New York City Travel Review

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Did you know:  New York was the first state to require license plates on cars.

Did you know: Joseph C. Gayetty of New York City invented toilet paper in 1857.

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The most visited city in North America... the place to have fun... the city where you can do anything... anytime. You've heard that New York offers almost everything to everyone. In fact, New York City has an incredible variety of things to do and places to visit... restaurants... museums... concert stages... theatre... historical monuments... haute couture shopping... the best of everything.

New York City History

New York City began in Staten Island when the 16th century Florentine explorer Giovanni Da Verrazano, commonly considered to be father of Staten Island, sailed into New York Harbor in 1524 and landed on the Island. In 1687 the Duke of York offered the island as a prize in a sailing competition which the team from Manhattan won. Since that time, Manhattan has claimed the island as its own. Until 1713, when the first public ferry was started to the island, there was no way to get back and forth unless you had a boat. Finally, in 1964 the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was built by Othmar Amman.

The area that is now Manhattan was long inhabited by the Lenape. In 1524, Lenape in canoes met Giovanni da Verrazano, the first European explorer to pass New York Harbor, although he did not enter the harbor past the Narrows. It was not until the voyage of Henry Hudson, an Englishman who worked for the Dutch East India Company, that the area was mapped. Hudson came across Manhattan Island and the native people living there on September 11, 1609, and continued up the river that bears his name, the Hudson River, until he arrived at the site of present day Albany. A permanent European presence in New Netherland began in 1624 with the founding of a Dutch fur trading settlement on Governors Island. In 1625 construction was started on a citadel and a Fort Amsterdam on Manhattan Island, later called New Amsterdam. Manhattan Island was chosen as the site of Fort Amsterdam, a citadel for the protection of the new arrivals; its 1625 establishment is recognized as the birth date of New York City. In 1626, Peter Minuit acquired Manhattan from native people in exchange for trade goods, often said to be worth $24.In 1647, Peter Stuyvesant was appointed as the last Dutch Director General of the colony. The colony was granted self-government in 1652 and New Amsterdam was formally incorporated as a city in 1653. In 1664, the British renamed it "New York" after the English Duke of York and Albany. Stuyvesant and his council negotiated 24 articles of provisional transfer with the British which sought to guarantee New Netherlanders liberties, including freedom of religion, under British rule.

The Bronx, home of New York's two greatest landmarks, the Bronx Zoo and Yankee Stadium, was named after the Dutch settler Jonas Bronck, who had claimed the area as his farm back in 1636. The Bronx is the only borough of New York that is physically connected to the mainland of the United States. The borough was largely undeveloped and consisted mostly of cottages, farmlands, and wild marshes until a large swell of Irish and Italian immigrants inhabited the area. Immigrants still come to the Bronx, but today they are Russian and Hispanic.

The borough of Queens was named after the wife of Charles II of England, Queen Catherine of Braganza in 1683. The area became a borough of New York City in 1898. At the beginning of the 17th century, Queens was populated largely by small farms and was predominantly rural. During the 18th century, the area started to experience growth in the area of manufacturing along the shores of the East river. The area has been very popular for new immigrants in the past half of this century and is largely split up into different ethnic neighborhoods that feel very much like the home countries of the people that live there. There are very few inter-racial neighborhoods in Queens and the new immigrants that come to live here tend to congregate in their own areas. New York's two major airports are located in queens along with a lot of the industry in New York City. Queens is connected physically to Long Island.

Brooklyn was largely a marshland before it was settled in the late 1600s. The Dutch were the first settlers from the old world to colonize this borough in the 17th century. Although they shared the land with British settlers, the Dutch culture was the dominant one well into the 19th century. When first asked to join New York city as a borough in 1833, Brooklyn refused. Brooklyn, in a close vote, did not decide to become a part of New York City until 1898. Today, Brooklyn is a borough of many neighborhoods, each with its own strong ethnic flavor. It's very rare to find a New Yorker whose family has been living in America for more than one generation who didn't have an ancestor that lived in Brooklyn at some point in their life.

New York City Attractions

There is so much to see and experience in the five boroughs of New York City (Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island) that it cannot be done in a few days or even a week. One must take it in small doses and enjoy the best things over a few days time. The classic New York weekend encompasses the highlights of what most people consider to be the "must see, must do" things about New York.

"THE CLASSIC NEW YORK WEEKEND"- Driving in New York should only be left to cab drivers, so if possible, fly in from out of state or take the train from nearby cities like Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. or Boston and travel to midtown Manhattan...ride into Penn Station and take the famous subway lines to almost all major parts of the city... check into one of the better hotels (there are hundreds of great hotels), perhaps dropping your bags off early at The Waldorf-Astoria at mid-morning Friday, ready to start your weekend. If you're hungry, head to the Stage Deli on Seventh Avenue (home of the best corned beef on rye with Russian dressing and matzo ball soup in the universe), where local paintings adorn the walls and the highlights of theatre scenes from the last 50 years surround you, just south of Carnegie Hall, then stop in Times Square and walk around the most filmed location in America. Go across town to the Frick Museum, an undiscovered gem with paintings, sculptures and other art work from the 18th - 20th century... and certainly leave time to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Perhaps walk up the hallowed stairs of the New York City Public Library and venture into one of the many well adorned rooms with art work and sculptures surrounding you while you read a classic from the 19th century. Visit perhaps the best Natural History Museum in the world or take a romantic carriage ride through Central Park.

Mid-town has a lot of what people come to see... shopping on Fifth Avenue... Rockefeller Center... Tiffany's... feeling the wind in your hair at the top of the Empire State Building... and enjoying the art deco ambience of the Chrysler Building. Perhaps the best things to enjoy are the ones least thought of... sitting in the pews at St. Patrick's Cathedral while mass is celebrated... walking by The Plaza Hotel on a snowy day... seeing the angels and the Christmas tree during the holidays at Rockefeller Center... having a drink at the Rainbow Room... walking by Radio City Music Hall. Certainly one should consider enjoying a concert at Carnegie Hall... and a major theatre production on Broadway (the Theatre District)... stopping in at Sardi's for a drink after a play. For the romantics, enjoying a cocktail at The Algonquin Hotel on 44th street (home of the famous "Round Table" group from the 1940's and 1950's) and taking a carriage ride in Central Park at sunset are two of my favorites.

If you have more time, you can take the subway downtown and visit the Financial District (home of the New York Stock Exchange) and catch the Dow Jones Industrials on the rise. Enjoy Chinatown for lunch and then take the Staten Island Ferry from Battery Park for a great view of the skyline. Venture over to the place where millions of immigrants came in to see and know and experience the greatest opportunity (and noblest experiment) on Earth- Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, where "the poor, the unwashed..." and many millions of others started a new life. It is all here waiting for you in the greatest city on Earth.  More New York City attractions...