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Central Park in the center of Manhattan
© Corel

Manhattan Island is about two miles wide and over 12 miles long. A four-miles long by half-mile wide Central Park, located at the very center of the island, neatly divides the city into sectors.

New York City

New York City is the "Big Apple"

New York City is located on the eastern coast of the United States about 1000 miles north of Florida and 200 miles South of Boston. It is situated at the mouth of the Hudson River, and is divided into five districts called boroughs. Long Island stretches almost 100 miles to the east of New York City and the state of New Jersey lies just across the Hudson River to the west. The "Big Apple", as the city is often called, is the largest city in the US with over 7 million residents. It is filled with a diverse mixture of inhabitants including immigrants from many countries. Some of its many neighborhoods, such as Chinatown, Little Italy, and Spanish Harlem reflect the rich ethnic heritages of the resident's original homelands.

Manhattan borough, the business and commercial center of New York City, is situated on a large island in the middle of the Hudson River. Just south of it, across the main harbor, lies the borough of Staten Island, a large residential community. Across the East River branch of the Hudson, the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens are situated on the western tip of Long Island. The borough of Bronx is on the mainland to the north. New Jersey lies across the Hudson to the west.

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Accommodations

If you are visiting New York City, you have a multitude of choices for hotel accommodations.

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Manhattan Island is the heart of New York City

Manhattan Island is about two miles wide and over 12 miles long. It contains most of the business, economic, entertainment and cultural sights of the city. A four-miles long by half-mile wide Central Park, located at the very center of the island, neatly divides the city into sectors. The southern part of the island is called "Downtown" and the section directly south of Central Park is called "mid-town". Everything from the middle of the park to the northern tip of the island is usually called "Uptown". The part of the island closest to Long Island is called the "East Side" and the part closer to the Hudson River is the "West Side". The two neighborhoods lying on either side of Central Park are called "Upper East Side" and "Upper West Side".

The numbered streets of Manhattan all run east-west beginning with First Street just above Greenwich Village, and extending all the way up to 218th Street at the far northern tip of Up-town. Avenues run north-south beginning with First Avenue on the East Side and extending to Twelfth Avenue along the Hudson River on the West Side. These numbered Avenues are interspersed with named Avenues such as Park Avenue, Lexington, Madison and Broadway. Broadway is a bit unusual as it starts out as a typical north-south avenue in the middle of the island downtown, but angles sharply to the west just below Central Park and continues on up the West Side to the top of the island.

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Navigation in Manhattan is not difficult

Navigation in Manhattan is not difficult as long as you remember compass directions and use the proper terminology. Subways and Busses go "uptown" when heading north to the higher numbered streets and go "downtown" when heading south. They go to the "East Side" or the "West Side" when crossing the island. Building Numbers, especially on the avenues, often do not follow a logical pattern. When asking directions, always try to specify the nearest intersection of streets and avenues. For example: "On Broadway, near 42nd Street" or "near Third and fifty fourth".
Williamsburg Bridge between Manhatttan Island and Brooklyn - Queens© Corel
The Williamsburg Bridge connects the Lower East Side of Manhattan with the Willamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn on Long Island.

Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island are bedroom communities

Brooklyn is across the East River on the southwestern tip of Long Island. It is accessible via bridge or tunnel. This borough is nearly four times as large as Manhattan Island and has a population of about four million. It is one of the primary bedroom communities for New York City. Unlike Manhattan, there are few tall buildings in Brooklyn. Typically, the tree-lined streets are filled with brownstone townhouses and small apartment buildings. There are very few hotels in Brooklyn, but those few offer a quiet alternative to the noisy hectic streets of Manhattan. Coney Island Beach and Amusement park are located along the southern shore and John F. Kennedy Airport lies just east of Brooklyn.

Queens is north of Brooklyn on the tip of Long Island. It is also a residential community with many high-rise apartment complexes. LaGuardia airport, Shea Stadium and the crumbling ruins of the old World's Fair are located there. There are a few hotels near the airport. The Bronx is another mainly residential community almost due north of Manhattan on the mainland. The large and impressive Bronx Zoo is located there.

Staten Island is due south of Manhattan across the main harbor basin. It is most easily reached via the Staten Island ferry from Battery Park on the southern tip of Manhattan. The ferry ride offers spectacular views of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty and is absolutely free for all pedestrians. Staten Island has a small town atmosphere with many single-family homes.

Photo of Mike
Mike's New York Tip: Do not rent a car when you are visiting New York City. Parking in Manhattan is difficult to find and very expensive. Traffic can become extremely congested. Public transportation is convenient and very efficient. Use the subway, busses and taxis to navigate around New York City. When you leave the city, you can easily rent a car to continue your travels around the USA.

Three airports serve New York City

Times Square and Broadway© Mike Leco / USATourist.com
Times Square at midnight seems more vibrant and active than most other cities at noon.

There are three major airports near New York City. John F Kennedy (JFK) airport is on Long Island about 12 miles east of Manhattan. LaGuardia is in Queens about 6 miles from downtown and Newark airport is across the Hudson river in New Jersey about 12 miles to the southwest of the city. Ready access is available from each airport via taxi or bus. Public transportation is excellent in New York City. Busses, subway trains and taxis provide the most convenient means of transportation. New York City is one of the few cities in the USA with adequate train service. Commuter trains cover most of the nearby communities and neighboring states. Longer distance passenger trains travel the east coast corridor and go to many major cities across the country.

New York is the "city that never sleeps"

New York is one of the most exciting cities in the world. It is often called "the city that never sleeps." In fact, Times Square at midnight seems more vibrant and active than most other cities at noon. New York has many tourist attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations headquarters, the Empire State building and over 300 museums. It is renown for its wide variety of entertainments including the world famous Broadway theaters. There are over 30,000 restaurants in New York City plus countless bars and clubs. If you like big cities and lots of excitement, the Big Apple is a great place to visit.

Written by: Mike Leco
Top Photo Credit: © Chris Pritchard
Photo Description: Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan