CITYSIGHTS NY BLOG

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NYC Landmarks and Sites

  • Touring the Rockefeller Center

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    Walking the streets of Manhattan can be overwhelming for first time visitors. The immensity of the architecture is mesmerizing. Even if you have been in the heart of the city many times before, you may still want to stop for a moment to take it all in. Sooner or later, every traveler realizes that New York is just too big to absorb all at once. When you have limited time to experience as much adventure as possible, you need the help of a guided tour to focus your ambitions. Smart travelers begin their journey through Manhattan with a guided Rockefeller Center walking tour.
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  • Movies in the Park

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    If you want to plan a Monday evening movie night in NYC this summer, make your way to Bryant Park for the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival. Bryant Park is the summer destination for movie fanatics in NYC. Each week a different movie is showing on the lawn. With plenty of lawn seating and nearby street fair food carts, it’s an evening out that won’t break the bank. Join thousands of movie-loving visitors and locals as they pack Bryant Park for this bona fide NYC tradition. This year’s movie line-up presents another awesome season of exceptional outdoor cinema.

    Summer Film Festival

    Outside free film screenings are just one of the joys of NYC summers, and the Bryant Park setting is especially fun. Each year, HBO teams up with Bank of America and other partnerships, including the Bryant Park Corporation, to present free movies at sunset. Summer Mondays begin mid-June and run through mid-August. The lawn opens at 5:00 p.m. and the films start about 30 minutes after sunset. While the movies start at dusk, folks start streaming in when the park's dense, green lawn opens. Many people just head over straight from the office in their work clothes, with their blankets and takeout food in tow. Follow their lead and arrive early because the lawn tends to get quite crowded by sundown. This year get ready for exciting movies favorites, including Ghostbusters, Footloose and Back to the Future.

    Available Food Choices

    You can pack your own food or snacks, but all packages, bags and backpacks are subject to search. If you want to take advantage of on-site food options, you have plenty of choices such as:

    • Bryant Park Grill & Café
    • ‘Wichcraft Food Kiosks
    • Southwest Porch
    • Hester Street Fair food vendors

    Bring a blanket and arrive early! Over 4,000 park chairs are set up, and are on a first come, first served basis. Bringing your own chairs, tables, tarps, plastic sheets or bags are not permitted.

    How to Find Movies in Bryant Park

    You can easily find Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan behind the New York Public Library between Fifth and Sixth Avenue and 40th and 42nd Streets. Just take the M, F, D or B train to the 42nd Street and Bryant Park exit, or take the 7 Train to 5th Avenue. Free bicycle parking is available in the park at 41st Street and 6th Avenue.

    If you are looking for something fun to do in NYC, movies in Bryant Park will keep you occupied all summer long. Whether it’s family movies, classics, comedies, sing-a-longs or horror flicks, there's something for everyone!

  • Discover The Magic Of Downtown Manhattan - From The Financial District To Times Square!

    Some of New York City’s best-known and most important landmarks lie within an area encompassing only a few square miles in the heart of Manhattan. Now imagine a sightseeing tour that could let you see all of them from the comfort of a London-style double-decker bus. From the world’s financial nerve center and the site of the new Freedom Tower to exciting Times Square and the theater district, you’ll experience the history and excitement of New York City with an experienced tour guide to make sure you capture al the highlights!

    Wall Street

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    The history of New York City as a financial center goes all the way back to the 1790s, when local businessmen gathered in a hotel on Wall Street, agreeing to trade shares of their companies only among an elect group. So was born what is now the New York Stock Exchange, where each day millions of shares from publicly traded companies spanning the globe are bought and sold. At Wall Street and Broadway you’ll also discover Trinity Church, whose spire is an instantly recognized symbol of New York’s history. The current structure is actually the third Trinity to stand on the site and was completed in 1846, making it at the time the tallest structure in the city. A more recent attraction in the financial district is the bronze “Charging Bull” sculpture by Arturo Di Modica. The bull, a symbol of financial prosperity and optimism, was presented by the artist as a gift to the city in 1989.

    Freedom Tower and the 9-11 Memorial

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    The September 11 Memorial, opened in 2011, stands on the footprint of north and south towers of the original World Trade Center. The memorial's waterfalls and twin reflecting pools are set deep in the twin towers' footprints. The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels that surround the Memorial pools, serving as a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest single loss of first responders and rescue workers in American history. The memorial has been visited by 15 million people and the number continues to grow daily. As New York continues to recover from the events of September 11, 2001, work continues on the single tower (dubbed “Freedom Tower”) that now holds the address of One World Trade Center. The building, when complete, will feature an observatory that will be open for public tours

    Times Square

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    Once known as Long acre Square, the area we recognize today as the heart of New York City’s theater district began to take shape in 1904 when the first subway stop in the area opened at 42nd Street and Broadway. That same year, the first electric advertisement was placed on the side of a building at 46th Street. By the 1920s, the New York Times Building had become the centerpiece of the Square and was responsible for the name change. Up and down Broadway from its intersection with 7th Avenue, theaters began to spring up. By the late 1920s there were 76 theaters thriving in the area, and the river of electric theater marquees and other signs gave Broadway the nickname “The Great White Way.” By World War 2, the Square was a constant crowd favorite—from theaters and movie houses, to arcades, bars, restaurants, and the annual New Year’s Eve celebration in which a globe bejeweled with lights descends slowly from the tower of the Times Building at midnight. The district went through many changes after the war, and descended into a center for prostitution, pornographic theaters, and crime by the 1970s. Subsequent revitalization and redevelopment efforts by Mayors Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani in the 1980s and ‘90s redrew the face of Times Square, placing many of its most historic theaters under city control, encouraging new business development, and dramatically reducing crime. Today the area thrives as it did in the 1940s and draws millions of theatergoers and tourists annually.

    No trip to New York City is complete without seeing Manhattan’s financial and theater districts. So plan your adventure today and reserve your tickets now!

  • Famous NYC Film Locations

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    Over the past century, hundreds of films have been shot on the streets of New York City—from early silent movies like The Crucuble (1914) to Academy Award winner Birdman (2014). Some scenes have become so famous that the locations themselves are now celebrities of a sort. Here are just a few…

    The Seven Year Itch starring Marilyn Monroe (1954)
    The iconic image of beauty Marilyn Monroe flirtatiously holding down her white dress against the advances of an unruly subway breeze has been immortalized on everything from posters to fridge magnets. The history of the actual scene is slightly less glamorous.
    Shot for the 1954 Billy Wilder film The Seven Year Itch, the scene was fraught with problems. During the 3-hour overnight shoot, Marilyn flubbed her lines, requiring many retakes. Back in Hollywood, the editors found sound problems with the original scene and reshot it again on a Hollywood sound stage. Though the New York scene never made it to the final cut, the subway grate along Lexington Avenue between 51st and 52nd Streets in Manhattan is still there, if you want to feel the breeze.

    Breakfast at Tiffany’s starring Audrey Hepburn (1961)
    If you want to mirror Audrey Hepburn’s longing gaze into Tiffany’s window from Blake Edwards’ 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s just go to the corner of 5th Avenue and 57th Street, and be sure to wear your black evening dress, pearls, and tiara.

    Dog Day Afternoon starring Al Pacino (1972)
    If you find yourself near Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood you can take a walk along Prospect Park West, between 17th and 18th Streets and see where Pacino shot his famous “Attica! Attica!” scene as bank robber Sonny Wortzik.

    Taxi Driver starring Robert DeNiro (1976)
    Shot largely in the Times Square area around 47th and 48th Streets near Broadway, the dark seedy landscape of Martin Scorsese’s 1976 classic Taxi Driver is all but gone. The cheap eateries and triple-x theaters have been demolished and replaced by a kinder and cleaner neighborhood, and the building that housed the “Palantine Campaign” in the film is now a bank.

    The Pope of Greenwich Village starring Mickey Rourke (1984)
    The strange yet compelling tale of two NYC cousins trying to make it through gambling and robbery was shot in various Soho and West Village. Locations include the corner of Sullivan Street and West Houston, the DeSalvio Playground at Mulberry and Spring Streets, and bars at 51 Spring Street (now Pomodoro Restaurant and Pizzeria) and 176 Mulberry Street (the Mulberry Street Bar).

    Fame starring Irene Carra (1980)
    If you want to dance in the streets, try 120 West 46th Street outside the Fiorella LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts. The iconic outdoor dance number from Fame was shot nearby, though at the time the school denied filmmakers use of the school building itself because they felt that the raw language used in the movie was nothing to kick up their heels about.

    Coyote Ugly starring Piper Perabo (2000)
    A great deal of the 2000 film Coyote Ugly was filmed in the less-than-glamorous meatpacking district, but the bar itself is at 153 First Avenue, between 9th and 10th Streets.

    Want more? Tour the Bronx and see where the Robert DeNiro and Chazz Palminteri film A Bronx Tale was made. Want to explore New York City on your own? Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Explore "The Making Of A Landmark" : The Empire State Building

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    “Although the Empire State is no longer the tallest building in the world (or even in New York City),” says architectural historian John Tauranac, “it remains mythical, iconic.” Tauranac explored the building’s rich history in his 1995 book, Empire State Building: The Making of a Landmark, which The New Yorker has called “[an] entrancing… appreciation of the structure as a practical work of art and an exploration of the building's role in the city and the world." Within its pages, Tauranac expounds upon the highly competitive real estate boom of the 1920s, as well as the development of the skyscraper as both an architectural and artistic form.

    Architecture and history fans can meet Tauranac for an informative look at his work, followed by a discussion and book signing, at the Museum of the City of New York on January 28th! Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event. Admission is $25 at the door, or $15 for student, seniors, and ADSNY members. For those who have visited the Empire State Building at night or seen the New York skyline from the Empire State Building observatory by day, this is an excellent opportunity to learn more about NYC’s most beloved landmark.

    Perhaps the most iconic of New York City’s skyscrapers, the Empire State Building held the title of world’s tallest building from 1931 to 1973 (preceded by the Chrysler Building and succeeded by the World Trade Center). Designed by architect William Lamb, the concept was drawn up in only weeks, with excavation begun in March of 1930, as the nation struggled through the Great Depression. A total of about 3400 workers (including many Native Americans, particularly of the Mohawk tribe) worked at dizzying heights to assemble the steel frame. At times the structure rose by one story per day and was completed in only 14 months.

    The unique design allowed the limestone slabs to be “hung” upon the steel frame, which sped construction. The structure also included a mooring terminal to dock airships (also known as zeppelins or dirigibles), though it was never used due to dangerously strong winds. A radio tower was added in the 1950s. For more on the tower’s storied history, be sure to check out Tauranac’s discussion at MCNY, and reserve your CitySights Empire State Building tickets now!

  • Visitor Centers in NYC

    New York is a huge, vibrant, bustling, and exciting city to visit! It can be overwhelming, however, and you need information to make the most of your stay. You can do some planning before your trip using the web, books, and even apps – but once you hit the ground, the information and people at the Visitor’s Centers may be the difference between a good visit and a great visit. So where you can find these helpful visitor centers?

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    The Official New York Information Center in Midtown

    This information center is for the tech geek in all of us. The center utilizes interactive touch screen tables that let visitors plan their own tour of New York with a wealth of information, and then lets them upload the information to their smart phones. Through a partnership with Google, visitors to New York can explore the whole city and the events happening during their stay. The kiosks speak nine languages and the people working in the information center speak many more to help visitors from all nations. This should be your first stop in New York City.

    Belvedere Castle, Central Park

    This is one of four visitor centers in Central Park. It is a gothic castle built out of schist rock mined from right in the park itself. It was built as a lookout for the park in 1870 and provides some of the best views of the park thanks to its tall structure. It houses a weather station, a nature conservatory, and a visitor’s center with information about Central Park. It has a stunning view and it is a great place for photography and nature buffs in New York City.

    The Visitors Center of Columbia University

    You don’t have to be a prospective undergraduate to see Columbia University. Columbia University is an Ivy League university and one of the oldest in the United States, having been founded years before the Revolutionary War. The visitor’s center provides a guided tour of the campus daily at 1:00pm for visitors and provides information on self-guided tours, as well as the history of the campus. Don’t worry – you won’t get into a group crowded with prospective students; separate tours are provided for the kids, which can be arranged through the university.

    The Official New York City Visitors Center, Chinatown

    New York City is home the oldest and largest group of Chinese people in the western hemisphere. Ah Ken is credited to be the first Chinese immigrant in New York in the 1840’s, and Chinatown now boasts a population of about 100,000 Chinese people. The visitor’s center provides maps and self-guided tours of restaurants and attractions in Chinatown as well as the rest of New York City. They provide information in many languages and the staff members all speak multiple languages to help tourists.

  • Discover Washington Square Park

    In the heart of Greenwich Village lies the nearly ten acres of beautiful Washington Square Park. Made famous by hippies in the sixties as a hangout spot for tuning in and dropping out, this former potter’s field marks on the best spots for people watching and community culture in Manhattan.

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    Originally a marsh field with loads of water birds, the Lenape tribe made use of the excellent trout fishing in the Minetta stream (now long gone). Once the Dutch West India Company began trading on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, the growing town of New Amsterdam needed more food to survive. According to the Washington Square Park Conservancy group, the director of the town freed a group of black slaves and gave them farmland in what is now the park. Unfortunately, once the British took ownership of New York, the former slaves lost the right to own the lands.

    After the Revolutionary War, the area became a Potter’s Field full of the bodies of the poor who died of yellow fever and other epidemics raging through the city. Over a period of twenty years, the field was full, and the edges of the city began to creep toward the field. Eventually, city officials designated the field as a place for the city’s “well armed militia” to run practice drills, and it was renamed the Washington Parade Ground. It was the first time the field was landscaped.

    Once the parade ground was established, houses were built all around the field, many of which are still standing today. Initially these large houses meant to house wealthy families, but the majorities are now divided into apartments. Eventually the parade grounds became a park, and the famous arch was added in 1889 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of George Washington’s inauguration as President.

    Over the years, Greenwich Village became more of a working class neighborhood and starting as early as right after World War II, Washington Square Park began to be a gathering spot for bohemians and folk singers. This caused some tension in the community, and even led to the “Beatnik Riot” in 1961. But folk singers and other hippies still flocked to the park, and even today it is still a primary spot to see street musicians.

    Today, Washington Square Park is a lovely spot with two dog parks, a playground, a fountain for kids to splash in, and full of musicians and street artists. On any given weekend you’ll see stand-up comedians, magicians, performance artists, and musicians perform in all corners of the park. Offering the best people watching in the city, you don’t want to miss the chance to visit this iconic New York City landmark.

  • Winning Streaks And Amazing Comebacks: New York City's Major League Baseball Franchises

    The Yankees

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    With the founding of the American League in 1901, modern Major League Baseball began to take shape. The Yankees entered the picture two years later, though the team didn’t settle upon the name “Yankees” until 1913. Far from spectacular at first, the team gained notoriety after signing outfielder George “Babe” Ruth at the close of the 1919 season. Ruth’s performance as a slugger, along with that of teammate Lou Gehrig, vaulted the Yankees to an American League championship in 1921 and a World Series title in 1923. So formidable was the Yankee lineup that included Ruth and Gehrig that it was nicknamed “Murderers Row.” The team went on to win back-to-back Series titles in 1927 and 1928. The team’s success continues in the 1930s, as Gehrig and outfielder Joe DiMaggio led the hitting, resulting in consecutive World Series championships from 1936 through 1939. “Joltin’ Joe” DiMaggio set a hitting streak record in the 1941 season with base hits in 56 consecutive games. The team won five consecutive championships from 1919 to 1953. During the 1950s and 60s, many of the team’s members became household names—like Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford. After 1964, the team hit a rough patch and changes in ownership. In the 1970s, power struggles between owner George Steinbrenner and GM Yogi Berra became legendary, with Berra fired and rehired several times. The Yankees did have some bright spots, however, with sluggers like 1985 MVP Don Mattingly, and slowly returned to a position of dominance in the sport under the leadership of slugger and team captain Derek Jeter, who in 2009 surpassed Gehrig’s all-time hit record.

    The name “Yankee Stadium”—synonymous with winning baseball and New York City—actually was held by two structures, both on 161st Street in the Bronx. The first was built in 1923 and served as home field to the team until 2008, with a hiatus for renovations in the 1970s. The second, sometimes called “New Yankee Stadium,” opened in March 2009 and remains the teams current home. In reverence to the senior structure, which has since been demolished, the new stadium retains many of the architectural touches of its predecessor.

    The Mets

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    With both the Dodgers and the Giants moving to California in the late 1950s, New York experienced two devastating losses to its sports community. After attempts to start what was called the Continental League had failed, The New York Metropolitan Baseball Club in 1962 became the New York Mets—the first National league expansion team of the 20th century. Eager to please both Dodger and Giant fans, the team adopted a blue and orange color scheme. After playing their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds in northern Manhattan, the team moved to the newly built Shea Stadium in 1964. The early years of the franchise produced many loyal fans but few victories. However, in 1969, the Mets’ come-from-behind race to a World Series victory became the stuff of baseball folklore. The 1969 season changed the team’s image from “Lovable Losers” to ”The Amazing Mets.” Another come-from-behind World Series victory over the Boston Red Sox in 1986 helped solidify the team’s fan base.

    Planning a trip to New York City? Be sure to take in a Major League game and experience a slice of New York’s rich baseball history!

  • Reaching To The Skies: A Brief Look At New York's Tallest Buildings

    New York City has long been a city of superlatives—in finance, art, architecture, and the sheer variety of its representative cultures. Perhaps best known for its skyline, Manhattan has been home to several architectural marvels, each in its time holding the title of tallest building in the world. In the age before the advent of elevators, the world’s tallest buildings tended to be churches and cathedrals—dominated by spires that reached several hundred feet into the sky. But dreams of a 1000-foot building would not be realized until the 20th century, when steel-frame construction and elevators made the modern skyscraper a reality.

    The Age of Skyscrapers
    As the 20th century began, Philadelphia’s City Hall (at 648 feet) held the honor of world’s tallest building (1901-1909) but was soon surpassed by New York’s Singer Building (612 feet). Between 1909 and 1931, New York City would see the title of world’s tallest building change hands several times—from the Singer to the Metropolitan Life, Woolworth, Bank of Manhattan Trust, and Chrysler buildings—until the Empire State surpassed all of these at an impressive 1250 feet. Of these structures, all remain standing except the Singer, which was demolished in 1968. The Bank of Manhattan Trust has since been renamed the Trump after developer Donald Trump.

    The Empire State

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    It’s worth pausing to pay particular attention to the Empire State Building, holder of the title of world’s tallest from 1931 to 1973 the World Trade Center’s twin towers in Lower Manhattan surpassed the Empire’s height. Designed by architect William Lamb, the concept for Empire State was drawn up in only weeks, with excavation begun in March of 1930, as the nation struggled through the Great Depression. A total of about 3400 workers, including many Native Americans (particularly of the Mohawk tribe) worked at dizzying heights to assemble the steel frame. At times the structure rose by one story per day and completed in only 14 months. The unique design allowed the limestone slabs to be “hung” upon the steel frame, which sped construction. The structure also included a mooring terminal to dock airships (also known as zeppelins or dirigibles), though it was never used due to dangerously strong winds. A radio tower was added in the 1950s.

    Freedom Tower

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    New York is among the most resilient cities in the world, and the commitment to rebuild at the World Trade Center site was immediate and unwavering. Construction of One World Trade Center, commonly called Freedom Tower, was begun in 2006. Designed by architect David Childs, the building is designed as much for its functionality as for its beauty and symbolic value. In 2012, the building completed its 100th floor, surpassing the Empire State in height. Freedom Tower is now complete (at over 1776 feet) and scheduled to open in late 2014. Though no longer home to the world’s tallest building (an honor held by Dubai), New York has more former titleholders than any other city in the world.

    To tour Manhattan and see the Trump, Chrysler, Empire State and World Trade Center structures from the comfort of a double-decker bus, make your reservations now!

  • Discover New York City's Subterranean Treasures

    At the dawn of the 20th century, New York City’s now familiar web of subway lines, interchanges, and multi-level stations did not exist. Instead, trains trundled along elevated tracks that cast long shadows over the city’s boulevards and avenues. All that changed when the first subway lie opened to passengers in October of 1904. Electric power had allowed what had never been possible with steam technology—a lattice of underground tunnels free of dangerous fumes and smoke. With the success of the first subway line, two private companies moved to the forefront of New York subway development—the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) and the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT). They were joined in the 1930s by the city-owned Independent Subway System (IND), and all three became city-owned during the 1940s.

    Much has changed over the past century in New York’s subterranean transit network. Lines have been consolidated and some stations abandoned and sealed off. A trip into the subways today can be like a trip back in time, where you can explore the art and architecture of the world’s largest subway system.

    City Hall Station: A Preserved Majesty

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    Designed by architects George Lewis Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge, the majestic subway station beneath New York’s City Hall closed at the end of 1945, sealing it like a time capsule. The architecture of the station is a marvel in itself, with its vaulted archways, intricate tile work, and glass skylights that allow natural light to enter from above. The station remains along the City Hall Loop, passed daily by thousands of commuters. Until recently the only way to view the station was from a passing train. But now, approximately 16 times per year, visitors are allowed to step onto the platform and view the restored station under the lights of its glass chandeliers. Tours are limited to approximately 40 slots, so it is essential to reserve a spot as soon as the next tour date is announced.

    The Whispering Gallery in Grand Central Terminal

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    Grand Central Terminal has many secrets, but the Whispering Gallery may be its most romantic. This unmarked archway, located in front of the Oyster Bar & Restaurant, possesses a mystifying acoustic property: when two people stand at diagonal arches and whisper, they can hear each other's voices travel across the arched structure, just as if they were whispering in each others’ ears. A popular rumor states that legendary jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus liked to play under the arches. Today, though, the Whispering Gallery is a popular spot for more intimate communications, like marriage proposals.

    The New York Transit Museum

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    To truly understand the degree of technical expertise and backbreaking labor that went into creating the New York subways, visit The New York Transit Museum. Located in Brooklyn, the museum is one of the city's leading cultural institutions and the largest of its kind in the United States devoted to urban public transportation history. Inside, visitors can explore the development of the greater New York metropolitan region through exhibitions, tours, educational programs, and workshops that reveal the stories behind the cultural, social, and technological history of public transportation. The museum itself is housed within a historic 1936 IND subway station in Downtown Brooklyn and is a must for those keen on New York’s subterranean history

    Experience a trip back in time into the history of New York’s subways. Check individual facilities for pricing and availability, and make your reservations early.