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Things to Do in New York City - page 3

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Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (New York Public Library Main Branch)
60 Tours and Activities

The New York Public Library is actually comprised of four major research libraries and about 100 branches spread throughout Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, but the Beaux Arts-style Stephen A. Schwarzman Building generally takes the title for itself. Home to a non-circulating collection of volumes on the humanities and social sciences, as well as a circulating children’s collection, this landmark library is renowned both for its signature stone lions out front, and for its free access to some of the most fascinating research materials in the world.

These materials include an archive of New Yorkers’ oral histories; firsthand accounts of Shackleton’s explorations in the South pole; a vast array of historical photos and maps from around the world; some of Shakespeare’s earliest work, from 1623; ancient Japanese scrolls; vintage baseball cards; and famous comic books.

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New York City Fifth Avenue
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Spanning from just north of Washington Square to 142nd Street in Harlem, Fifth Avenue is often touted as one of the world’s most expensive shopping streets. This is particularly true when walking between 49th and 60th, where stores like Armani, Tiffany & Co., Bergdorf Goodman and the iconic Saks Fifth Avenue. Fifth Avenue is also home to many of New York’s essential attractions and museums, including the Museum Mile which runs from 82nd to 105th and features 10 museums, some of which include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum and the Museum for African Art. Rockefeller Center, a famous shopping, restaurant and office complex that is also home to NBC Studios, as well as the Flatiron Building, Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and The Empire State Building are also attractions found on Fifth Avenue. And for a bird’s-eye-view of the city, grab a cocktail at one of the avenue’s rooftop bars like 230 Fifth and Eataly’s La Birreria.

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Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
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The world's premier modern art gallery, MoMA provides visitors with a master class in modernist and contemporary art. The collection numbers more than 150,000 works of art, along with a sizable film and photography collection. Familiar standouts include Monet's water lilies and works by van Gogh, Rousseau, Picasso, Dali, Warhol, Pollock, Andrew Wyeth, and Frida Kahlo.

Exhibitions are held from time to time, along with performance art and exhibits of architecture, prints, and illustrated books. The building was recently renovated to vastly expand the museum's exhibition space.

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New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
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The New York Stock Exchange is an icon of commerce and capitalism. Synonymous with Wall Street, it’s the world’s largest stock exchange.

It’s been closed to visitors since 9/11, but the impressive building’s Roman temple design makes an impressive photo stop, complete with soaring columns, carved pediment, lofty proportions, and fluttering US flags.

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Seaport District NYC
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Located next to the Financial District where Fulton Street meets the East River, South Street Seaport is a historic neighborhood known for its attractions, shopping, restaurants, nightlife and harbor views. In the summer, locals flock to the area to have beers and frozen margaritas on the pier as well as catch the water taxis and ferries to sites like the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Governors Island from Pier 16. Browse the many shops like Victoria’s Secret, Britches of New York, The Body Shop and Filmline Gallery. You can also get to know the area’s rich sea commerce history through the Seaport Museum, as well as ships docked at Pier 17 that act as living museums. For dinner and drinks, simply hop along the many venues on Pier 17 or head to Beekman Beer Garden, which offers a full menu, refreshing beers and close-up views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Broadway
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Broadway, one of New York's most famous streets, runs the full length of Manhattan. However for most visitors to New York the name Broadway is synonymous with theater, musicals and first-run shows. Broadway more than any other street in America stands for entertainment. The heart of Broadway is the few blocks surrounding Times Square. Book Broadway tickets in advance for guaranteed seats and pricing. Local sellers also offer last-minute deals (if not always great seats).

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Bryant Park
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Located between 40th and 42nd Street and Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Bryant Park encompasses 9.6 acres of public green space and recreation. For those looking for a respite from the bustling city, Bryant Park provides a relaxed atmosphere with historical monuments, colorful flower beds, London plane trees, the 300-foot lawn and the Southwest Porch lounge where you can relax on rockers and swings and enjoy free wireless. Play games like chess, backgammon and ping pong or get a free petanque lesson Monday through Friday from 11am to 6pm. For something whimsical, Bryant Park also features a timeless carousel. In the winter, the park is full of festive cheer with an ice skating rink as well as a makeshift village of “streets” lined with artisanal holiday shops. And no matter what time of year it is, visitors can enjoy quality food and drinks in the park. While Bryant Park Grill features American cuisine and a rooftop for aerial city views, Bryant Park Cafe is an informal outdoor cafe.

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New York City Chinatown
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90 Tours and Activities

New York's Chinatown is a heady blend of cafes, sidewalk food stalls, street vendors, and traditional herbal medicine shops. There's more than 150 years of history to explore in this fascinating ethnic enclave, including the Museum of Chinese in America and a Mahayana Buddhist temple.

Bargain for not-quite-right perfumes and handbags, dine on dim sum at an authentic Chinese tea house, shop for exotic Chinese antiques, and find unusual ingredients in the Asian food markets to cook up a Chinese storm.

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Hayden Planetarium
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This leading planetarium shows impressive visuals of space as viewed from Earth, using high-resolution full-dome video projection in its Star Theater. The video is based on visualization of the most advanced astrophysical scientific data available. Visitors can witness galaxies, planets, and star clusters in realistic, sharp resolution. “Star shows” display the latest in cosmic discovery, in collaboration with top scientists from around the world. Glancing up at the wide screen, it is near impossible not to imagine life beyond our planet.

The sphere measures 87 feet in diameter and appears to float inside a glass cube. In the bottom half of the sphere, visitors can witness the birth of the universe in the Big Bang Theater. After viewing the four minute programs, visitors can walk the Heilbrun Cosmic Pathway, which illustrates the history of the universe from the Big Bang to present day and connects the two sections of the sphere.

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More Things to Do in New York City

East Village

East Village

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One of Manhattan’s most vibrant neighborhoods, the East Village has a storied history of New York’s counterculture, art and literature movements, and social and political acts including riots and protests. It was here that punk rock, experimental theater, and even Andy Warhol shows took root in New York City. As such, the area is considered a large contributor the arts and culture of the United States. Museums, libraries, festivals, and theaters can still be found in great number. It is also known for its thriving bar and budget restaurant scene.

The East Village was first developed as an artistic community in the 1950s with its affordable housing costs attracting many students, musicians, and alternative lifestyles. It is known still for its artistic attitude, nightlife, and diversity, though some would argue that the gentrification of the city is changing its culture.

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The Dakota Apartments

The Dakota Apartments

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Flatiron Building

Flatiron Building

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Located in Manhattan at 175 Fifth Avenue and Broadway, the Flatiron Building is a groundbreaking skyscraper. Built in 1902, it encompasses 22 stories and 307 feet. While not the tallest skyscaper in New York, it’s dramatic Beaux-Arts facade makes it a popular attraction, especially with photographers. What also makes it unusual is, unlike other early skyscrapers in New York that looked like rising towers, the Flatiron building showcases a concept from the Chicago school that divides the facade into a base, shaft and capital, which makes sense as it was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. The name of building stems from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothing iron. Interestingly, back then the building’s unique shape was thought to create intense updrafts that would lift women’s skirts passing on 23rd Street. If a man tried to sneak a peak, police should shout “Hey! 23 skidoo!” This is thought to be where the phrase comes from.

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9/11 Tribute Museum

9/11 Tribute Museum

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Housed in a former New York City deli, the 9/11 Tribute Center has been paying homage to the lost lives of September 11 victims through photography and artifact displays, as well as the art of storytelling since 2006. Visitors can explore the halls of this memorial founded by The September 11th Families’ Association, and learn about one of the most notorious days in the city’s history. Travelers can take a five-point tour with one of 200 trained guides who will share their sobering stories, experiences and memories of this tragic day. Audio tours featuring a more in-depth look at the narratives of more than 20 guides are also available to help tourist navigate the galleries filled with iconic images, family photos and other items from the World Trade Center attacks. A unique oral history collection of more than 400 unique retellings of the day is one of the major highlights of this unique memorial center that is not to be missed.

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Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park

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Located in the Flatiron District, specifically at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 23rd Street, Madison Square is one of New York’s most important and historical squares. This is where you’ll find iconic buildings like the Flatiron Building, One Madison Park and Metlife Tower, as well as the main focus of the square, Madison Square Park. The park runs from Broadway to Madison Avenue and East 23rd to East 26 St Streets, and is a great place to snap photos of the surrounding architecture, admire 19th-century statues and monuments and stroll through the 6.2 acres of tranquil green landscape. Fun fact: This was the original location of Madison Square Garden and a temporary display area for the Statue of Liberty’s right arm and torch from 1876 to 1882. Along with the green space, Madison Square is renowned for being one of the city’s best shopping areas, especially in terms of home design and housewares.

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Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry

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For the best free cruise in town, hop aboard the Staten Island passenger ferry. The free round-trip cruise takes you past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, with terrific views back to Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The trip takes 25 minutes each way, and ferries run 24 hours round the clock. Around 60,000 passengers use the ferries daily.

You have to disembark at Staten Island by law, so while you’re there why not take a walk around the Snug Harbor Cultural Center museums and Botanical Gardens.

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Harlem

Harlem

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The legendary borough of Harlem has been famous in New York City since the 1920s, when the Harlem Renaissance brought about a cultural revolution among African-Americans in New York with a focus on the arts. Today Harlem is an increasingly gentrified area of classic brownstone townhouses, iconic jazz clubs, churches, cultural centers, cocktail lounges and soul food restaurants.

Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (125th Street) is Harlem’s main roadway. The neighborhood's slew of sights include the Apollo Theater, the Studio Museum, the Cathedral of St John the Divine, Striver's Row, Astor Row and the Museum of the City of New York. Take a local-led walking tour, catch amateur night at the Apollo Theater on a Wednesday, order up some soul food at Sylvia's on Lennox Avenue or listen to the glorious sound of full-throated gospel at the Abyssinian Baptist Church on a Sunday.

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Woolworth Building

Woolworth Building

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Central Park Zoo

Central Park Zoo

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Central Park is a must-see for any visitor to New York City, and the small zoo within it is no exception. The daily feedings of the sea lions and the penguins always draw a crowd (the sea lions do tricks for their snacks), and the paths through the zoo’s five acres lead through a variety of habitats designed to recreate the animals’ natural environments. Around the sea lions’ pool (which has glass sides to better see the sleek animals under water) is a perennial garden with plenty of bench seating.

The Tisch Children's Zoo lets children get up close and personal with domestic animals like sheep, goats, cows, and even a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig. Little ones can pop a quarter in an animal-feed dispenser and let the animals eat from their hands, and they can touch small bronze sculptures of the animals next to each pen that emit the sounds of the animals they represent.

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Apollo Theater

Apollo Theater

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The Apollo Theater in the heart of Harlem is one of the world’s most famous live music venues. Some of the biggest names in contemporary music have played the Apollo, including Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and the master of soul, James Brown.

Hear jazz, blues or R&B, or come along on a Wednesday evening for the long-running Amateur Night. Stars who first flexed their talents as amateurs on the Apollo’s legendary stage include Michael Jackson and Lauryn Hill.

Informative and entertaining daily tours highlight the history of the Apollo and the performers who've played there.

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Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

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Located between West 62nd and 65th and Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is a cultural hub focused on music, dance and theater. Each year, the center puts on hundreds of performances throughout 26 venues. The center is composed of 12 elite performing arts organizations, some of which include The Juilliard School, The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet and the New York Philharmonic. Along with taking in a performance, visitors can opt for a guided tour of Lincoln Center to see what goes on behind the scenes and to get more in-depth knowledge on the performances and venues. Tours are available in English, as well as Spanish, Japanese, French, Italian, German, and American Sign Language upon request. Throughout the year, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts puts on various major events, some of which include Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the New York Film Festival and the Mostly Mozart Festival.
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Union Square

Union Square

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A welcome patch of green in Downtown Manhattan, Union Square is one of New Yorkers’ favorite city squares. It’s the place for public gatherings, yoga and exercise classes, and for people from all walks of life to take a break and catch some sunshine, eat lunch, or read a book.

Stock up on fresh produce at the wonderful Greenmarket held here Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays, and Saturdays, and if you’re here in November/December you can pick up gifts at the holiday market. Some striking architecture surrounds the square, and you’ll find statues of famous figures dotted throughout, including Washington, Lincoln, Lafayette, and Mahatma Gandhi. Big-name stores and fine restaurants are nearby, and Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and the Flatiron District are just a stroll away.

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Meatpacking District

Meatpacking District

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New York City’s famous Meatpacking District is a 24-hour destination known for its fashion, culture, design and food. This neighborhood, located on the west side of Manhattan, spans approximately 20 square blocks and is popular for its nightlife and even its historical side. The market-filled industrial center was once solely home to meatpacking plants, lumber yards and scores of open-air meat markets, and after an unseemly period during the 1980s when the area was a hotbed for scandal, a new transformation began. In the late 1990s, high-end boutiques and restaurants began opening, and the completion of the High Line Park in 2009 really set the Meatpacking District apart. And in May 2015, one of New York’s most well-respected art institutes, the Whitney Museum, opens its doors in the neighborhood. Although the Meatpacking District has changed significantly over time, its historical past is still evident today.

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