Staying Awake in the City That Never Sleeps

New York City has never, and will never, be a sight to me. It will never be a tourist destination; it will never have the romanticism of Florence or the grandeur of Paris or the history of Budapest. However, I’m also realistic to know that this isn’t New York City’s fault. This hub of business and fashion – an epicenter of power that many people hope to one day visit – is probably about 45 minutes or so away from me, which, when you already live in a town with only a general store to call its own, isn’t much of a drive.

Each time I visit this graying city, I feel prompted to feel guilty that I have never climbed the Statue of Liberty and never rode a double-decker tour bus, although I can boast that I have scoured the Louvre and stood upon the Cliffs of Moher. I feel bad that I’ve never even skimmed a New York City guidebook or bothered trying to find a worthy pizzeria. Instead, I make sure I bring $20 for the monstrous tolls and hope that I don’t get home too late to shower off the city scum.

So here is my challenge to myself, and maybe you, too : below is a collection of New York City sights and attractions that will make the horrific parking worth it and maybe, if the city is in your backyard, too, make you rethink your need to hop on a plane for every new destination.

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1. Little Italy is no Florence, but it’s still pretty reminiscent of classics like The Godfather with its zeppoles, pasta joints, and pastry cafes lining the streets.

2. Washington Square Park arch is a good ol’ American replica of Paris’s Arc di Triomphe where you can stop and listen to some street musicians, watch the hippies and beatniks, and enjoy a cup of joe.

3. United Nations Secretariat Building is a 39-story complex which isn’t open to the public, however visitors can tour the midcentury dignitaries room when it is not in use, check out the current exhibits, and send out personalized postage using its own post office.

4. New York Public Library is guarded by Patience and Fortitude, the two marble lions that dote the entrance, before you can hustle on in and check out the muraled 300 foot Rose Main Reading Room.

5. St. Patrick’s Cathedral boasts more than 200 saints, stained glass, the alter of Saint Louis, and an oversized copy of Michelangelo’s Pieta crafted by the same man who created Patience and Fortitude, above.

6. Radio City Music Hall houses opulent chandeliers, lush carpets, and its own Art Deco concert hall meant to resemble a setting sun, and is also the place where the Radio City Rockettes find themselves each Christmas season.

7. Museum of Modern Art contains constantly-updated new exhibits and a sculpture garden with works by Picasso and Rodin.

8. Green-Wood Cemetery is the final resting place of famous New Yorkers such as William “Boss” Tweed, Leonard Bernstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lola Montez and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Be sure to check out its massive Gothic arch at the main entrance as well as climb to the top of Battle Hill, one of the highest points in Kings County and a pivotal spot during the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776.

9. Flatiron Building is a notoriously un-tourist friendly attraction because the space above the ground floor is inaccessible to the public (where publishing house Macmillan calls home), however its making in 1902 still represents the coming modernity and innovation to the city, although back in the day it was said that the building would never stand the high winds.

10. Brooklyn Bridge was constructed in 1883 and, at the time, was a feat in itself – it was the longest suspension bridge in the world  and now, is a nice stroll for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy the views of lower Manhattan for a little more than a mile.

11. Empire State Building, a staple of the Empire State, was the city’s highest building upon its completion in 1931.

12. The Statue of Liberty offers breathtaking views of the New York Harbor and Ellis Island, the entrance of immigration for millions of hopeful soon-to-be Americans.

13. Central Park is a 843 acre plot that has become a cultural hub as well as the destination for sunbathers, ice skaters, and bird watchers.

14. Grand Central Terminal sports a constellation adorned ceiling and a four-faced opal clock over the main information booth as well as a Tiffany glass timepiece and a likeness of Mercury, the god of travel.

15. American Museum of Natural History hosts dinosaurs, fossils, and human origins and culture halls.

16. Staten Island Ferry runs 24/7 and is totally free, providing the scenic tour from Staten Island to lower Manhattan.

17. Times Square was once a hub for vice, teeming with sex shops and drug dealers. Over time that notorious reputation has eroded, and now the area can feel like a tourist-clogged shopping mall.

18. Bronx Zoo houses 5000 animals over 265 acres.

19. Rockefeller Center is a tourist hub that contains the bronze Atlas statue, the skating rink, the Today show plaza, Top of the Rock, and the rinkside Prometheus statue.

20. Yankee Stadium opened in 2009 to much fanfare and stands opposite the now-flattened original.

Information courtesy of Time Out New York 

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