Manhattan Island: Walk it. Know it.

A lot of people live on Manhattan Island. A lot of people visit it too every year. An estimated average of FIFTY MILLION (50,000,000) visit every year. In 2015 a record number of 60 million visited. So of course there will be people around all the time. Around the clock.

It seems more true than ever that this city never sleeps, even more than Las Vegas. In Las Vegas there are the casinos that keep all those people off the streets and inside. In New York people like being outside, and watching other people.

So if you’re planning a vacation in New York, then make sure you’re prepared.

You can take several walking tours through Manhattan Island. What we’ve done is figure out the subway system. So we found the closet subway station with the help of our concierge at the hotel and took it down to one of end or one side of the island and then walk back.

New York Stock Exchange Manhattan Island
New York Stock Exchange Manhattan Island

Walking is made easy here in on the island compared to other American cities I’ve visited. So bring a good sturdy pair of walking shoes. You can stop anywhere along the way to eat, order tea or coffee, or shop.  Sometimes there are even street benches for you to rest in between attractions.

I always enjoy walking and taking public transit wherever I am visiting. It’s good to get a feeling of the place. I’ve traveled to Australia, Italy, Holland, Belgium, England, and walked through the cities we visited there. I’ve visited several American and Canadian cities for business and walked through parts of them.

Walking is slower, yes, but you SEE so much more of a place when you do.

And interacting with the “natives” is a good thing too. It really is safe to just stop and try to strike up a conversation or say hello when you’re on the streets. This may work better on jogging paths when you briefly acknowledge fellow runners and walkers.

I love mingling with mankind, even though my husband is a bit shyer and more uncertain in crowds.

But I digress.

In New York, we walked past Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

There was the Court house.

There was the Empire State building. I love the Art Deco era of art and architecture.

We walked through SOHO.

And of course Central Park.

We visited the impressive New York Apple Store.

Apple Store Manhattan Island
Apple Store Manhattan Island

We used the subway to get to the Statue of Liberty and then walked back to Times Square where we were staying.

Manhattan Island has lots to offer and the best way to see it is to walk it. So be prepared to walk, rain or shine, depending on the time of the year. You’ll get a real feeling for the place!

Here are some great walking tours: https://manhattanwalkingtour.com/

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Times Square: Love the Crowds!

Iconic Times Square used to be called Longacre Square, but in 1907 The New York Times moved its headquarters into the area and so the rest is history! Times Square is a major commercial hub on Manhattan Island with millions visiting every year. In fact, a whopping estimated 50 million visitors annually!

It’s busy on Times Square with pedestrians all the time. But the Square wasn’t always a pedestrian plaza. In fact it’s only a very recent development. It just seems so natural that you’d never think that there were ever any cars allowed on it.

But in 2009, Mayor Michael Bloomberg transformed Times Square into a pedestrian plaza as we know it today. He had very good reasons to experiment.  He had two goals:
  • Ease traffic congestion.
  • Cut down on pedestrian accidents.

It worked! The trial was so successful that it became a permanent pedestrian plaza in 2015. I was surprised that it took so long, but on the other hand I know it takes courage to make changes, even when it’s obvious. It would never have occurred to me that it already wasn’t  a welcoming and safe place for people, judging by the throngs who attend the New Year’s Eve celebrations every year. It’s got to be a lot easier to police!

That’s why it’s a great place for people watching. Mind you, you must tolerate crowds because it will be CROWDED all day and even all night long. The last time I was in New York I stayed at one of the hotels right by the Square and with all the lit signs, it looked like it was daylight. Crazy. Incredible.

On one trip, I was taking an airport shuttle and it arrived at like 4 AM for me to make a 6 AM flight back to Calgary, Alberta. I was amazed at how bright all those billboards made the sky. I can see why no one sleeps in New York! Especially around Times Square.

Here’s a picture I took on one of my trips there.

Times Square New York City
Times Square New York City

Here are some of the attractions around Times Square:

  • 5th Avenue shopping district
  • Broadway Theatre district
  • Carnegie Hall
  • MadameTussauds at 234 West 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues
  • Restaurant Row – West 46th Street between Broadway and 9th Avenues
  • Billboards on Broadway (as you can see in my picture.)

Enjoy a walking tour around Times Square. Here’s a link to some:

22 Things to Do in Times Square

 

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Central Park

Central Park and Lake, The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir
Central Park and Lake, The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

Green space is a premium in New York City, so Central Park is definitely a wonderful space that is well used by New Yorkers and visitors alike. And it’s designed to be used ALL year round, in snow in the winter, falling colourful leaves in the fall, beautiful spring blooms in the spring and hot steamy hikes and runs in the summer.

The park covers, if you can believe this, 843 acres, a vast stretch of lively greenery in a sea of concrete. No wonder people cherish it so much. There is a society that raises funds for the upkeep and preservation of Central Park, which was first built in 1857. Since green is so precious, it’s not a wonder that up to 75% of total funding is provided by those who understand the value of its green spaces. Its annual budget of $65 million is responsible for all basic care of the park.

The park contains seven bodies of water, including a large lake and several ponds. They were all artificially constructed. The Lake was named in 1994, after one of America’s well known first ladies: The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. I definitely enjoyed my walk around this lake. It is vast and lots of wild life congregate there as well as people to enjoy the scenery. Watch the ducks swim by while you picnic or eat lunch from a food truck nearby.

Central Park is a community park and is well used by the community.  It’s also called the People’s Park. Pedestrians hike and run through it. It’s designed with meandering pathways and many pathways that go through the park.

Since the summer of 1965, the New York Philharmonic holds their annual summer event, New York Philharmonic Concert in the Park which is a free performance. The concert attracts thousands of spectators to the Great Lawn every year.

You might also want to visit the Central Park Zoo which is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society. It is the home of an indoor rain forest, a leafcutter ant colony, a chilled penguin house and a polar bear pool.

Take your time when visiting the park. The park alone will provides hours and hours of enjoyment. If you visit the zoo, definitely plan for a day trip too.

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American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is a favourite hangout for me. I love to revisit this place over and over. Of course what I love most about it is the dinosaur display.  Many of these dinosaur bones come from Alberta, Canada, from an area called the Badlands and also further south from Montana and Utah. Most of these were transported out of Canada in the 1800s, so the collection of dinosaur bones is one of the oldest in North America.

What kid doesn’t love dinosaurs? Many adults are just as fascinated by these incredible animals. The dinosaur exhibit is a perennial favourite at the American Museum of Natural History.  Because it’s always there. This is one of their staple exhibits.

Here are some highlights for you. The museum is always on the lookout to add to their normal display. So stay tuned for exciting additions!

Youth Plaque at American Museum of Natural History
Youth Plaque at American Museum of Natural History

Be sure to look for and read the Youth Plaque. Let it inspire you.  And be the good person that you know how to be!

Exceptional Dinosaur Specimen American Museum of Natural History
Exceptional Dinosaur Specimen American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History continues to update their display. They recently added a Titanosaur. (Watch the video below. ) Pretty cool – this animal is more than 120 feet long. What you’ll see is a cast of the Titanosaur.  This dinosaur is a new species found in Argentina.

The reason why casts are taken of these huge animals is because the fossilized remains have accumulated minerals over millions of years, turning natural porous bones into HEAVY stone. They’re just TOO heavy to hang the original specimen.  So relatively light casts are made and displayed instead.

Watch the video about the museum’s latest addition to their dinosaur collection:

Hope you will visit this museum on your next trip to New York City. The dinosaurs are well worth seeing. Be sure to plan an entire day just to view the entire museum since the dinosaur display is just one of many displays!

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