Manhattan, ‘Capital’ of New York City
On a slender island crammed with taxis, buses, people, and buildings a long string of innovators has managed to create both a major business center and a tourist paradise. All within easy reach by subway, bus, or taxi.
Close to the southern tip of the island is the famed Wall Street area. Showing its Dutch origins and its geography, the streets run along at various angles and for short distances. But within those confines is housed many of the world’s financial powerhouses.
To see them in action, visit the New York Stock Exchange and listen to the traders engage in the two-centuries-old ‘outcry’ system, where orders are literally shouted out.
Though destroyed now, the World Trade Center is scheduled to rise again in the form of The Freedom Tower. At 1,776 feet it will be one of the world’s tallest and the famous Windows of the World restaurant and 360-degree viewing platform will be part of the building.
Ten minutes north on the subway is SoHo, (SOuth of HOuston) the renowned art gallery nexus of New York’s artist colony. Here you can find everything from Old Dutch Masters to the latest experiments with paint, metal, stone, and who-knows-what-next.
Just a short walk north from SoHo is Greenwich Village, home to jazz, comedy clubs and small theaters, restaurants, and the most interesting assortment of eccentrics the city can display. Don’t miss the breakfast at MacDougal’s (at the corner of MacDougal and Bleeker)!
At the top of Greenwich Village in New York University and Washington Square Park, with a famous miniature ‘Arch d’Triomphe’ and should-be-famous chess players. Enjoy a cup of coffee and watch a lightning-fast game.
Apartments dominate the scene until you reach 31st street where on the West Side (7th Ave) you have Madison Square Garden, which is neither square, gardened nor on Madison. (Two of the three were true a hundred years ago.) Concerts, boxing, and a major train station form only three of the attractions here.
A few blocks east to Fifth Avenue and you come upon the eighth wonder of the world: The Empire State Building. The Art Deco tower was built in record time and remains one of the largest office buildings in the world, seventy years later.
A short walk north and east you’ll find Broadway and 42nd Street and Times Square, the center of American theater. Only eight blocks east and two north of there is the Art Deco Rockefeller Center with an outdoor skating rink, Radio City Music Hall, and a very stylish restaurant: The Rainbow Room.
Scattered throughout the mid-town business district are some of the other justly famous buildings: The Pan Am (now the MetLife – underneath is Grand Central Station), Lever Bros, Seagram’s, Citicorp, and – on the East River – the United Nations.
It’s been a long walk, but just a few blocks more and you reach Central Park. 843 acres of grass, hillocks, and sidewalks where during the day you can enjoy the scenery and watch the skaters or visit the Zoo. At night, during the summer, there’s Shakespeare in the Park.
Even on a whirlwind tour, there’s far more than one could take in during a single visit. You haven’t even made it yet to Lincoln Center or the world-class Metropolitan Art Museum! Plan to stay awhile, or make several trips. You’ll need to just to sample some of the stellar restaurants.