Everybody knows of Manhattan, the island at the heart of New York. This is where the city was first settled long before it expanded to five boroughs. A Dutch fur trading post was set up in 1613 and in 1626 the Dutch purchased Manhattan Island from the local Indians. The settlement near the southern tip of the island was named New Amsterdam and in 1653 it became a city. In 1664 the British seized the city and renamed it New York. By 1820 New York (then solely on Manhattan Island) had become the largest city in the USA.
Giant Christmas decorations, Avenue of the Americas
New York goes wild for Christmas. Every major landmark has a large Christmas Tree festooned with lights, and even the most minor parks usually manage a small tree. The stores have elaborate displays in their windows and the whole city has a festive feel. Among the more unusual Christmas decorations that we have found are these giant tree decorations in Avenue of Americas. Fortunately we didn’t encounter the tree that they were designed for!
Click on Minimap to navigate
Click on Minimap to navigate
View across Bryant Park
Central Park may be the biggest open space in New York City, but it is far from the only one. In the heart of the Midtown district on 42nd Street is a park of less than 4 hectares (10 acres) which occupies a site designated public land way back in 1686 by Colonial Governor Thomas Dongan. In 1822 control of the land passed to New York City who designated it a pottter’s field, a graveyard for unknown people. In 1840 the potter’s field was decommissioned in preparation for the construction of Croton Reservoir on land adjacent to it. The reservoir was built between 1839 and 1842, then in 1846 the city authorities decided to build a public park on the former potter’s field. Named Reservoir Square, it outlived the reservoir which was demolished in 1900. The park was the site of the 1853 Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations. The exhibition included the New York Crystal Palace, inspired by the Crystal Palace at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London. In 1884, Reservoir Square was renamed Bryant Park after poet and newspaper editor William Cullen Bryant. The park was redesigned in 1934 but by the 1970s it had become a haunt for drug dealers. A redesign in the early 1990s coupled with the general clean up of New York City made the park a popular destination for New Yorkers, especially at lunch time. In summer Bryant Park is alive with activities while in winter it hosts an ice rink and Holiday Shops modelled on the Christmas Markets in Europe. Click Tab 2 to see the ice rink and Holiday Shops.
To continue the NYC Trail, click the arrows above. To find out more about Manhattan click below or on the Minimap:
Empire State & Chrysler Buildings from East River
Another way to get your bearings is to take one of the regular boat tours round Manhattan Island. The Circle Line Tour leaves from Pier 83 at the western end of 42nd Street and takes around 3 hours to complete its circuit round the island. As well as seeing the entire shoreline of Mahattan you will see (but not land at) the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. In this picture the Empire State Building stands proud on the left. The Chrysler Building, which in this view is much further away, is just visible on the right.
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island from top of Empire State Building
On a clear day the Obervatory of the Empire State Building provides a great way to get your bearings in Manhattan. This view looking south west shows the post 9/11 skyline of Lower Manhattan. The World Trade Center used to stand amidst the tall buildings in Lower Manhatten to the left of the picture. In the foreground are the lower rise areas of Soho, Tribeca and Greenwich Village. In the middle of the picture the Statue of Liberty can be seen rising from Liberty Island and Ellis Island immediately to its right. Click Tab 2 to see the view north across Midtown and Central Park.
The Statue of Liberty & Lower Manhattan
This classic tourist shot of the Statue of Liberty and the Lower Manhattan skyline shows it as it was over 3 years before the terrible events of 9/11. The post 9/11 change to the skyline was dramatic, especially closer to Lower Manhattan where the twin towers used to loom over everything. The familiar shape of the Empire State Building can be seen in the distance about halfway between the Statue of Liberty and the twin towers. The new One World Trade Center, popularly known as the Freedom Tower, is now a fitting addition to the skyline. Click Tab 2 to see the new skyline of Lower Mahattan with One World Trade Center in place of the twin towers.