There are a few things that give the capital of the Empire State its iconic status: a skyline heaving with skyscrapers, Lady Liberty lighting the way and a huge block of greenery making up the heart Manhattan. If it’s your first time taking a bite of the Big Apple, these top 10 New York City attractions should be top priority on your NYC itinerary.
1. Empire State Building
Looming large as the world’s tallest building for some 40 years, the Empire State Building has made an appearance in over 100 films, contains around 10 million bricks and was immortalised in An Affair to Remember as the ‘nearest thing to heaven we have in New York’. There are two observation decks to enjoy a bird’s eye view of NYC: the open-air 86th floor and the enclosed 102nd floor.
2. Statue of Liberty
While her first gig was welcoming immigrants sailing into New York Harbour, the Statue of Liberty’s main job these days is being photographed by millions of tourists or hosting them in her crown. Originally a gift from France, the World Heritage-listed Lady Liberty is looking pretty good for 128 years old and continues to be a beacon of freedom and independence.
3. Brooklyn Bridge
The best way to experience the scenic link connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn is by slipping on your sneakers and taking a 20-minute stroll across the East River. With an impressive claim as the world’s first steel suspension bridge, there have been countless odes to the beautiful Brooklyn, even from Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.
4. Central Park
Don’t underestimate Central Park – it’s scale and grandeur comes as quite a surprise to many visitors. More than 800-acres of sculpted gardens, leafy walkways, memorials, tranquil lakes and pretty meadows make this the most visited park in the United States. Hire a bike, a paddle-boat or take a classic horse and carriage ride through the so-called ‘lungs of Manhattan’.
5. Times Square
The concrete jungle that is New York City dazzles in Time Square with iridescent billboards and the blur of yellow taxis whooshing past the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Ave. Watch the world go by in the now pedestrianised hub touted as the ‘Crossroads of the World’, or visit on December 31 to see the famous Times Square Ball drop into the new year.
6. Flatiron Building
Regarded as one of the prettiest facades to grace the city, the Flatiron Building is a beautiful spot on the Uptown district and is best appreciated from the vantage point of Madison Square Park. You can’t miss the Flatiron for its unique wedge-shaped appearance – architecture buffs will appreciate the Parisian beaux-arts style – and the trademark updraft thanks to its triangular design.
7. Top of the Rock
Rockefeller Centre, an aptly named ‘city within a city’, encompasses 19 purpose-built retail, entertainment and office buildings in Midtown. The pinnacle of the eye-catching Art Deco towers is the GE Building, with a freshly revamped observation area (‘Top of the Rock’) on the 70th floor. The 360-degree view of New York City is arguably even better than that from the Empire State Building.
The place where dreams are made, broken and pieced back together to raucous applause, New York’s Theatre District better known as 'Broadway' officially covers the space between Sixth and Eighth avenues, from around 40th to 54th Street. This epicentre of artistic expression has around 40 theatres with 500-plus seating capacity, hosting big name productions which currently include Mama Mia!, Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera.
9. Chrysler Building
You wouldn’t say it of many skyscrapers, but the Chrysler Building sure is a looker. The Art Deco masterpiece had 11 months as the world’s tallest building before the Empire State Building crept skyward, but the Chrysler’s real appeal lies inside. Visit the jazz-era lobby and be wowed by the ceiling mural and marble embellishments, or admire its crown-patterned spire from afar.
10. Wall Street
The Wall Street financial district is a beating heart of global commerce where stocks are bought and sold by the split-second. The eight-block strip in Lower Manhattan is a sea of suits during the week due to the New York Stock Exchange (the largest in the world) and is known as Manhattan’s original neighbourhood – arguably no other city pocket is as rich in history.
Words by Ashton Rigg