New York/Manhattan

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Travel Guide North America USA Northeastern United States New York New York New York/Manhattan

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Introduction

Central Park

Central Park

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When many people say New York they mean Manhattan. The economic center, style center and cultural center of New York, maybe even the entire USA, Manhattan has an allure that can amaze anyone. From stunning skyscrapers to amazing museums and restaurants no trip is complete to New York with out a few days in Manhattan. Wall Street. Madison Avenue. 34th Street. Broadway. Manhattan is so well known that even the names of its streets have become iconic and understood the world over. This long, thin island is only one of New York City's five boroughs, but it's Manhattan that has the concrete canyons and the inimitable skyline; Manhattan that has the world's brightest theater district; Manhattan that has Central Park, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, and the Met; and Manhattan that includes iconic neighborhoods like Harlem, the Upper East Side, Times Square, and Greenwich Village.

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History

The area that is now Manhattan was once inhabited by the Lenape Indians, and the name Manhattan is believed to be derived from the Lenape word "Manna-hata", which has been translated as "island of many hills." Today, most of those hills have either been paved over or considerably softened, although you can still get some sense of what the natural landscape of Manhattan looked like at Inwood Hill Park, on the northern tip of the island.

The first European to set foot on Manhattan was Henry Hudson, an Englishman who mapped the area for the Dutch East India Company in 1609. Dutch settlers arrived in 1625, establishing a fort on the southern tip of the island and naming their settlement "New Amsterdam." English soldiers took the settlement by force in the 1660s and renamed it "New York," after the Duke of York (who later became King James II). Under British rule, New York became an important hub of business in the American colonies, as well as a center of dissent against said British rule. The Stamp Act Congress met here and the Sons of Liberty developed on Manhattan in opposition to "taxation without representation." Manhattan was at the center of an early military campaign during the Revolutionary War, which resulted in General George Washington's forces abandoning New York to the British, who occupied the settlement until the end of the war. New York briefly served as the first capital of the new nation, with George Washington returning to take the oath of office as the first president of the United States.

Through the 19th century, Manhattan grew rapidly, becoming the center of a sprawling metropolis. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the growth of the city's banking sector established New York's importance as an economic center for the nation. The rate of immigration rose sharply, particularly in the years after the Civil War, with millions of newcomers coming to the city in hopes of a better life. The massive demand for housing and high immigration rate turned Manhattan into a city of industry and tenements and gave it its international flair, becoming a hotbed of political racketeering as well as the labor movement. The pressures of the urban landscape led to the creation of new parks, most notably Central Park, and expansion of the city boundaries led to opening of new connections to the other boroughs, most notably the Brooklyn Bridge.

The early decades of the 20th century saw even more growth, with the creation of the subway system offering a way to move easily around the crowded island and the first of Manhattan's skyscrapers, giving rise to the city's famous skyline. The economic boom of Midtown led to the borough's two skylines, with Midtown now competing (and often winning) as the dominant business and civic district versus the older financial district downtown. The Great Migration of African-Americans from the South led to the renaissance of Harlem, which has since remained an important center of African-American culture. The Art Deco landmarks of the 1930s (most notably the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building) were joined by the modernist skyscrapers of the post-WWII economic boom, including the headquarters of the United Nations.

The boom years of the mid-century ended with Manhattan's economic decline in the 1960s and 70s. The departure of all port and industrial activity, as well as much of the city's tax base, brought intense poverty and a reputation of Manhattan as crime-ridden and graffiti-covered. However, Manhattan has come a long way since, as the rise of the financial industry and a new real estate boom has led to intense gentrification of the borough's neighborhoods. But while this trend has occurred alongside a reduced crime rate and a cleaner reputation, it has also resulted in the outflow of many of the borough's older residents and grittier character. Today, the Lower East Side and portions of Upper Manhattan are the only neighborhoods with some of the old grit, and even those are gentrifying. Locals often regard Manhattan as overpriced, tourist-centric, and lacking the character of the other boroughs. However, Manhattan remains the undisputed center of business, power, and prominence in the city – if not the nation – with evocative landmarks and a setting that continues to inspire awe from its many visitors.

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Neighbourhoods

Manhattan (also known officially as New York County and informally called simply "New York" or "The City" locally) is divided broadly into three sections: Downtown, Midtown, and Uptown. In common parlance locally, to go "Downtown" in Manhattan means to "go south", while going "Uptown" means to "go north".

The districts south of 14th Street are considered part of Downtown. Midtown, as the name suggests, occupies the approximate middle reach of Manhattan Island, sandwiched between 14th Street and 59th Street/Central Park. Midtown is divided into a number of neighborhoods, often indistinct with considerable overlap between them. The districts located north of 59th Street are considered part of Uptown.

Downtown/Lower Manhattan

Downtown, or Lower Manhattan, is the oldest part of the city, and considered the financial capital of the country, if not the world. The tallest skyscrapers are mostly downtown, along with some of the most interesting residential neighborhoods.

  • Financial District - Long the center of the American economy, the Financial District is full of impressive turn-of-the-century buildings and is a hive of activity during the day. At night it clears out considerably, though it is becoming an increasingly residential area, giving it more flavor than it has had in the past. Wall Street, the World Trade Center site, South Street Seaport, and Battery Park, a departure point for ferries to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Staten Island, and Governors Island are all in this neighborhood.
  • TriBeCa - The "Triangle Below Canal Street". Home to Robert DeNiro's annual film festival, it is popular with the affluent crowd and replete with trendy restaurants. Unlike SoHo to the north, Tribeca is not over-filled with shoppers on weekends, and Greenwich Street could be mistaken for the main street of a beautifully preserved small town.
  • Greenwich Village - Coffee houses, wine bars, lowrise but high art and literary connections, located between Houston and 14th Streets. The bohemian center of yore, today's Village is strongly upmarket but retains its diverse flavor, with its historic community around Christopher Street and thousands of students who attend NYU.
  • Lower East Side - Famous as the Jewish immigrant ghetto of the early 20th century, the neighborhood today is enjoying a renaissance, with dozens of bars and restaurants.
  • SoHo - "South of Houston Street" flows north from Canal Street between the Hudson River and Lafayette St. The ultimate urban gentrification story, SoHo was a rundown industrial area until the 1960s, when artists began inhabiting its spacious and then-cheap lofts. After the artists came the galleries, then the celebrities, then the shoppers, and now the visitors. Filled with gorgeous cast-iron architecture (on Greene Street especially), SoHo is a great shopping and dining destination, even if many of the artists have moved on.
  • Chinatown - Chinatown retains its scruffy, exotic atmosphere, especially around Mott and Canal Streets. The diminishing Little Italy still exists on Mulberry Street (and comes out in full force for Italian festivals such as the Feast of San Gennaro in September), but the surrounding blocks are morphing into fashionable Nolita ("North of Little Italy") or have been annexed by Chinatown.
  • East Village - Gritty and diverse but redeveloping, this area lies east of Broadway. Pockets of Ukrainians, Japanese, Indians and young professionals make it one of the most vibrant Manhattan areas. The once-shabby area formerly known as Alphabet City, centered on Avenues A through D, is now considered part of the East Village.

Midtown Manhattan

As the name suggests, Midtown Manhattan occupies the approximate middle reach of Manhattan Island, sandwiched between Lower Manhattan (below 14th Street) and Upper Manhattan (above 59th Street/Central Park). Like the financial district, Midtown Manhattan is also home to many skyscrapers. Midtown is divided into a number of neighborhoods, often indistinct. They are as follows:

  • Chelsea - Having superseded Greenwich Village as the primary center of New York's gay community, this appealing district has a great mix of fashion, design, art, culture, bars and restaurants.
  • Gramercy Flatiron - A chic, stylish district of stately residential areas, gardens and squares, trendy restaurants and bars. The Empire State Building is located in this district.
  • Theater District - The name says it all: Broadway, Times Square, 42nd Street, Hell's Kitchen, Columbus Circle; often overlapping in the area between Fifth and Sixth Avenues with Midtown East. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is down on the Hudson River.
  • Midtown East - This extensive area east of Sixth Avenue includes a number of New York icons including the United Nations, Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building.

Uptown/Upper Manhattan

The districts north of 59th Street are considered part of "Uptown":

  • Central Park - With its lawns, trees and lakes, it is popular for recreation and concerts and is home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park Zoo.
  • Upper East Side - Primarily a residential neighborhood, it remains New York City's wealthiest. Museums and restaurants abound.
  • Upper West Side - Often called the city's quintessential neighborhood and made famous by TV's Seinfeld, it includes delightful residential streets, the twin-towered facades of the old apartment hotels on Central Park West and Riverside Drive, Columbia University, large and impressive churches, two of the city's best-known markets (Zabar's and Fairway) and one of its major museums – the American Museum of Natural History.
  • Harlem and Upper Manhattan - Harlem, America's most famous black community, is home to an increasingly diverse mix of cultures. East Harlem (aka Spanish Harlem), the traditional center of Latino culture in Manhattan, has been joined by the lively, predominantly Dominican neighborhoods of West Harlem and Washington Heights. Washington Heights, which is north of Harlem, is notable for Fort Tryon Park, the home of The Cloisters (the Medieval annex of the Metropolitan Museum). At the northern tip of Manhattan, Inwood's claim to fame is Inwood Hill Park, the last remaining virgin forest on the island.

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Sights and Activities

Central Park

Central Park was the first urban landscaped park in the United States. An icon of New York and a great place to settle down from the hustle and bustle. This park is the location of countless movies plays and ideas reflecting New York culture. It is also a great place to escape to for a few hours. In the park there are several lakes, sporting facilities, and a couple of famous buildings including the Metropolitan Museum. The Great Lawn in summer also acts as a field for open air concerts. Another famous part of the park is Strawberry Fields, which was created in honour of John Lennon, who was murdered at the steps of the Dakota building, near to the Central Park. Furthermore you can find Belvedere Castle and a Zoo in the Park. (Location: From 59th Street to 110th Street and from Fifth Avenue to Eighth Avenue.)

Empire State Building

Empire State

Empire State

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The Empire State Building is, at 381 metres (or 448.7 metres if you include the antenna), the tallest building in New York City, located at the junction of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. Built in a typical art deco style, that was in fashion before World War II, it was the heighest in the world from the opening in 1932 until it was surpassed by the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 1972. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, it again became the tallest building in the New York skyline. Visitors primarily come to the tower to have a look at the panorama over New York from the observation deck, which is located on the 86th floor. Most tourists tend to forget that in the building, around a thousand offices are located, employing about 21,000 people. The building has been a site of many films, most notable is King Kong, and maybe the least know is the film Empire by Andy Warhol, which is 8 hours and 5 minutes long, showing the Empire State building from July 25-26, 1964 from 8:06 p.m. to 2:42 a.m. (the difference in the time, is because of the speed at which the film is projected.)

The High Line

The High Line is a 2,5 kilometre long part of the former elevated freight railroad of the West Side Line. Located along the lower west side of Manhattan, it has been redesigned and planted as a greenway. The original High Line was built in the early 1930's to prevent fatal accidents that occurred along street level and to offer direct warehouse-to-freight car service. It was in use until 1980. The new High Line opened up with the southernmost section as a city park on June 8, 2009. The "Lenape Edible Estate: Manhattan" will officially open to the public on Monday, September 14th and there will also be festivities to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Henry Hudson to the island of Manhattan.

Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building, located at 405 Lexington Ave, and 42nd Street, was built between 1928 and 1930, and with 319 metres (the height of the antenna), it was for one year the heighest building in the world. It was built in the Art-Deco style that was fashionable during the twenties and early thirties. The Chrysler boss at that moment, instructed the architect, William van Alen to make some references to the Chrysler cars. Van Alen did this and on the building you can find gargoyles that are modeled after Chrysler automobiles, and other references to Chrysler cars. The most distinctive part of the skyscraper is the crown that is made out of stainless steel and small triangular windows. When it is dark the illumination of the crown, makes it to one of New York's most recognisable sights.

Museums and Galleries

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) is one of the largest art museums in the world with a stunning collection that can take weeks to explore. It houses a collection of paintings and sculptures from old over the world and from the old masters to modern artists. It also has a huge collection of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Egyptian, African, Asiatic, Oceanic and Islamic pieces of art in the collection. There is also a collection of musical instruments on display. In a separate wing of the museum you can find the Robert Lehman Collection, which was a private collection passed on to the museum after his death. It contains several works of famous artists like El Greco, Goya, Botticelli and Rembrandt.
  • Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is an amazing modern art museum with leading artists showing their work.
  • Guggenheim Museum is another great art museum feature the collection of Peggy Guggenheim.
  • Ellis Island Immigration Museum is the place to go if you want to learn the history of the people that came to the United States during the late 19th and early 20th century in search of a better life.
  • American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, has great dinosaurs and other exhibits on natural history.
  • Lower East Side Tenement Museum
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
  • Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Corner of 91st Street and Fifth Avenue
  • New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West at 77th Street
  • American Museum of the Moving Image, 35th Avenue at 36th Street
  • Museum Of Sex, 233 Fifth Avenue at 27th street, is a nice museum completely devoted to every aspect of sex future, past, and present.

Sports

Madison Square Garden, atop Penn Station in Midtown, is the main sports venue on Manhattan, playing host to major concerts, conventions, and many sporting events, as well as the New York Rangers NHL hockey team, the New York Knicks NBA basketball team, and the New York Liberty WNBA basketball team. Madison Square Garden also plays host to two major college basketball tournaments, the Big East Conference Men's Basketball Tournament and the National Invitation Tournament. If tickets to Madison Square Garden are too expensive, there are plenty of places in Manhattan to watch more informal, amateur matches for free; among the more notable spots are Pier 40 on the Hudson River at the end of Houston Street, which has baseball, soccer and rugby fields, kayaking and rowing, and trapeze artists, and the many recreational facilities of Central Park. Here, you are more than welcome to watch and maybe even join in. Another place of note is the West 4th Street Courts in Greenwich Village, the site of many intense pick-up games that's legendary in street basketball.

Other Sights and Activities

Times Square

Times Square

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  • Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 112th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, is the world's largest cathedral.
  • New York Public Library, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, is a stunning structure with great public art.
  • New York Stock Exchange, 20 Broad Street between Wall St. and Exchange Pl., see were all the money is made and lost!
  • Rockefeller Center, Between 5th and 6th Avenues, and between 49th and 50th Streets, is an amazing plaza that has ice skating in the winter and performances in the summer.
  • Theater District is a great place to catch a play and enjoy an evening
  • Times Square, shopping, theatres, restaurants where over 30 million tourists visit each year!
  • Ground Zero go see the where the tragic events of September 11th 2001 took place.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.

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Getting There

By Air

While there is no airport in Manhattan, there are helicopter and seaplane services into the city. At least two companies provide helicopter services between Manhattan and area airports, from helipads on W34th Street, E34th Street, and Wall Street. Seaplane services are available to East Hampton from E23rd Street during the summer months. Neither are for the faint of pocket – the helicopter service costs $125 or more while the seaplane service costs $425 per person. Scheduled helicopter services are also available to the airport in Bridgeport, CT from Manhattan.

By Train

There are three railway stations with access to points outside of New York City, two of which are in Midtown. The largest, Pennsylvania Station (Penn Station for short), between 31st and 33rd Streets on 7th Avenue, is served by Amtrak, the Long Island Railroad, and New Jersey Transit. 2 Grand Central Terminal, at Park Avenue and 42nd Street, is an architectural delight and the hub of the Metro-North Railroad to points in southern New York State and southern Connecticut. Metro-North trains also stop at Harlem–125th Street at Park Avenue and 125 Street, a useful stop for travelers headed for Harlem or other points in Upper Manhattan.

Additionally, a subway system called PATH connects Manhattan with Hoboken, Jersey City, and Newark across the Hudson River. One line serves the World Trade Center in downtown while another crosses under the river to Greenwich Village before continuing along 6th Avenue to Midtown, making stops at Christopher, 9th, 14th, 23rd, and 33rd Streets.

By Road

Manhattan being an island, access (whether by car, taxi, bus or by foot) has generally to be made by means of either a bridge or a tunnel. A pedestrian can walk into Manhattan over the Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Williamsburg Bridges from Brooklyn, the Queensboro or RFK (formerly Triboro) Bridges from Queens, all the numerous small street bridges from the Bronx, and the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey. Probably the most famous of these is the Brooklyn Bridge. If you're coming from LaGuardia Airport (LGA) by cab, consider asking the driver to take the Queensboro or Williamsburg Bridges into Manhattan if you're going to Midtown or Downtown, respectively, and save yourself the RFK Bridge or Queens-Midtown Tunnel toll. Buses from New Jersey and other long-distance buses most commonly terminate at Port Authority Bus Terminal, 41st St. between 8th and 9th Avs., while others terminate in Chinatown.

By Boat

Passengers from Staten Island usually take the free Staten Island Ferry to get to the Battery at the lower tip of Manhattan. The Battery also houses ferries to Liberty and Ellis Islands and Governors Island. Other ferries transport passengers to and from Brooklyn and parts of New Jersey.

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Getting Around

Most of Manhattan is laid out in a grid. By convention, Manhattan is spoken of as if it runs north to south (it's actually northeast to southwest), with streets running east-west and avenues running north-south. This makes it relatively easy and straightforward to find your way.

Except for downtown Manhattan south of Houston Street and Greenwich Village between Houston St. and 14th St. on the west side, streets are numbered and the numbering rises as you go north, starting at 1st Street just above Houston and running up to 220th Street at the northern end of the island. As a guide to distance, there are roughly 20 street blocks per mile.

North of Houston St., avenues are either named or numbered, and are more widely spaced than streets, with one mile being approximately seven avenues. Park Avenue is a continuation of 4th Avenue, while Lexington Avenue (between 3rd and Park Avenues) can be thought of as a "3½ Avenue" and Madison Avenue (between Park and 5th Avenues) can be thought of as a "4½ Avenue". On the Upper West Side, Columbus Ave. is a continuation of 9th, Amsterdam Ave. is a continuation of 10th, and West End Ave. is a continuation of 11th.

Above 8th St., 5th Avenue divides Manhattan into east and west; address numbering starts at 5th Avenue on each side (except where Central Park interrupts) and increases in either direction. Addresses west of 5th Avenue are written as, for example, 220 W 34th Street, while those east of 5th Avenue are written as 220 E 34th Street. For numbered streets below 8th St., Broadway divides the streets into east and west. Address numbering on avenues starts at the south end of the avenue and rises as you move north. In Greenwich Village and downtown Manhattan, all bets are off as streets meander, dead-end and intersect themselves.

The best ways to get around Manhattan are on foot, by cab, or by taking the subway or bus. Driving is strongly discouraged; most Manhattanites do not own cars and the infrastructure of the city is designed for people rather than for automobiles.

By Taxi

When traveling by cab, it is best to ensure that you are using a licensed cab; the easiest way is to ask at the concierge at your hotel to flag down one of the ubiquitous yellow cabs or do so yourself. All licensed cabs are yellow, and no unlicensed (as a taxicab) livery services may be yellow. Cabs which are available have their lights on and do not have their "Off Duty" sign lit. Off duty taxi drivers may choose to drive you if they are going your way, but are under no obligation to pick you up, and cabs which are not lit have customers inside and cannot pick up more customers. Fare for trips within Manhattan is strictly by meter (ask the cabbie to turn the meter on if s/he makes no move to turn it on after you've said where you want to go), plus whatever tip you choose to give (note that it is customary and expected to tip at least 10% to 15% for normal service). For trips to the Outer Boroughs, if toll bridges or tunnels are taken, you are responsible for the tolls in addition to the fare on the meter plus the tip. Do not try to take cabs during shift changes (such as around 4PM on weekdays), if you are in a rush, because you'll find that they are almost all off duty. Limousines (approximately $30 per hour for in-Manhattan use of a sedan) are an attractive alternative to medallion (yellow) cabs if you know you'll need to be driven around a lot during a short period of time. If you are north of West 110th St or East 96th St you can also use a boro taxi. Unlike yellow cabs, they are light green and have no medallions on the hood. These cabs are barred from picking up passengers in Manhattan south of West 110th St or East 96th St and may not enter the airport dispatcher lines. They can, however, pick up passengers in northern Manhattan and the other boroughs, and can drop off passengers anywhere. Fares and rules are otherwise identical to yellow cabs.

By Public Transport

Maps of the New York subway system and Manhattan buses, schedules of subway and bus lines, and information about temporary service changes due to construction can be found online. Bus schedules and route maps are also usually posted on poles at bus stops. Bus schedules in Manhattan are only approximate: actual times depend on traffic and other variables.

By Bike

Cycling in Manhattan can often be quicker than taking the subway or a taxi, but it isn't for the fainthearted. The borough's tumultuous traffic makes biking difficult. Aggressive cab drivers, jaywalking pedestrians, potholes and debris on the roads create a cycling experience that might just as well have been taken from Dante's Inferno. If you do venture into the concrete jungle on a bike, make sure you wear a helmet and have sufficient experience in urban cycling. A map of bike paths in New York City can be found here.

The city has a new bike share program, called CitiBike. The program has many stations throughout Lower and Midtown Manhattan. A map can be found here. To access a bike, first visit one of the locations and pay for a pass. 24-hour passes cost $9.95 and 7-day passes cost $25.00 (tax not included). You will receive a card and a code; enter the code into a bike, and you can use it. After 30 minutes of use, you will be charged overtime fees. Return your bike to a station (remember to place it securely in a dock–you will be further fined if the light on the dock does not turn green) within 30 minutes to avoid this. You can take out another bike and continue your journey if necessary. Using CitiBike is not recommended if you plan on using a bike for a prolonged period of time.

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Eat

Almost any type of food you can imagine and any cuisine you can name is available in Manhattan. With thousands of restaurants, delis, grocery stores, and street vendors throughout the borough, you can find an excellent meal at virtually any price point. Even Manhattan, with its high rents and reputation for expensive restaurants, offers plenty of opportunities for a good, cheap meal; it's just a matter of knowing where to look.

Manhattan has many great street food vendors, from the ubiquitous hot dog carts on many street corners to more specialized fare. Just be wary of food stands close to major tourist attractions; carts in Times Square and its immediate vicinity often aren't very upfront about their prices and will charge a lot more than their fellows further away. Just walking a few blocks away is often all it takes to find something more affordable. Most carts serve lunch from about 11AM to 5 or 6PM in the evening and disappear after dark, so look for a cart near you, smell what's cooking, and enjoy a hot and often tasty lunch for a few dollars (a meal costs anywhere from about $2 to $8). Mornings, from about 6AM to 10AM, the streets are dotted with coffee carts that sell coffee, croissants, bagels, and Danish pastries and are good for a cheap breakfast: small coffee and bagel for a dollar or so. From 10AM to 7PM, many vendors sell lunch and dinner choices, including hot dogs, hamburgers, gyros, and halal food like chicken kabobs. Washington Square Park, Union Square, and Madison Square Park are frequent congregation points for food trucks and more notably excellent stands.

There are many street festivals more or less centered around food, such as the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party in Madison Square Park; the celebration of Bastille Day, which occurs the weekend after July 14, on 60 St. between 5th and Lexington Avs.; the Taste of Chinatown festival; and the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival, which takes place on the first weekend after Mother's Day each year, and many run-of-the-mill street fairs. If you come across a street fair by chance, beware of the food vendors who make all their money at street festivals, because with a few exceptions, they are usually bad, and look for booths of food establishments from the area. If no sign is up with the location of the booth's store, you can ask the people at each booth where their store is; if it's far away or they don't know where it is, be wary.

Pizza-by-the-slice joints dot Manhattan and vary in quality, but usually offer a good on-the-go meal for cheap. A pricier but still quintessential New York meal is the deli sandwich, available from the many delis throughout the borough. A wide variety of Chinese options can be found in Chinatown and various other neighborhoods, there's the small Koreatown with some very good (but not necessarily cheap) restaurants, Washington Heights is the center for Dominican food, the East Village is full of Japanese eateries of various types, and part of Murray Hill is known as "Curry Hill" for its proliferation of Indian restaurants. Italian options can be found in virtually every neighborhood, although a higher number appear in the East Village and Greenwich Village (note that Italian restaurants in "Little Italy" on Mulberry St. between Canal and Broome are mostly for tourists and tend to be overpriced).

There are pizzerias all over Manhattan, and while many of them aren't all that good, the general standard of pizza is much higher than in most of the rest of the United States. There are also at least two different kinds of New York pizza: The typical corner pizza parlors that have gas ovens and serve by the slice and the whole-pie sit-down places that serve even thinner-crust pizza that's baked very briefly at very high temperatures in coal-fired ovens. If you want New York-style pizza, Lombardi's in Little Italy is regarded as the oldest pizzeria in town and continues to draw in big crowds of tourists, but Patsy's in East Harlem has long been regarded by connoisseurs as serving perhaps the purest example of plain New York-style coal-oven pizza (don't order any toppings, though, just the regular or fresh mozzarella pies). Greenwich Village is the center of pizza on Manhattan, home to not only Joe's - generally considered the best gas-fired New York-style slice in Manhattan - but also the classic coal-fired style at John's and Arturo's. Some other notable pizzerias include the eclectic Co. in Chelsea and quite a number of Neapolitan-style places, plus Roman-style at Palà on the Lower East Side.

The unique food of the Jewish delicatessen has permeated the United States, but the pastrami you get at the supermarket in no way prepares you for the wonder of the juicy, hand-sliced pastrami at Katz's, on the Lower East Side. Sure, it's a huge draw for tourists, but New Yorkers go there every day, too, because it really is the genuine article. Another worthwhile deli, which also has what might be the best matzo ball soup in town and encompasses more appetizing (see below), like kasha varnishkes, is 2nd Avenue Deli, in Murray Hill.

In most parts of the English-speaking word, "appetizing" is an adjective, but among New York Jews, traditionally, it was a noun meaning pareve treats that could be eaten at both dairy and meat meals. Fish is not considered a meat under the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut, so one of the pillars of appetizing in Manhattan is Barney Greengrass, the Sturgeon King, on the Upper West Side, with an honorable mention to the nearby Zabar's. The other pillar is Russ & Daughters on the Lower East Side. These are places to get lox, whitefish, herring, kasha, and a bunch of other things that are part of a way of life that may not be as vibrant as it was 100 years ago but can still be experienced in Manhattan.

New York cheesecake is world-famous, and you can get some excellent cheesecake in Manhattan, even though some of it comes from the Bronx. Zabar's carries S&S Cheesecake, which comes from the other side of the Harlem River. However, Eileen's in NoLiTa is generally considered roughly on a par with S&S, and Two Little Red Hens on the Upper East Side is not too shabby and also sells great squares (lemon, lime/coconut, etc.).

A lot could be said about bagels, and many folks on the Upper West Side who have experienced Absolute's mini bagels right out of the oven in the morning will swear to you that they've never had anything better (others have their own favorites around town), but while a survey several years ago confirmed that ranking, a more recent article in a local magazine made the point that the most important factor in differentiating the quality of bagels at decent stores is whether you get them while they're hot. So your best bet is to find out who makes good bagels near you and get there early in the morning, or whenever they make another batch. And if you want traditional toppings, you can't get more classic than cream cheese and lox (see "Appetizing" above for places to get superior lox).

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Drink

Manhattan nightlife is some of the most vibrant in the world. Thanks to the 4AM last call and over 800 active venues in Manhattan alone, it is no wonder that many people flock to New York as the mecca of good times. Certain neighborhoods are better than others for certain crowds but with New York the question is never whether you can find it, it's only where.

  • Greenwich Village is probably the best neighborhood to go if you are in town for just a brief period. It's the equivalent somewhat of a Latin Quarter, full of locals of all ages, especially students attending NYU. There are many bars and jazz clubs around Bleecker Street and MacDougal, as well as near lower Seventh and Sixth Avenues.

Chelsea – This was the old club capital of Manhattan, once known for its mega clubs which can hold hundreds upon hundreds of drunken revelers. Though a bit deserted, Chelsea still has a few nooks to look in for great nightlife. There's lots of clubs, a mix of bars, and a thriving gay scene along Eighth Avenue between 20th & 30th Streets. West Chelsea (27th-29th streets, west of 10th Avenue) is loaded with clubs. If you're European and looking for a discothèque, this is where you want to be.

  • The Meatpacking District – Trendier bars and clubs and some expensive restaurants, including the Old Homestead, NYC's oldest steakhouse. Located between Greenwich Village and Chelsea, around 14th Street and 9th Avenues. Many of the clubs are very strict at the door so be sure you either have contacted a promoter or sweet talked to the doormen. Buying a table never hurts (except your wallet!). The Meatpacking District website is the best source of info on this area.
  • The Lower East Side – Formerly the dingy alternative to the West Village, the Lower East Side has become trendier today. Ludlow Street is crawling with bars and small music venues in an area that may remind you of the Bastille in Paris. Rivington and Stanton Street are also viable options. The area has experienced an influx of hipsters.
  • The East Village – You can't throw a stone in East Village without hitting a packed bar. All you need to do is go to 14th Street, head due east until you get to the letter avenues (Ave A, etc.) and head down any one of those to find yourself dead in the middle of the neighborhood scene. Try walking down 3rd Ave below 14th as well for a good tour of some of the area's bars. Down here you'll find a lot of divey, fratty bars so be prepared to drink keg beer and play Beirut! There's also lots of bars on Second Avenue around 2nd Street, and a sizeable cluster of Japanese bars, which are great fun, on St. Mark's between 2nd and 3rd.
  • Alphabet City – East of the East Village, this area was once a dangerous drug-addled hell hole; today it is cleaned up and loaded with bars. Heroin dens have been replaced with brunch places!
  • Murray Hill – More hip with the 30-year-old crowd. The area around 29th Street and Lexington Avenue has many Indian restaurants, but within three blocks there are plenty of watering holes, including a couple of fireman bars and an all Irish whiskey pub.
  • Times Square – A very touristy area. The Marriott Marquis at Broadway & 45th has a revolving bar on the 50th floor. The Peninsula Hotel at 5th Avenue & 55th has probably the classiest rooftop bar in New York. The Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center is often closed and has a dress code. The Hotel Metro on 5th Avenue & 35th also has a rooftop bar with fantastic, stress free, views of the Empire State Building. Very few New Yorkers would be caught dead at these places. However, there are bars in Hell's Kitchen, further west on 9th Av., where you will find some New Yorkers.
  • Yorkville – A semi-hidden gem that not a lot of downtown heads know about because it's so far uptown. If you hit 2nd Ave and walk from 90th St down through the upper 70s you'll see a nearly uninterrupted string of bars and restaurants. Take a walk that way; there are some great spots and all different kinds of bars from upscale to dive.

It can be quite daunting choosing a bar from the hundreds you have to choose from. If all else fails, ask a concierge or even someone in the street. There's bound to be something nearby.

West Village

Fat Cat Billiards is a great basement bar with live jazz, pool, table tennis and chess to keep you entertained. Remember that once you get the pool balls from the bar you start paying for them.

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Sleep

If there is one thing that makes New York City, particularly Manhattan, one of the most expensive cities in the world, it is hotel accommodations. Sometimes, the average room rates in Manhattan exceed those of the more expensive cities in the world such as Tokyo and London. Consider yourself lucky if you can get a room at a full-service hotel at $250/night, not including taxes. While prices vary depending on the season and on the availability.

For budget conscious travelers many new hostels have opened. While some, like Hostelling International – New York (in a landmarked historic building renovated in the early 1990s) and the many branches of the Jazz Hostels in the Upper West Side, East Village and Times Square have built a reputation for providing good value for money, many others are SRO (Single Room Occupancy) conversions where renovated hotel rooms share space with run down rooms for low income residents. It is best to research a budget hotel carefully before reserving a room. If you have a AAA membership, consider staying at a hotel that offers a discount. The 10% discount can add up over a few days.

Occupancy rates in New York hotels are very high, and, especially if traveling to the city during Thanksgiving week, in the month of December, or in the month of May, it is best to book well in advance for the best prices. The best way to spend the night in New York is, of course, on the couch of a friend or relative. So, if you want to stretch your dollar, check your address book when planning a trip to New York! Another option is to check short-term room or apartment rentals on Craigslist, but of course it's risky to pay up front for an apartment you haven't seen, so you might want to spend at least your first day or two at a hotel or other place of more or less known quality while checking out possible alternate locations. Inexpensive short-term rentals of decent quality are likely to run for $100/night and up for a double.

Hotels in the other boroughs or New Jersey may be generally less expensive, but if spending a lot of time in Manhattan is important to you, make sure you know what the transportation situation will be like before you make your decision. Also, remember that complimentary meals are usually a disadvantage in hotels in New York, because with a few notable exceptions the better values in food tend to be outside of hotels.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Contributors

as well as Lavafalls (10%)

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This is version 26. Last edited at 12:30 on Mar 25, 19 by Utrecht. 7 articles link to this page.

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