“I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps.” Although the lyrics to New York, New York are most often sung by heavily-inebriated happy hour patrons, Frank Sinatra’s love letter to the Big Apple rings true to this day – after all, what is there to say about New York City that hasn’t already been said? The storied metropolis, which has captivated the world’s mind for over a hundred years, has certainly lived up to its monikers many times over.
In a city where the bright lights of Broadway mingle with the ever-changing ticker tape of Wall Street, it would be foolish to say that there is nothing to see in the Big Apple. To your left is the Financial District, which has been the epicenter for some of corporate America’s biggest triumphs and blunders. To your right is the Empire State Building, which serves as a symbol of industrial strength and the urban boom of the early 20th century. Even while traveling from one site to another, a ride on the ever-vibrant Subway will produce more characters than most novels (and who knows, you may run into Jerry Seinfeld.) There are also reverential points throughout New York, including several monuments dedicated to 9/11, one of the darkest days in U.S. history. No matter where you originally hail from, it is hard to deny the urban splendor of New York City.
Although this city has the word new in its name, the Big Apple’s roots are in one of mankind’s oldest pursuits – the pursuit of a better life. For decades – and still to this day – the city has served as a beacon of hope for millions of immigrants from countries far and wide. Whether these people were fleeing tyranny, searching for their passions, or looking to fall in love with the American Dream, monuments like The Statue of Liberty serve as an embodiment of this search and a reminder that America is a place for all. As an ancestor of German immigrants, it was one thing to see historical footage of Ellis Island in history class growing up; but standing in the Great Hall – perhaps in the same spot as those who came before me – was nothing short of amazing.
Even if you are a casual (at the most) observer of art, New York’s selection of all mediums – from the refined brushstrokes of the Old Masters to the consumerist iconography of Andy Warhol – makes for a well-rounded and in-depth tour of art throughout the last few centuries. Well-known the world around, institutions like the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art feature thousands of works by the likes of Van Gogh, Kandinsky, and Lichtenstein.
In the late 19th century, New York City was split up into five boroughs to form the city we know today. Over time, each area has formed its own “vibe” so to speak – the measured chaos of Manhattan rubs shoulders with the cultural influences of the Bronx. The easternmost borough, Queens, brings a big-city feel without the (arguable) pretentiousness of areas within Manhattan such as the ever-affluent Upper East Side. With all of that said, the five boroughs create distinct differences within the nightlife of the Big Apple.
But this night scene was not always such a hotbed for artisan cocktails and an ever-growing list of craft beers – during the Prohibition, a time when the sale and import of alcohol was illegal, speakeasies, or secret bars, popped up around the city. This spirit of illicitness lives on today (even though alcohol is no longer illegal) in several 1920s-inspired speakeasies. Located in the Financial District (but not sanctimonious in any way,) The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog offers meticulously researched vintage-inspired drinks (including, of course, cocktails made with Absinthe.) The Back Room, the Lower East Side’s take on a Prohibition-era gangster hangout, serves its immaculate cocktails in teacups and small-batch beers in paper bags.
If the Prohibition-era scene is not for you, never fear – New York City is home to some of the country’s most well-known nightclubs. The Pyramid Club, for example, opened its ever-radiant doors in 1979 and helped define the drag and gay scenes throughout the 1980s. The Copacabana, which is located in the heart of Times Square, claims it is the “most legendary and cosmopolitan nightclub in New York.” With three floors and thousands of square feet, not to mention live Latin music, it is easy to see how this claim came to be – regardless of what you like to do after the sun goes down, a short walk down the streets of the city that never sleeps will yield a litany of late-night hotspots.
With cultural ingredients (see what I did there?) as wide as the country itself, New York surely has a “few” restaurants to choose from. Known for its delicatessens (and their delicious pastrami) and its many Michelin-rated hot spots, one thing is for certain – your taste buds will not be unsatisfied for long. Chef Danny Meyer’s Flatiron District tavern Gramercy may not be the most inexpensive place to dine, but its ambiance, food, and service are known across the globe. The Modern, with its French/American new fare, has views that overlook the gardens of the Museum of Modern Art. To fully grasp the dining options throughout New York, be sure to read The New Yorker’s “Table for Two” column, where a cycling group of journalists describe their favorite places to satisfy an empty stomach.
Whether you enjoy an unhurried walk through the sprawling Central Park or an exhilarating night in a Broadway Theater, there is something to do for every occasion. You could peruse the floors of the New York Public Library, where the smell of old books and freshly-brewed coffee is met with the sight of aspiring (and seasoned) authors, playwrights, and literary critics pounding away on their keyboards. Although New York’s many towering skyscrapers house some of the best in art and theater – not to mention the headquarters for many corporations – the buildings themselves are rife with history. Even if you think you know everything about the Empire State Building and other landmarks, the New York City architecture tour will surely unearth factoids not found on your standard Wikipedia page.
· Major industries: Publishing, media, information technology, finance, and real estate
· Minimum wage: $15.00/hour
· Cost of living: 87 percent higher than the national average
· Median household income: $50,711 (according to 2010-2012 estimates)
· Median home price: $647,115 (expected -1.3 percent one-year forecast)
· Home price change: -0.7 percent one-year change
· Homeownership: 32.4 percent
· Median rent price: $3,675 (two bedroom apartment)
· Forbes List: #115
· Unemployment: 4.1 percent
· Job growth: 1.4 percent
· Loan originator average salary: $71,280