The Big Apple, The City that Never Sleeps, a place so good they named it twice: New York, New York is a destination that’s certain to send a tingle up the spine, bringing to mind images of bright lights, busy streets and beautiful skyscrapers. For centuries, the city has held a special place in the global imagination, gaining famous fans and notable inhabitants throughout its history. It’s no surprise, then, that this near-legendary status propels it to the top of many a travel wish list. But, with visitor numbers climbing to an all-time high in 2019, just what is it that makes NYC such a ‘must see’?
‘The glamour of it all! New York! America!’ – Charlie Chaplin
It’s true, New York really does enjoy more than its fair share of glitz. Shopping on 5th Avenue or seduced by the spotlights of Broadway, visitors are treated to every kind of dazzling delight. It’s impossible not to be impressed by the sheer showiness of Times Square at night, and the skyline – at any time of day – stands as testament to the aesthetic vision of the city’s designers. Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, even Central Park – the city really does showcase manmade beauty at its very best. Still as chic, sassy and full of sparkle as ever, its small wonder that so many people still see it as the ultimate style hotspot.
‘Everybody ought to have a Lower East Side in their life’ – Irving Berlin
If all of that sounds a bit too polished and pretty, Manhattan’s Lower East Side and East Village could offer a more rugged alternative. Bohemian, political, and packed with history, this part of the city has serious soul. It’s recently seen a period of gentrification – think London’s Shoreditch – but the tenement-lined streets, once home to the likes of Al Jolson, The Marx Brothers and Allen Ginsberg, are now recognised for their cultural importance by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The area has long been a magnet for artists, poets and non-conformists and it continues to attract all things hip and avant-garde. Picture yourself discussing people power over coffee and a bagel? This is the free-thinking, free-spirited part of town to do it in.
‘Everybody here was someone else before’ – New York, Taylor Swift
Of course, New Yorkers are pretty au fait with the idea of freedom, thanks in no small part to the colossal Statue of Liberty, which welcomes thousands of visitors each day. With around 40 per cent of US citizens tracing their ancestors back to at least one person who entered the country via Ellis Island – New York’s famous port of immigration – the city has been a natural focal point for ambitious visionaries eager to make their mark. The diversity and inclusivity of New York’s population is reflected in the city’s music, art and cuisine, and the traditions of championing reinvention and encouraging enterprise makes it the perfect spot for those looking for a taste of adventure and a slice of the American Dream.
‘One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years’ – Tom Wolfe
Newcomers don’t feel out of place for long and, although the city has a reputation for being gruff and impatient, New York’s place in the collective conscious means that there’s something just a bit familiar about it all. The locations have been seen a hundred times before as film sets, the moods have been captured in countless songs, and yet nothing beats seeing and feeling them first-hand. Whether you’re working through a tourist tick-list or learning local secrets, New York is always authentically itself.
‘There is nowhere like it. Nowhere has an atom of its glory, pride and exultancy’ – Walt Whitman
The five boroughs that make up New York City are unique and interesting in their own rights – explore them as much as possible – but the sum of the parts is certainly something special. There are shops, theatres, museums, galleries, national monuments, parks and markets a-plenty but it’s the atmosphere that really makes it magical. Fast-paced and thrilling, it’s a city that simply has to be experienced to be understood and, with an incredible 13.6 million overnight visitors last year alone, it shows no sign of falling out of fashion or favour. So what are you waiting for? Get packing and start spreading the news!
Check out our Top 10 NYC article.