Wall Street and the Financial District
Wall Street (between Broadway and South St.) is a symbol that defines America. This imposing concentration of tall towers and banking headquarters has turned this rather confined area into the world's foremost financial district.
The offices of the mayor of New York are located in the elegant City Hall (Murray St., tel.212-639-9675).
The Brooklyn Bridge's bike path and pedestrian walkway are a good spot to get a look at the area's skyscrapers. Cross City Hall Park to reach the Woolworth Building (233 Broadway), which is nicknamed the "Cathedral of Commerce." Walking south on Broadway, you'll come upon the delicate silhouette of St. Paul's Chapel, the oldest still-active church in New York. Leave the cemetery enclosure on the Fulton Street side and walk west on Fulton Street to reach Ground Zero. Construction of the new Freedom Tower has been underway since 2004 on the former site of the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (33 Liberty St., tel. 212-720-6130, www.newyorkfed.org) protects one of the world's largest gold reserves.
You can get a lovely a view of Ellis Island, the United States' immigration centre from 1892 to 1954, and the Statue of Liberty (tel. 877-523-9849, www.nps.gov/stli) from the Battery Park promenade, and you can live the experience of arriving at the Port of New York by boarding the Staten Island Ferry (at the southern end of State St.).
From the Empire State Building to the United Nations
From 1931 to 1972, the Empire State Building (350 Fifth Ave., between West 33rd St. and West 34th St., tel. 312-736-3100) was the tallest skyscraper in the world. This Art Deco building, which was famously scaled by King Kong, is the starting point of many guided tours of the city.
You'll find a number of well-known buildings on East 42nd Street, including the famous Chrysler Building (405 Lexington Ave., at 42nd St.) and the News Building (220 East 42nd St.).
Grand Central Terminal (at East 42nd St. and Vanderbilt Ave.) faces straight down Park Avenue South. It was one of the most ambitious projects to be undertaken under the early 20th-century City Beautiful movement, which favoured large perspectives and broad avenues.
The UN headquarters were originally supposed to be located in Geneva, but European cities fell out of the running after billionaire John D. Rockefeller donated this piece of land on the banks of the East River to the organization. The United Nations Headquarters (at First Ave. and 46th St., tel. 212-963-8687) were built between 1947 and 1952 and designed by a committee of 12 architects from various member countries.
Fifth Avenue, which shares the title of most famous street on the planet with Paris' Champs-Élysées, can be considered the showcase of the American metropolis. The avenue is home to some of New York's most beautiful monuments, as well as all sorts of luxurious stores, and thus attracts more tourists than any of the other 13 avenues that run up and down the island of Manhattan: the New York Public Library (on the west side of Fifth Ave., tel. 212-930-0830, www.nypl.org), the Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Museum of Modern Art (11 West 53rd St., tel. 212-708-9400, www.moma.org), commonly referred to as MoMA, the University Club (1 West 54th St.) and the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church (705 Fifth Ave.), entirely made from brownstone from Belleville, New Jersey.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Ave., entrance corner 81st St. and 82nd St., tel.212-535-7710, www.metmuseum.org) one of the three biggest art museums in the world with the Louvre and the British Museum. Among the museum's most renowned galleries are the Egyptian Art room and the American Wing.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1071 Fifth Ave., corner 89th St., tel.212-423-3500, www.guggenheim.org) was inaugurated in 1959 and quickly became a classic of modern American architecture. This strange-looking building, made of reinforced concrete, consists of a long spiral platform topped by a sort of giant teacup.
The Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Ave., between E. 103rd St. and E. 104th St., tel.212-534-1672, www.mcny.org) is a gold mine for anyone wishing to learn more about New York, its history, its urban development and its population. Among many other things, visitors will find a lovely model of New Amsterdam in 1660.
Not to be missed, over the last few years, Brooklyn has become New York's most vibrant and innovative borough. The Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO and Williamsburg neighbourhoods, just a few subway stops from Manhattan, have gained a mythical cachet that used to be reserved for such hip Manhattan areas as SoHo and TriBeCa. More and more New York artists and young professionals have relocated here, and tourists can now head to Brooklyn for a more authentic and less commercial Big Apple experience.