This is New York – facts, areas and landmarks

One of the most iconic city destinations worldwide, New York City offers an nearly inexhaustible range of attractions for all type of tourists.

The biggest city of the United States, which was the country’s capital only for a brief period in the late 18th century is an important economic and cultural hub, as well as one of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide, receiving over 50 million foreign and domestic tourists per year.

Below are a few facts about The Big Apple, as the city is frequently referred to:

  • New York is a multi-cultural city, having the largest Chinese and Puerto Rican population in the world, outside of China and Puerto Rico respectively.
  • Over 800 languages are spoken in New York.
  • The city is notorious for bad traffic. It is estimated that in 2014, an average New Yorker spent 75 hours in traffic jams.
  • Luckily, the city has an extensive public transportation system. As much as 6 million people per day use NYC subway.
  • About 300 000 people pass by every day by Times Square, one of the most iconic NYC landmarks.
  • According to the Business Insider data for 2015, the average cost of a night out in New York was $82.
  • That may explain why street food (cheap-to-go-food) is so popular in NY. The concession for a hot dog stand in Manhattan, however, may cost up to 300,000 per year.
  • Coffee-to-go is popular too in the Big Apple. Nearly 7 times more coffee is sold in New York than in any other city in the U.S.
  • Pizza is one of New Yorkers’ favourite dishes. There are around 1600 pizzerias in the city.
  • New York is the temple of retail world. More than 920,000 workers are employed by retail in the NYC and annual retail sales exceed $250 billion.

Read also: New York travel - car hire and other transportation options in NYC.

From New Amsterdam to New York – a bit of history
The origins of New York trace back to the early 17th century when the Dutch colonizers established the first settlement in the area, known as New Amsterdam. The strategic location of the colony on the Hundson River, as well as it’s quick development did not come unnoticed by the British who seized the settlement in 1664 and rename it, in honour of the Duke of York.

Curious fact:
The island of Manhattan, when purchased by the Dutch from the local native American tribe of Lenape in 1626, ‘cost’ the equivalent of today’s $1000, paid in farming equipment, cloth and shell beads.

New York is one of the most populous urban areas of the world. With over 8.5 million of inhabitants, the population of New York alone is larger than the population of 39 of the 50 American states.

The five borough of New York
The city of New York consists of 5 administrative units: Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. See map of New York boroughs.

In each of the boroughs, there will be a number of larger or smaller neighbourhoods, many of which come up as must-sees in tourist guides.

Manhattan – the business district of New York
The birthplace of the New York City, Manhattan is nowadays known mostly as the financial and administrative hub of the U.S. Manhattan is the most densely populated part of the city, having a population of over 1.6 million.  It is estimate that an additional 1.3 million people commute to work in Manhattan every day. That is not a surprise, given the fact that the average rent of a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan is about 3,400 dollars.

Apart from the many financial institutions, concentrated in the southern part of Manhattan, and especially around Wall Street, the island is also home to the headquarters of United Nations, a number of renowned universities, museums and theatres.

Times Square, Central Park, Empire State Building, World Trade Centre Memorial, Grand Central Station, Broadway are just some from the very long list of Manhattan’s landmarks.

Manhattan is divided in Uptown, Midtown and Downtown Manhattan.  Wall Street, SoHo, TriBeCa, Central Park, Harlem, Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, are just some of Manhattan's most notable neighbourhoods. 

See the general map of Manhattan neighbourhoods

Straightforward grid system of Manhattan makes it easy to explore by foot or by the public transportation. New York’s notorious bad traffic makes it unadvisable to drive in Manhattan, especially if you are not familiar with the city.

Curious facts:
10 of NYC busiest subway stations are located in Manhattan. The busiest one, Times Square, serves over 63 million riders a year.

The original name of Manhattan island in the native Lenape language meant ‘Island of many hills’. The hills were flattened though to make room for buildings.

The Bronx
The northernmost borough of New York, the Bronx, was the first area to be incorporated into the New York City in the shape we know it today, long before Brooklyn, Queens or Staten Island. Known traditionally for its thriving immigrant communities, the Bronx is often overlooked by the mass tourism. Nevertheless, this somewhat underrated part of New York City has had a valuable input into the culture of modern day America. Amongst the major landmarks of the borough are the Bronx Zoo, New York Botanical Garden and the iconic Yankee Stadium.

Curious facts:
Hip hop music and dancing style was born on the streets of the multicultural Bronx. So was salsa dancing, inspired by Puerto Rican and Cuban rhythms.

Located on the western tip of Long Island, Brooklyn is the most populous borough of New York. The population of over 2.6 million is ethnically diverse; according to statistics, over one third of the borough residents were born in another country.

Brooklyn has 30 miles of coast line and Coney Island, a small peninsula in southern Brooklyn, known for its amusement parks is one of the borough’s most visited sights.

Curious fact:
Coney Island in Brooklyn is home to one of America’s oldest roller coasters. The Cyclone, in operation since 1927 is registered as one of New York City landmarks.

The largest, in terms of area, New York borough, Queens, is home to big Asian and Hispanic populations.

In the past home to many notable figures of the music scene, amongst them Luis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, Queens is nowadays counts amongst its residents famous artists, for example Paul Simon, Tony Bennet or Francis Ford Coppola.

Amongst Queens’ major landmarks is the home stadium of the New York Mets, Citi Field, as well as two of NYC airport: La Guardia and JFK.

Curious fact:
The borough was named after Catherine de Bragança, a Portuguese princess, who married the King Charles II, becoming the Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland in the 17th century.

Staten Island
The most suburb-like area of NYC has a population of approximately 470 000 and is sometimes referred to as ‘the forgotten borough’, indicating a certain neglect from the city government. The island is connected to Brooklyn and New Jersey by bridges and to Manhattan by ferry. New York City subway network does not extend to Staten Island.

Mostly a residential area, Staten Island has a few tourist landmarks, amongst them 9/11 Memorial, the Staten Island Museum, the Staten Island Zoo,  the Tibetan Museum or the lovely St. George neighbourhood. The ferry connecting Staten Island to Manhattan is considered, by many, a tourist attraction itself. The 25 minute trip provides a great opportunity to admire the Statue of Liberty.

Curious fact:
The Staten Island Ferry carries over 20 million passengers every year.

One of world’s tallest Ferris wheels is being erected in the St. George neighbourhood of Staten Island. 

This is New York – facts, areas and landmarks
Article: This is New York – facts, areas and landmarks
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