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New York City: A Beginner’s Guide To The Big Apple

Bird's view of New York City

Staff Writer Mina Yasar gives a tour of New York City and its must-see landmarks, museums and galleries.

It is nearly impossible that you know nothing about New York City because it is everywhere – from movies to songs, from “Home Alone 2” to Frank Sinatra and Jay Z. Also known as “The City that Never Sleeps”, life in NYC is very active and it is possible to find something interesting to do all day. Let’s explore together some of the best places you could visit in New York City.

Central Park

The Pond in Central Park

Central Park is one of the most visited places in New York City with nearly 42 million visitors annually. It is not only an urban park where you can walk or read a book, here there are chess lessons, a summer movie tour and many more to explore. The Bethesda Fountain and Terrace and the underground passage are some of the fascinating places that you could explore in Central Park. At Mid-Park at 79th Street, you can check out the Belvedere Castle which is one of the most interesting architectural features located in the park.

Central Park.Photo by Mina Yasar
The USS Maine National Monument in Central Park
A castle and some greens
The Belvedere Castle

Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum of American Art

Whitney Museum of American Art‘s collection includes more than 26,000 artworks by more than 3,800 artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. The collection includes many interesting works from prominent modern and contemporary art figures. In the Whitney Museum of American Art, you can see Andy Warhol’s “Green Coca-Cola Bottles” artwork, Robert Rauschenberg’s “Satellite“, Alex Katz’s “The Red Smile” and many more. There are also courses and workshops related to art and art history. If you can’t visit the museum, don’t worry! The museum shares most of the artworks from its collection on its website.


The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

My favourite museum in New York City is the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). MoMA has two locations, one being in Midtown Manhattan and the other one – in Queens. Both are very interesting but my favorite is the one located in Midtown Manhattan. The art collection of the museums includes nearly 200,000 artworks. It is also possible to explore nearly 102,000 artworks from the comfort of your home. Some of the artists you can see at the museum are Joan Mitchell, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and many more.

Times Square

Photo by Mina Yasar. Times Square
Times Square

There is no visiting NYC without paying a visit to Times Square. If you miss it somehow, you should come back! Times Square is one of the most famous tourist attractions and neighbourhoods of New York City. If you go to New York City, you could at least have a one tour there. It is known for its digital billboards and places which are open 24/7. It is a place for various activities, you could find a good restaurant and dine there, visit a public artwork, or do some shopping.

Empire State Building and The Morgan Library and Museum

The Empire State Building is one of the architectural landmarks of New York City. It is located in Midtown Manhattan.It is a skyscraper designed as in the Art-Deco style. It was designed by the Shreve, Lamb & Harmon architectural firm. It is one of my favourite buildings located in New York City. It is a fascinating place to visit – if you don’t have acrophobia (fear of extreme heights), of course! You could look at the city from the 86th-floor observatory or 102th-floor observatory. There are also a range of exhibitions to visit in the building. For detailed information, check out the website before arranging your visit to the famous building. You could also explore the Flatiron Building which is 12 minutes away from The Empire State Building by foot. The construction of the building was completed in 1902 by architect Daniel Burnham.

The Flatiron Building

After you finish your tour at the Empire State Building, head to The Morgan Library and Museum. If you are interested in literature and libraries, that’s the place for you. It is both a library and museum and this feature of the institution makes it very special since it connects book lovers and art lovers in the same space. The library’s collection includes many interesting artefacts like literary and historical manuscripts, early books, prints and many more.

The Morgan Library & Museum is known for its unique exhibitions and installations. At the moment, it is possible to see Sol LeWitt’s WallDrawing 552 D in Gilbert Court. The artwork was donated to Morgan by the family of the famous artist who lived between 1928 and 2007 and is linked with various art movements like Conceptual Art and Minimalism. Another exhibition to explore in The Morgan Library & Museum is the Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist’s Studio exhibition, open until 8 October, and you can also explore it as an online exhibition from the website.

The Morgan Library and Museum

The Grand Central Terminal and Chrysler Building

The Grand Central Terminal. Photo by Mina Yasar
The Grand Central Terminal

If you’ve watched the series Gossip Girl, you probably remember one of the first scenes of Serena Van Der Woodsen at the Grand Central Terminal. It has become more than a terminal and turned into one of the city’s landmarks. It is also just 3 minutes away from the Chrysler Building which is an Art Deco style architectural masterpiece located in NYC. The Grand Central Terminal opened to the public in 1913 and still it is one of the most exciting terminals in The United States of America. If you go there, don’t forget to see the Information Booth Clock, the Main Concourse Ceiling, and the Tiffany Clock.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)

The Met Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most visited museums in the world and its collection includes artworks from different periods and art movements. The large museum includes sections like African Art, Asian Art, European Paintings, Greek and Roman Art and many more. Since there are so many artworks, it might be hard for you to visit all parts of the museum. Because of that, it could be beneficial to explore the collection online and plan your visit before you go there.

DUMBO, Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge

Manhattan Bridge

DUMBO is a neighbourhood of Brooklyn and is actually short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. There, at 39-21 Washington Street, for example, you can have a cool view of the Manhattan Bridge. It is one of the most interesting bridges located in NYC and one of my favourite spots since I am interested in architectural history.

Brooklyn Bridge Park

If you are also interested in architectural history, another bridge to explore is The Brooklyn Bridge. You could also spend some time in The Brooklyn Bridge Park.

New York Stock Exchange Building, Federal Hall and Trinity Church

Wall Street is one of the most famous streets in New York City and a spot that a tourist should visit if it is their first time in the city. After you finish your tour of Wall Street, you could go to Broad Street on foot and see the building of the New York Stock Exchange. The main section of the building is the original structure. It was designed in classical revival style and the architect is George B Post. In this area, you could also see The Federal Hall and The Trinity Church.

Lincoln Center

My last suggestion would be my favourite – it is also the favourite place of someone I really cared about and has been my favourite in recent years. If you are interested in the performing arts, make sure to check out the Lincoln Center which is located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. If I was to plan a NYC trip in the next months, the first place I would go would be The Lincoln Center with someone who is really important for me, since it is a good place to spend quality time with family, friends or partners. There are many different events you could attend at the Lincoln Center – ranging from film, theatre, classical music or art exhibitions. For more, check out its website.

The Lincoln Center

Other Art-Related Places to Explore in New York City

There are many more galleries for art lovers in New York City – David Zwirner Gallery, Gagosian, Pace Gallery, and the Kasmin Gallery.

You could check out the website of the Public Art Fund since New York City is one of the successful cities in promoting public art. Whenever I go to NYC, I visit the public art examples – it is really an engaging experience. Nicholas Galanin’s “In every language there is Land/ En cada lingua hay una Tierra is one example of public art. It is located in Brooklyn Bridge Park and it will be on view until 24 March.

If you’re interested in contemporary architecture, visit The Vessel, a vertical public square. And if you want to get on a ferry, visit the Statue of Liberty which is also an essential architectural feature of the city.

The Vessel

With cities from the ranks of NYC, one can never truly exhaust all the cultural, architectural, and historic gems of the city, but those are the places to start. Visit them and in no time you will find yourself becoming a true New Yorker!

Staff Writer


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