Everyone wants to be a part of it: New York, New York! The history of this city is as long and illustrious as the United States itself, and it is considered one of the top tourist destinations in the world due to its cosmopolitan nature, towering buildings and larger-than-life presence. The Big Apple dates back to 1665, when the English captured it from Native Americans and named it after the Duke of York. The first president of the United States, George Washington, was inaugurated at Federal Hall there, before the American capitol switched from New York City to Washington, D.C. Since then, the city has become a central hub of art, industry and commerce. With 47 million visitors every year from around the world, no wonder why this city never sleeps.
Here are seven highlights of New York’s tourist offerings:
THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING. Finished in 1931, this building is 1,454 ft. tall and used to be the tallest building in New York. That honor now goes to One World Trade Center, which is 1,776 ft. tall. Its distinctive Art Deco style is iconic, and its pop culture lore, ranging from King Kong climbing to the top with Faye Wray in 1933 to the meeting place of the lovers in the 1957 classic An Affair to Remember, is nothing short of incredible. It is also one of the reasons why the state of New York got its nickname, “The Empire State.”
TIMES SQUARE. Located between 42nd and 47th street in Midtown Manhattan, this commercial thoroughfare is most commonly known as the biggest New Year’s Eve party in the world, where the iconic ball has been dropped every year since 1907 for the world to see. It is also one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions, with 39 million visitors each year. (http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/worlds-most-visited-tourist-attractions/2)
STATUE OF LIBERTY/ELLIS ISLAND. A ferry ride will take you to both of these attractions, located in the middle of New York Harbor. The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States in 1886 and features the Roman goddess of freedom Libertas. It was often used to welcome millions of immigrants coming into New York through Ellis Island, which was open from 1892 to 1954 as an immigration inspection station, and is now a museum.
BROADWAY. With over 40 theaters to choose from, this stretch in the theater district features various plays and musicals, sometimes featuring well-known movie and television actors. Shows run Tuesdays through Saturdays between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., with matinees at 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. Some of the most famous shows, such as Wicked, Chicago and The Lion King, have been on Broadway for over a decade and show no signs of slowing down.
CENTRAL PARK. Built into the city’s design and opened in 1857, the part has 843 acres of land and is visited by tourists for its many attractions, including the Central Park Zoo, boating in Central Park Lake, and the carousel, which is one of the largest in the United States. During the summers, Central Park often hosts free concerts and live theater, while in the wintertime there is ice skating at one of two rinks.
MUSEUMS. The city features several high-profile museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the United States that features pieces from all over the world; the Museum of Modern Art, which houses iconic works from Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh; the American Museum of Natural History, which gives the origins of dinosaurs and humans; and the Solomon J. Guggenheim museum, which is known just as much for its art as the Frank Lloyd Wright design of the building.
9/11 MEMORIAL. The site of one of America’s greatest tragedies previously known as “ground zero,” this area in the financial district has become a standing memorial for the over 3,000 people who died during the World Trade Center attacks. The 9/11 Memorial Museum tells the stories about the attacks, while the memorial offers a touching tribute to the fallen. The One World Trade Center tower there, the tallest building in the United States, is scheduled to open for business in 2014.