By Martha Jette
For: Bangari Travel Content
Over the years, 12 million immigrants have landed on Ellis Island making New York City a major gateway to America. The city now known as The Big Apple includes the boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island, all with their own histories and lifestyles.
From the skyscrapers of Manhattan and bohemian Greenwich Village to upscale Fifth Avenue, the jazz of Harlem, the Bronx with its world famous zoo, the historic Brooklyn Bridge dating back to 1883, Queens with its colorful past as the site of the silent film industry, Staten Island and the Upper West Side’s landmark Lincoln Center, the fruit and fish markets of China Town and Coney Island’s Brighton Beach and amusement parks, the city has plenty to offer.
Today this thriving metropolis boasts more than 55 attractions including a number of museums, art galleries, famous musical venues, the theaters of Broadway that stretch from Lower Manhattan to Albany, gorgeous parks and gardens including Central Park, Battery Park and Hudson River Park, as well as such famous city landmarks as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock™ at Rockefeller Plaza.
New York City was at one time the capital of America (1789-90). Today it is a bustling city for both commerce and tourism. It is the site of the former World Trade Centre, which became the target of terrorism in September 2001. But nothing will keep this world famous city down or dampen the spirits of its diverse community of folks from around the world.
A trip to New York City is a virtual feast for the eyes, ears, heart and mind. Visitors can find so much in this city that it would take days, if not weeks to take it all in. From first-class entertainment to activities at the Staten Island Children’s Museum and amazing Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and New York Hall of Science, there is plenty to thrill every member of the family.
To help you enjoy the city as much as possible, New York Passes are available so you can save money. For one all-inclusive price, these ‘smart cards’ allow cash free entry to the many wonderful tourist attractions spread across the city. Visitors will also receive a 176-page guidebook with all the information needed to easily locate and enjoy each site. What follows are just a few of New York City’s renowned tourist attractions.
Madison Square Gardens at 1260 Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue between 50th and 51st streets) is not only the venue of the New York Rangers. Visitors can take a Stage Door Tour of Radio City Music Hall to learn about the many legendary entertainers and theatrical productions that have been presented there over the years.
The Great Stage has seen the likes of many music stars such as Barry Manilow, Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, Gabriel Iglesias, Lennie Kravitz, American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson and hard rockers like Megadeath.
A member of the world famous Rockettes under director/choreographer, Linda Haberman, is always on hand to relate information on the group’s 75-year-long and prosperous history. Radio City Music Hall is open Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The entry price is $19.25 (adults) and $12.50 (children).
This famous musical site at 881 Seventh Avenue (at 57th Street) is currently celebrating its 120th anniversary as the prime location for soloists, orchestras, ensembles, artists-in-residence, festivals and more. From Tchaikovsky, Elgar, Saint-Saëns and Rachmaninoff to such modern day icons as Charles Ives, John Cage, John Adams, Meredith Monk, as well as the world renown MET Orchestra and others from around the world, visitors can enjoy the world’s first class music of yesterday and today.
On the guided tour, visitors can learn about the history of Carnegie Hall and the many musical legends that have graced its stage, as well as its destruction in 1960 and rebirth in 1986. This site is open Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. with tours beginning throughout the day. The entry cost is $10 per person, $3 per child.
This natural history museum located on Central Park West at West 79th Street takes visitors on a journey through space and time. The Rose Center for Earth and Space features the new Haydon Planetarium where visitors can learn about the stars, planets and other celestial wonders. They can also see the Hall of the Universe, Hall of Planet Earth, the Cosmic Pathway and Scales of the Universe.
The museum’s permanent collection includes Fossil Halls’ huge collection of dinosaur and vertebrate fossils, many specimens in the Mammal Halls, Bird Halls’ wide variety of avian wildlife, the Culture Halls’ vast collection of cultural artifacts from around the world, a Biodiversity section focusing on pressing environmental issues, the Irma and Paul Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteors, the Morgan Hall of Gems, the Hall of Reptiles and Amphibians, and more.
This historic landmark built in 1931 can be found at 350 Fifth Avenue (between 33rd and 34th streets). From its famous Observatory, visitors can take in a breathtaking view of the city. Upon entry, the first thing you will see is the Art Deco lobby, which has been restored to its former glory. The entire site has undergone a $20 million retrofit to reduce its energy consumption nearly 40 percent.
The Statue of Liberty is the first thing that visitors and immigrants arriving by boat see when they arrive in America. It was a gift of friendship from France that has come to symbolize democracy and freedom. Originally dedicated in October 1886, it was named a National Monument in 1924.
Visitors to this site travel by boat to Liberty and Ellis islands. Currently, the statue is undergoing improvements and is inaccessible to the public. It is slated to reopen in October 2012. However, they can still see the famous landmark and visit the Ellis Island Immigration Museum to learn about history and the countless folks who have come to live in the United States.
Located in Times Square, you can see your favorite wax celebrities in large as life fashion with its newest edition: Justin Bieber, as well as favorites like Gwen Stefani, Alicia Keys, a variety of world political and historical figures, such cultural icons as Jackie Kennedy-Onassis and Princess Diana, artists like Pablo Picasso, such TV stars as Simon Cowell, Susan Lucci and Rachel Ray, and sports stars like Muhammad Ali, Derek Jeter and David Wright.
This cultural museum located at 1230 Fifth Avenue (at 104th Street) offers visitors a taste of American’s Latino, Latin American and Caribbean life through art exhibitions, films, literature, performances, cultural celebrations and educational programs. This site is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Cost of entry is $35.50 (adults) and $28 (children).
This amazing museum located at West 46th Street & 12th Avenue offers fun for all ages through a variety of interactive displays. The Gallery Deck features a Combat Information Center, Pilot Ready Room and marine berthing area. On the Hangar Deck, visitors can see an indoor exhibit about the Intrepid. The Flight Deck features nearly two dozen aircraft, a restoration tent and more, while the Third Deck shows the ship’s galley, new berthing area and 1960’s mess deck.
Visitors can also take in the Exploreum Hall with exhibits designed with kids in mind, as well as the Growler Submarine with its once top-secret missile command center. If that’s not enough, former crew members and others donate new historical artifacts each month. As well, NASA has transferred the title of the space shuttles Orbiter and Enterprise to the museum. The Enterprise will move there in the summer of 2012.
This fine arts museum is located in the New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. It is one of only a few buildings that remain on the site where the New York World’s Fair was held from 1939 to 1964. The museum features 20th century artists and contemporary exhibits, including the famous architectural model entitled the Panorama of the City of New York, which is 9,335 square feet. Some of its current exhibits include the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass and Andrew Moore’s photo collection entitled Detroit Disassembled.
This science and technology center featuring more than 450 permanent hands-on exhibits is displayed on the site of the 1964 World’s Fair at 4501 111th Street in Queens. At the Rocket Park, visitors can explore the rockets and spacecraft from the 60’s. The Pfizer Foundation Biochemistry Discovery Lab lets kids be little scientists for a day.
Hidden Kingdoms explores the secret presence of microbes that are unseen but everywhere in our lives. The Sports Challenge allows visitors to test their skill at such sports as surfing, baseball, drag racing and rock climbing either alone or competing with others.
The Science Playground is an amazing place for kids to have some fun with its seesaws, slides, sand pits and even a fog machine where they can see the principles of science in motion. Admission to the playground is $4 per person ($3 for groups by reservation).
This museum featuring paintings, drawings, sculpture and more is located at 11 West 53rd Street (between 5th and 6th avenues). Recent acquisitions include Henry Matisse’s Standing Nude (1906), Elizabeth Catlett’s Mother and Child (1956) and various works by Marcel Broodthaers. Visitors will also find works by such famous artists as Vincent van Gogh, Jackson Pollock and Claude Monet. This site is open Saturday to Thursday and admission is $25 (adults) with children free.
The NBC studio is located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza at West 49th Street (between 5th and 6th avenues). Visitors can walk the halls to see such studio sets as that of Saturday Night Live, The Today Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and MSNBC. They can also see the NBC/Sharp Globe Theater, Broadcast Operations, tour the make-up room and high definition studio. Visitors can have their picture taken behind the news desk and there will also be demonstrations by news and weather forecast volunteers.
Top of the Rock™ Observation Deck with its awe-inspiring views of the city can be found at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (50th Street between 5th and 6th avenues). The first thing visitors will see is a beautiful Swarovski crystal chandelier in the mezzanine, along with an exhibit on the art, architecture and history of the plaza. Then they can take a sky shuttle with a glass ceiling to the top. This open-air deck is located on the 70th floor.
This site is open daily from 8 a.m. to midnight. Admission is $25 (adults) and $16 (children).
This museum, located at 1000 Richmond Terrace on Staten Island will give children a chance to use their imagination in the city’s only indoor/outdoor interactive site, which covers 84 acres. From bugs and blocks to water and theater, they can stimulate both their bodies and minds. There are also creative workshops and performances in the afternoon.
At the Big Game, they can play such things as checkers, chess and dominoes. At Bugs and Other Insects, they can pretend to be a spider catching a meal, help the bees pollinate flowers, watch butterflies being born and much more. Block Harbor allows them to explore a pirate ship and pretend they are sailors. In Great Explorations, they can run through a rain forest, drive a dogsled, dive in the ocean and lots of other fun things that will help them learn about the Earth’s diverse environment.
At Portia’s Playhouse children can dress up in costumes and pretend they are stars. House About It offers an opportunity to work in a frame house, use a wrecking ball, tools and much more. Ladder 11 is a chance for little ones to pretend they are firefighters on a real fire truck with all the bells and whistles. Sea of Boats is an outdoor play space with boats, a lighthouse, crow’s nest and plenty of activities including fishing, water play, radar and other nautical items.
This fun-filled site is open on various dates and times throughout the school year. The cost is $6 per person.
The White Garden was made with Vita Sackville-West’s renowned garden in Sissinghurst, England in mind and the Connie Gretz Secret Garden is modeled after the children’s classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett with a maze and even a child-sized castle with a moat and drawbridge, which are sure to thrill the little ones. The Chinese Scholar’s Garden highlights the Ming era, while the Heritage Rose Garden offers colorful blooms. Visitors can also delight in a Butterfly Garden, Pond Garden, a French Allee and more.
Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! This zoo at 2300 Southern Boulevard in the Bronx is the largest urban zoo in the entire world with more than 600 species including mammals, reptiles, fish, birds and insects. Visitors won’t want to miss the Congo Gorilla Forest, Jungle World, Tiger Mountain, Zucker Bug Carousel, Wild Asia Monorail, World of Reptiles or the new Madagascar exhibit. Throughout the day, zoo staff present feeding and enrichment demonstrations with such animals as sea lions and penguins. There is also the amazing Polar Express 4-D adventure film.
This site at 1000 Richmond Terrace, Building H on Staten Island can be found within the grounds of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. Covering 53 acres of natural woodland, visitors can see more than 20 beautiful gardens. Each one represents a specific time period up to today’s contemporary style. For example, the Garden of Healing features the World Trade Centre Educational Tribute, while the Italian Garden was created to represent the Villa Gamberaia in Florence, Italy.
From walruses to sea lions, sharks, electric eels, stinging jellyfish, stingrays, penguins, octopus and sea otters, the New York Aquarium are bound to thrill the entire family. The New York Aquarium is located at Surf Avenue and West 8th Street in Brooklyn and is open year round. Admission is $14.95 (adults), $11.95 (seniors) and $10.95 (children).
Times Square is definitely the most bustling area of New York City covering an area between 40th and 53rd Street, and 6th and 9th avenues. During WWI, this area was known as the theatre district and soon became filled with numerous billboards, which today light up the night. Of course, it is also the site of the world’s largest New Year’s Eve celebration with the dropping of the ball as the clock strikes midnight, a yearly celebration that began in 1904.
What was once a wooden ball is today a metal frame filled with 2,688 crystal triangles bolted to 672 LED modules creating a spectacular kaeidoscope effect. This New Year’s Eve party seen around the world has become a star-studded event with musical performances, a pyrotechnic display and the ceremonial dropping of confetti along the busy New York streets.
For visitors arriving at other times of the year, the square offers Broadway shows, clubs, stores, culinary delights and impromptu street entertainment. It is also the site of the former Tin Pan Alley at The Brill Building, 1619 Broadway, which changed the face of music history via such notables as Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Burt Bacharach, Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Bob Dylan and countless other talented individuals. Times Square is also home to Good Morning America, the Music Television Network, the Roseland Ballroom, Carolines’ comedy club, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and the Discovery Times Square Exhibition.
Whether you enjoy comedies, dramas, musical or epic shows, no trip to New York would be complete without taking in a Broadway production. From the Lion King to Chicago, Mary Poppins, Mama Mia, the Jersey Boys and Sister Act, you’re bound to find one that thrills every member of the family. For tickets, go to 311 West 43rd Street, Suite 601 or call toll free: 800.BROADWAY.
Most everyone remembers what he or she was doing the day the Twin Towers fell in New York City on September 11, 2001. Today, folks worldwide come visit the World Trade Center Memorial and pay their respects to those who lost their lives that fateful day. This infamous terrorist attack brought down the towers, nicknamed David and Nelson after the Rockefeller brothers who began the project within a matter of minutes.
At the memorial called Reflecting Absence and Ground Zero, there is an illuminated pool with cascading waterfalls. Visitors will find the names of the 2,977 people who died when two hijacked planes hit the towers sending the buildings crashing to the ground. The names of those who died in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. are also included, along with the victims of the 1993 bombing.
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