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Manhattan, NYC — Sightseeing & Attractions

Times Square in NYC
Times Square in NYC

Manhattan is one of the five ‘boroughs that form the City of New York, coterminous with New York County. It consists mainly of a small island between the Hudson River to the west, the East River to the east, and the Harlem River to the northeast, connected by bridges and tunnels to New Jersey (west), the Bronx (northeast) and Brooklyn and Queens on Long Island (east and south). In addition to the island of Manhattan, the borough includes a few much smaller islands, notably Roosevelt Island, and a small piece of the mainland (Marble Hill), which is geographically part of the Bronx but legally belongs to Manhattan.

This area was originally part of Manhattan Island; a canal was dug in the late 19th century separating it from the remainder of Manhattan, to improve navigation on the Harlem River, and eventually the part of the original Harlem River channel separating Marble Hill from the Bronx was filled in.

The Empire State Building, the theater district around Broadway, Columbia University, the financial center around Wall Street, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Harlem, the American Museum of Natural History, Chinatown, and Central Park are all located on this densely populated island.

Manhattan is 21.5 km (13.4 mi) long and has an area of 59 km² (23 sq.mi.).

The name of the island is from the Algonquian languages of the earliest known inhabitants of the area. The island was settled by the Dutch in 1624 (see New Amsterdam).

View of Manhattan from Brooklyn
View of Manhattan from Brooklyn

Neighborhoods of Manhattan

As with all large cities, Manhattan consists of many distinct neighborhoods, each with its own character. The following is a partial list (in alphabetical order):

  • Battery Park City
  • Chelsea
  • Chinatown
  • East Village
  • Financial District
  • Fort George
  • Greenwich Village
  • Hell’s Kitchen
  • Harlem (includes East Harlem, Harlem, Spanish Harlem)
  • Inwood
  • Koreatown (Manhattan)
  • Little Italy
  • Lower East Side
  • Marble Hill
  • Midtown
  • Murray Hill
  • NoLIta
  • Roosevelt Island
  • SoHo
  • TriBeCa
  • Upper East Side and Upper West Side
  • Washington Heights

READ MORE about the neighborhoods: Neighborhoods of Manhattan, New York City


Broadway is one of the main north-south streets on Manhattan, the central borough of New York.

Running most of the length of the island, one famous stretch near Times Square is the home of many theaters, housing an ever-changing array of commercial, large-scale plays, particularly musicals.

The Theater District draws millions of tourists from around the world. Starring in a successful Broadway musical is considered by most such singer/actors as the ultimate success in their chosen profession, and many songs, stories, and musicals have themselves been based around the idea of such success.

While the razzmatazz of Broadway appeals to a mass audience, some theatergoers prefer the more experimental, challenging, and intimate performances possible in smaller theaters elsewhere in Manhattan. Such shows are generally referred to as off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway.

Times Square, named after the New York Times headquarters, is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, which centers on 42nd Street and Broadway. It consists of the blocks bounded by 45th Street on the east and Ninth Avenue on the south.

The theaters of Broadway and the huge number of gaudy animated neon and television-style signage have long made it one of New York’s iconic images, and a symbol of the intensely urban aspects of Manhattan. Times Square is the only neighborhood with a zoning ordinance requiring tenants to display bright signs. One notable example is the new NASDAQ sign which cost $37 million to build.

Times Square

NYC Times Square Billboard
NYC Times Square Billboard

The sign is 120 feet high and is the largest LED display in the world. NASDAQ pays over $2 million a year to lease the space for this sign. This is actually considered a good deal in advertising as the number of “impressions” the sign makes far exceeds those generated by other ad forms.

Times Square has undergone major changes in the last decade or so. For many years Times Square was a neighborhood that was full of “Peep Shows”, erotic all-night movie houses, and stores selling tourist merchandise. It was considered a dangerous neighborhood, by many.

The seediness of Times Square was a famous symbol of New York City’s danger and corruption during the period from the 1960s until the mid-1990s. Influential and dark films such as Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver had many scenes in Times Square.

More recently, such establishments have been shut down and more up-scale establishments have opened there. Times Square now boasts such stores as a Disney Store, a Warner Brothers Store, a major TV studio, as well as restaurants such as Ruby Foo’s (Chinese food) and Lundy’s (seafood) and a number of multiplex movie theaters.
It is also attracting a number of financial institutions. A larger police presence in Times Square has improved the safety of the area. Whilst the revitalised region is undoubtedly safer and more pleasant, some complain that the area has lost its spark and is now a thoroughly sanitized, Disneyfied version of itself – just another strip of franchised stores like anywhere else in the United States.

Times Square is also the site of the main celebration in New York City of New Year’s Eve. On this night hundreds of thousands of people congregate to watch the Waterford crystal ball being lowered to the ground marking the new year.

In 2001, NYC’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani gave the oath of office to the city’s next mayor Michael Bloomberg after midnight, as part of the celebration. In 2001, approximately 500,000 revelers attended the fete. Security was high following the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack with over 7,000 New York City police on duty in the Square (twice the number for an ordinary year).

Empire State Building

Empire State Building
Empire State Building

Read more about the iconic landmark in our article: Empire State Building, New York City

Financial District


Where New York City began as Nieuw Amsterdam back in 1621, the so-called Wall Street area has become the financial capital of the world.

There’s the waterside park at Battery Park City, with the new Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, are at its western edge and to the south is Battery Park itself, where boats are waiting to to take you to the Statue of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum or out to Staten Island.

The Alexander Hamilton Custom House is home to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Historic Trinity Church is a few steps up Broadway and around the corner is the New York Stock Exchange. Nearby is Federal Hall Memorial on the spot where George Washington took his oath as America’s first president and Fraunces Tavern where he celebrated the end of the Revolutionary War.
Among the skyscraper headquarters of some of the country’s biggest banks is the Federal Reserve Bank where tons of gold are stored.

A bit of old New York is represented at the South Street Seaport where you can sit in the shadow of tall sailing ships and the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge and shop at its urban mall.

Wall Street Bull -- NYC Financial District (located at 26 Broadway)
Wall Street Bull — NYC Financial District (located at 26 Broadway)

9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center

Address: World Trade Center, corner Albany and Greenwich Sts.

The 9/11 Memorial will be dedicated on September 11, 2011 in a special ceremony for victims’ families. The Memorial opens to the public on September 12, 2011 with the reservation of a visitor pass.

Visitor Passes: Advance visitor passes to the 9/11 Memorial are required. Visitors must reserve advance passes for a specific date and time. Visitor passes are free and available through the Memorial’s online reservation system.
More information can be found on the official 9/11 Memorial website: Homepage | National September 11 Memorial & Museum (911memorial.org)

The 9/11 Memorial is located at the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Visitors can access the Memorial by presenting a visitor pass at the 9/11 Memorial Entry at the northeast corner of Albany and Greenwich Streets.

Central Park

Central Park, the 843-acre green oasis in the center of Manhattan is New York’s most well-known park, and perhaps the most famous urban park in the world. Its history began in 1856 with the acquisition of 778 acres of land, for the purpose of building a grand open space, designed specifically for public use. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s “Greensward” plan was selected among the entries of a contest to determine the design for the city’s new park.
Built with 590 species of shrubs and 815 species of perennials and Alpine plants, an environmental mecca inspired by English romantic landscapes was situated within this metropolis. From its beginning, urbanites have flocked to the park, with over 4 million visitors making their way to the park in 1863, the same year that the final acres of park were procured, extending it to its current border at 110th Street. Today the park averages over 20 million visitors per year.
Since its construction, Central Park has evolved from a place of pastoral grandeur to a combination of natural beauty, recreational facilities and outdoor arenas.

READ MORE: Central Park, New York City

New York Public Library

READ MORE: The New York Public Library, Manhattan-NYC

Grand Central Terminal

READ MORE: Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan, New York City

United Nations HQ

READ MORE: United Nations Headquarters, Manhattan, New York City

Rockefeller Center

READ MORE: Rockefeller Center, Manhattan, New York City

Lincoln Center

READ MORE:Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

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