A Guide to New York

The Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps, The Capital of the World: this magnetic destination has earned countless nicknames. New York City is home to iconic treasures like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park, and Rockefeller Center, offering something for absolutely everyone. There’s so much to discover in this celebrated city.

By the numbers

Population: 8,550,405 (city); 23,723,696 (metropolitan)

Elevation: 33 feet / 10 meters

Time Zone: GMT -5 (GMT -4 Daylight Saving Time); Eastern Standard Time (EST)

The city is about 12 miles (19 kilometers) east of Newark, New Jersey and around 80 miles (129 kilometers) northeast of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Weather

Average Annual Precipitation: 46.23 inches / 117.4 centimeters

Average Annual Snowfall: 25 inches / 63.5 centimeters

Average January Temperature: 32°F / 0°C

Average July Temperature: 77°F / 25°C

Did you know?

The nickname “The Big Apple” came from sportswriter John Fitzgerald eavesdropping on stable hands in New Orleans, terming NYC’s racetracks as “The Big Apple”.

Babe Ruth slammed his first home run in the first game ever played at Yankee Stadium.

New York City is located in the very southern part of New York State, situated on the Hudson River and New York Harbor.

District Guide

New York City, arguably the world’s most vibrant and sprawling metropolis, occupies five boroughs, each with its own distinct identity. After all, before the historic 1898 consolidation, Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island were each independent municipalities.

Manhattan
Urban skyline in Midtown Manhattan with distant view of Empire State Building
Manhattan, home to the most recognizable sites, dominates popular perception of New York City. Its most famous districts are listed below:

Wall Street & the Financial District
New York’s first district remains its most historic. Wall Street investment banks coexist with landmarks like Trinity Church. Battery Park draws people for its panoramic views. The World Trade Center was also one of the area’s most popular destinations, until its tragic destruction on September 11, 2001, which took the lives of many New Yorkers and affected the entire nation. Here stand the One World Trade Center and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum that’s open to visitors and commemorates those that lost their lives.

Harlem
Long the national epicenter of African-American culture, Harlem was home to the Harlem Renaissance, arguably this country’s most influential artistic, literary and cultural movement. Harlem is known for its jazz clubs and Southern restaurants. The 19th-century brownstone houses share space with newer constructions and this neighbourhood’s trendy eateries, music venues and clubs draw crowds through the weekend. Along 125th Street, the Apollo Theatre still hosts a fantastic line up of talent, while local dining institutions like Sylvia’s are the place to go for real old-fashioned Soul Food.

Greenwich Village
At the turn of the 20th Century, Greenwich Village drew free spirits from around the nation, including poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and playwright Eugene O’Neill. As the years went on, rents inevitably rose. Now, its townhouses are some of the most expensive in the city. New York University students gather here in Washington Square Park. A diverse array of shops, bars and music clubs exist along Bleecker Street. Mosey on over to the Blind Tiger Ale House for a pint or stop by the Le Poisson Rouge for a live show.

East Village
Artists, students and young professionals have gone a long way towards gentrifying East Village neighbourhood. Even today, the artistic spirit that initially brought about change remains, evident in such vibrant cultural establishments as St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery Church. Urban gardens, like Tompkins Square Park and art exhibits sit beside cafes, craft shops and vegetarian restaurants. Cinema buffs will find the Anthology Film Archives with its screening of independent and experimental cinema worth a visit, while music enthusiasts should not miss out on Turntable Lab, a landmark record store that’s a neighbourhood favorite.

Soho & Tribeca
Once home to massive factories, artists moved in and transformed the area into a bustling urban mecca. Galleries, designer shops, sophisticated restaurants and trendy bars followed soon after. Among many others in the area, Locanda Verde stands out for its rustic Italian fare and celeb sightings combined with fresh seasonal cuisine and an upbeat atmosphere. Today, tourists flock to the area and rents have risen sky high.

Lower East Side
This area once housed some of the city’s worst slums, well-chronicled by the Lower East Side Conservancy. Today’s higher rents mean that the only people who can afford to live here, and want to, are young professionals. The historic Orchard Street Shopping District is home to several hip bars and nightclubs.

Chinatown
Asian restaurants, grocery stores and trinket shops line the ever-crowded streets of Chinatown. Dim Sum and other favorites attract diners on practically every corner, especially on famous Mott Street. Sip on a refreshing bubble tea as you await your table at one of the many budget-friendly and incredibly popular eateries like the Nom Wah Tea Parlour. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, don’t miss the traditional baked goods at Tai Pan.

Little Italy
Frank Sinatra, Italian restaurants and kitsch draw tourists to the lively neighbourhood of Little Italy surrounding Mulberry Street. The Feast of San Gennaro still welcomes its throngs, but the neighbourhood is fast becoming surrounded by nearby Chinatown.

Gramercy & Flatiron
The majestic Flatiron Building lords over this beautiful, eclectic district marked by loft spaces to the west and pre-war residences to the east. More than a century after their construction, the apartment buildings and townhouses around Gramercy Park remain coveted residences.

Chelsea
Once a working-class community, Chelsea has also become a posh address. As rents in Greenwich Village rose, the vibrant gay community moved upwards to occupy Chelsea’s many brownstones and loft spaces. Others followed, and today it reflects all of New York’s ethnic and cultural diversity. West Chelsea is home to many art galleries, and there are a number of great restaurants, such as Cookshop, which serves seasonal American cuisine. Chelsea still retains some reminders of its more conservative past, as evident by the General Theological Seminary and the Church of the Guardian Angel.

Midtown
As the name implies, Midtown is smack in the middle of everything. Nobody is really sure where Midtown begins (most would say somewhere at the 30-block), but most agree it stops around Central Park. Publishing houses, financial firms, import/export companies and fashion houses all do business here. Trump Tower entices shoppers, along with all those glorious stores along Fifth Avenue. Ice skaters twirl at Rockefeller Center and the spectacular St. Patrick’s Cathedral offers serenity and spirituality.

Times Square & Hell’s Kitchen
Nothing screams New York quite like the neon billboards of Times Square. Some New Yorkers miss the former seediness, however, most people begrudgingly admit that it is better this way. Visitors adore everything from souvenir shops to enormous billboards and Broadway musicals. A few blocks west lies Hell’s Kitchen, a community filled with eclectic restaurants, such as Five Napkin Burger, bars, shops, and, of course, the Actors Temple.

Upper East Side
Park, Fifth and Madison have always been posh avenues. Whether in the gilded manors of yesteryear, like Gracie Mansion in Schurz Park, or the area’s high-rise modern apartments, old money and high society have long made their home here. Consequently, shops to serve them line Madison Avenue. Baby Gap coexists with art galleries and antique shops. Further east, new money has overtaken the old Yorkville slum.

Upper West Side
When the co-ops of the East Side were freer to restrict residents, the Upper West Side became home to new money. Then, as “modernist” Eastsiders tore down their pre-war palaces, Upper West Side residents kept their old buildings, such as the famous Ansonia and the Dakota; renters now value the neighbourhood’s attractive real estate. Meanwhile, bars and restaurants catering to Long Island and New Jersey folk (aka, the “Bridge and Tunnel” crowd) continue to sprout up along Columbus and Amsterdam avenues.

New York’s four other boroughs each have a distinct identity of their own as well and are worth exploring for their own merits.

Brooklyn
Young woman with headphones and smart phone crossong street in Brooklyn, carying take away drink
This massive borough stretches from festive Coney Island to elegant Brooklyn Heights. But wherever Brooklynites hail from, they remain a largely proud lot. They can boast of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the gorgeous bridge that bears the borough’s name, the Brooklyn Museum, and a thriving restaurant scene. Don’t miss a slice at the famous Grimaldi’s, the line is worth the wait. Brooklyn is also one of the best places to explore the city’s vibrant live music scene. From alternative and indie bands to top-of-the-charts performers, everyone eventually makes their way to this happening borough. Whether you enjoy mainstream music or enjoy discovering underground acts, you’ll find it here. The theatre scene is also booming here, and alternative and avant-garde groups find a home in Brooklyn’s upcoming performance spaces. Head the waterfront for some of the best views of the Manhattan skyline. On a warm day, you’ll be joined by hoards of fellow sun worshippers!

Queens
Friends at a train station in Queens, New York
From Flushing to Astoria, Queens is experiencing a quiet renaissance, as refugees from Manhattan’s high rents continue to discover what this working-class borough offers its residents. Inexpensive ethnic restaurants pepper the borough. Queens is also home to the Museum of the Moving Image and Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The Bronx
Fire escape
This borough boasts the Yankees, one of the nation’s finest zoos, and an extraordinary Botanical Garden. Areas including the South Bronx have benefited from economic booms. Catch a game at the Yankee Stadium, and feel the energy as you cheer on the team. For art fans, the Bronx Museum of the Arts is an innovative address celebrating the works of a multi-ethnic community that calls this borough home. For views along the Harlem River, the historic High Bridge is the place to go. History buffs will find plenty to interest them at the Woodlawn Cemetery that’s more than a century old. Architectural landmarks and famous personalities abound here.

Staten Island
Passengers travel on the Staten Island Ferry in New York City
Just a free ferry ride from Manhattan, Staten Island is a fascinating visit, especially for those who enjoy mixing sightseeing with history. From lounging on the beach to exploring Historic Richmond Town and the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, there’s plenty to do here.

Dining and drinking

Despite all its diversity, New York City social life revolves around a single ritual—dining out. Whether it be a power broker paying hundreds for a meal at one of the city’s many fine dining restaurants or a slacker scraping together some money for a pizza at Lombardi’s, each experiences the city’s unique culinary fusion. Add lively conversation with friends, and voilá!—you’ve found the real New York City. With the sheer number of ethnic influences, talented chefs making a name for themselves, hot spots, hidden gems, delis and diners—New York offers something for everyone’s palate.
Friends sharing a meal together
Diners enjoy gastronomic delights across the five boroughs, but the following districts are particularly noteworthy:

Midtown
Old money dines at prestigious and elegant classics like 21 Club. Superstar Jean-Georges Vongerichten reinvents fine dining at his eponymous Jean-Georges.

Hell’s Kitchen
A few steps west of the Times Square tourist trap lies this former slum now transformed into an enclave of eclectic eateries, many ideal for pre- and post-theater dining. From the romantic Cassellula to the family-run Chez Napoleon, there’s something for everyone. You can also grab a bite at Five Napkin Burger.

Gramercy & Union Square
This notable area of fine dining boasts top-rated, understated establishments like the Gramercy Tavern. A neighbourhood rich in history, the landmark Pete’s Tavern still draws a relaxing pint and serves up old-fashioned pub grub after over a century in the business.

West Village
World-class restaurants like the favorite Gotham Bar & Grill and the stunningly romantic One if by Land, Two if by Sea work their magic in the brownstones of this historic neighbourhood. If you’re craving delicious Italian food, try famous chef Mario Batali’s restaurant and enoteca, Babbo. Other options in this neighbourhood include some of the city’s best falafel at Taim, and great brunch and coffee at the small French cafe, Tartine.

East Village
Funky, inexpensive ethnic restaurants and hip bars draw people here from all over the city. The well-known bargain eateries are usually filled with local hipsters and students as well as visitors. Visit the highly-rated Caracas Arepa Bar for fantastic Venezuelan cuisine.

Soho
Where the art world congregates, trendy dining establishments follow. The Mercer Kitchen serves some of the city’s most innovative cuisine as the world’s most fabulous people vie for tables there (not to mention a couple of blocks over at Balthazar). Elsewhere amongst the galleries and posh shops, black-clad sophisticates socialize at oh-so-very-Soho classics like Raoul’s.

Tribeca
Among Tribeca’s spectacular loft spaces, masterful restaurateur Drew Nieporant has created a mini-kingdom for himself, along with friend and investor Robert DeNiro. Nieporant offers diners amazing New American cuisine at Tribeca Grill. For something outside Nieporant’s empire, try the flashy Odeon.

Little Italy
That’s amore! Along bustling Mulberry Street, old-country restaurants blare Frank Sinatra into the street while barkers summon the crowds. For those who love red sauces with their pasta or veal, choices abound. From Pellegrino’s to Casa Bella, it’s difficult to go wrong. For pizza, Lombardi’s serves some of the best pies in the city.

Chinatown
Like a trip to Asia but without leaving Manhattan, the scores of restaurants on Chinatown’s dynamic streets offer every variety of Asian cuisine (often at bargain prices). For those in search of quality dumplings, Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant is the place. Seeking Chinese-style barbecue? Big Wong King fits the bill; and if one craves noodles at three in the morning, New York Noodle Town always hits the mark.

Elsewhere
What? Where’s my Peter Luger, you say? Or what about the River Cafe with its glorious views? New York City’s selection of amazing places to feast and imbibe is ever growing, ever changing and always exciting.

Entertainment

New York offers a dizzying array of entertainment options. So much so that the enormous number of choices often overwhelms even the most jaded New Yorker.
Night Life, NYC.
Galleries & Museums
Whatever the month, art museums and galleries put on shows and street performers entertain in the parks. Year round, most museums offer a day of free admission during the week. Many other galleries and museums are free all the time. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is technically free, although they do push you for an optional donation. Other nearby museums include the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Other interesting museums in the city include the American Folk Art Museum, the ever popular American Museum of Natural History and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

Music
Those without means will find summertime particularly rich with options. From concerts by the New York Philharmonic to Shakespeare in Central Park, free culture is everywhere. Catch all types of performances at Symphony Space.

Downtown, with its traditionally youthful edge, offers numerous free choices. The Sidewalk Cafe is a great venue overflowing with every kind of band trying to make it in this big, bad city. Some are better than others. See well-known bands up close at the Bowery Ballroom.

Frank Sinatra was wise when he sang, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere…” The world’s best performers know that without success in the Big Apple, they aren’t really successful, and a good measure of achievement is the chance to perform at Madison Square Garden. From the latest diva at the Metropolitan Opera House to Irving Plaza’s hottest band, the best of the best make it all look easy.

Attractions
Even without a concert, from Belvedere Castle to Sheep’s Meadow, Central Park itself provides numerous amusements for its visitors. Spending a day at the Bronx Zoo is a longstanding New York City pastime. For some local and national history, take a trip on the Circle Line and pay a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and its immigration museum, both important landmarks for the melting pot that is America.

Theatre
Many days, visitors may choose between a pricey Broadway extravaganza or one of the city’s numerous free parades. Adventurous theatergoers eschew Broadway for off- and off-off-Broadway while those seeking to express themselves haunt the city’s many nightclubs. Meanwhile, divas and drag queens prove nightly that cabaret is not a thing of the past.

De La Guarda and Blue Man Group are totally funky yet accessible ongoing off-Broadway shows.

In addition to being a museum, the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) is a performance and cinema mecca.

See world-class comedians perform at Dangerfield’s and Carolines on Broadway. The Metropolitan Opera and The New York City Ballet dazzle at Lincoln Center.

Cinema
Walking down Fifth Avenue or St. Marks Place (two streets as different as they can be) entertains New Yorkers far more than most Hollywood movies. If the outdoor entertainment is not enough, catch a movie at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 with IMAX. Art films from all over the world play at the Film Forum while the Anthology Film Archives show avant-garde cinema and hosts film screenings regularly.

Sports
For sports fans, there’s plenty to take in New York. With professional teams across a variety of sports, there’s always a game on here. The U.S. Open sees the world’s best tennis champions vying for the title. The New York Yankees play on home turf at the Yankees Stadium and the New York Giants have sports bars packed during their games. Watch the Rangers and the Knicks defeat their rivals at Madison Square Garden. Ice-skating at Wollman Rink is a great way to see Central Park.

Nightlife
From swanky Manhattan cocktail lounges to live music on Bleeker and Harlem’s iconic jazz bars to hipster hangouts and craft beer in Williamsburgh, there’s no shortage of nightlife in the city. Around the NYU and Greenwich Village, there are great spots to enjoy a casual drink, while Midtown and the Financial District lean towards a more business crowd. It’s always cocktail hour at the Dead Rabbit NYC, where the bartenders shake up some vintage cocktails while Maison Premiere is the stylish place for oysters in the outdoors.

New York is the very last word in club culture, with places in every corner of the city blasting music all night long. S.O.B.’s showcases world music, while the Knitting Factory provides a mixed bag of music, spoken word and art. For the hipsters there’s Niagara.

Recommended tours

This is a city with a countless number of things to see and do. From the bright lights of Times Square to the subdued opulence of the Guggenheim, it is the country’s biggest city, and arguably its most fascinating and appealing place.
Mixed race couple visiting Times Square New York in autumn.
Times Square
Times Square holds an overwhelming array of shops, restaurants and attractions. The Paramount Building, Madame Tussauds New York and Ed Sullivan Theater are all located in this area. When you’ve finished exploring, grab a bite at the nearby Ellen’s Stardust Diner.

Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is the trademark of the city; going to the top and taking some great pictures is a must. The Chrysler Building is an equally impressive piece of architecture not far from here. The magnificent Rockefeller Center and the stunning MoMA — Museum of Modern Art are not far away.

Guggenheim
Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Guggenheim is a mammoth spiral structure that inspires as much debate as the art it houses. It permanently displays works by Chagall, Picasso, Kandinsky, Klee, Van Gogh and many others. Walk along Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Built in 1870, it houses numerous collections that rank among the finest in the world. Dine at Goodman’s, then stop into the nearby Whitney Museum of American Art, which has a small number of permanent exhibits, with a focus on temporary shows.

Madison Square Garden
Tour Madison Square Garden and the historic Grand Central Terminal. Browse the stores located in Herald Square and stop into the Museum of Television and Radio to learn more about America’s entertainment history. Then take the NBC Studio Tour, where you can go behind the scenes of the networks most famous shows.

Washington Square Park
The Greenwich Village area is known for its bohemian atmosphere. Washington Square Park is surrounded by New York University buildings, and is heavily populated with students. This urbane area embodies its East Village neighbourhood, a vigorous mix of people within the larger melting pot of New York City. Browse the collection at the Grey Art Gallery, then grab a bite at the extremely popular 24-hour Ukranian restaurant, Veselka.

Statue of Liberty
A boat trip from the New York Harbor takes you around one of New York’s most iconic landmarks, the Statue of Liberty. You can also alight at Ellis Island and visit the Ellis Island National Immigration Museum.

If you’re looking for a tour of New York City that is a little bit off the beaten path, take a peak at the Little Bookroom guidebooks Historic New York Tours. These beautifully detailed books provide travellers with the necessary information to discover some of the not so often talked about establishments in the city that give visitors an inside look into the Big Apple. The city has many tour companies that will help guests plan their visits successfully.

Walking Tours
Joyce Gold History Tours of New York ( +1 212 242 5762/ http://www.nyctours.com/ )
NBC Studio Tour ( +1 212 664 7174/ http://www.nbcuniversalstore.com/ )
Times Square Free Tour ( +1 212 869 1890/ http://www.timessquarenyc.org/ )
Harlem Spirituals ( +1 212 391 0900/ http://www.harlemspirituals.com/ )
92nd Street Y Tours ( +1 212 415 5500/ http://www.92ndsty.org/ )
Jewish Hassidic Walking Tours ( +1 718 953 5244/ http://www.jewishtours.com/ )
Municipal Art Society Tours ( +1 212 935 3960/ http://www.mas.org/ )
Shop Gotham ( +1 201 795 4200/ http://www.shopgotham.com/ )

Bus Tours
On Location Tours ( +1 212 209 3370 / +1 212 683 2027/ http://www.screentours.com/ )
Harlem Spirituals ( +1 212 391 0900/ http://www.harlemspirituals.com/ )
Gray Line New York Sightseeing ( +1 212 445 0848 / +1 800 669 0051/ http://www.newyorksightseeing.com/ )
Starr Tours Show Bus ( +1 800 314 8411/ http://www.starrtours.com/ )

Helicopter Tours
Liberty Helicopter Tours (+1 212 967 6464 / +1 800 542 9933 / http://www.libertyhelicopters.com/)

Boat Tours
World Yacht Cruises (+1 212 630 8100 / +1 800 498 4270 / http://www.worldyacht.com/)
Circle Line (+1 212 563 3200 / http://www.circleline42.com/)

New York Waterways Sightseeing Cruises (+1 800 533 3779)
Spirit of New York Cruises (+1 866 211 3812 / http://www.spiritofnewyork.com/ny/index.jsp )

Studio Tours
NBC Studio Tour (+1 212 664 7174 / http://www.nbcuniversalstore.com/)

Culinary Tours
Savory Sojourns (+1 212 691 7314 / +1 888 972 8679 / http://www.savorysojourns.com)
A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour (+1 212 209 3370 / http://bknypizza.com/)

Sports Tours
Big League Tours (+1 866 619 1748 / +1 347 534 2475 / http://www.bigleaguetours.com/)

History

New York, a city of staggering contrasts, diversity and culture, ranks among history’s great trade and cultural centers. From Wall Street to the United Nations, the world’s most powerful and influential men and women prize success in New York above all other places. Its population hails from every country on the globe, bringing a variety of culture and viewpoints. However, above all else New York has always been about money and ambition.

Europe’s first contact with this area occurred in 1524, when Italian explorer Giovanni de Verrazano viewed New York from the base of Manhattan. The following year, a Portuguese explorer named Esteban Gomez reached the Hudson River. Despite these early encounters, the Dutch settled in New York first, after explorer Henry Hudson lent his name to the world’s largest tidal river. In 1625, six farms called “bouweries” were started in Manhattan.

The next year, Governor Peter Minuet purchased Manhattan from the Native Americans for USD24 worth of trinkets. By 1640, the predominately Dutch New Amsterdam (as it was then called) was teeming with the diversity of the New World, as the tolerant Dutch welcomed all.

Rapid expansion soon pitted early Dutch Manhattanites against English Puritans who had moved to the colony. Less than tolerant, the Puritans had banned bowling and even the celebration of Christmas. While initially seen as outsiders, the prosperous and hardworking Puritans soon had the political upper hand. After an invasion by British troops in 1664, an Anglo-Dutch treaty handed the city over to the English.

Under British rule, the renamed New York City saw its population grow from 6,000 to 20,000 by the end of the 17th Century. Events in Europe also brought turmoil to the city. Wars between England and France gave birth to privateering, or legalized piracy, that allowed the likes of Wall Street resident William Kidd to capture enemy ships off the coast of New York. During this time, New York City tolerated (and in some circles encouraged) the slave trade, and a large and prosperous slave market was located on Wall Street.

As the 18th Century wore on, England’s passage of restrictive acts of trade and imposition of tariffs on the American colonies brought about protest and ultimately revolution. New York City was strategically vital during the American Revolutionary War. Early on, from Brooklyn to Harlem, General George Washington’s army suffered a series of defeats and barely escaped capture. The British took the city and stationed troops there. At the end of the war, Washington was sworn in as the first president on the steps of New York’s Federal Hall.

New York’s stint as the United States capital was short-lived. Political wrangling dictated the newly created District of Columbia would be the new nation’s capital. However, the 1792 founding of the New York Stock Exchange launched the city as a financial center.

Explosive expansion and revolutionary inventions in the 19th Century forever transformed New York City. The Erie Canal, in its day the world’s greatest engineering feat, had New York’s ports at its terminus and strengthened the city’s position as a national trade center. Later, the city commissioned Central Park, designed and planned to save breathing space as the population boom moved uptown.

The American Civil War brought much sorrow and misery to New York, but also great prosperity as war profits soared. Yet, New York’s status as a Union stronghold became threatened with the passage of the nation’s first conscription act. Poor immigrants, angered that the wealthy could buy their way out of the draft, rioted violently.

As the century passed, New York displayed more technological marvels. A workforce thousands strong constructed the Brooklyn Bridge—then the tallest and longest in the world. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, and soon electric streetlights illuminated lower Manhattan. The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, was erected near the Battery. The present St. Patrick’s Cathedral was also built. At the end of the 19th Century, a string of palatial mansions rose along New York’s Fifth Avenue.

At the same time, economic conditions in Europe brought massive immigration to New York City, primarily consisting of Irish, German, Italian and Eastern Europeans. Immigrants worked long hours under harsh conditions and lived in unhealthy tenements. Reformers, galvanized by the success of the abolitionist movement as well as the gaining momentum of the suffragist and temperance movements, actively joined the fight to assist the immigrant poor.

By the 1920s, all of Manhattan was populated. Harlem, which had started as a Dutch farm, now attracted New York African-Americans as well as those migrating from the South. Jazz and blues and Prohibition-era speakeasies made the neighbourhood an entertainment mecca for all races. African-American musicians, artists and writers together formed a movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. On Broadway, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein along with George and Ira Gershwin led the popular music industry. The hedonistic decade ended however with a crash on Wall Street, leading to the Great Depression.

A backlash against corrupt politics ushered Fiorella LaGuardia into the mayor’s office, and the city began to work its way out of the Depression. Robert Moses built parks and the Rockefellers erected Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center.

New York emerged from the Depression and World War II with a new fervour for industry and construction. The United Nations complex started the post-war boom and was completed in the 1950s.

In 1972, a major change to the lower Manhattan skyline occurred with the completion of the World Trade Center, the 110-story structures commonly known as the “Twin Towers.” On September 11, 2001 these towers fell—the result of a terrorist attack.

Since then, plans are well along for the construction of several new World Trade Center buildings on the site, as well as a September 11 museum and memorial. New Yorkers are uniting to build a better city than ever before. Fifth Avenue is still a bastion of the wealthy, and numerous other neighbourhoods are home to yet another wave of immigration from Latin America, the Far East and Eastern Europe. New York still attracts hordes of ambitious people. Historian Peter Quinn, commenting on New York’s nature, said the city that started with Peter Minuet’s 24-dollar purchase is still the same, and if possible, even more so: “Donald Trump would have tried to pay 22 dollars.”

To learn more about the city, here are just some of the places you may wish to look:

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

National Museum of the American Indian

New York Historical Society

Getting there and getting around

Getting There

From the Airport
Free shuttle buses provide inter-terminal transport. The AirTrain can be ridden around the airport between terminals at no cost.

Car Rental: Each company is represented in the terminals with a service desk or courtesy phone. A free shuttle picks-up and drop-off passengers at the Rental Car Shuttle Transfer Point. Car Companies at LaGuardia include:

Avis (+1 800 230 4898/ http://www.avis.com)
Budget (+1 800 527 0700/ http://www.budget.com)
Dollar (+1 800 800 3665/ http://www.dollar.com)
Enterprise (+1 800 736 8222/ http://www.enterprise.com)
Hertz (+1 800 654 3001/ http://www.hertz.com)
National (+1 800 227 7368/ http://www.nationalcar.com)

Taxi: Taxis are readily available outside the terminals, but make sure you book through a uniformed dispatcher and hire an authorized cab. Set fare to central Manhattan is USD40 from LaGuardia.

Limo Companies

Super Shuttle
+1 212 258 3826
http://www.supershuttle.com/

Super Shuttle offers a rather inexpensive door-to-door option from 7a-11p. For USD15 to USD20, shared service into Manhattan is available on demand, daily 24 hours.

Connecticut Limo
+1 800 472 5466
http://www.ctlimo.com

Transit service to and from southern Connecticut with several stops in New Haven, Fairfield and Westchester Counties. This limo services JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports along with connections to Bradley Airport (BDL) in Hartford. One-way from New Haven USD65, round-trip USD126. Senior and companion rates apply.

Bus & Coach Service: Those with a sense of adventure and a minimal budget can hop the Q10 Green Bus (+1 718 995 4700) or Q3 Transit Authority Bus (+1 718 330 1234). Each departs outside the JFK terminals every 15 minutes and connects to various subway lines leading into the city.

MTA Express Bus Services
+1 718 875 8200
http://www.nyairportservice.com

Coach Service travels to the Port Authority Bus Station, Penn Station, and Grand Central in Manhattan. Service runs every 15-30 minutes and costs around USD12.

Olympia Airport Express
+1 877 894 9155
http://www.olympiabus.com

Olympia buses operate every 15-40 minutes (depending on destination) to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Grand Central Station and Bryant Park. Fares start at USD15.

Tran-Bridge
+1 800 962 9135
http://www.transbridgebus.com

Tran-bridge operates bus service to the Port Authority bus station three times daily. Fares start at USD18.

DC2NY
http://dc2ny.com/

Providing service between New York City’s Penn Station and two downtown locations in Washington DC. In addition to express service and comfortable seats, DC2NY also provides free WiFi Internet access.

Rail at JFK

The fast AirTrain connects to the Howard Beach Station and the Jamaica Station with connections to the MTA A, E and J/Z lines and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).

Rail at Newark

Improvements in transportation from Newark to Manhattan and elsewhere on the East Coast have greatly improved over the past few years. The additional service provided by Amtrak easily connects travelers with the vast Amtrak network that exists on the eastern seaboard. PATH and NJ Transit trains also frequently pass through, providing service into Newark-Penn Station and Penn Station in Manhattan.

By Bus

Greyhound buses operate to and from Boston. The NY Port Authority Bus Terminal is located at 625 8th Avenue in Manhattan (+1 212 971 6789 / http://locations.greyhound.com/bus-stations/us/new-york/new-york/bus-station-151239).

By Train

Amtrak (+1 800 872 7245 / https://www.amtrak.com/home.html) operates from New York Penn Station and services major cities on the east coast including Washington, D.C., Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Haven and Providence.

By Car
The city is easily accessed by I-95 north/south connecting to numerous east/west routes. The problem is that when you get there you may be stuck in traffic the entire trip. Be sure you have dollar bills and coins for the many tolls!

Getting Around

By Car
Even for seasoned drivers, navigating the greater New York City area is at times frustrating and difficult. Best to search out a parking spot, which also takes some effort, unless your hotel offers a lot, and opt for alternative forms of transport. The ubiquitous yellow cabs make getting around the city a breeze. Cabs can be hailed just about anywhere, but preferably at intersections. Other licensed private car and limo companies can be called for pick up and are often comparable in rates to the standard taxis. You may have to rely on these in the outer boroughs because taxis are usually scarce there.

For up-to-date traffic information, go to: http://www3.travelinfony.com/carsgoogle/

For reliable car hire service in and around the city, contact A&C Transport Car service. (+1 609 573 5163/ http://www.actransportonline.com)

A.C. Taxi and Blue Car Service (+1 609 645 2583/ http://www.acblue.com/) offers a variety of transportation needs with a fleet of taxis, minivans and stretch limos. Service is offered to Philadelphia (two hours) and Atlantic City (two-three hours). One day prearranged reservation via phone or email for pickup in Philadelphia or New York City.

Atlantic City Airport Taxi & Lou’s Luxury Car Service (+1 609 383 1457/ http://www.limolou.com/) serves riders to and from Atlantic City to the region’s major airports, Philadelphia, New Jersey and southern New York.

By Subway
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) (http://www.mta.info) is the umbrella organization for the city’s multiple forms of transport ranging from subways and buses to an extensive system of commuter trains. The often daunting and complicated subway system has a reputation for being sluggish and dangerous, but over the past decade it has been cleaned up a bit (crime-wise at least) and is a reliable means to get around. Some 24 routes (lettered and numbered) web across the five boroughs. Subway fare is USD2.25, or USD8.25 for the 1-Day Fun Pass with unlimited rides on the subway and local buses.

By Bus
Bus service is also widespread, although by no means as quick for longer cross-town journeys, and most routes operate 24 hours daily. Bus fare is USD2.25, or USD8.25 for the 1-Day Fun Pass with unlimited rides on the subway and local buses. Express bus fare is USD5.50. MetroCards also work on buses.

The Port Authority Bus Terminal ( 625 8th Ave., between W. 40th and W. 42nd Sts., Midtown West/ +1 212 564 8484/ http://www.panynj.gov ) is the transport hub for multiple long haul and commuter buses coming and going to all points across the region and the United States.

By Train
Unlike most other places in the United States, train travel is a viable alternative to air travel in the Northeast, especially if the destination is New York.

Amtrak
+1 800 872 7245
http://www.amtrak.com
Acela high-speed train stops at the following eastern cities: Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton, Newark, New York, Stamford, New Haven, New London, Providence and Boston. Get from Penn Station to Washington in under three hours or to Boston in three and a half hours. Trains from Penn Station.

Long Island Rail Road (LIRR)
+1 718 217 5477
http://www.mta.info/lirr
Daily trains to Port Jefferson, Greenport, Port Washington, Oyster Bay, Long Beach, Montauk, and Far Rockaway. Trains from Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal (in 2012).

Metro-North (MTN)
+1 800 638 7646
http://www.mta.info/mnr
Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties in New York. Fairfield and New Haven Counties in Connecticut. Trains from Grand Central Terminal.

New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit)
+1 800 772 2222
http://www.njtransit.state.nj.us
Services most of the state of New Jersey. Trains from Penn Station.

Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH)
+1 800 234 7284
http://www.panynj.gov
Service from 33rd and Broadway to Hoboken, the World Trade Center, Jersey City, Harrison and Newark-Penn Station. Trains from 33rd St, one block from Penn Station.

By Ferry
Various companies offer cross-river and cross-harbor water taxi and ferry service. Fares vary by service.

On Foot
Walking is what many New Yorkers do, but not at the normal tourist pace. So if you are gazing at attractions make sure to keep an eye out for the fast-walking throngs or you might be knocked to the ground by a mob.

If traveling overseas, take the safety precaution of registering your trip at https://travelregistration.state.gov and for helpful, practical advice about traveling technicalities and safety standards check out http://travel.state.gov.