Situated in the northeastern part of the United States, New York was one of the first 13 colonies and is now the 4th biggest state in terms of population and 27th largest in terms of physical size. New York is often referred to as 'New York State' due to the global importance and significance of New York City, which is the biggest city in the state.
The state of New York has borders with Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Massachusetts, along with an international border with Canada to the north. Various landscapes make up the state of New York, including the famous Hudson River Valley, Atlantic Coastal Plain, Adirondack Mountains, and Appalachian Mountains. The state also borders two of the five Great Lakes of North America: Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The capital city of New York is Albany, but the state is best known as the home of NYC. Here are some important details, statistics, and overviews of the largest cities in New York. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.New York City
5 of the Largest Cities in New York
- New York City, Photo: Tierney/stock.adobe.com
- Buffalo, Photo: jiawangkun/stock.adobe.com
- Rochester, Photo: Jeremy Francis/stock.adobe.com
- Yonkers, Photo: lspi138/stock.adobe.com
- Syracuse, Photo: littleny/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of AntonioLopez - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Empire State Building
Located in Midtown, Manhattan, New York City, the Empire State Building is a 102-story skyscraper that stands between West 33rd and 34th Streets on Fifth Avenue. Formerly holding the distinction of being the world’s tallest building, the skyscraper is known today as an American cultural icon.
The Empire State Building site originally housed the John Thompson Farm during the late 18th century, with a stream running across the current location of the building. By the late 19th century, it was the site of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, a popular gathering place for New York’s elite. Local competition for the construction of the world’s tallest building prompted plans for a skyscraper at the site, an art deco tower designed by architect William F. Lamb. The building’s drawings were famously produced within two weeks, pulling major elements from the earlier design of Winston-Salem’s Reynolds Building, as well as Cincinnati’s Carew Tower. To pay homage to its predecessor, the building’s modern staff sends an annual Father’s Day card to the staff of the Reynolds Building.
Construction on the site began on March 17, 1930. More than 3,400 workers, mostly European immigrants, contributed to the completion of the building, which was finished on April 11, 1931. It was famously opened on May 1, 1931, with a button push by United States President Herbert Hoover turning on its now-iconic tower lights. At the time, two other buildings in the city were also vying for the world’s tallest building title, the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street, although each only held the title for less than a year prior to Empire State’s completion.
Upon its opening, it was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, but as the opening occurred during the American Great Depression, it took until 1950 for the skyscraper to become a profitable enterprise. In its early years, most of its space remained vacant, a situation exacerbated by poor access to local public transportation, and as a result, it earned the colloquial nickname “the Empty State Building.” More money was earned by admissions to its observation deck than by rent collection in its first year of operation. In 1951, the building was purchased by Roger L. Stevens for a record-breaking $51 million, marking its upturn as a viable commercial venture. As a result of the number of businesses operating out of the building today, it encompasses its own zip code, 10118, designated in 1980.
Today, the building is owned by the Empire State Realty Trust and is recognized as a major American landmark and cultural icon. After holding the distinction of world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years after its opening, it briefly regained the title of New York’s tallest building following the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center’s North Tower in the September 11 attacks. It is currently the fifth-tallest skyscraper in America and the 35th-tallest globally. In 1986, the building was designated as a National Historic Landmark, and in 2007, it ranked first on the American Institute of Architects’ List of America’s Favorite Architecture.
The famous art deco-style spire atop the building was originally designed to serve as a mooring mast and depot for airships, with an elevator carrying passengers from the building’s 86th-story check-in point to its 102nd-story disembarkation floor. Due to dangerous conditions produced by updrafts caused by the building’s design, the idea never panned out, and the 103rd-story spire space now serves as a maintenance room. A broadcast tower was added to the spire in the 1950s, increasing the building’s transmission of radio and television stations from its original RCA-NBC antennae. Today, 12 television stations and 19 FM stations broadcast from the spire. The spire also showcases the tower’s iconic lights, lit in colors designed to align with seasonal festivities and major city and world events.
The 86th Floor Observation Deck is the highest open-air observatory in the city, immortalized in many television and film scenes throughout media history. More than 110 million people have visited the observation deck since its opening in 1931, making it the most popular outdoor observatory in the world. 360° views of New York’s most famous sights are provided, including Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty. A 16-floor ride in a manual Otis elevator takes visitors up to the 102nd-floor top deck, which offers views of up to 80 miles away.A second-floor visitor’s center features an exhibit showcasing the building’s sustainability initiatives, including its $120 million renovation in 2010, for which it received LEED certification. An 80th floor exhibit, Dare to Dream, chronicles the building’s construction and history, with photographs and archival content curated by the Skyscraper Museum. An official store offers a selection of Empire State-themed gifts. Several restaurants are also located inside the facility, including the State Grill and Bar and Heartland Brewery.
350 5th Ave, New York, NY 10118, Phone: 212-736-3100
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Attraction Spotlight: Castle Clinton National Monument
Located within Battery Park in Manhattan, New York City, Castle Clinton National Monument preserves the historic West Battery fort, originally constructed for the War of 1812 and best known as the central American immigration station prior to the opening of Ellis Island.
Castle Clinton, originally known as West Battery, was designed by architects Jonathan Williams and John McComb, Jr. and constructed between 1808 and 1811 as a defense for New York City during the mounting tensions in the lead-up to the War of 1812. The fort was intended as a complement to Governor’s Island’s Castle Williams fortress, also known as East Battery, and was constructed on an island off the shore of the southern tip of Manhattan. Despite its construction for the War of 1812, the fortress never saw military action, and when Battery Park was expanded in the mid-19th century, the fortress’ island was filled in and incorporated as part of Manhattan’s mainland. In 1815, the fortress was renamed Castle Clinton in honor of the city’s Mayor DeWitt Clinton.
In 1821, the fortress was relinquished by the United States Army and leased to the City of New York as a public entertainment facility. In 1824, the fortress was reopened as the Castle Garden open-air entertainment complex, which housed a restaurant, beer garden, theater, opera and exhibition halls, and public promenade. From 1855 until the 1892 opening of Ellis Island, the complex was used as the city’s Emigrant Landing Depot, which became the main immigration checkpoint for immigrants to the United States. Though the depot’s passenger records were destroyed in an 1897 fire, it is estimated that between eight and 12 million immigrants passed through the facility throughout its four decades of operation. The term “kesselgarten,” a Yiddish derivative of the facility’s name, is still used today to describe chaotic situations and venues where a large variety of languages are being spoken at once.
In 1892, a new immigration facility was opened on Ellis Island as an attempt to isolate immigrant processing due to concerns of diseases such as cholera and smallpox. In 1896, the Castle Clinton facility hosted the New York City Aquarium, which served as the city’s most popular entertainment and tourist attraction throughout much of the early 20th century. Though the original fortress structure was renovated and altered several times for aquarium expansions, much of the historic architecture was kept intact. In 1941, Castle Clinton faced demolition due to proposed construction by city commissioner Robert Moses related to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Though citizen activism led to the declaration of the fortress as a national monument in 1946, the New York City Aquarium facility was vacated from the premises and relocated to Coney Island in 1957. After several years of public and government hearings, the monument was acquired by the United States federal government in 1950.
Today, Castle Clinton National Monument is operated by the National Park Service and serves as both a public monument facility and a ticket office and departure point for ferry visitors traveling to Liberty and Ellis Islands. The circular sandstone fortress, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, has largely retained its historic appearance throughout its multipurpose use history and was fully restored in the 1970s. The facility is open to the public year round with the exception of Christmas Day and offers free public admission.
Due to the fort’s open-air construction plan, all activities at the monument are considered outdoor activities and are subject to seasonal and inclement weather availability. A small museum is offered at the fortress, featuring exhibits detailing the history of the fortress, Battery Park, and the greater New York City region. An Eastern National bookstore is also offered, featuring a variety of books and memorabilia related to New York City history. Ranger-guided tours of the fortress are offered daily during the morning and early afternoon hours, lasting approximately 20 minutes. Visitors may also explore the fortress as part of self-guided tours at any time the facility is open to the public.
Ongoing Programs and Education
In addition to standard tours and exhibits, a variety of public programming is offered at Castle Clinton, including concerts and theatrical performances throughout the summer months. Ferry tours to Liberty and Ellis Island embark from the fortress daily, which may be reserved for small groups and organizations. Visitors may also use the fortress and its surrounding grounds as a public picnic and recreation facility at any time. Field trip programming for elementary and secondary school students, including guided tours of the fortress, are available daily with reservations. A Junior Ranger program also offers young visitors participation badges and certificates in exchange for completion of activities on the fortress’ grounds.
26 Wall St, New York, NY 10005, Phone: 212-344-7220
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Attraction Spotlight: Park Avenue Armory
New York City is one of the most famous destinations on Earth. Strongly associated with the worlds of art and entertainment, the city has appeared in countless films and TV shows, as well as being known far and wide for its Broadway theaters and amazing art and performance communities. It's a great place for artists, creators, thinkers, and art lovers to engage with art in all of its forms, and the Park Avenue Armory is enabling some very unique and special art works to come to life.
Park Avenue Armory - A Unique Art and Performance Space in New York City
Fully dedicated to hosting and supporting works and performances that are a little outside of the realms of conventionality, the Park Avenue Armory offers a non-traditional space for artists, students, creators, and audiences to admire, experience, and enjoy all kinds of artistic adventures. The armory offers free educational art programs to public school students around NYC, production-based programs for art students, live theater performances, art installations, musical recitals, deep discussions, and so much more.
- A Historic Location - The Park Avenue Armory, also known as the Seventh Regiment Armory, is a very historic building that takes up a whole UES city block. Designed and constructed in the late 19th century, this Gothic Revival building was used as a HQ for the 7th New York Militia Regiment, commonly referred to as the Silk Stocking Regiment due to the high social standing of many of its members. It's a beautiful building with a lot of stories to tell, making it the perfect backdrop for all kinds of artistic and creative expression.
- The Park Avenue Armory - The Park Avenue Armory is a fully non-profit institution working at the Park Avenue Armory building to provide a platform for unconventional art in all of its forms. For visual exhibitions, musical performances, live theater, and other unique arts that just don't quite fit in at a traditional theater or gallery, the Park Avenue Armory is the place to be. Examples of art and exhibitions taking place at the Park Avenue Armory include 'The Lehman Trilogy', an exciting adaptation of Stefano Massini's groundbreaking poetic play, 'Everything That Happened Would Happen', a fascinating look at historical re-enactments and society's seemingly inevitable cycles of self destruction, and the 'Black Artists Retreat', celebrating black artists through music, dance, sculpture, and more.
- A Unique Space - New York is filled with museums, galleries, parks, open air spaces, theaters, and other venues and locations that are prime and perfect for all kinds of art to be seen, explored, and enjoyed. Clearly, the city isn’t lacking in terms of venues for artists and their work, but the Park Avenue Armory offers something completely unique and truly one of a kind. This incredible space, with its enormous vaulted drill hall, its vast and elegant library, its extraordinarily ornate Tiffany Room, and its other spaces, is a very special location unlike anywhere else in the whole city, making it the perfect place to enjoy some of the city’s most unique art.
Visiting the Park Avenue Armory
Some amazing work is being done at the Park Avenue Armory and some incredible shows, exhibitions, and recitals are just waiting to be enjoyed all season long. Here's everything you need to know about visiting this unique arts venue in NYC:
- Location - Park Avenue Armory is located at 643 Park Avenue (between 66th and 67th Streets).
- Getting There - If you choose to drive to Park Avenue Armory, you'll find parking at several garages in the local area including the Manhattan Parking Group garage over at 182 East 66th Street and the Chelnik Parking area at 700 Park Avenue. Those who rely on public transport can take the 6 train over to the 68th Street/Hunter College station or the F/Q trains to the 63rd Street/Lexington Avenue station. You can also catch the M101, M102, or M103 bus to 68th Street and Lexington.
- Opening Times - Opening days and times for the Park Avenue Armory vary throughout the year depending on the current program and what is being shown at the armory at any given time. You can call 212 616 3930 to learn more.
- Tours - Guided tours of the Park Avenue Armory are conducted on a regular basis, taking visitors all around the armory and allowing them to see unique spaces like the Board of Officers Room and the Veterans Room. These tours will also take you around the Drill Hall and are led by experienced, expert guides who can teach you all about the history of the building along the way.
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