“If you’re bored in New York, it’s your own fault.” – Myrna Loy
This is Metropolis. This is Gotham City. This is the one all the other cities wish they were – “the only real city-city,” as Truman Capote put it. Its skyscrapers loom above canyonlike streets where some 8 million New Yorkers go about their daily business – walking fast, talking fast, and taking no lip, yet sharing that pride and sense of community that was displayed so unforgettably when terrorists targeted their home on September 11, 2001. They say it’s the capital of the world … and maybe it is.
THE TOP TEN SIGHTS
There are dinosaurs in here! Plus about 36 million other things, from moon rocks to the Brazilian Princess Topaz, the world’s largest cut gem at 21,005 carats. Don’t miss the Hall of Biodiversity or the dioramas of animal and village life. Its most recent addition, the futuristic Rose Center for Earth and Space, is a four-story sphere encased in glass that holds the new Hayden Planetarium, the largest and most powerful virtual reality simulator in the world, sending visitors through the Milky Way and beyond.
Laid out between 1859 and 1870 on a design by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Central Park’s 843 acres are an urban miracle, an oasis of green surrounded on all sides by high-rise buildings. Highlights include Bethesda Fountain, the romantic Loeb Boathouse Restaurant, the Wollman Memorial Ice Rink, the Sheep Meadow (an enormous lawn that’s blanket-to-blanket with sunbathers in summer), the carousel with fifty-eight hand-carved horses, and the Conservatory Garden, a gem of a refuge near the park’s northeast corner.
In summer, visitors can take in free performances by the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic; Summer Stage concerts by a spectrum of international pop, reggae, world-music, and other artists; and performances of Shakespeare in the Park.
Though not the most beautiful of New York’s skyscrapers (the Chrysler Building on 42nd Street usually wins that title), the Empire State Building is undoubtedly its most iconic, soaring up 1,454 feet from 34th Street and bathed at night in lighting chosen to reflect the season.
Completed in 1931 – two years before King Kong made his fateful climb – it reigned as the tallest building in the world until the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center went up in 1970 and 1972, but it’s always been the city’s romantic tall building of choice, as evidenced by Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr’s enduring Affair to Remember. Visitors can find their own romance at the 86th floor’s open-air observatory, with views up to 80 miles in all directions.