New York is undoubtedly one of the most featured cities in the world. Even if you have never been there, the sights and sounds are strangely familiar. Thanks to television programs like 'Friends' and 'Sex and the City', we've seen the Pulitzer Fountain and the Rockefeller Center from movies like 'Home Alone 2' and 'Elf', and the St Regis Hotel in 'Miss Congeniality' and 'The Devil Wears Prada'.
Wall Street / Photo by othermore (other) of Flickr
The largest city in the US also offers an urban expedition within 1,213 square kilometres including the yellow cabs, Wall Street, Storefronts of Fifth Avenue, Broadway shows, Central Park, Hudson River, National September 11 Memorial, celebrity spotting and lots more to discover. If you only have a day or two to spare in this sprawling urban jungle or you're visiting the Big Apple for the 1st time, here are 9 essential and iconic New York places to visit.
The monumental railway station stands as one of America's greatest transportation hubs, one of New York City's most iconic buildings and a popular backdrop for movies including 'Step Up 3' and 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'. This grand Beaux-Arts building, constructed in 1903-1913 to serve as a transportation hub connecting trains has become the iconic home of the Metro-North Railroad and a destination for commuters and tourists with 35 dining options, 68 shops and a gourmet market. Its storied Vanderbilt Hall, once the receiving area for travelers, is now one of the most-desired public events spaces in the city.
Located at 89 East 42nd Street at Park Avenue, the station is open to the public from 5.30am to 2.00am daily. In 2013, the Grand Central Terminal celebrates 100 years of history just as the London Underground turns 150.
The former National Biscuit Company factory complex where the Oreo cookie was invented and produced in 1912 has evolved into New York's gastronomic hub that is Chelsea Market. Today the factory floors and exposed brick walls of this 22-building complex is home to an indoor market filled with restaurants, 'mom and pop' food shops and kitchenware stores. The location's culinary importance is underscored by fresh produce and prepared foods from Buon Italia, takeout from Thai Wholesale and Ronnybrook Milk Bar, destination bakeries like Amy's Bread, Eleni's and Sarabeth's, and the upstairs Food Network headquarters where 'Iron Chef' is filmed.
Head on down to 75 9th Ave between 15th and 16th Streets to experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of this historic 112-year old landmark building and New York's indoor food paradise. Fore more information, visit www.chelseamarket.com.
This 102-story skyscraper located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street is a New York brand icon to many international visitors who have watch the classic 'King Kong' movie and the film 'Percy Jackson & the Olympians - The Lightning Thief'.
It is currently the 4th tallest freestanding structure in the US and the 22nd tallest building in the world, having held the top title for 40 years from 1931 to 1972.
Opened daily from 8am to 2am, the observation deck on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building offers a panoramic view over the city of New York and draws more than 3 million visitors every year. There is also an enclosed observation deck on the 102nd floor.
For readers looking to capture the best view of the Empire State Building itself, head down to Rockefeller Center's observatory. For more information on ticket prices and purchases, visi www.esbnyc.com/buy_tickets.asp
New York City Skyline / Photo by Martin Dürrschnabel of Wikimedia Commons
Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987, Rockefeller Center is actually a complex of 19 commercial buildings covering 89,000square metres in the center of Midtown Manhattan. It is another well known New York building featured in movies like 'Home Alone 2: Lost in New York', 'Elf' and 'Mr. Deeds'.
It is well known for its many works of public art including the statue of Atlas facing Fifth Avenue, gilded bronze Prometheus sculpture at the sunken plaza, murals in the lobby of the GE Building and the conspicuous friezes above the main entrance. You can enjoy a guided tour of the great works of art and architecture of the Rockefeller Center with an expert historian through tickets available at the 'Top of the Rock' Box Office located at the entrance on 50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.
Another major highlight of any visit is the 'Top of the Rock' observation deck at Rockefeller Center's GE Building. The glass panels on the 67th and 69th floors and 70th floor open-air deck offers panoramic views of New York's urban sprawl including the Empire State Building. For more information and tickets visit www.topoftherocknyc.com.
If you're visiting between November and April, there's the opportunity to lace your skates and take a spin at the world-famous The Rink at Rockefeller Center located at the sunken plaza. It is open from 7am till midnight with room for only 150 skaters at a time. For more information on Rockefeller Center, visit www.rockefellercenter.com.
New York City's first, largest and most famous farmers' market is located in Union Square Park. What started off with just a few farmers in 1976 has grown to some 140 regional farmers, butchers, fishermen, and bakers and 60,000 shoppers over the past 35 years. A typical market day is filled with local produce and seasonal varieties including award-winning cheeses, artisan delicatessen, beverages, heritage meats and just-picked fresh fruits and vegetables. The Greenmarket is also popular with residents for its on-premise clothing and textile recycling and community compost drop-off program.
Organised by GrowNYC, a privately funded citizens' organization in the Mayor's Office, the market supports regional agriculture by providing local small family farmers with opportunities to sell their fruits, vegetables and other farm products to New Yorkers. The Union Square Greenmarket is open every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8am to 6pm. For more information, visit www.grownyc.org/unionsquaregreenmarket.
Another symbol of New York City extends from West 42nd street to West 47th between Broadway and 7th Avenues. Times Square is a world famous tourist attraction packed with countless digital billboards, shops, attractions and people. At its heart is the Theatre District or Broadway. You can't leave the Big Apple without seeing the lights of Broadway or catching one of the Tony- and Olivier- Award winning shows like 'The Lion King', 'Les Miserables' and 'Rock of Ages'.shows in the 38 different theatres between 41st and 53rd Streets.
Visitors can also shop at Hersheys World, Disney Store, Toys "R" Us flagship store (which boasts an indoor Ferris wheel) and take pictures with wax celebrities at Madame Tussauds. The most internationally-known New Year Eve activity is to watch the ball drop. Today, Times Square is undergoing pedestrianization with large car-free plazas replacing the roads by 2016.
New York City's most recognizable historic landmark is undoubtedly the Statue of Liberty. A gift of friendship from the citizens of France to the people of the United States in 1886, this
universal symbol of freedom and democracy has been a beacon for generations of immigrants seeking a better life in America.
3,000 visitors are permitted to access the monument's pedestal and observation deck each day. Due to Hurricane Sandy, public entry to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island National Monument is temporary closed, but visitors can still enjoy views of the Statue from downtown Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and cruises provided by Circle Line and Statue Cruises.
Another option is to take the Staten Island Ferry. The free 25-minute cruise allows you to take in the Statue of Liberty and the stunning vistas of New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline while traveling Staten Island from Lower Manhattan. Visit www.nps.gov to get an update on when both monuments will be opened to public.
This man-made wonder of 3.41 square kilometres is not only the first public park built in America but one of the most famous parks in the world thanks to Hollywood. 305 films have been shot in Central Park as of 2011 such as 'Men in Black III' 'The Smurfs' and 'Meet Dave', making it the most filmed location in the world. Open in 1857, it is also one of the most frequented with over 25 million visitors per year.
Nestled in the middle of Manhattan, Central Park serves as a recreational spot for residents with its lakes, theaters, ice rinks, tennis courts, baseball fields and 21 playgrounds. Visitors can spend an entire day enjoying some 36 bridges and arches, 50 fountains, monuments, sculptures, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park Zoo and Belvedere Castle.
Several readers have voted on Macy's Herald Square as an iconic venue of NYC and it is easy to understand why. What was one building in 1902 now occupies the entire block, offering 1 million square feet of retail space over 9 floors, claiming the title of the "World's Largest Store". Thousands of residents and tourists visit this giant store daily. Everything you could want can be found in this National Historic Landmark, including apparel, cosmetics and perfumes, bedding, furniture, food and even the cooking school, De Gustibus.
Macy's Herald Square is also renowned for its Thanksgiving Day Parade, Holiday window displays and SantaLand, and has appeared in more than 50 movies and television shows such as 'Miracle on 34th Street', 'Ocean's Eleven' and 'King Kong'.