No doubt that New York is a true world city. Anyone from anywhere could see and experience anything in New York as it offers both old and new, trendy and classic, high-end and low-end, exciting, and relaxing, just to name a few. When I was compiling the list of Manhattan’s must-see places I didn’t realize I had done so many, yet there are still so many more to explore. I had covered some parks, architecture, art museums, and theatres, and today I am going to go over the list of monuments and squares that you don’t want to miss when you are in town, as a tourist, for the first time. 😊
New York is filled with iconic places that featured in many Hollywood blockbusters and television shows, while the cinematographers always manage to capture the magical moment that inspired the viewers. You may recall some memorable movie scenes when you go over the list of these places.
While it might take a little bit more time to explore the new shops and restaurants in the city, here are my list of classic and iconic places in New York City that you must visit!
Union Square is an important and historic intersection where Broadway and Fourth Avenue meet. The current Union Square Park is a popular meeting place for a get together as the neighborhood is filled with cool restaurants and bars. The square is also a focal point of the surrounding neighborhood with the Flatiron District in the north, Chelsea in the west, and East Village in the southeast. The area represents the style of cool and hip, with a lay-back attitude that feels so different from the financial district downtown.
Union Square also features the George Washington statues in the middle of the Union Square Park, while modern sculptures and art installation are sometimes on display in the public area for the visitors to appreciate as they chill and unwind; Walk along Broadway and you will see the absolutely packed Chocolate Bar Max Brenner; Visit the nearby theatres and Greenmarket and have a drink or nice dinner in the evening will make your day.
Recognize the Arch at the back? That’s the Washington Square Arch. The heatwaves in summer had everyone jumped into the fountain to cool down!
Washington Square Park on the south of Union Square and a little bit closer to the Soho and Greenwich Village area – you would imagine the bananas in these hip and exciting neighborhoods.
Washington Square Park is also the center of New York University’s campus, as the square is ringed by freshman dorms and other university buildings. The area is bustling and full of energy with 24-hour dining, shopping, nightlife, and arts, yet still cozy and green, interspersed with low-rise brownstones and historic architecture.
While maybe there are tons of Times Square in the world, this is THE Times Square. While it is called “square” it’s more like an “intersection”. Situated in the Midtown Manhattan, Times Square is the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue – and you could imagine how busy it gets with over 50 million visitors running through annually – not to mention all sorts of function, events, and roadshows that take place in this very location all year round.
While you would find all types of entertainment, stores, and dining experience in Times Square, you may not know that it was once named Longacre Square, until The New York Times moved its headquarters here. That’s how the square got its name. Now, Times Square has a unique regulation that requires the surrounding buildings to have a minimum amount of display lighting in order to preserve the area’s reputation of glitz and bustle.
United Nations Headquarters
Visitors could go inside the United Nations on a guided tour (which is also included if you have a New York Pass). Over 1 million visitors from around the world visited the United Nations Headquarters (UNHQ) every year, and the property stands on an international territory belonging to the 193 Member Stars of the U.N. (so “technically”, I have been to almost every country in the world!) The guided tour took us through the corridors of international diplomacy, and we learned the history and work of the United Nations. Of course, most importantly, we saw the famous General Assembly hall and Security Council chambers, where we tried to search for the seat of our countries in the Hall!
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a national monument and it represents the value and spirit of the United States – freedom. It is no doubt the most familiar landmark of the country. The massive copper-and-steel green lady is located on Liberty Island in the middle of New York Harbor, and some tourists may miss out on visiting the statue because it’s only accessible by boat.
In fact, it’s easy to reach the island as there are plenty of ways that you could enjoy the statue and the island of Manhattan.
I visited the Statue a few times when I was in New York and there are several ways of doing so.
- Water Taxi
The cabs in New York are yellow, and so does the water taxi. The Yellow Water Taxi is a Hop-on-hop-off sightseeing cruise connecting four neighborhoods in New York City. The water taxi run through Brooklyn Bridge and get close to the Statue of Liberty – you could get a unique view of the Statue on the water.
- Ellis Island Ferry
If you’d like to climb the Statue, take the Ellis Island Ferry from downtown, while the Ellis Island tour also includes admission to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum – 12 million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island. The museum displays the immigration history of the country, with information about the Statue of Liberty monument, and detailed narratives as told by some of those who came to New York through the island.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Amongst the concrete jungle of Midtown Manhattan, the cathedral was built in 1878 and remains a prominent landmark. The monument was dedicated to Saint Patrick and I was thrilled to see such spectacular historic building that celebrates Roman Catholicism. It is the largest decorated Neo-Gothic-style Catholic cathedral in North America.
Don’t miss out on the delicate stained glass which was made by artists in Boston, France, and England.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Finally, I would like to introduce the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. It is a military and maritime history museum with a collection of museum ships in New York City! Once the water taxi is approaching its final ferry stop, I could already see the massive aircraft carrier USS Intrepid on display right on the riverside of the Hell’s Kitchen district. Apart from the aircraft carrier, you could also see submarine USS Growler, a Concorde SST, a Lockheed A-12 supersonic reconnaissance plane, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise – which are amazingly cool!