Tourism in New York City
Learn more about Tourism in New York City
Tourism in New York City is a large industry. Some 40 million foreign and American tourists visit New York each year. According to some estimates, as many as one in four Americans can trace their roots to Brooklyn. Many visitors investigate their genealogy at historic immigration sites such as Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Other tourist destinations include the Empire State Building, for 40 years the world's tallest building after its construction in 1931, Radio City Music Hall, home of The Rockettes, a variety of Broadway shows, the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, housed on a World War II aircraft carrier, shopping districts like Fifth Avenue, and city landmarks such as Central Park, which is one of the finest examples of landscape architecture in the world.
Spearheading the city's tourism efforts is NYC & Company, the city's official convention and visitor bureau currently headed by Cristyne L. Nicholas.
The Plaza Hotel in New York City is a landmark 19-story luxury hotel on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South in Manhattan. On the south side of the Plaza (between 57th and 58th Streets) once stood the French Renaissance château of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, designed by George Browne Post; rising behind its gated front court, it was the grandest of the Fifth Avenue mansions of the Gilded Age.
The Plaza is the second hotel of that name on the site. The French Renaissance château-style building was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and opened to the public in October 1907.
The Plaza was accorded landmark status by New York City's Landmark Commission in 1969 and is the only New York City hotel to be designated as a National Historic Landmark. In the 1950s it was the setting for Kay Thompson's series of Eloise books, Eartha Kitt and Peggy Lee played the Persian Room, unaccompanied ladies were not permitted in the Oak Room bar and the Palm Court was favored for luncheons and teas.
In September 1985, the Plaza Accord was signed at the Plaza. The Accord served as an agreement among the finance ministers of the United States, Japan, West Germany, France, and Britain to bring the price of the U.S. dollar down.
 Maritime attractions
Brooklyn's old Coney Island is still a center of seaside recreation, with its beach, boardwalk, and amusement parks. Many enjoy the spectacular views available from the deck of the Staten Island Ferry.
Maritime attractions include the South Street Seaport, site of a historic port, and the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, housed in a World War II aircraft carrier docked on the Hudson River. The Circle Line operates ferry and sightseeing boats (one of the tours offered includes a three and a half hour trip around Manhattan island). They also run faster speedboat tours under the operating name, The Beast.
Shopping is popular with many visitors, with Fifth Avenue being a famous shopping corridor for luxury items. Macy's, the nation's largest department store, and the surrounding area of Herald Square are a major destination for more moderately-priced goods. In recent years 23rd Street has become a major location for "big-box" retailers. In southern Manhattan, Greenwich Village is home to hundreds of independent music and book stores, while the East Village continues to prevail as purveyors of all things "strange" and unusual which you can't find anywhere else. The diamond district around 47th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenue is one of the three primary centers of the global diamond industry (along with Antwerp, Belgium and South Africa), as well as the city's main location for jewelry shopping. SoHo, formerly the center of the New York art scene, is now famous for high-priced clothing boutiques, and the art galleries are now concentrated in Chelsea. There are also large shopping districts found in Downtown Brooklyn and along Queens Boulevard in Queens. Many of the city's ethnic enclaves, such as Jackson Heights, Flushing, and Brighton Beach are major shopping destinations for first and second generation Americans up and down the East Coast.
New York City is a playground for shoppers. Consumers can find anything for every style and budget in the hundreds stores throughout the city. It has branches of almost all of the big chain stores, and for every chain store there is a local boutique nearby. NYC is home to some of America’s finest and oldest department stores including Barneys New York, Henri Bendel, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Takashimaya, and Macy's. Macy's houses 10 floors of merchandise, and it is quite possibly the most famous department store in NYC thanks to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
New York City also offers many choices for discount shoppers. Stores like Gabay’s Outlet, Find Outlet, Loehmann’s, LoftWorks, Syms, DSW, and Century 21 sell designer brands at a discount every day. Furthermore, shoppers can find great deals at sample sales (of designers) around the city.
Open hours can vary significantly from store to store, but stores generally open at 10am on Monday through Saturday. The most common closing hour is 7. Both opening and closing hours tend to get later as you move downtown. For example, many stores in the East Village are open from 1:00pm to 8:00pm or later.
All of the big department stores are open seven days a week. The department stores, and many Fifth Avenue shops, are usually open later on Thursdays. Sunday hours are usually noon to 5 or 6pm. Smaller boutiques may close one day a week. Interestingly, some neighborhoods virtually shut down on a particular day. Examples are the East Village on Monday, the Lower East Side on Saturday, and the Financial District for the weekend. During the holidays, Macy's often stays open until midnight for the final weeks before Christmas.
New York City sales tax is 8.65%, but it is not added to clothing and footwear items under $110.
New York's most interesting shopping areas:
Madison Avenue: The “smartest” shops are located on Madison Avenue, where most top designers have flagship stores. Madison Avenue from 57th to 79th streets has surpassed Fifth Avenue as the most expensive shopping street in the city. The real estate alone is some of the most expensive in the world. This strip of shopping is home to the most luxurious designer boutiques and department stores including Barney’s New York. The more affordable part of Madison Avenue houses stores like the Crate & Barrel and the Ann Taylor flagships.
Upper West Side: The Upper West Side's busiest shopping street is Columbus Avenue from 66th Street to about 86th Street. A few boutiques also dot Amsterdam Avenue. Small shops are attract shoppers who are looking for a neighborhood feel rather than “big city” feel. Shops here include New York Look, Intermix, and Barney’s Coop.
Herald Square & The Garment District: Herald Square (where 34th Street, Sixth Avenue, and Broadway converge) is dominated by Macy's. At Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street is the Manhattan Mall, home to mall standards like LensCrafters and Radio Shack. The Garment District is where shoppers can find sample sales.
Times Square & The Theater District: There is not much to entice the seriously fashionable shopper here. But tourists will surely be found shopping in Richard Branson's Virgin Megastore, and the giant Toys "R" Us flagship. Fifth Avenue & 57th Street: Manhattan’s affluent and label conscious shoppers are drawn to Fifth Avenue. The shopping area that stretches along Fifth Avenue has recently been overrun by mainstream retailers such as Banana Republic, Niketown, and the NBA. But shoppers will still find a number of big-name, big-ticket designers, including Versace, Chanel, Dior, and Cartier, as well as high end department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, and Saks Fifth Avenue. These retailers help Fifth Avenue maintain its classy image.
Columbus Circle: The new multi-level mall, “The Shops at Columbus Circle” (located in the Time Warner Center) offers many upscale shopping choices including Hugo Boss, Armani, Coach, Cole Hahn and Bose. The mall is two city blocks long and four stories high and has great views of the southwest corner of Central Park. It houses a giant Whole Foods Supermarket in the lower level and Tavern on the Green restaurant on the top floor.
Lower Manhattan & The Financial District: Fulton Street (the South Seaports main cobbled drag) carries the familiar names like Abercrombie & Fitch, Ann Taylor, and the Sunglass Hut. Pier 17 is a waterfront barge that has been transformed into a shopping mall. But other than Century 21 (right across the street from the World Trade Center site), there is not much that shoppers can't find elsewhere in Manhattan.
Chinatown: Sidewalk vendors selling hundreds of knock-off products line the streets of Chinatown. Shoppers can find cheap sunglasses and watches, discount leather goods, and exotic souvenirs, but they should be warned not to expect quality.
The Lower East Side: This area offers low prices on leather bags, shoes, luggage, linens, and fabrics on the bolt. Shoppers are encouraged to shop during the week, rather than the weekends. Many stores are Jewish-owned, so they close Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. The artists and other trendsetters have been migrating to this neighborhood, and the shops that specialize in up-to-the-minute fashions and edgy party clothes for 20-somethings have followed.
Soho: Some people argue that SoHo has become overpopulated and commercialized, however others shoppers argue that it is still one of the best shopping neighborhoods in the city. With elegant cast-iron architecture, cobblestone streets, and a European vibe, SoHo has a unique look and feel. Small boutiques like Jussara, and Catherine are on the same streets as major designers’ boutiques like D&G, Tocca, Missoni, Diesel, and Louis Vuitton. Broadway is the most commercial strip of SoHo, and houses recognizable names like Pottery Barn, Sephora, Banana Republic, Prada, A/X Armani Exchange, H&M, and Bloomingdale’s. Shoppers can also find one of a kind boutiques and many, many shoe stores.
Nolita: Small boutiques have recently appeared all over Mulberry, Mott and Elizabeth Streets. The narrow streets of Nolita specialize in fashion-forward clothing that are often expensive. Indomix carries South African designs, and Sol sell Brazilian bikinis and flip flops.
Greenwich Village: Greenwich Village is a popular gift shopping area because of the abundance of crafts shops, bookstores, and record stores. But on 8th Street near New York University shoppers can find affordable and trendy fashions. Bleeker Street is home to boutiques such as Intermix, Olive & Bette, Ralph Lauren, Lulu Guinness, and Marc Jacobs
Chelsea/Meat-Packing District: Almost overnight, Chelsea and the Meat Packing District have been transformed into to a “hot and trendy” district. It unofficially stretches from 14th to 29th streets and the West Side Highway and Seventh Avenue. Big-name designers as Stella McCartney, Christian Louboutin, and Alexander McQueen have recently popped up in the Meat-Packing District.
Union Square: The hottest shopping, eating, hanging-out neighborhood in the New York City may be Union Square. The south side of the square houses Whole Foods, Filene's Basement, DSW, and a Virgin Megastore. On the north side of the park, Barnes & Noble resides in a beautifully restored 1880 cast-iron building. The real attraction to Union Square is the Greenmarket, the biggest farmer's market in the city held four days a week.
The World Trade Center was an important tourist destination before the September 11, 2001 attacks, which devastated the city and its tourist industry. The city was nearly devoid of tourists for months, and it took two years for the numbers to fully rebound with fewer international, but more domestic visitors. Now the World Trade Center site has itself become an important place for visitors to see.
Many tourists only think of New York in terms of Manhattan, but there are four other boroughs which, if they can't compete in skyscrapers, still offer other kinds of attractions. The Bronx Zoo is world-famous, and the Bronx Bombers don't play in Manhattan. Flushing, Queens is home to the legacy of the 1964 New York World's Fair (including the Unisphere), the U.S. Open in tennis and Shea Stadium.
The city has 28,000 acres (113 km²) of parkland and 14 miles (22 km) of public beaches. Prospect Park in Brooklyn, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, has a 90 acre (360,000 m²) meadow thought to be the largest meadow in any U.S. park. Flushing Meadows Park in Queens is the city's third largest park and hosted the World's Fair in 1939 and 1964. Manhattan's Central Park, also designed by Olmsted and Vaux, is the most visited city park in the United States.<ref>"City Park Facts", The Trust for Public Land, Center for City Park Excellence, June 2006. Retrieved on 2006-07-19.</ref>
In the summer of 1936 Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and Parks Commissioner Robert Moses opened eleven monumental pools across the five boroughs: four in Manhattan, one each in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, and four in Brooklyn. With each ribbon cutting, LaGuardia famously switched on the underwater lights and boomed, "Okay kids, it’s all yours!"
Built with money from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the pools were a great feat of engineering, architectural design, and urban planning and over the years have been the setting for everything from amateur wading to Olympic competition. But the city has been true to LaGuardia’s words and to this day, the pools are free and open to the public. With a total capacity of 43,000 people, they are a place where all New Yorkers can go to catch a free swimming lesson and a glimpse of New York City’s history.
The WPA Pools are vibrant contributors to city life and culture in the present and continue to be hugely popular.
 Museums and Zoos
- American Museum of Natural History
- Hayden Planetarium (the Rose Center for Earth and Space)
- Bronx Zoo
- Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
- Guggenheim Museum
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, affectionately called "the Met", one of the most famous art museums in the world
- Museum of Modern Art, nicknamed "MOMA"
- New York Botanical Garden
- New York Hall of Science
- Queens Botanical Garden
- Staten Island Zoo
- Wave Hill
 Annual events
The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in New York on November 27, 1924. Since then this has been an annual event drawing tens of thousands of spectators and in later years millions of television viewers. Annually on New Year's Eve, hundreds of thousands of people congregate in Times Square to watch the ball drop as millions watch on television.
- Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Shakespeare in the Park
- Columbus Day Parade
- Puerto Rican Day Parade
- Dominican Day Parade
- New York City Gay Pride Parade
- New York's Village Halloween Parade
- Tribeca Film Festival
 See also
- I Love New York
- List of famous buildings, sites, and monuments in New York City
- List of New York City parks
 External links
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