At 2012's year end, New York City
mayor Bloomberg announced that the Big Apple set a new record high of 52 million visitors, pumping a $55.3 billion economic impact into his city. Oddly, only one out of five tourists visits from another country; four out of five are from the U.S., and tourism is New York City's fifth-largest industry.
With an efficient
subway system to speed one around, this winter, we ambled around Manhattan, covering Macy's for shopping as well as oldies but goldies: the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre, NBC, Grand Central Terminal, Times Square and a sprinkling of art at MoMA and the Met.
Macy's: Their four-story-sized sign lauds Macy's as the world's largest store, a 10-story enterprise covering an entire city block. Step back in time with their wooden escalators on the Seventh Ave. side. Macy's is located at Herald Sq., W. 34th St., and Broadway; take the subway to 34th St., and check out their sales at
Empire State Building: 60,000 tons of steel, 10 million bricks, 2.5 million feet of electrical wire, 120 miles of pipe, and 7 million man-hours built this edifice for
King Kong to climb in 1933 and again in 2005. Completed in 1931, it's so tall that a plane crashed into it in 1945. On
September 11, 2001, it regained its status as New York City's tallest building after 31 years at second place to
The World Trade Center.
The tower soars 102 stories and glows nightly in colored floodlights coded to reflect significant events such as red, white, and blue for Independence Day and green for St. Patrick's Day. Two observatories are located on floors 86 and 102. At the lower observatory on a clear day one can look through coin-operated viewers for 80 miles. With 3 million visitors per year, queues can be long. Consider advance tickets purchased online at
www.esbnyc.com. Located at: 350 Fifth Ave. (at 34th St.); take subway to 33rd St. See website above for pricing.
Times Square: has been transformed from its seedy past. New restaurants flourish, old theaters resuscitated, new shops opened.
Good Morning America has a studio at Broadway and 44th Street. And with all the neon lights, a good time to journey here is after dark, much easier with the mayor closing parts of Times Square to automobile traffic. The
TKTS booth at Broadway and Seventh Ave. is where to line up for discount tickets for that '
theatre shows. See:
Rockefeller Center: lies between 46th and 50th streets, from Sixth Ave. east to Fifth. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, it's now the world's largest privately owned business and entertainment center with 18 buildings sitting on 21 acres. The
Art Deco complex houses offices, NBC studios including
Saturday Night Live,
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and the glass-walled
Today show studio at 48th St., along with many boutiques.
Watch ice skaters at the central plaza and enjoy the massive Christmas tree. The 70-minute NBC Studio Tour (see:
www.nbcuniversalstore.com) takes one behind the scenes, and a 60-minute Rockefeller Center tour Monday to Saturday is offered on the hour from 10 am to 5 pm, and Sunday 10 am to 4 pm.
Grand Central Terminal:
Jules-Alexis Coutan's neoclassical sculpture, Transportation, which graces the south entrance, features
Mercury, the Roman god of commerce and travel. Inside, high windows brighten and sunlight shines off the half-acre Tennessee marble floor. A brass clock mounts the central kiosk, and gold and nickel plated chandeliers enhance side archways. The sky ceiling is a luminous greenish blue, and depicts winter constellations. On the east end of the main concourse is a marble staircase. There are shops and restaurants here, and sports fans might visit
Michael Jordan's Steak House and the famous Oyster Bar & Restaurant.
The Municipal Art Society (
www.mas.org) offers a walking tour of Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday at 12:30 pm; meet at the information booth on the Grand Concourse; there is a $10 suggested donation. The Terminal is located at 42nd St. at Park Ave. See
www.grandcentralterminal.com Take the subway to 42nd St./Grand Central.
Metropolitan Museum of Art: attracts five million visitors yearly, the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere at 1.6 million square feet! You can easily spend an entire day here so prepare for your visit at:
Take the subway to 86th St.
Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.