the Mandarin Oriental, in the posh Time Warner Center above Columbus Circle. The lobby level starts 35 stories up in the sky, and the Central Park views are unreal. All 248 sleek, Asian-inspired rooms (which run from floors 38 to 54!) have a sexy red, black, and cream color palette, and the staff can’t do enough for you. Toast your first night with “Bella Pescas” (champagne, elderflower liquor, lychee juice, and a splash of Chambord) at scene-y Mobar, just off the lobby. Rooms start from $695.
- Mondrian Soho – We love the refined elegance of uptown—but for sheer energy, electricity in the air, and late nights out, nothing beats downtown. One of the coolest new places to stay—that’s still intimate and warm enough for a honeymoon—is the Mondrian Soho, a 270-room hotel that straddles Soho and Chinatown. The rooms are done up in a feminine, elegant cream-and-blue palette, and the downstairs restaurant, Isola, serves superb Italian food: Think burrata pizza with squash-blossom pesto, or branzino with braised escarole and limoncello sauce.
- Crosby Street Hotel – This chic downtown hotel features 86 individually designed guestrooms and suites, all with floor-to-ceiling windows, original artwork and a stylish contemporary design. Guests also enjoy the leafy garden, the private screening room and a whimsically designed bar. The hotel is beautifully located on a cobblestone street just a short stroll from the great dining and shopping in Soho and Nolita.
- Lowell Hotel – New York hotels don’t come too much classier than this 1927 landmark building, set on a leafy street in one of the Upper East Side’s most fashionable spots. Discreet and aristocratic, the liveried doormen escort you to opulent rooms crammed with period furniture and antique décor. It manages to retain an understated air, though, and is the ultimate retreat for those that can afford it.
- St. Regis – This New York hotel jewel, built in 1904, has been restored to its original grandeur. The marble-floored lobby hints at the luxury found in the guest rooms – silk-covered walls, richly detailed crown moulding and crystal chandeliers. The Manhattan hotel is centrally located for taking in the wondrous shopping scene along Fifth Avenue, or strolling into nearby Central Park. The elegant dining room of Astor Court is a requisite stop for afternoon tea.
- BRONX – With a population of 1.3 million residents living in a 44-square-mile borough, the Bronx is well-known as the home of the New York Yankees. Tour Yankee Stadium (newyork.yankees.mlb.com) to see the dugout, batting cages, the Yankees Museum and Monument Park. The 250-acre New York Botanical Garden (nybg.org) is also available to tour in the Bronx and features 50 gardens and 30,000 trees. See bison, bears and bald eagles at the Bronx Zoo (bronxzoo.com) during a visit to the borough or walk along the Hudson River at 28-acre Wave Hill (wavehill.org), a public garden and cultural center.
- BROOKLYN – Spanning 81 square miles, the borough of Brooklyn is home to 2.5 million residents, as of 2011. Join a three-hour bicycle tour across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to see Brooklyn Heights and other sites on an adventure with Bike and Roll Tours (bikeandroll.com/newyork). Pizza fans may prefer the 4.5-hour tour of Brooklyn’s best pizzerias and notable landmarks by bus with A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours (asliceofbrooklyn.com). The company also offers a four-hour neighborhood tour of Brooklyn past well-known movie locations and parks as well as a 3 1/2-hour Christmas Lights tour during December.
Night owls can find a dark booth and a great selection of cocktails and beers all over the city, but Brooklyn’s Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighbourhoods serve up some of the best spots. Maison Premiere’s absinthe cocktails are a great way to kick off a night on the tiles on uber-hip Bedford Avenue.
- MANHATTAN – While the borough of Manhattan is synonymous with New York City to many visitors, it is the smallest of the five geographically, with a total area of 23 square miles and 1.6 million residents.
Manhattan remains the vibrant centre, the first among the Five Boroughs. Walk its long, unending avenues and you’ll see a cross–section of the globe: the frenetic buzz of Chinatown, the bookish hush around New York University and Washington Square Park, the epicentre of black culture in Harlem. A must see individual landmark in Manhattan is the Empire State Building (esbnyc.com). Tours of the Big Apple are available by rickshaw (manhattanrickshaw.com), water taxi (nywatertaxi.com), helicopter (heliny.com) or horse-drawn carriage (centralpark.com), among others.
There is no better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with a stroll or bicycle ride through Central Park (centralparknyc.org). Be sure to visit Sheep Meadow, the Conservatory Garden, The Reservoir and Strawberry Fields. For a romantic meal in the center of it all, pop into The Loeb Central Park Boathouse for a bite. If you’re looking for something extremely romantic and over the top, treat yourselves to a horse-drawn carriage ride, complete with Champagne. No visit to New York is complete without taking in a Broadway musical. The hot tickets right now are Kinky Boots, Motown and Wicked.
The Statue of Liberty—at night! Try a four-hour “Starlight Dinner” cruise with Hornblower Yachts. The boat leaves at 6 p.m. from Pier 40—and then you’re on for dinner, drinks, and a DJ spinning tunes while you sail past Lady Liberty.
A visit to Grand Central Station is also a must.
The Met, head up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the “Met” for short), which has a rooftop bar that’s fabulous on a summer evening. Oh, and downstairs is also stuffed full of art—everything from Van Goghs to Monets to Elizabethan knights’ armor to ancient Egyptian sarcophagi.
Lovers of modern art can’t miss a trip to The Museum of Modern Art in midtown.
Union Square’s world-famous Greenmarket is also a great stop if you’re looking to tickle your taste buds.
- STATEN ISLAND – The smallest borough in population, 60-square-mile Staten Island is home to 477,000 residents and easily accessible via the Staten Island Ferry (siferry.com). The Staten Island Ferry is free to ride to get a breathtaking view of the Hudson River and the city line. On the island, tour the 1881 Staten Island Museum (statenislandmuseum.org) with two million artifacts and specimens or the Staten Island Zoo (statenislandzoo.org) to see a 16,000-square-foot reptile house. Historic Richmond Town (historicrichmondtown.org) is an authentic 50-acre pioneer village with 30 buildings, including a schoolhouse from 1695, that are open to visitors to tour.
- QUEENS – is home to 2.2 million residents and encompasses 112 square miles. Tour Shea Stadium (newyork.mets.mlb.com), home of the New York Mets and currently branded as Citi Field, starting from the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and explore press box, field and dugouts. Tennis fans may prefer to tour the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (usta.com), which hosts the U.S. Open each year, or play a game on one of the courts open seven days a week.
Foodies will be overwhelmed with options. The Astoria neighbourhood in Queens is a great bet for those looking to eat cheaply and well, with a melting pot of Greek, Italian, Egyptian and Chinese restaurants.
Now for the fun stuff…. New York’s capacity to surprise and delight never waivers – this is a metropolis which constantly reinvents itself, setting trends which every other world city glamours to follow.
New York, or the Big Apple, has something for just about everyone. Whether you’re looking for cultural attractions, fine dining or even natural beauty, you will find an astonishing (and overwhelming) array of options! From Lady Liberty to the Empire State Building, there are enough landmarks to keep you busy forever. With a new restaurant opening every week, the challenge isn’t finding a good option — it’s narrowing down which one to choose. And the vibrant nightlife here has a scene for every crowd. New York City isn’t called “the city that never sleeps” for no reason!
If you’re more interested in shopping than eating, then New York has it covered. Music lovers are blessed with a first rate record shopping scene, led by Rough Trade NYC and South Slope’s ace Permanent Records, while the weekly Brooklyn Flea Market (held at various locations throughout the year) is great for unique treasures and one–off fashion.
Just remember that even the hardiest New Yorker hasn’t seen everything the city has to offer. Pick a few highlights and you’ll be certain to want to come back for more.
NEW YORK CITY IS THE HOTSPOTS FOR HONEYMOONERS ALL OVER THE WORLD.
WHERE TO STAY IN NYC
WHATS HAPPENING IN EACH BOROUGH
HOW TO GET AROUND NYC
New York City is served by three airports: JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty. Visitors can take a yellow taxi (for a flat rate from JFK or for a metered fare from LaGuardia), car service, shuttle bus or public transit to get to Manhattan. Do not rent a car unless you plan to stay outside of the Metro area because street parking in Manhattan is virtually nonexistent and garages charge exorbitant prices.
Getting around Manhattan is easy, especially if you enjoy walking. One of the best ways to see the city is on foot. To get somewhere fast, the subway is an efficient mode of transport and a New York rite of passage. However, for those who aren’t keen on venturing into the world of public transit, yellow taxis are easy to hail on the street.