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Columbus Circle For Culture Lovers

Columbus Circle, the busy intersection of Broadway, Central Park West, Eighth Avenue, and Central Park South, is a whirl of traffic enlivened with fountains and statues and is surrounded by some fine cultural institutions.

New Yorkers, who have strong opinions on just about everything, generally consider the new marble-clad Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle to be a poor substitute for the fanciful Moorish tower from the 1960s that it replaces. The building gets more attention than the collection of crafts inside, which is a shame, because the contemporary glass pieces by Dale Chihuly, vintage Tiffany jewelry, and other pieces are stunning. So are the views over Columbus Circle and Central Park from Robert, the museum’s sophisticated contemporary restaurant, open for lunch and dinner, as well as cocktails.

No one has much bad to say about Jazz at Lincoln Center, a cluster of nightclubs, performance halls, rehearsal stages, and recording studios tucked above the city in the glitzy Time-Warner Center, on the west side of the circle. You can hear the jazz canon in the 1,200-seat Rose Theater; in the smaller Allen Room, where floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city are the backdrop; or Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, a swanky cabaret.

Back on terra firma, take a look at some of New York’s most formidable statuary. Christopher Columbus stands atop a 70ft-tall granite column in the middle of the circle, and the white-marble Maine Monument commemorates the Spanish American War and marks one of the main entrances to Central Park.

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