NY is the largest city in the USA and one of the largest and most fascinating cities of the world.
More than 8 million people live in the central area and if the whole metropolitan area is counted, there live about 18 million people.
It is an important seaport, with a good connection with inland; the largest business, industrial and cultural centre of the USA and it is also the centre of the art world, the media world, the theatre world, and the fashion world.
- The first people in NY were American Indians. They lived on an island – Manahattan Island.
They killed animals and sold the fur.
- In 1609, a Dutch ship with captain Henry Hudson came into the harbour.
Later, in 1625, the Dutch bought Manahattan Island from the Indians for about 24 dollars and settled there. They called the town New Amsterdam.
The Dutch protected the town against the Indians by a wooden wall (now, in the place of the wall, there is Wall Street which is known as the world´s most important financial centre with the most important stock-exchange in the world).
- Then other Europeans bought land from the Dutch and built houses there, too.
- At that time, the English had land all around New Amsterdam. They wanted the town and the harbour, too. During the second Anglo-Dutch war (1664-67) the town was taken by the British without a shot being fired.
- New Amsterdam became New York and a colony of England.
- During the War of Independence, when George Washington became the first President of the USA, NY was the capital of the new country for a year (1789-90).
- After the war, people from all over the world came to America and most of them settled in NY.
The immigrants were mostly from England, Scotland, Germany, Ireland. Later, Germans, Italians and Jewish arrived. There was also an increasing flow of Spanish speaking immigrants (from Puerto Rico, the Carribean, Central and South America).
This immigration has produced an extraordinary variety of ethnic groups and religions in NY, many of them living in their own quarter of the city – e.g. Chinatown, Little Italy, East Side (Hungarians, Czechs, Germans), Lower East Side (it was traditionally Jewish but Blacks and Hispanics have replaced them), Harlem (Negroes) East Village (a multi-cultural area with many ethnic restaurants, fanky boutiques, rock and jazz clubs) etc. They have their own shops, restaurants and churches.
For this reason, the nicknames of NY are : MELTING POT or BIG APPLE.
There are 5 parts in NY which are called boroughs:
1. Manhattan – the real centre of NY
2. Staten Island – there are a lot of lakes and trees, not many people live there
3. Brooklyn – has a famous beach – Coney Beach and a famous shipyard
4. Queens – is the largest borough and a lot of visitors arrive there if they fly because there is the most important airport (one of 3 airports in NY) – the John F.Kennedy International Airport
5. The Bronx – is the only borough on the mainland, all others are on islands; there are a lot of parks and the Bronx ZOO – one of the largest in America
NY is a city of international importance. There is the United Nations Headquartes by the East River.
There is one flag for each member of the UN (about 150) . Visitors can take an interesting tour through the buildings, they can also get tickets for a meeting of the General Assembly, the Security Council and other organs.
Everyone coming to NY from the sea can see the Statue of Liberty standing on Liberty Island, in the NY City Harbour. The statue is 46 m high, 92 m high including its pedestal. It weighs 225 tons.
It was a gift to the American people from the French in 1886 to commemorate the alliance between the USA and France during the American revolution. The Statue symbolises freedom and democracy and since then it has been the first sight for immigrants who have come to the USA.
Boats take visitors from Manhattan Island to the Statue of Liberty.
There are stairs inside the Statue (167 steps in the base and a spiral staircase of 171 steps in the statue).
Visitors can walk up the stairs to the head of the Statue (but most of them prefer the elevator) and look out from there at the harbour.
There is also the Museum of Immigration in the base. The Statue was the first object to greet immigrants sailing to the New World and thus became a symbol of the American ideal.
MANHATTAN is the real centre of New York. It is a long island washed by two rivers: The Hudson River on the west and The East River on the other side. The Harlem River is between Manhattan and The Bronx. NY has more than 65 bridges; The Brooklyn Bridge is the longest in the world; The George Washington Bridge is the only bridge over the Hudson River.
The city was built on a modern plan of streets and avenues which follow a geometry shape and are numbered, they do not have names except the old ones – Wall Street and Broadway. Streets run east-west and avenues north-south
One of the most impressive views of NY City is the typical Manhattan skyline – a large number of skyscrapers on a small area. They started to build skyscrapers because of the lack of space and the high price of land on the island. Skyscrapers are also an interesting sociological phenomenon as the building is a small city itself: it offers residential quarters, office spaces, parking lots, restaurants, shopping facilities, fitness centres, swimming pools etc., but living in a skyscraper is very expensive.
The most famous are:
Empire State Building – it has 102 stories and a TV tower at the top. It was the highest building in the world until 1954 and it was also called ”the eight wonder of the world”. World Trade Center – called also The Twin Towers – the two buildings have 110 stories.
Visitors can see the city and the harbour from the top of both of the mentioned buildings.
Another famous place is Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue. It is a large business and entertainment complex of 21 buildings; the largest skyscraper city in the world. There are about 30 restaurants, a lot of shops, TV studios, exhibition halls. Visitors can admire its garden and skating rink.
One well-known building is The Radio City Music Hall – 6 000 people can see a show on the big stage.
Other famous skyscrapers are: Chrysler, PAN AM Bldgs, Citicorp Center, Trump Tower, IBM Tower.
Across the Fifth Avenue from Rockefeller Center is St. Patrick Cathedral – the largest Roman Catholic Church and the seat of the Archbishop of NY which has become the centre of the Easter Parade.
Another interesting place for visitors of NY is the Fifth Avenue, famous for its luxury shops, banks, airline offices, jewelries (Tiffany, Cartier), hotels (The Plaza Hotel), and office buildings.
It runs 6 miles through the city and divides Manhattan into eastern and western parts.
For shopping the best stores are between 34 and 58 Streets. The most famous and largest department store in NY is MACY´ S on 34 Street.
Equally famous is Broadway, an old Indian road. It is famous for its theatres (there are more than 40).
The most famous are :The Metropolitan Opera House, Carnegie Hall.
Opera, ballet and concerts are performed at Lincoln Center.
Times Square is the centre of the theatre district and there are also fashionable restaurants.
It is one of the leading attractions for tourists. An important evening in Times Square is New Year´s Eve- December 31. Crowds of people stand there and wait for midnight.
Greenwich Village (Broadway) was inhabited by intellectuals, writers, and artists (actors and musicians); it is now a respectable residential area with old low but also modern apartment blocks.
In Madison Square Garden a lot of different sports events take place.
There are a lot of museums in NY. The most famous is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has great collections from all over the world, it has also a concert hall.
Other well-known museums are: Museum of Modern Art, Guggenheim Museum, The American Museum of Natural History and Museum of the City of New York is very interesting, as well.
There is the second largest library in the USA – The New York Public Library.
There are the headquarters of most US publishing houses, for example – New York Times.
NY has more than 50 universities and colleges ( Columbia University, The City University)
NY has a lot of parks. The most famous and the largest is Central Park, lying in the centre of Manhattan. It offers both summer and winter attractions (a ZOO, an ice-skating rink, an open-air theatre, tennis courts, biking paths, children´s playgrounds etc.) In summer, lots of people go out in boats on the Lake. Horses pull carriages through the Park. However, it is dangerous to go after dark.
There are thousands of restaurants in NY. They serve every kind of food in the world. People coming to NY like to visit Chinatown with its restaurants serving typical Chinese food.