New York State of Mind
America in Two Weeks
After my Indonesia Christmas trip, I began to quickly fall in love with travel and I wanted to do more of it. Since I still had a job in China, I couldn't just travel anytime I wanted. But the Chinese Spring Festival was shortly after Christmas, so I decided that I wanted to see more of my own country in the two weeks that I had off work. So, I planned a seven city trip that would include California, the Midwest, the South, New York, Florida, and Texas. Boy, was it an exciting trip and a memorable one that further confirmed my God-given "calling" on this Earth to be a traveler, explorer, and career vagabond.
New York City, Manhattan Skyline w/Brooklyn Bridge
Arriving into NYC
When I was about to leave Memphis I needed to book a flight to NYC. I thought that it wouldn't be a big deal because I figured that every major city in the U.S. had direct flight to NYC, in fact, just about every major city in the world has direct flights to NYC. I also thought that it would be cheap because I thought that there would be an abundance of flights going to NYC from Memphis, and due to demand it would make the prices cheaper. HA!! I was wrong. I learned the hard way about booking last minute NYC flights.
Empire State Building
Not only could I not find a direct flight to NYC, the one I did find had a transfer in Chicago and cost over $400 dollars. I needed to stick to my itinerary and I wasn't going to let anything keep me from seeing New York City for the first time and I had followed my budget pretty well so far, so I figured, what the hell.
It was about a two hour flight from Chicago after the transfer from Memphis, though it seemed like it took only an hour. The only other time that I had seen the One World Trade Center and Statue of Liberty live and in person was on a previous flight, during landing, from the window while flying from Beijing. I was on the left side of the plane facing the Hudson River.
I had flown into Newark, New Jersey on my way to Miami and was ripped off by the Travelex currency exchange booth. I later was awarded a full refund for the near $325 dollars that they jipped me for with their doctored exchange rates. That was before I wised up and stopped using those damn places to exchange my money. Now I simply withdraw local currency from local ATMs with my Visa or UnionPay cards. When I got off the plane at LaGuardia and started to walk through the passenger tunnel, I didn't know what to think or expect but BAM, it all started to hit me.
I started thinking about the 9/11 events, the New York Yankees, Rudy Giuliani, New York-style pizza, Ellis Island, the Sopranos, Wall Street, Madison Square Garden, Billy Joel, the Rockefellers, Donald Trump, 5th Avenue, Times Square, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and so many other pictures, videos, names, places, and flashes of sights and sounds that I was thinking about.
One World Trade Center
Limited Knowledge about New York City
The only thing I really knew about New York City was what I learned from people in the Army and in college, notably my first roommate at Fort Riley, Kansas, who was from Long Island and who was a high riding asshole. I mean, he was a natural asshole and with the way he looked, talked, and acted, he was 100% New York City. At least I thought so at the time.
St. Patrick's Cathedral
The truth is, he was probably thinking as many negative stereotypes, associations, and generalizations about me as I was about him. We had absolutely nothing in common except that we were both in the Army together and we both loved to party and chase the girls around.
After we got into a couple of fights, we learned to get used to each other and then we became good friends. I learned more about him and his culture and where he was from, and he learned more about me and mine and where I was from. Once we learned more about each other, we understood each other, and then we respected each other.
It's amazing what happens when two people with absolutely nothing in common can become if they simply just talk to each other. Before the Army, I had never met anyone from New York City and I'm pretty sure that he had never even been to a town with less than 10,000 people in it. But it all worked out, eventually. We became good friends and partied and chased girls together. After all, we both wore the same color and served the same flag.
New York Stock Exchange
Growing up in southern Illinois, I learned that people in New York City were all rude and selfish. I didn't just hear this from other people, but that's what the media seemed to used to portray people in NYC to be like. So naturally, I expected everyone to be assholes and I knew that locals would know for sure that I was not from the area. I mean, all I have to do is open my mouth and they can hear the "twang." I'll talk more about the New Yorkers later.
St. Paul's Chapel
I also knew that NYC was a BIG city and that there were many many different kinds of people that lived there and visited there everyday. So, I was definitely looking forward to great couple of days and I was going to see as much as I possibly could in such a short time.
The Statue of Liberty via the Staten Island Ferry
Getting to the Hotel in Manhattan
I was overwhelmed at the airport because I was in the largest city in the United States. I was cautious with the taxi drivers outside because I felt like they could smell vulnerability all over me. I showed the first taxi the address and he said he didn't know how to get there. I thought that he was just lazy or wanted a passenger with a further destination so that he could make more money. I went to next taxi and he agreed to take me. I asked him about the other taxi and he said that he wasn't a city taxi and that's why he didn't do it. The taxi driver was cool and I like to pick their brains when I travel to new places because most of the time they have been there for years and they can give me invaluable information that sites like "TripAdvisor" will not.
71st Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan (near Central Park)
The fare was only about $28 dollars and I was surprised because we went all the way from LaGuardia Airport to 71st Street, Manhattan, near Central Park to La Quinta Inn & Suites. Check in was, for the most part, painless. I booked in advance so that made things much better. I stayed on the second floor and had a view of the street. WOW. I was still trying to process the fact that I was actually in New York City. It took a while for it all to sink in. I mean, I was in one of the greatest, one of the most visited, and one of the most historic and iconic cities in the world. You know I ordered myself a New York-style pizza from a local pizza joint and chowed down in my hotel room while I watched the local evening news and bragged on Facebook about where I was.
I tried not to stay up so late because the next day was going to be one of the most memorable days of my entire life as I had mapped out a fun-filled itinerary to hit as much of Manhattan as I possibly could. I would do just that after a shower and a good night's sleep in my first night in the "Big Apple."
Since my hotel was right next to Central Park, that seemed to be the best first stop on my first day in the "Big Apple." It was a chilly February morning but it was still a great day to be in Manhattan. I didn't explore a whole lot of Central Park, but just enough to get a few pictures and and experience some really great scenery. The cold actually made it better. There is something about that New York nip that made it a much better visit. It wasn't a freezing cold, just a calm kind of cold. It was relaxing. I liked it up until the snow storm.
Theodore Roosevelt Park
As I was walking toward the Subway station, I passed a couple of interesting places, the Theodore Roosevelt Park and the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library. I'm a history guy, so the latter is a place that I now wish that I would have actually went into and checked out. But I had much to see and little time to see it. These places were not on my itinerary and being able to be surprised by them was a real treat.
The New-York Historical Society Museum & Library
I was actually looking forward to riding on the New York Subway because, you know, it is historic and iconic. I was just a bit disappointed at how arcane it was compared to the mass transit metro trains that are in Asia. I'm used to the state-of-the-art, digitized speed metros that are a smooth ride. But it didn't make me appreciate the Subway any less. I had been waiting to hop on. Honesty, the Subway is the BEST way to get around Manhattan, in my opinion. This is especially true for people who are new to NYC.
Avoid the taxis at all costs and be very careful about people who claim to be UBER/LYFT drivers. On my way back to the airport on Day 3 I told the hotel to call me a taxi. They called a LYFT driver and he tried to charge me $45 dollars to go to LaGuardia airport. I talked him down to $40 and I was upset that the hotel didn't call a taxi like I had requested. Remember, it cost me less than $30 from LaGuardia to the hotel. So, I knew something wasn't right because UBER/LYFT rides are supposed to be cheaper.
Anyway, I made my way to the Subway and bought a ticket and off I went toward lower Manhattan to check out some of the best sights of NYC.
Approaching Subway Train
Manhattan Subway Station
9/11 Memorial & Museum
I had my Day 1 itinerary ready and the One World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial was something that I wanted to see first because I've kept up with all the conspiracy theories and the news about the World Trade Center terror attacks on September 11, 2001. I was a freshman in college when that happened and like every other American, I can remember that day very well. Honestly, I don't buy most of the conspiracy theories because I believe their garbage. But I am interested in finding out the truth, like most other people.
9/11 Memorial, Lower Manhattan
When I got to the 9/11 Memorial I started getting goosebumps. I had never been to NYC before and after seeing pictures, videos, and movies of NYC and the World Trade Center events, it was surreal that I was actually standing at "Ground Zero." Being the chilly February day that is was made it more spooky. I actually remember that snow flurries started to fall around the time I showed up. Looking up at the One World Trade Center that was right next to the Memorial was pretty cool. I was gonna go up to the top of the One World Trade Center for $35 dollars, but they said that the view would be distorted due to the cloudy day that it was. I'm sure that there are people that would never even step foot into the One World Trade Center for obvious reasons.
One World Trade Center
I didn't check out the Museum while I was there. It just slipped my mind. I think it had to do with me being so amazed at just being at "Ground Zero" and looking at the names on the Memorial of all the people who died during the attacks. I was there during the day, but at night it is all lit up and it's supposed to be a real sight to see. The names are lit up and there is a ring of light around the inner perimeter behind the waterfall.
9/11 Memorial @ Night (courtesy Four Seasons Magazine)
I made a list of things that I promised myself that I'd see on my second visit to NYC. The 9/11 Memorial at night is on the list, along with the 9/11 Museum that I missed the first time around. This should be a first stop for every New York newbie, in my opinion. The Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and everything else can wait.
9/11 Memorial (Gallery)
I joked with one of the policemen working at the door of the One World Trade Center and I told him I like the way they talk in New York. He laughed and said, "I like the way you talk, buddy." I told him that he sounded like my Army friend from Long Island that I was roommates with at Fort Riley, and the officer said that he was from Long Island. That was neat.
So, since I was in Lower Manhattan I decided to mosey on down toward Wall Street and the Staten Island Ferry. I was revved up from all the cool sights that I'd seen so far and anxious to see more. There is SO much to see and do everywhere you go in Manhattan that it's very difficult to stay focused on a simple itinerary list of things that you've previously planned. Since I was in the heart of Manhattan I had to grab an overpriced souvenir from a shop near the One World Trade Center.
Souvenir Shop Near One World Trade Center
I came across something that I didn't expect to see in the "BIG Apple."
NYPD Smart Car
I started walking south and really didn't care how or when I got to Wall Street because I was having so much fun just being in NYC and everywhere I looked I saw something awesome. The cold weather really didn't bother me at all. I actually appreciated the light flurries that came down that made my experience that much better. I was in heaven on earth and there were new surprises everywhere. I grabbed a bite to eat and finally figured out where the hell I was going. But I knew that if kept walking south that I would eventually reach the water and then finding the Staten Island Ferry terminal would be easy. I came across signs like these and they made things easier.
Information Sign, Lower Manhattan
I had been wanting to see Wall Street for long long time for several reasons. For one, I've been investing in U.S. equity and bond holdings for years. I wanted to see the place where a lot of the legal, administrative, and financial decisions are made that affects MY money. Sure, Washington lawmakers and lobbyists help to pass the SEC-regulated laws but the Wall Street gurus help make sure that those laws are enforced. I wish that I could have went onto the New York Stock Exchange trading floor and seen it with my own eyes. To be able to meet the brilliant people that work the floor and who are featured in countless magazines, newspapers, and online articles. I really want to meet the guy on the right in the picture below, who is a veteran of the NYSE and has been pictured in more photos than any other NYSE trader. I can only imagine what I could learn from that man.
Iconic NYSE Floor Trader, Peter Tuchman
By the way, the NASDAQ index is NOT a part of the NYSE, only the Dow Jones & the S&P 500 is. A lot of people believe that they are all three a part of the New York Stock Exchange. Nope. But the NASDAQ building is close by. There were a lot of interesting places around Wall Street.
I didn't even see the bull statue with the girl statue in front of it. I'm not sure where that even is. Maybe I walked right past them or something because I kept staring at the New York Stock Exchange building. It's really hard to describe the feeling you get when you see these places in New York for the first time. When I see places like this, I like to just stand and stare a while.
Trinity Church Wall Street
One thing I love about New York City is the history that's all around you, and the historic churches and synagogues can take you back hundreds of years. Trinity Church Wall Street serves as a local reminder that Wall Street is not ALL evil with greed, fraud, and ponzi schemers. Just kidding. I love Wall Street.
Federal Hall (George Washington faces NYSE)
When I got close to Wall Street I asked a police officer how to get there. He said, "You're gonna walk that way and see a great big statue of George Washington and he faces it" as he pointed his finger. So, that's what I did and as I got close to the George Washington statue, I turned the corner to the left and WOW! The moment that I had been waiting for finally arrived.
New York Stock Exchange
Looks like that day there was a new IPO (Initial Public Offering) by Varian Medical Systems, with the VAR ticker symbol. This is when a company decides to issue shares of stock for sale to the public to help raise funds and bring value into their companies. I've always wondered what it's like to work on Wall Street as a stockbroker. Movies like "Wall Street" with Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas help make Wall Street look like the powerful place it is.
After Wall Street I decided that it was time to see the next best thing, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island via the Staten Island Ferry. I was having the time of my life and it was getting to the point where I didn't wanna leave New York City. Manhattan is a place that I could definitely reside, easily. One reason is because of all the direct flights from NYC to several other major global cities around the world. It's a convenient city for regular travelers.
Statue of Liberty (Gallery)
The Staten Island Ferry is popular among tourists and locals, alike. It's about a 20 minute boat ride across the Hudson River to Staten Island and the scenery is amazing. There is a postcard view of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. It's a must for first timers in NYC.
Staten Island Ferry
Statue of Liberty via Staten Island Ferry
We arrived at the terminal on the other side and I walked down the corridor and some bearded guy with long hair was shouting with a sign about, "Trump wants peace with Putin, he's right, you're wrong" over and over and over. I stayed clear of that guy and just kept walking. All I cared about was keeping the peace with myself during my New York visit. I grabbed some lunch and took a look at my itinerary and figured out what was next to see and do.
It was time to head back to Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry. I was on my way to Broadway Street and was going to head toward Times Square and the Theater District. Times Square is located at the junction of Broadway and 7th Avenue and stretches from West 42nd to West 47th Streets in midtown Manhattan. Someday I WILL see the ball drop on New Years Eve.
One Times Square
There was much more to see and I wanted to see the best of Manhattan before checking out the less than stellar tourist attractions. I wish now that I would have seen Times Square at night, instead of the day because at night is when you can see all the awesome theater lights. I wasn't really thinking that much when I put together my itinerary and I was still a rookie traveler. But I'll be back in NYC for sure, and next time I will be there longer and will see what I didn't see the first time. You can only really taste it in two days time.
Times Square (Gallery) Part 1
Times Square (Gallery) Part 2
Times Square (Gallery) Part 3
There was SO much to see at Times Square. I was taking so many pictures that my phone started to die and I needed to charge it up. I grabbed a coffee at a local coffee shop and plugged my phone in. After about 30 minutes my phone had enough juice and I continued walking down Broadway toward the Time Warner Center.
Time Warner Center
I had seen quite a bit on Day 1 and it was time to think about what I was going to eat for dinner. I also needed to plan my Day 2 itinerary and map out a convenient route where I could cover the most ground in a short amount of time. Day 2 would consist of the Brooklyn Bridge, Macy's on 34th Street, the Empire State Building, 5th Avenue, the Rockefeller Center, and Madison Square Garden.
I woke up around 9am and ate breakfast at the hotel. I was able to meet some travelers from all over the world. That's the beauty of NYC. It's a global city with new transient travelers coming and going on a daily basis. Everybody wants to see New York City and I've probably seen more New York Yankees logos during my travels than any other logo, including the vintage red Coca-Cola logo. There's just no other place like New York, New York.
Macy's, 34th Street, Manhattan
I wanted to hit 34th Street and see the world's largest Macy's store along with the Empire State Building, since they're both close to each other. I am a fan of "Miracle on 34th Street," the original 1947 film starring Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, and Edmund Gwenn. The movie depicts the Macy's Santa Clause (Edmund Gwenn) who claims to be the real Santa Clause under the name, Kris Kringle. Rowland Hussey Macy (R.H. Macy) actually died 70 years before the film in 1877, but his character is in the movie.
I've always wanted to see the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Manhattan. It has been a NYC tradition since 1924 and has been televised nationally on NBC since 1952. It is the world's largest parade and lasts about 3 hours long. Why would I want to attend the parade? Who wouldn't?!?!
My suggestion is that before you visit New York City, watch movies, documentaries, or videos that take place there or that talk about it in some way. Read articles online or in magazines that feature pictures. Then when you visit it prepares you for an even bigger surprise and it becomes more surreal. This goes for any new place that you're about to visit. Don't watch any remakes of "Miracle on 34th Street," because they're not as good as the original. Originals are almost always better because they were made first.
Empire State Building
Empire State Building (Gallery)
I picked up a sweat suit with a non-matching sweatshirt and sweatpants. I wanted to jog the Brooklyn Bridge, just like I jogged the Golden Gate Bridge a few days before. Having attire from the iconic flagship Macy's on 34th Street made it even better. Speaking of the Brooklyn Bridge, that was my next stop.
Jogging the Brooklyn Bridge with clothes from the 34th Street Macy's flagship store
Brooklyn Bridge (Gallery)
The Brooklyn Bridge is amazing when you're there and when you consider all the people that have traveled across it in the last 135 years, it becomes even more amazing. Construction on the Brooklyn Bridge began in 1869 and was completed in 1883. It has 6 lanes of roadway for cars only. It carried elevated trains until 1944 and streetcars (trams) until 1950. In the middle there are two paths, one for pedestrians and one for bicycles. Twice I almost got ran over by a bicycle because I was in the wrong lane! The Brooklyn Bridge is just over a mile long, not quite as long as the Golden Gate Bridge, which is about 1.7 miles long. I'm glad I jogged when I did, because it would have been impossible the next day with the snowstorm that attacked NYC.
New York City Hall
Right when you get off the Brooklyn Bridge going toward Manhattan, you will run right smack dab into the New York City Hall. Believe it or not, it is the oldest city hall in the United States and still serves as its original function with the Mayor's Office and the City Council still operating there. The gate officer was nice enough to tell me all about New York police precincts. There are 77 police precincts in New York City.
New York City Hall
The nearby Manhattan Municipal Building hosts the thirteen municipal agencies that are under the Mayor's control and is one of the oldest government buildings in the world. Completed in 1812, the New York City Hall is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Madison Square Garden & Penn Station
After my Brooklyn Bridge jog I checked out the New York City Hall and some other places in the area and then went back to the hotel for a shower. I had worked up an appetite and so I grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant and then decided to head toward Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.
Madison Square Garden & Penn Station
Madison Square Garden is historic in so many ways. There have been so many events that have taken place there since its current location's opening in 1968. It's known as the home of the NBA's New York Knicks, the NHL's New York Rangers, and the WNBA's New York Liberty. There are also boxing, MMA, wrestling, circus, and concert events that are held there.
The Theater at Madison Square Garden
The Garden sits atop the Pennsylvania Station, which is a train station and bus station that is home to Amtrak, the Long Island Rail Road, the New Jersey Transit, the New York City Subway, and the New York City Bus. There is also the Theater at Madison Square Garden, along with an entire shopping mall full of shops and restaurants.
James A. Farley Post Office Building
Right across the street from the Madison Square Garden is the HUGE James A. Farley Post Office Building. You can't miss it. It was worth a picture.
5th Avenue, Manhattan
I would say that I saved the best for last, but I actually did all the best stuff first. With that said, 5th Avenue, Trump Tower, the Rockefeller Center, and NBC Studios were near the top of my list of awesome NYC attractions.
Trump Tower on 5th Avenue
Ice Skating at the Rockefeller Center
Donald Trump had just taken the office of U.S. President on January 16th, less than one month before my New York trip. So, being able to see Trump Tower on 5th Avenue was extra special at that point in time. I didn't get to go inside, but I will on my next visit. You can book a room at Trump Tower for as low as $500/night. There are shops, restaurants, residential units, hotel rooms, and some business offices there as well. Trump Tower opened in 1983. It was also the headquarters for President Trump's 2016 Campaign, and will also be the headquarters for the upcoming 2020 Campaign.
Trump Tower, 5th Avenue, Manhattan
I had always heard about ice skating at the Rockefeller Center and the Rockefeller Family is American royalty. As a business student, we used to study the "Rober Barons" and John D. Rockefeller was no doubt an American "Rober Baron." I still study the American "Rober Barons" and read books and watch movies and documentaries about them. They inspire me, and though they made their riches through questionable means, they are largely responsible for America being the great nation that it is with a $16 trillion dollar economy and a commanding global influence.
Ice Skating at the Rockefeller Center
The Rockefeller Center consists of 19 commercial buildings and is mostly a big shopping plaza, like most every other place around 5th Avenue. The Rockefeller Plaza is a street that runs through the complex and is parallel to 5th and 6th Avenues. The Rockefeller Center was constructed thanks to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the doors opened for business in 1933.
After seeing the best of Manhattan in just two days, it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for my trip to Miami the next day. I didn't prep well for my NYC trip and I guess it would have been wise to at least check the weather forecast, because I woke up to a surprise the next morning.
Surprise Snowstorm, Manhattan
I woke up the next morning and glanced out the window to a nice white surprise. I had already booked my flight to Miami and I was concerned about a possible cancellation. While checking out of the hotel, I asked the desk employee to please call me a taxi. What she did instead was call a LYFT driver and he wanted to charge me $45 to go back to LaGuardia. I knew that was too much because I had paid less than $30 to get from LaGuardia to the hotel. I managed to talk him down to $40. Due to the snow, it took us forever to get to the airport.
When I got to the airport I looked at the screen with flight schedule information and sure enough, every flight had been cancelled. I went to the desk for the airline that I had booked with and she told me that my only option was to could catch a flight in two days from JFK airport and I would have to pay more. I was furious. I walked around in circles with my head down, being more angry with myself than anyone or anything else because I failed to schedule my flight better.
Instead of getting mad and throwing a fit like I wanted to (and what I usually do) I tried having a sense of humor with the people working behind the counter. I said, "maybe I can pay a Manhattan millionaire fly me down to Miami." A couple of people laughed. The lady that had initially given me the bad news told me to wait and she got back on the phone and spent about 10 minutes speaking to someone. I waited patiently. She then hung up the phone and told me that she had booked me a flight that was leaving the next morning and that also I was bumped up to first class. I felt better after that.
I believe that it was my sense of humor and my patience that helped me to get the "extra mile" kind of service that they provided me. If I would have been an irate, impatient, mouthy kind of asshole then they wouldn't have helped me the way they did. I learned an invaluable lesson in travel that day.
But then after waiting all night in the lounge, I was ready to head to the gate while looking forward to my first class seat, and that flight was cancelled, too. So, I had to call on a courtesy phone and speak to another rep that was able to book me another flight later that day. I missed out on my first class seat, but I still made it to Miami without being too much behind on schedule.
Again, it was my fault for not planning ahead properly and being proactive.
As I was flying out of New York City I realized that I just had an experience of a lifetime. I had just spent a couple of action-packed days in one of the greatest, most historic cities in the world. I only saw Manhattan (and a small piece of Brooklyn) and there were several things that I didn't see, but I saw the best of the best of NYC. I'll for sure be back and I will stay longer and see even more. New York City is SO big and there is something there for everyone. It's one of the most diverse cities in the world. There is history all around you and everywhere you look there is something neat to see.
Contrary to popular belief, people in New York City are NICE. At least in Manhattan and maybe it does have something to do with the tourism. I'm not sure. But there were several times I needed to ask for directions and everyone from hotel employees to electricians to construction workers to random strangers on the street were more than willing to help me. I was amazed by this. We've all heard of "Southern Hospitality," but I'm here to tell you that there is such a thing as "Manhattan Hospitality." I love New York City.
History in New York City
The first New Yorkers were the Lenape, and Algonquin people who were native to the area. Europeans started exploring the region in the 1500s, notably Italian explorer Giovanni da Verazzano. The Dutch West India Company settled in an area they called, New Amsterdam in 1624. In 1626, Peter Minuit, the New Amsterdam Governor General, purchased Manhattan Island from the natives. By 1760, New York City had a population of about 18,000. Today, New York City is the largest city in the United States (population wise) and one of the largest cities in the world.
There are museums, landmarks, statues, monuments, memorials and history everywhere you look in New York City. Anyone can appreciate the rich heritage and cultural diversity that is prominent in New York City.
Geography of New York City
Map of the Five Boroughs
New York City is made up five main boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. Each borough is distinct in its own way when it comes to culture, lifestyles, and even language. Though Manhattan is the most popular among tourists, every borough has something unique to offer visitors and locals, alike. I will post NYC tourist websites at the bottom.
Getting In and Around New York City
New York City is a major hub for travelers, both domestic and international. Due to the demand for travel, there are 4 major international airports in the area. These airports are LaGuardia, JFK, Newark Liberty, and Stewart. JFK and Newark are the busiest and fourth busiest airports in the U.S. for international travelers. Manhattan is super easy to get around with the convenience of the New York Subway. One just needs to study a map for a short time and learn the Subway routes and decide where they want to go. Try and avoid taxis, UBER/LYFT, and buses if possible. The Subway is affordable and accessible almost everywhere. The Staten Island Ferry is the best way to get to Staten Island from Manhattan and vise versa. Avoid people at the airports that claim to be taxis. Protect your belongings on the Subway, and the airports. Take the Hop On Bus to see the best of NYC in a short time.
Crime in New York City
Believe it or not, crime in NYC has been dropping since the 1990s. As of 2015, is has the lowest crime rate of any major city in the United States. In 2014, there were 328 homicides, which is the lowest number since 1963. In 2015, The Economist published a study of the Top 50 safest cities in the world and New York City ranked #10 on the list, along with being ranked #28 in personal safety. There are many reasons for these stats, but many people credit the progress with modern-day criminology & policing tactics, the end of the 80s/90s crack epidemic, and even controversial, flexible abortion laws.
With all that said, tourists still need to take precautions and be safe.
The Sophistication of New York City
New York City is a place that has a very rich cultural and historical significance. From Colonial America, the mass immigration wave of the 19th and 20th Centuries, the Industrial Revolution, pop culture, rober barons, and numerous headquarters of multi-national companies and other entities, NYC is a magnet for travelers from everywhere. The food, arts, history, fashion, shopping, events, and everything else make NYC a fabulous place that has something for everyone.
The New York spoken dialect is known as "Brooklynese" or "New Yorkese" and is one of the most recognizable accents in American English. It derives from the working-class Europeans who settled and immigrated to the city. There are annual events like the New York Marathon, Times Square New Years Eve ball drop, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and other popular events. The Theater District is home to one of the world's busiest intersections.
Thanks to the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, New York City has been called the world's most economically powerful city and leading financial center of the world. NYC is home to over 3 million foreign-born residents making it the global leader in this category.
NYC is arguably the most photographed city in the world. The New York City Subway is one of the most extensive subway systems in the world with 472 stations. There are multiple Chinatowns in NYC making it home to the largest Chinese population in the Western Hemisphere. NYC is an All-Star city, meaning that it is made up of people, ideas, and lifestyles from all over the world. There truly is no other place on earth that compares to it.
*Top New York City Attractions (Manhattan)
Statue of Liberty
Wall Street (New York Stock Exchange)
One World Trade Center
9/11 Memorial & Museum
United Nations Headquarters
Staten Island Ferry
34th Street (Macy's & Empire State Building)
Broadway Street & Times Square
Madison Square Garden & Penn Station
Grand Central Station
Ground Zero Museum Workshop
Museum of American Finance
Museum of the American Indian
*Other boroughs have great tourist attractions as well
Thoughts on the Events of September 11th, 2001
I remember it was my second semester of my freshman year of college. I remember walking through the SIUC Student Center and noticing a larger than usual crowd of people in the student TV lounge. I thought it was odd as I walked by and didn't care to join them. I had to get some breakfast and get to the library to start my shift at work.
When I got to the library and around my boss and co-workers I noticed something was off. Just the way everyone was acting seemed funny to me. Right after I punched my timecard, not even being there 5 minutes, my boss said "Jeff, someone's on the phone for you." It was my friend, Tim, a local boy like myself and fellow SIUC student. He said, "I'm gonna kill anyone with any kind of Arab blood in them." Those were his exact words. I didn't know why the hell he called me at work to say something crazy like that to me. He was known to be an asshole, but he wasn't even drunk at the time. I just let him go without asking him questions because I had just got to work. I brushed it off and didn't really think much about it.
I noticed the radio was on loud in the other room and then finally I had to ask my boss, "what's going on?!" She said, "haven't you heard?" I asked, "heard what?" She said, "the World Trade Center had been hit by terrorists." I didn't know what to say because it took me a few moments to process what she had just said. She told me to go in the room and listen to the radio. I did just that and with disbelief and shock, I joined my fellow Americans in solidarity.
Since then I never really keyed that much into the question marks and conspiracy theories that surround the events of September 11th, 2001. It actually wasn't until my visit to New York City and "Ground Zero" when I was actually there, that my curiosity about what actually happened began to pick up. Until my visit, I always just believed the 9/11 Commission Report.
Last year, I watched the documentary "9/11," filmed by the Naudet brothers while the actual events unfolded at the World Trade Center twin towers. This is probably the most credible and most watched documentary of 9/11.
After I watched it, I began to watch other documentaries, many with far out conspiracy theories and interviews of people who were actually there, including the janitor who was dubbed a hero by Bush & Cheney and then called a traitor when he accused them of planning and covering up the attacks. More and more I became hooked on so many videos, articles, and pictures that I finally had to force myself to refrain from anything 9/11.
So what do I think really happened that day?
Frankly, I don't know.
Honestly, there are countless pictures, articles, and videos with sounds, sights, and eyewitnesses that strongly suggest what appears to be evidence of a controlled demolition.
Of everything that I've read, looked at, and watched about 9/11, there is one video in particular that I can't stop thinking about. Watch for yourself and see if you notice what I noticed. You may need to watch it a couple of times.
Did you catch it?
There is a very subtle rumble that appears to shake the camera a bit, 12 seconds before the North Tower collapses. I guess it could be a coincidence.
or it could be something else.......
I'm not one to believe conspiracy theories, UNTIL they're proven true.
But most of me still leans toward terrorism and groups that hate America.
I will say this in conclusion.......
I am a truth-seeker and I want the absolute truth with everything I look at.
I never take anything at face value, because there's always something more than what meets the eye. I want to understand what I see. Then I feel better.
Many people believe what they want to believe, even if they know it's not true because sometimes the truth hurts too much or because it's more convenience to establish alternative facts. Sometimes it benefits people more to live a lie than to face the cost of being honest. For example, if I know my best friend is a killer and I'm the only one (other than him) who knows, am I going to tell people the truth when they ask me about him? Maybe not. In fact, a part of me may even believe that deep down he is a good person and that he doesn't deserve to go to prison, even though I know in my heart that he's a criminal that deserves a punishment. But if I stay quiet about it then I'm also a killer because my silence is enabling him to continue to kill.
So then I'm also a criminal because technically I'm an accomplice.
But really I'm someone who would report someone like that, no matter how close I am to them or how bad the consequences would actually affect ME.
Because eventually, more than likely, the truth will be revealed anyway.
I pray that someday we will all know the absolute truth about 9/11.
God bless the near 3,000 people that died on September 11th, 2001.
New York City Facts
NYC has about 8.5 million people.
NYC is the most densely populated city in the United States.
NYC has been described as the cultural, financial, & media capital of the world.
NYC is home of the United Nations headquarters.
There are as many as 800 languages spoken in NYC.
If NYC were a country, it would have the 12th highest GDP in the world.
NYC was the capital of the U.S. from 1785 to 1790.
NYC has been the country's largest city since 1790.
Queens is the most ethnically diverse region in the U.S. (over 170 languages).
Colombia University & NYU are both ranked in the Top 30, nationally.
The value of Manhattan Island exceeds $3 trillion USD.
New York County is the nation's 2nd smallest county by size, but the nation's most densely populated with over 1.6 million people.
Successive waves of immigration from virtually every nation in the world make New York a giant social experiment in cross-cultural harmony.
Countless notable people including Billy Joel, Humphrey Bogart, 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson), Robert De Niro, Denzel Washington, Oliver Stone, Mike Tyson, Donald Trump, and many many more are from NYC.
New York State of Mind performed by Billy Joel
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For Further Information on Tourism in New York City:
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