travel

New York - Around Town : Midtown (part 1)

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The lights of Times Square, The Spires of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, Rockefeller Center, the United Nations Headquarters, stores on 5th Avenue, museums, theaters, and grand buildings galore – all are found in the midtown area between 34th and 59th streets, extending from the East River as far as Broadway. The concentration of attractions makes this the most important area of the city for visitors, and many a day can be spent taking in the sights. Fifth Avenue, the dividing line between the East and West sides, is in many ways the Main Street of Manhattan, and in itself offers a generous sampling of the city’s riches, from architecture to commerce. Midtown also reflects the city’s characteristic diversity, with attractions that range from the bustling retail of the Diamond District, to the stately halls of the New York Public Library.

Time for Tea

Taking tea is an increasingly popular custom in New York. Among the top places are the elegant

Four Seasons Hotel, 57 East 57th Street near Madison
, the Tea Box Café at Takashimaya, the tea room at the St. Regis Hotel, and the salon de thé at
Fauchon, 442 Park Avenue at 56th
.


Sights

  1. Times Square

    The city’s most famous intersection, and symbol of the lively theater district .

    Times Square
  2. Empire State Building

    New York’s most famous, and tallest, skyscraper is a classic. Since the structure was completed in 1931 more than 120 million visitors have looked down on the city from its observatories .

    Empire State Building
  3. Rockefeller Center

    Rockefeller Center is the hub of midtown New York, alive with activity day and night, integrating shops, gardens, dining and office space, and its own aerial vantage point.

    Prometheus, Rockefeller Center

    Rockefeller Center
  4. Chrysler Building

    The unmistakable shimmering spire of the Chrysler Building is one of New York’s great landmarks. The grand Art Deco lobby, once used as a showroom for Chrysler cars, has been restored to show off its lavish marble and granite, and a vast painted ceiling depicts transportation scenes of the late 1920s.

    • 405 Lexington Ave at 42nd St

    • Open (lobby only) 7am–6pm Mon–Fri

    • Free

    Chrysler Building

    Chrysler Building
  5. Grand Central Terminal

    One of the world’s great rail terminals, the outstanding Beaux Arts building is New York’s most visited, with 500,000 people passing through it daily. Since restoration work was completed, its admirers are no longer limited to travelers. Grand Central has become an attraction in its own right, with shops, close to 50 restaurants and food purveyors, and the New York City Transit Museum.

    Grand Central Terminal
  6. New York Public Library

    Carrère and Hastings won a competition for the design of this great Beaux Arts building. Their genius reached its height in the Main Reading Room, a paneled space as majestic as a cathedral, extending almost two city blocks, with enormous arched windows, 18 grand chandeliers, and an elaborately decorated, vaulted ceiling .

    • 5th Ave at 42nd St

    • Open 11am–6pm Mon, Thu–Sat, 11am–7:30pm Tue & Wed, 1–5pm Sun

    • Free

    • www.nypl.org

    New York Public Library
  7. St. Patrick’s Cathedral

    America’s largest Catholic cathedral is a place where more than 5,000 people worship every Sunday. When Archbishop John Hughes decided to build a cathedral here in 1850, many criticized the choice of a site so far from the city’s center at the time. Today his foresight has given the church one of the best locations in Manhattan .

    • 5th Ave, between 50th & 51 Sts

    • Open 6:30am– 8:45pm daily

    • Free

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

    St. Patrick’s Cathedral

    William O. Partridge’s Pieta, St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  8. United Nations Headquarters

    John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donated $8.5 million to purchase the 18-acre East River site, and American Wallace Harrison worked with international consultants to create this striking headquarters. The United Nations was formed in 1945, to work for peace and economic and social well-being around the globe. Currently, 192 members meet in the General Assembly, the closest thing to a world parliament. Guided tours allow visitors to see the various council chambers, the General Assembly Hall, and many of the works by prominent artists, including Marc Chagall and Henry Moore.

    • 1st Ave at 46th St

    • Open (for tours) 9:45am–4:45pm daily (Jan–Feb: Mon–Fri only)

    • Admission charge

    • www.un.org

  9. Diamond District

    Jewels glisten in every window of this block, the center of the city’s retail and wholesale trade. It handles 80 percent of the diamonds coming into the U.S. Developed largely by Orthodox Jews, the district grew in importance during the World War II when thousands fled the diamond centers of Antwerp and Amsterdam to settle in New York. Above the shops are offices and workshops where the stones are cut and set.

    • 47th St, between 5th & 6th Aves

  10. Carnegie Hall

    New York almost lost its most famous concert hall when the New York Philharmonic moved to the newly built Lincoln Center in the 1950s. However, a coalition, led by violinist Isaac Stern, successfully fought to save the building from demolition. It was bought by the city in 1960 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1964. A major 1986 renovation restored much of the original appearance while updating technical facilities and preserving the hall’s famous acoustics. Musical memorabilia fills the halls and the Rose Museum . Tours are available for a fee.

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