Are you paying a visit to New York Design Week 2014? Excited about ICFF and Wanted Design? Great! But actually, there’s so much more to see in NY than the best designs in the world. New York City’s five boroughs are home to some of the world’s most recognizable, cherished landmarks and attractions. From Times Square and Central Park to the Empire State Building and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the island of Manhattan packs more famous icons into one compact area than any other place on earth; and that’s to say nothing of the City’s four other boroughs—The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island—each of which contains its own roster of must-see destinations. With so much to see and do, your visit to New York Design Week 2014 has everything to be unforgettable: the best of design and the best of tourism!
New York City’s skyline is truly awe-inspiring. The skyscrapers, bridges, waterways, islands and monuments create a breathtaking panorama that is instantly recognizable worldwide. While you can feel the immensity of these surroundings from anywhere in the City, the grandeur of the cityscape is best viewed from above. Take an elevator ride up 1,050 feet to the 86th-floor observation deck of the Empire State Building; New York City’s second-tallest structure (after One World Trade Center), this soaring art deco masterpiece offers a completely unobstructed, 360-degree view of the city below. For a spectacular vista that includes the Empire State Building itself, head up to the Top of the Rock, located on the 67th, 69th and 70th floors of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (home of NBC Studios). Both the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock are open late, so don’t miss the chance to see the City lights shimmer after dark.
Not sure where to look while walking through world-famous Times Square? Don’t worry—you’re not alone. With massive digital billboards whose bright lights make midnight look like midafternoon; star-studded Broadway and Off-Broadway shows (and reduced-price tickets to see them available from the TKTS Discount Booth); people peddling art and jewelry on the street; and, of course, the Naked Cowboy—who plays guitar in his tighty-whities—the expansive stretch of Midtown is a feast for all five senses. Visitors can shop in flagship locations of such stores as Toys “R” Us (which boasts an indoor Ferris wheel), take pictures with wax celebrities at Madame Tussauds, watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve or grab a pre- or post-theater meal along Restaurant Row (West 46th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues), where many eateries offer prix-fixe deals. And with Broadway closed to cars from West 42nd to West 47th Streets, Times Square is now more pedestrian friendly than ever.
Spanning 843 acres in the heart of Manhattan, Central Park is one of the world’s greatest urban oases, encompassing a diverse landscape of rolling fields, walking trails and tranquil bodies of water—all sculpted by human hands. Designed in the mid-19th century by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Central Park is the centerpiece of the City’s public parks system. Among its attractions are the Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle and the Friedsam Memorial Carousel (which, weather permitting, operates seven days a week from April through October and intermittently the rest of the year). Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawnoffer sprawling expanses where visitors can relax and enjoy the outdoors. In the winter, there’s ice-skating at Trump Rink, which provides a picturesque backdrop for that classic cold-weather pastime. In the summer, the Delacorte Theater hosts Shakespeare in the Park, outdoor performances of the Bard’s work. Elsewhere, Rumsey Playfield serves as the primary home for SummerStage, a citywide free performing-arts festival featuring music, dance, theater and more. Notably, Rumsey hosts Metropolitan Opera recitals featuring singers and a pianist from the famed opera company. For more ideas on what to see while visiting the sprawling NYC green space, check out our slideshow of must-see Central Park sights.
No trip to New York City is complete without experiencing some of its world-class cultural institutions, and Museum Mile is a good place to start. This stretch of Fifth Avenue, from East 82nd to East 105th Streets—actually measuring a little longer than a mile—lays claim to one of the world’s densest concentrations of culture. Museums along the “Mile include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Neue Galerie, theSolomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the National Academy Museum & School, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (temporarily closed for renovation through 2014), the Jewish Museum, the Museum of the City of New York and El Museo del Barrio.
Just a short walk away from Museum Mile, the Whitney Museum of American Art showcases one of the nation’s premier collections of works by 20th-century American and contemporary masters, while just across Central Park, the mammoth American Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space feature larger-than-life science exhibitions. And a block south, the City’s oldest museum, the New-York Historical Society, underwent an extensive renovation and expansion in 2011 and introduced the DiMenna Children’s History Museum.
The European masterpieces of the Frick Collection are housed in Henry Clay Frick’s magnificent Fifth Avenue mansion, and Midtown’sMuseum of Modern Art (MoMA) is home to some of the world’s most important contemporary artworks. Uptown, the Studio Museum in Harlem showcases the work of black artists, while the Cloisters houses an impressive collection of medieval art juxtaposed with the museum’s gorgeous architecture; it also offers charming gardens and stunning views of the Hudson. Brooklyn Museum, one of the largest and oldest art museums in the country, boasts a wide-ranging collection that spans cultures and artistic movements in its Beaux Arts home at the northern end of Prospect Park.
For other great cultural experiences throughout the City—including not only museums, but also music, dance and theater—check out our Arts, Culture & Entertainment page, monthly art calendar and our arts and culture roundup.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
The Statue of Liberty is New York City’s most recognizable landmark, a gleaming beacon for generations of immigrants seeking a better life in America. To visit the monument, buy tickets online in advance of your trip at statuecruises.com. (Though you can see Lady Liberty from land, the short ferry ride to Liberty Island will bring you up close and personal.)
The nearby Ellis Island Immigration Museum provides a fascinating view of a historic crossroads. At this site, visitors can explore the building that served as the first port of entry in the United States for approximately 12 million immigrants, as well as search ship manifests for passenger names in the American Family Immigration History Center.
John Roebling’s engineering masterpiece was the world’s longest suspension bridge upon its completion in 1883. One of the most recognizable structures in NYC, the bridge has been featured in countless movies and television shows and, as the first land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn, represents a critical piece of New York City history. Though the bridge is visible from the shores of both boroughs, it is best experienced through a leisurely stroll across its elevated pedestrian walkway. Here, visitors from around the world can share a path with New Yorkers making their daily commute; those walking across can enjoy views of downtown Manhattan and New York Harbor on every step of the 5,989-foot traverse. The Manhattan-side entrance is at Park Row and Centre Street, across from City Hall Park.
9/11 Memorial & Museum
The memorial portion of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center was dedicated on September 11, 2011—the 10th anniversary of the attacks—with a ceremony for the families of victims, and opened to the public the following day. Admission requires a reservation, which is free if made in person. Reservations made over the phone or online carry a nonrefundable $2 service fee (9/11 victims’ family members are exempt). The memorial honors the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks on February 26, 1993, and September 11, 2001 (including those who were killed in Pennsylvania and at The Pentagon). Eight acres in all, the Memorial Plaza features more than 400 trees and provides a sanctuary for quiet contemplation. Waterfalls flow into two large reflecting pools, in the towers’ footprints, and the names of the men, women and children who lost their lives are inscribed in bronze parapets that surround the pools. The museum, which is in the works, will house exhibitions with artifacts, pictures, videos and accounts from people from around the United States and the world, amounting to a jointly told history of September 11, 2001. Also nearby, the 9/11 Tribute Center offers photos, walking tours and a collection of objects that bring visitors together in remembrance of 9/11 and in its aftermath.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Presenting thousands of performances each year, Lincoln Center has established itself as a hub for New York City’s performing arts scene. The sprawling 16.3-acre Upper West Side complex is home to 11 organizations, including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Opera and the New York City Ballet. If you’re looking for an enriching way to spend an afternoon or evening, Lincoln Center delivers with an extensive lineup of concerts, plays and film screenings throughout the week. The landmark space seamlessly blends classic elements with modern renovations, seen most recently in the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, which opened its doors to the public in 2011. Within its 17,500 square feet, the center houses two theaters (one for special releases and the other for new releases and special programming), an amphitheater and a café. On Thursday evenings, the David Rubenstein Atrium—a gathering space complete with vertical gardens, an abundance of seating and a floor-to-ceiling fountain—presents free performances, courtesy of Target. Additionally, tours are available daily for guests in search of the story behind the center. Highlights include the majestic Revson Fountain, the recently renovated Alice Tully Hall and behind-the-scenes looks at top venues. Not sure what to do before your show? Lincoln Center’s bustling neighborhood is full of top-notch attractions, including the American Museum of Natural History, a mere 15 minutes away on foot, and Central Park, which is only a two-block walk.
Nightlife Uptown and Beyond
For the true NYC experience, it’s essential to go out after dark. While it’s a fool’s endeavor to attempt a summary of the City’s nightlife offerings in just a few words, we can make some recommendations: be sure to spend some time in Harlem, where the Apollo Theater stages its famous Amateur Night—over the years, the Apollo has hosted performances by such stars as Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, The Strokes and comedian Tracy Morgan. Beyond Harlem, the City is also home to countless other concert venues. B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, the Highline Ballroom, Irving Plaza and many more all host both rising and multiplatinum artists; check out our concert calendar for a list of notable upcoming shows. The Lower East Side, meanwhile, is one of many neighborhoods that’s full of bars running the gamut from classy joints to gritty dives to dancing dens. The five boroughs are also a humor mecca—NYC’s comedy clubs host headliners and rising stars every night of the week, and sometimes a big name will make an unexpected late-night appearance at one of the smaller venues. See our comedy calendar for specific comedians and weekly shows. And for more up-to-date going-out goings-on throughout New York City, check out our nightlife calendar.
Lower Manhattan is the seat of the City’s government, the home of Wall Street and a place where much of America’s early history unfolded. The area is packed with cultural institutions, including The Skyscraper Museum and the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Battery Park features 25 acres of open space—including gardens and the Castle Clinton National Monument, a fort built in preparation for the War of 1812.Stone Street, an appropriately named cobblestone thoroughfare, features a wide range of worthwhile drinking and dining establishments including Harry’s Cafe and Steak, Vintry Wine & Whiskey and many more. Nearby, City Hall—one of America’s oldest functioning seats of municipal government—offers public tours. After visiting the premises, consider walking across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, located just across the street.