Manhattan is not only the financial and commercial capital of the United States, but also a cultural center of the World. Home to Empire State Building, Times Square, Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange, Universities, Media Houses and Museums, you will be lost in Manhattan deciding on what to do. Read on for the 12 things to do in Manhattan, New York. The Manhattan experience is an assault on the senses, memories of which will last a lifetime.
Manhattan is the oldest of the five Burroughs of New York City. The Manhattan Island is about 22.7 Square miles in area and is bound by Hudson River on the West and East River on the East. It is divided into Downtown, Midtown, and Uptown areas.
If there is a single monument that captures New York’s diversity of culture, entertainment, business and commerce, it is The Empire state Building. Rising up to 102 floors, the view from the higher floors is outstanding. Towards South, the view covers Brooklyn Bridge, Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Washington Square Arch, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Woolworth Building, Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower and the New York Life Insurance Building.
United Nations Secretariat Building, Pepsi and Chrystler buildings are the highlights of the Eastern View. The North offers New York Public Library, Yankee Stadium, Citicorp Building, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Standard Co., St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Mercury Statue and Tiffany Clock atop Grand Central Terminal.
The Empire State Building is no longer the Tallest in the World, but that doesn’t stop it from inspiring mankind as it has been doing since 1931.
Located at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, Times Square is popularly referred to as the "The Crossroads of the World". It is the world’s busiest pedestrian intersection as well as the most visited tourist attraction. Times Square is famous for its Bill Boards and glaring Neon Signs. In 1928, the first running electric sign was erected announcing the victory of President Hoover in the elections. Today every building in Times Square is covered with Bill Boards. With its glaring lights and unlimited entertainment options, Times Square is one of the reasons that makes New York, a City that never sleeps!
Right since the American Independence Manhattan has been the center stage for many Cultural Movements. A massive fire had killed 146 workers in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in 1911. More than 20000 people, including women had marched to Washington Square Park to commemorate the tragic event. The women wore tucked-front blouses in the style manufactured at Triangle Shirtwaist Company. This style went on to become the working woman's uniform and a symbol of female independence in America. Manhattan also provided the canvas for The Harlem Renaissance, a cultural movement of 1920s which established the African-American Cultural Stamp in America.
Chelsea, in west Manhattan, is the Art Capital of New York with nearly 200 Art Galleries. Gagosian Gallery is one of the most popular Art Galleries in Manhattan. An interesting aspect here is the exhibition of 25 years of Spot Paintings by Damien Hirst. More than 300 paintings are exhibited here including first spot on board that Hirst created in 1986.
Mathew Marks is another famous Gallery focusing on modern and contemporary art in painting, sculpture, photography, installation art, film, drawings and prints. The gallery showcases works of established Artists like Ellsworth Kelly and Jasper Johns as well as young artists like Robert Gober and Nan Goldin.
(The Financal District)
Manhattan is also home to some of the finest Museums of the World showcasing works of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has more than 2 million pieces of Art featuring African, Asian, Oceanic, Byzantine, and Islamic art. Beyond Art, The Met also has a worthwhile collection of Musical Instruments, Costumes, Weapons and Armor from all parts of the world. The Museum of Modern Art, located on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues is considered to be the most influential museum of Modern Art in the world. This Museum has a file on nearly 70000 Artists! 22,000 films, 4 million film stills, 300,000 books, artist books and periodicals are its other treasures. Two of its most famous works on display are The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh and Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso.
Seeing a Broadway Musical is a must do activity for any visitor to New York City. There are more than 40 theatres between Broadway and Lincoln Centre playing host to some of the most famous plays in the English speaking world. Some recommendations for all-time favorites are Chicago, the famous musical about a murder trial, Mamma Mia, a story of a woman who wants to know the identity of her father and Phantom of the Opera which has been running for the past 15 years.
The Life Café is worth visiting to complete the Broadway experience. Located at the corner of 10th street and Ave B, this famous restaurant was featured in The Rent.
(Famous Christmas Tree of NBC in Rockefeller Building)
Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan provides the ultimate shopping experience for high fashion. It is expensive and if you are not in a mood to splurge, then you can just window shop! Once you visit Bergdorf Goodman you will understand why it is the favorite shopping destination for Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City!
Saks Fifth Avenue is another great shopping experience if you are looking for designer wear from the likes of Gucci, Prada or Diane von Furstenberg.
(NY Stock Exchange Building)
Central Park Zoo is a few steps away from Fifth Avenue and is a welcome break for Nature right in the middle of Manhattan. Some of the exotic exhibits among the 150 species here are Polar Bears, Snow Leopard, Penguins, Big Cats and Panda. The Sea Lion Show is probably them most popular section in the Zoo.
Statue of Liberty is just a ferry ride away from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. The statue, which represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, was an Independence Day gift from France to the Unites States. Ranger Guided tour is available free of charge at Liberty Island and it covers the history, concept, construction and restoration of the Monument.
Another recommendation near the Liberty Island is The Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The museum has documented the story of the 12 million immigrants who entered America from the Ellis Island. The audio tour makes you relive the Immigration experience as if you are a new arrival!
At the The American Family Immigration History Center, American visitors can actually trace back their ancestors by looking up the passenger records of the original immigrants! Make sure you carry details like the passenger's first and last names, approximate year of arrival, race, nationality, and religion, approximate age on arrival, ship of travel and port of departure.
Ellis Island has the world's longest Wall with names. The American Immigrant Wall of Honor has 700000 names and celebrates the American Immigration. The best part is that you can have your family name inscribed for posterity at Ellis Island! Along with the inscription you also get a certificate and an entry into the online Wall as well.
The origin of the word Manhattan can be traced back to 1609 when Robert Juet an officer on board Henry Hudson's yacht Halve Maen, recorded it as such in his log book. Manhattan literally means "Island of many hills” in the language of the Lenape Indians, who had long inhabited this area prior to the arrival of the Europeans. Manhattan started as a Dutch Fur Trading center and was purchased from the Lenape Indians for goods worth $24 in 1626!
For my travelogue on other places around New York, visit Holiday Ideas around New York.
For my trevelogue on places around London, visit Holiday Ideas around London.