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An emerald expanse in the thriving, concrete jungle that is New York City, Central Park lies in the heartland of the Manhattan borough. It commences its labyrinthine stretch from Midtown, all the way to Harlem. It was created in 1857 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who envisioned a sprawling green space in the center of the island. The park spans 843 acres (341.15 hectares) and bustles with life throughout the day, even as the layered, multi-hued fold of the city's skyline unfolds at its hem. The park's 21 playgrounds are speckled with ornate fountains, sculptures, myriad bridges and arches, together forming an urbane respite where several come to find peace from the city's chaotic pace. Attractions within the park include the Bethesda Fountain, the Conservatory Garden, Belvedere Castle, and Central Park Zoo.
New York's Grand Central Terminal, often inaccurately referred to as the Grand Central Station, is one of Midtown Manhattan's most resplendent architectural jewels and one of the busiest terminals in the world. Completed in 1913, the majestic Beaux-Arts beauty is richly embellished, its interiors a love affair with marble, while the ornamented facade is topped by The Glory of Commerce - a riveting sculpture that depicts Mercury, Hercules and Minerva overlooking the riotous city from a lofty perch, the world's largest Tiffany stained glass clock at their feet. Painted constellations arch above the iconic main hall, featured in any number of movies, its vaulted ceilings an awe-inspiring sight. Today, the building also houses chic shops and a dining concourse, alongside 44 platforms that cater to commuter, intercity and rapid transport trains, attracting commuters and tourists in equal measure.
This complex was designated the permanent headquarters for the United Nations in 1952. Many buildings, including the General Assembly Hall, can be viewed on guided tours. When the flags in front of the complex are flying, the Assembly is in session. It is possible to sit in on a council session. Call the information desk for a free ticket. Seats are limited, so make sure you book well in advance. Tours are held every half-hour. Prices and opening times are subject to change.
The Lincoln Center for Performing Arts is a massive venue when it comes to live entertainment. The Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors has something for everyone: internationally recognized dances, high-level performances, special events and jazz. Watch out for Live From Lincoln Center, a program that has famous orchestras and artistes performing. Lincoln Center holds about 400 live performances a year, ranging from classical to modern productions. And as if that wasn't enough, the Center also hosts many events put on by the Film Society at Lincoln Center. There are guided tours on a daily basis that explore the world-renowned Metropolitan Opera House, Avery Fisher Hall, the New York State Theater (home of the New York City Opera) and the Vivian Beaumont Theater. During the tour, your guides will entertain you with fascinating stories and give you a glimpse of a rehearsal in progress.
An unflagging symbol of fortitude, the One World Trade Center rises from a sea of buildings in Lower Manhattan, its beautiful steel ascent a reminder of a dark day in American history. This brilliant icon soars to 104 floors, and when it was completed in 2012, it superseded the Empire State Building as the tallest structure in New York City. At an astonishing height of 1,776 feet (541.33 meters), it is also the tallest building in America and the Western Hemisphere. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum flanks the southern end of the center, while rumbling fountains spill over granite walls and collect into twin pools north of the tower. The parapet of the pools is inscribed with almost 3000 names of the lives lost during the 9/11 attacks, allowing visitors for a moment of quiet reflection. When viewed from the lowest point from the ground, the top of the tower appears to converge and resemble a pyramidal apex. Another interesting feature about the One World Trade Center is that the height of the structure is a cleverly planned allusion to the year in which in the American Declaration of Independence was signed. A marvel of modern design, the One World Trade Center is a significant landmark that links the past and the future of this great American city.
Soaring to a height of 1,454 feet (443.2 meters), this 102-storey skyscraper held the title of the world's tallest for close to four decades after its completion in 1931. Although since surpassed in height, the Empire State Building remains one of the United States' best-known and most iconic modern wonders. The building's Art Deco design is the work of the architect William F. Lamb, who drew up the plans over a mere two weeks using the Reynolds Building in Winston-Salem as a template. Replete with stunning architectural details best showcased by the lavish lobby, the Empire State Building is a splendid jewel of the Art Deco variety. The highlights of the Empire State Building are its two observation decks, perched on the 86th and 102nd floors of the building. From here, awe-inspiring views of New York City await, the vista transforming from a sun-dappled, urban landscape by day to a glittering sea of lights by night. Often, the tower's lofty pinnacle is lit up in a myriad colors to celebrate various special occasions and anniversaries throughout the year, accompanied by spectacular light shows that are visible for miles around.
Completed in 1930, this towering edifice was the first construction project to rise higher than the Eiffel Tower. This leadership was to be short-lived, however, as The Empire State Building was built 1,048 feet taller only a few months later. The Chrysler Building still holds people's interest both culturally and architecturally. Walter Chrysler commissioned its construction in honor of his success in the automobile industry, which is reflected in its flamboyant art deco style. For example, sculptures of cars are carved into the brickwork.
Home to the legendary dance company The Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall is one of the most spectacular and famous performance venues in the United States. Its locale in the heart of the Big Apple has made it a cultural center, particularly during the Christmas season. Originally opened in 1932 and nicknamed "The Palace for the People," Radio City was renovated in 1980. Anybody who is anybody has performed here - New York legends Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis, Jr. are just a few that spring to mind, and to this day, the stage remains a showcase for entertainment royalty.
This stunning memorial was created to honor the people killed on September 11, 2001. Almost 3,000 people lost their lives on September 11, 2001 when terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers, causing them to collapse. The memorial consists of two pools set in the original site as well as a beautiful plaza. The names of the victims are engraved on paneling along the pools. Visitors can also explore the 9/11 Memorial Museum that features artifacts and stories about the events.
Built in 1902 and designed by Daniel H. Burnham, the Flatiron Building is considered the oldest and possibly, one of the most famous skyscrapers in New York City. Instantly recognizable, the building includes a mix of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles and has a peculiar wedge shape (like that of an old-fashioned flat iron) that has made it a New York favorite. The area's Flatiron District is named after this enduring New York symbol.
A renowned entertainment venue in the Big Apple, Madison Square Garden has gained iconic importance around the world. Attracting crowds since 1968, the stadium is abuzz with voices of Knicks and Rangers fans. With a capacity of 18,000, it is considered to be Midtown Manhattan's revered and oldest entertainment spot. From glamorous music concerts to award shows, the venue has witnessed some of the biggest events over time. A sought after venue in New York City and sitting right above Penn Station, it is easily accessible for everyone.
Sitting in all its splendor on Fifth Avenue, the New York Public Library stands guarded by its two famous lions, Patience and Fortitude. For researchers, the library is a treasure. Its many halls contain millions of volumes, tens of thousands of current periodicals and a large staff to help. Conceived in 1897, the library did not open its doors until 1911. It is architecturally one of New York's classics, both inside and out. There are also free art exhibits occasionally on display.