The first native New Yorkers were the Lenape, an Algonquin people who hunted, fished and farmed in the area between the Delaware and Hudson rivers. Europeans began to explore the region at the beginning of the 16th century, among the first was Giovanni da Verrazzano, an Italian who sailed up and down the Atlantic coast in search of a route to Asia, but did not settled there until 1624. That year, the Dutch West India Company sent some 30 families to live and work in a tiny settlement on “Nutten Island” that they called New Amsterdam. (Now known as Governors Island). In 1626, the settlement’s governor general, Peter Minuit, purchased the much larger Manhattan Island from the natives for 60 guilders in trade goods such as tools, farming equipment, cloth and wampum (shell beads). Fewer than 300 people lived in New Amsterdam when the settlement moved to Manhattan, but it grew quickly. In 1760 the city surpassed Boston to become the second largest city in the American colonies. Fifty years later, with a population of just over 200 000, it became the largest city in the Western hemisphere. Today, more than 8 million people live in the city’s five boroughs.
New York City in the 18th Century
In 1664, the British seized New Amsterdam from the Dutch and gave it a new name, New York City. For the next century, the population of New York City grew larger and more diverse: It included immigrants from the Netherlands, England, France and Germany; indentured servants; and African slaves. New York City even served as the capital of the United States from 1785 to 1790.
During the 1760s and 1770s, the city was at the center of Anti-British sentiment. After the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765, New Yorkers closed their businesses in protest and burned the royal governor in effigy. However, the city was also strategically important, and the British tried to seize it almost as soon as the Revolutionary War began. In August 1776, despite the best efforts of George Washington’s Continental Army in Brooklyn and Harlem Heights, New York City fell to the British. It served as a British military base until 1783.
New York City in the 19th Century
The city recovered quickly from the war, and by 1810 it was one of the nation’s most important ports. It played a particularly significant role in the cotton economy. Southern cotton cultivators sent their crop to the East River docks, where it was shipped to the mills of Manchester and other English industrial cities. Then, textile manufacturers shipped their finished goods back to New York. But there was no easy way to carry goods back and forth from the growing agricultural hinterlands to the north and west until 1817, when work began on a 363 mile canal from the Hudson River to Lake Erie. The Erie Canal was completed in 1825. At last, New York City was the trading capital of the nation.
As the city grew, it made other infrastructural improvements. In 1811, the “Commissioner’s Plan” established an orderly grid of streets and avenues for the undeveloped parts of Manhattan north of Houston Street. In 1837, construction began on the Croton Aqueduct, which provided clean water for the city’s growing population. Eight years after that, the city established its first municipal agency: the New York City Police Department.
Meanwhile, in the 1840s to the 1950s, an increasing number of immigrants, first from Germany and Ireland, came to settle in the city. Southern and Eastern Europeans followed, which changed the face of the city. They settled in distinct ethnic neighborhoods, started businesses, joined trade unions and political organizations. They built churches and social clubs. For example, the predominantly Irish-American Democratic club known as Tammany Hall became the city’s most powerful political machine by trading favours such as jobs, services and other kinds of aid for votes.
New York City in the 20th Century
At the turn of the 20th century, New York City became the city we know today. In 1895, residents of Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn, all independent cities at that time, voted to “consolidate” with Manhattan to form a five borough “Greater New York.” As a result, on December 31, 1897, New York City had an area of 60 square miles (155 square kilometers) and a population of a little more than 2 million people. On January 1, 1898, when the consolidation plan took effect, New York City had an area of 360 square miles and a population of about 3,350,000 people.
The 20th century was an era of great struggle for American cities, and New York was no exception. The construction of interstate highways and suburbs after World War II encouraged affluent people to leave the city, which combined with de-industrialization and other economic changes to lower the tax base and diminish public services. This, in turn, led to more out-migration and “white flight.” However, the Hart-Cellar Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 made it possible for immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America to come to the United States. Many of these newcomers settled in New York City, revitalizing many neighborhoods.
New York City in the New Millennium
On September 11, 2001, New York City suffered the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United States when a group of terrorists crashed two hijacked jets into the city’s tallest buildings: the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The buildings were destroyed and nearly 3,000 people were killed. In the wake of the disaster, the city remained a major financial capital and tourist magnet, with over 40 million tourists visiting the city each year.
Today, more than 8 million New Yorkers live in the five boroughs, more than one-third of whom were born outside the United States. Thanks to the city’s diversity and vibrant intellectual life, it remains the cultural capital of the United States.
If it is your first trip to New York City, it can be pretty overwhelming when you try to choose among all the enticing attractions beckoning you to check them out. It is not called the Big Apple for nothing: New York City is the center of the world's financial system, fashion, music, art, theater, literature, and architecture. As a bonus it also has a lot of American history. Unfortunately, you won't be able to see it all in one trip. To get a feel for the city, start with this list of top attractions and landmarks. Many of the attractions on this list are iconic NYC institutions and could very well be on your bucket list. So get ready to cross a few off and get a feel for one of the greatest cities on the planet.
1. Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States in 1886 from France in honor of the friendship established between the newly minted United States of America and France during the French Revolution. It has become an American symbol of freedom and welcome to the immigrants who come to the United States looking for a better life. Only visitors who are in good health and plan in advance visit the crown of the Statue of Liberty because tickets are limited to allow roughly 240 people per day crown access. Even if you can't visit the crown, a visit to Liberty Island can be very rewarding. It is amazing to see the statue from Liberty Island and realize just how large it is. Ranger led tours of the island are free and offer a great deal of information about the Statue of Liberty and its history.
Statue of Liberty
2. Central Park
Central Park's 843 acres (3.4 square kilometers) have offered a welcome escape from the concrete jungle of New York City since the mid 19th century, and 42 million people visit this green oasis every year. New Yorkers and visitors alike come to Central Park year round to exercise, relax, and explore. One of the reasons that Central Park is such a magnet is that no matter how many times you visit, there is always something new to discover or explore. Visitors might enjoy a picnic in Central Park, watching a Summer Stage concert or even taking a free walking tour offered by the Central Park Conservancy. Central Park was the first major landscaped public park in the United States and was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The pair also designed Brooklyn's Prospect Park, somewhat smaller but also beautiful to behold and a star attraction in Brooklyn.
3. Rockefeller Center & top of the Rock Observation Deck
Rockefeller Center is a great destination for visitors any time of year, but it is an especially big draw during the holiday season, with its famous Christmas tree and ice skating rink. Built during the Great Depression, the complex's Art Deco architecture and works of art make it a worthy destination, even without all the shops, restaurants, and activities happening. Besides its Christmas tree and ice skating rink, the midtown Manhattan landmark also offers visitors the wonderful Top of the Rock Observation Deck, where you can enjoy a great view of Manhattan from 850 feet (260 meters) above street level, and Radio City Music Hall, which hosts concerts, shows, and performances year round.
4. Metropolitan Museum of Art
More than 2 million works of art from around the world and throughout history are housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the No. 1 art museum in the United States. If you are an art lover, the Met is well worth a visit to its vast and diverse collection. There is no way to see everything this museum offers in a single day, but just a few hours give you a taste of its most important gems.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
5. Broadway (Theater District)
Attending a Broadway show is one of the top things to do in New York City. Considered the pinnacle of American theater, this is the place to see the latest shows and the long running classics. Broadway usually refers simply to Broadway theater, which encompasses a large number of theater venues in the Theater District and along the street of Broadway. For the most popular shows, tickets should be purchased well in advance.
Shubert Alley is a famous pedestrian only alley in the Theater District and home to two well known playhouses: the Shubert on 221 West 44th Street and the Booth at 22 West 45th Street. Historically, aspiring actors would frequent Shubert Alley looking for opportunities to perform in a play sponsored by theater baron, Sam S. Shubert. Other legendary places include Sardi's restaurant, where many famous actors met, and the Music Box Theater.
6. Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is the most iconic and recognized symbol of New York City, and a visit to this legendary structure and its observation deck is a must. This classic New York City attraction gives millions of visitors each year spectacular views of New York City and the surrounding area from its 86th and 102nd floor observatories. The Empire State Building, which opened during the Great Depression in 1931, reflects its Art Deco era in its architecture and lobby. Buying tickets to the observation decks in advance cuts waiting time and is especially important if you are in New York City during high vacation season or on a short visit.
Empire State Building
7. Ground Zero (9/11 Memorial & Museum)
The World Trade Center's twin 110 story towers once dominated the Manhattan skyline but were destroyed by suicide piloted jetliners on September 11, 2001, with a tragic loss of life. Where the two towers of the World Trade Center once stood, now stand two square reflecting pools, each one acre (4,046 square meters) in size. Known as the National September 11 Memorial, the area is a moving tribute to the almost 3,000 people killed as a result of attacks on September 11, 2001 and also the six people killed in the earlier World Trade Center bombing in February, 1993. Surrounded by trees and grass, the pools are recessed, with water cascading over the sides and flowing into a seemingly bottomless square. These are the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. Around the pools are bronze panels with the names of all those who were killed in the attacks.
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is located in a curving glass building, between the two pools. It features displays that include artifacts, photos, and videos, presenting the story of 9/11, as well as the aftermath and impacts. The building is constructed around the remnants of the World Trade Center and incorporates the old structures within the extraordinary new museum building.
8. High Line (former rail line)
An exciting new attraction in New York City, the High Line is a former rail line that has been transformed into an urban walking trail above the city streets. This unique linear public park has been planted with a variety of plants and trees, many of which are native species. In spring many of these come into bloom. The park is lined with glass railings in most areas, giving it a natural feel, while still offering outstanding views of the city. This oasis on Manhattan's West Side runs from Gansevoort Street at the south end (just south of West 13th Street) to West 34th Street at the north end, running parallel to 10th Ave most of the way. You can access it at various points along the route, some of which offer stair access only, and others with elevator access.
Although the High Line is only about two to three stories above street level, the views of the city's architecture and the lookouts over the streets offer a whole new perspective. Along the route are art installations, benches, and near the south end is a sitting area with tiered row style seating and a glass wall looking out onto the city.
The trail is heavily used, and on weekends it can be extremely busy, but without the surrounding traffic, it is still a peaceful retreat. You will find other interesting places to visit just off the High Line. The south section runs through the Meatpacking District, with plenty of trendy restaurants and fine dining. The southernmost access point is adjacent to the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is also worth a visit. If you hop off the High Line at the 16th Street access, it is just a short stroll to the popular Chelsea Market, located in a former Nabisco factory, where you will find restaurants and unique shops.
9. Times square
Lined with huge, brilliantly lit billboards and screens, Times Square is the place to go in New York in the evening, but still exciting at any other time of day. This is the location of New York's New Year's Eve Celebrations and the famous "ball drop" at midnight, when the square and surrounding streets are filled with people. Times Square is busy and endlessly crowded but has its own unique appeal. Tiered rows of benches that are set up at one end are a great place to take a break and appreciate the scene.
Formerly Longacre Square, Times Square was named in 1904 after the New York Times tower. The newspaper first posted current headlines along its moving sign, the first of its kind in the world, in 1928.
10. Brooklyn Bridge
A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn Heights, across the East River, is such an authentic New York experience that it is often dramatized in movies and TV shows to set the scene. It is free and magnificent. Walk along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade on the Brooklyn side for spectacular views of Lower Manhattan and grab a hot dog from a street vendor on the Manhattan side of the bridge, just across from City Hall Park.
11. Fifth Avenue (famous shopping street)
One of the most famous shopping streets in America, Fifth Avenue is New York's premier shopping area, where many top designers have their flagship stores. Cartier, Tiffany, Bergdorf-Goodman, the famous Apple Store Fifth Avenue, and of course Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as many others line this posh avenue. Even non-shoppers can enjoy a walk along Fifth Avenue. The best area runs from approximately the south end of Central Park to the New York Public Library, or more specifically, between 60th Street and 40th Street.
12. Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal, often called Grand Central Station, is a fantastic Beaux Arts building, and it is definitely worth popping in to take a look at this famous landmark. The building first opened in 1913 as a terminal for the subway and train stations. Outside, the 42nd Street colonnaded faces and the statuary on top are some of the key highlights. Inside, you cannot miss the Grand Staircase, where you can stop to gaze out over the concourse. The beautifully restored ceiling here shows a celestial scene. You will also find an extensive selection of retail shops and restaurants inside.
Grand Central Terminal
13. One World Trade Center Observatory (New Trade Center)
The newly constructed One World Trade Center building, on Greenwich Street, is located on the north side of the 9/11 memorial and museum. It is worth visiting, as it is an eye-catching with its white fins and spaceship like appearance. This is a public building with shops and high end stores. At the top, the One World Observatory is an observation deck offering outstanding views from floors 100 to 102, 1,776 feet (541 meters) above the city. The elevator to the top is part of the attraction. As you ascend, the surrounding panels show New York as it transformed over the years, from a rural landscape to the metropolis you see today. This glass building, which can be seen from all over the city, is a unique structure on the Manhattan skyline, with angles that give it a very distinct appearance. If you stand near the base and look straight up, the tower appears pyramidal. If you want to go up and see the view, you can buy a NYC One World Observatory Skip the Line Ticket to save you some time, but note, you will still need to clear security.
One World Trade Center
14. Wall Street
Stretching for eight city blocks from Broadway to South Street is the world famous Wall Street. This street and the surrounding area are home to some of the most important exchanges in the world, including the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ, and the New York Mercantile Exchange. Also located nearby are the impressive Trinity Church and Federal Hall. Look for the bronze statue of Charging Bull at Bowling Green, on Broadway.
Charging Bull, a 7,100 pound (3,200 kg) bronze sculpture in Bowling Green, designed by Arturo Di Modica and installed in 1989, stands 11 feet (3.4 m) tall and measures 16 feet (4.9 m) long. The oversize sculpture depicts a bull , the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity , leaning back on its haunches with its head lowered as if ready to charge. The Charging Bull is a popular selfie spot for tourists who pose in front of it or even climb it to pose on its back. Therefore it is often crowded and you might need to wait for a while before you can take a picture. Rubbing its balls and nose is a popular ritual among the tourists that should bring good luck.
15. St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral is one of New York's finest examples of Gothic Revival, with its massive bronze doors, white marble facade, 330 foot (100 meter) spires, the Great Organ, rose window, bronze baldachin, 2,400 seating capacity, and the statue of Pieta at the side of the Lady Chapel. With millions of visitors annually, the cathedral is a major destination for believers and tourists alike. The building was erected in 1879 and has been carefully restored and maintained throughout its existence, including a $200 million renovation that was completed in 2016.
St. Patrick's Cathedral
16. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is an American military and maritime history museum in New York City with a collection of museum ships. It is located at Pier 86 at 46th Street, along the Hudson River, in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan. The museum showcases its star exhibit, the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. This aircraft carrier participated in World War II's Pacific Campaign. Launched in 1943, this amazing ship survived five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. Now docked in the Hudson River, this 900 foot (274 meter) giant affords visitors a glimpse at one of the Navy's most successful and durable carriers. The decks where men fought and died are open to the public, making this museum more than your standard exhibit filled gallery.
Also on display is the cruise missile submarine USS Growler, the destroyer USS Edson, the Space Shuttle Enterprise, a Lockheed A-12 Blackbird, the world's fastest supersonic reconnaissance plane, and make sure to view the British Airways Concorde. This was the plane that accomplished the fasted Atlantic Ocean crossing by any Concorde in 1996: only 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds.
166 W 46th St New York
Mon-Fri 10am - 5pm
Sat-Sun 10am - 7pm
Adult USD 13
child (12-17) USD 9
Child (6-11) USD 6
Child (2-5) USD 2
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Air & Space Museum New York
The famous Dominique Ansel’s Cronuts are now known in the entire world. It is a veritable marketing product! But the question here is, if they are good enough to wait in line for hours before tasting one.
They created the famous CRONUT (croissant and doughnut) in 2013 and it has been a culinary sensation since then. When you visit them you probably will have to wait in a line.
Unsurprisingly, a Cronut tastes a lot like a croissant but you can imagine you're eating a doughnut. Can you make a cronut? The Cronut's creator, Dominique Ansel has released the official recipe but it's not for the fainthearted. Home baking a Cronut will take you about three days.
Luke's Lobster brings traceable, sustainable seafood to guests across the country. They work directly with fishermen to hand pick the best seafood, and bring it straight to their own seafood company and then ship directly to their restaurants. Cutting out the middleman means better tasting lobster, crab and shrimp for you to enjoy and a fairer price for the fishermen.
They serve seafood straight from the source, prepared pure and simple, without the filler. They pair their seafood with chowders and bisques, Maine-style sides, local desserts, natural sodas, and local microbrews.
One of my favourites is their Lobster Roll and IPA craft beer.