From across the water, New York City is the gateway into the United States. Whatever the final destination, the first is the bustling city of eight million, five hundred thousand people. Home to Broadway, Greenwich Village and the Radio City Music Hall, it’s a melting pot of cultures, national identities, innovative thinkers, inventors, artists and musicians. Fast-paced and industrious, it’s truly the city that never sleeps.
Every great city has its famous landmark; a remarkable feature that gives it instant identity, such as the Eiffel Tower, the Roman Coliseum or the Canals of Venice. By sea or by air, your first view of New York City will be the Statue of Liberty, raising its beacon 93 metres from the base. The dainty lady weighs 204 metric tonnes and wears a size 879 shoe. Visitors must climb 354 stairs to reach the statue’s crown. Her full name is “Liberty Enlightening the World”.
Modelled after the Roman goddess for freedom and erected in 1886, she was the tallest iron structure ever built at the time. She became an immediate symbol of hope and a chance for a new life as waves of immigrants began crossing over from Europe during the last half of the 19th century. New York received over nine million immigrants during that time period. The Statue of Liberty was usually the first thing they saw as they entered the port to their new home. There is only one way to visit the Statue of Liberty, and that’s by ferry. Private boats are not allowed to dock at Liberty and Ellis Islands. From the crown of the statue, is a spectacular view of the Manhattan Skyline.
Over forty theatres with the capacity to seat 500 or more are located within the theatre district along Broadway and Lincoln Centre, within the New York City Borough of Manhattan. What happens on Broadway influences the world of theatrical performance, as it is considered, along with London’s West End Theatres to represent the highest level of commercial theatre within English speaking countries.
Many of Broadway’s theatres have been in use over fifty years, and still ring with the haunting cries of the Phantom of the Opera, still rustle with Old World elegance and still steam from long-ago scandals, sizzling rumours and notorious women. The Astor Opera House opened just a few years after Barnum and Bailey began operating an entertainment complex in lower Manhattan, during the 1840's. The elegant opera house was not well received by the low-income working classes who felt the Astor Place symbolized snobbery among the well-dressed patrons who frequented it. A riot broke out in 1849, after which entertainment in Broadway developed along sharp class lines. The upper middle classes generally visited the opera; middle classes attended the minstrel shows and melodrama, with variety shows and concert saloons for the low income class.
Most often referred to for its GLBT community, Greenwich Village is a haven for all free-thinkers. It was the birthplace of “the Beat” and the counter-cultural movement of the 1960's, and a favourite refuge for artists, musicians and writers. Bordering Broadway on one side, and the North River, which is a branch of the Hudson River, it’s the proving ground for many off-Broadway productions.
Its history goes back to early colonial times, with its oldest still-standing structure built in 1799. The Washington Square Park rests at the centre of the village, although the well-groomed neighbourhood has a number of smaller and very pleasant parks. Although a quieter area than much of the Big City, Greenwich Village is still vibrant with a number of historical sites and attractive places to go for dining and entertainment.
Hailed as one of the best performing arts centres in the world, the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts is a rich cultural experience in ballet, opera, philharmonic orchestra and chamber music. The 6.6 hectare complex is located in Lincoln Square, in the neighbourhood of Manhattan. The centre began taking shape during the 1950s as part of an urban renewal project for New York City’s crumbling inner city. Today, it is a magnificent statement in modern architecture, with spacious accommodations, nearby restaurants and the aura that surrounds the classical greats.
The pulse of New York is where radio first persuaded mainstream audiences with music and broadcast shows. The Radio City Music Hall was developed between 1929 and 1940 by John D. Rockefeller Jr., and resides in the complex known as the Rockefeller Centre. The music hall first opened to the public in 1932 with a lavish stage show that was supposed to appeal to a taste for high-class variety entertainment. The show was too long, the public showed little interest, and the program converted to a simpler format of a feature film presentation.
Radio City has become a prime tourist destination over the years. The elaborate music hall has seating for 5,993 spectators, with room for a few more who don’t require seats, pushing its capacity over 6,000 for viewing a performance. The Music Hall has featured most of the top rock and pop performers over the past thirty years, and has televised events such as the Grammy Awards, the Tony Awards and the NFL Draft.
Located on the eastern edge of Central Park, along Manhattan’s Music Mile is the world’s tenth largest art collection, and the largest in the United States. Represented within the collection are works of classical antiquity and treasures from ancient Egypt, paintings and sculptures by nearly all the European masters, as well as American and modern art.
The museum was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens who felt an open museum for the public would educate people on art and encourage artistic tastes and development. The venture was first organized by a collaboration of scholars, thinkers, business people and artists. Generous donations to the permanent collection have made the museum one of the most diverse and interesting in the world.