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Science, Photography, and Trip Reviews


New York City Sights

Empire State Building, Broadway, & Times Square

American Museum of Natural History & Central Park

Metropolitan Museum of Art & The Cloisters

Rockefeller Center, Carnegie Hall, & Lincoln Center

Grand Central Terminal, Brooklyn Bridge, & Statue of Liberty

Cathedral Church of St. John Divine & Columbia University

Lower Manhattan Skyline.

Lower Manhattan Skyline seen from the Staten Island Ferry.

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New York City is a great place to visit and many people would live nowhere else. There is a lot to see, do, and enjoy. I once lived in Manhattan, and New York City is my favorite city. We will first look at Manhattan, starting with South Manhattan, then Central Manhattan, and finally North Manhattan. Most of the attractions in Manhattan are between the Empire State Building and the northern boundary of Central Park. That area is arbitrarily defined here as Central Manhattan. Anything south of this area is South Manhattan and anything north is North Manhattan. After looking at Manhattan we will look at some of the major highlights of the rest of the City. It is easy to get around Manhattan. Take a subway or bus to the regions of interest. Then walk the streets taking in the sights stopping along the way. It will be much easier to find your way around Manhattan if you purchase one of the folding laminated maps that shows streets, avenues, and where places are located. You want subway and bus routes as well.

South Manhattan

We will look at some of the important sights in South Manhattan, which here is defined as that area south of the Empire State Building. That includes sights south of W. and E. 33rd Sts. Any street west of 5th Ave. is a W. St. and to the east of 5th Ave. is an E. St.

City Hall Park with City Hall.

City Hall Park with City Hall.

Brooklyn Bridge

We took a bus from Midtown Manhattan to near City Hall Park, shown above. City Hall Park is bordered on the west by Broadway, and it extends north from the intersection of Broadway and Park Row to Chambers St. This attractive park with City Hall is a good place to start exploring South Manhattan. We were headed to walk at least part way across the nearby Brooklyn Bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. The bridge was built between 1867 and 1883. It is supported by numerous steel cables, and is a construction marvel. It is 6,016 feet long, and there is a special path separate from vehicular traffic for walkers, skaters, and bicyclists, which is pictured below. Crossing the East River is a great way to get exercise while seeing beautiful views.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge.

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge, which has a separate path for walking.

Battery Park

We worked our way south to Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. This park, with 21 acres, is not small. It is a great place to walk, and when you are tired there are park benches where you can rest. A number of memorials are found here. From the shore you can view the Statute of Liberty and other sights. The historic Castle Clinton National Monument is within the park. This is where you can purchase tickets to the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island. Battery Park is also where you find the ferry to Staten Island.

Statue of Liberty

Statute of Liberty.

Statute of Liberty seen from the Staten Island Ferry.

To visit the Statue of Liberty, our great symbol of freedom, you take a ferry to Liberty Island from Battery Park. The famous statue was a gift to the United States from France in 1886. It is 152 feet high and rests on a pedestal that rises 89 feet. The above picture was taken from the Staten Island Ferry, which passes by the statue.

Staten Island Ferry

Staten Island Ferry.

Staten Island Ferry.

A great way to rest and relax after a long walk is to take the Staten Island Ferry, pictured above. It cruises from Battery Park to Staten Island and back, and it is free! You get great views of New York City and the New Jersey coast. Of special interest is the attractive skyline at the southern tip of Manhattan, shown in the photo at the top of this page, and the Statute of Liberty, pictured above, which you pass by. If you do not go to Liberty Island this is a great alternative to seeing it. You will likely see other ships and maybe even a beautiful sail boat.

Trinity Church & St. Paul's Chapel

Trinity Church.

Trinity Church.

Trinity Church, which is shown above, is located at Wall St. and Broadway. It is near the American Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, and Wall Street. It dates from 1697 when it was founded by King William III of England. The present building dates from 1846. Alexander Hamilton and other notables are buried in the church cemetery. A few blocks up Broadway closer to City Hall is St. Paul's Chapel, which is part of Trinity Church. St. Paul's chapel is seen below and dates from 1776. The church cemetery is the resting place of important people of that time. Ground Zero - The World Trade Center Site is located close to St. Paul's Chapel.

St. Paul's Chapel.

St. Paul's Chapel.

Other things to see and do

We walked north through China Town and Little Italy. Both are great places to stop for dinner with many restaurant choices. A little further north and west is SoHo, which is one of the more popular places to shop in the city. North of SoHo is Greenwich Village. This is where you find New York University. Near the university is Washington Square Park. In the park you can find students studying, street musicians, jugglers, and people just relaxing. Greenwich Village has some attractive townhouses. It has been a popular place for artists and writers.

Central Manhattan

Central Manhattan is where most of the action takes place in New York City. It is defined here as the area between the Empire State Building and the northern boundary of Central Park. This is the area between W. & E. 33rd Sts. and W. & E. 110 Sts.

Empire State Building

Empire State Building looking south from a Rockefeller Center Observation Deck.

Empire State Building looking south from a Rockefeller Center Observation Deck.

With a height of 1,454 feet the Empire State Building, which towers above other buildings in the above photograph, is an impressive sight. The building was completed in 1931. It is located on 5th Ave. between W. 33rd and W. 34th Sts. There are two observatories for viewing. One is on the 86th floor and the other is on the 102nd floor. The lower one is considered the best for viewing the city since it is outdoors while the higher one keeps you indoors looking through glass. Both observatories allow you to look in all directions.

New York Public Library

Impressive lion sculptures greet you as you walk up the steps from Fifth Avenue to the New York Public Library entrance. It is found between W. 40th St. and W. 42nd St. The building is known for its magnificent architecture. The library is part of the New York Public Library system, and is the Humanities and Social Sciences Library. Its holdings include millions of books, manuscripts, and pictures. You will want to go upstairs to the third floor to see a stunning reading room from floor to ceiling. It is nearly the length of a football field! Just west of the library is Bryant Park, which has nice trees and is very attractive.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal.

Grand Central Terminal.

From the New York Public Library walk east on 42nd St. to the magnificent Grand Central Terminal at E. 42 St. and Park Ave. This is a railroad station, yet it is striking in its beauty. Note the above picture. It dates from 1913 and is large occupying 76 acres. The main concourse itself is huge, and be sure to look up at the ceiling where a display of the stars seen in the New York sky are displayed. You can catch both subways and commuter trains here. There are also shops and a number of restaurants in the station. Before leaving the area walk a block east on 42nd St. to Lexington Ave. to see the Chrysler Building. It was built in 1930, and the design of the building is considered an art deco masterpiece.

Theater District & Times Square

The theater district is largely found a block or two east and west of Broadway from about W. 40th St. to W. 55th St. Most of the theaters are west of Broadway. For purchasing tickets the Broadway Ticket Center is found between W. 46th St. and W. 47th St. on Broadway. You can usually purchase tickets at many hotels. However, they can add a fee. We went directly to the theater and got tickets for that night with seats in a good location at a much better price than the hotel price. It was a revival of the musical West Side Story, and a great show. An online Internet source about current Broadway shows is the official Broadway League web site. This may or may not be the best place to purchase tickets, but it will help you decide which shows you want to see.

In the area where W. 7th St. crosses Broadway is the famous Times Square. Visitors to New York City want to go there and experience the crowds, mega picture screens, and glitzy neon lights. There are so many lights that even after dark Times Square is very very bright.

The Theater District is a great location for choosing a hotel when visiting New York City, and there are many hotel choices. We found numerous wonderful restaurants an easy walk from our hotel. Many of the top attractions in Midtown Manhattan are close enough that you can walk to them. Subways and buses are nearby for getting to other places further away. There are also taxis.

Rockefeller Center

Central Park looking north from the Rockefeller Center Observation Deck.

Central Park looking north from a Rockefeller Center Observation Deck.

Rockefeller Center, a prime destination in Manhattan, stretches from W. 48th St. north to W. 51st St., and east from 6th Ave. (Avenue of the Americas) to 5th Ave. It was built in the 1930s. In addition to the important sights described below there are restaurants and shops.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

East of Rockefeller Center on 5th Ave. north of 50th St. is St. Patrick's Cathedral. This is a very impressive cathedral both inside and out. A picture taken in the nave is shown below. It is the largest Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. Dating from 1859, this Gothic style cathedral was not completed until 1909. This is one of New York Cities most popular and well known churches.

St. Patrick's Cathedral.

St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Museum of Modern Art

North of Rockefeller Center on 53rd St. between 5th and 6th Aves. is the Museum of Modern Art. In addition to its holdings, the building is also a popular draw for this museum. There is a lot of glass and therefore natural lighting. Artworks include those by famous artists such as van Gogh, Monet, and Picasso. There is a special Sculpture Garden. There is also a movie theater.

Carnegie Hall

Located on 7th Ave. at W. 57th St., Carnegie Hall is one of the great musical halls of the world. The concert hall has amazing acoustics, and dates from 1891. During my student days in New York City this was my favorite place to go for concerts. Orchestras from all over the world perform here as do smaller groups and the top soloists. For the schedule of concerts go to the Carnegie Hall web site.

Lincoln Center

Lincoln Center.

Lincoln Center.

The campus of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is located in the Upper West Side west of Central Park. The campus extends from W. 62nd St. north to W. 66th St. and from Amsterdam (10th) Ave. east to Broadway and Columbus (9th) Ave. In the picture above of Lincoln Center the building in the back facing the street is the Metropolitan Opera House (Met), The building on the left in front is the New York State (Koch) Theater, and the building on the right in front is Avery Fisher Hall. The first building completed at Lincoln Center was Avery Fisher Hall; the year was 1962. There is a lot on the Lincoln Center campus, as you will see detailed below. Where else but New York City can you find so much wonderful entertainment so close together? For performance schedules and ticket information visit the Lincoln Center web site.

A great way to keep up with the classical music scene and theater in New York City is to tune into radio station WQXR. It is the classical music station of New York City, and is of very high quality. Locally it is found at 105.9 FM. But it is also found on iTunes. Go to radio - Classical - WQXR. It is near the bottom of the list of stations. It is also available streaming live at the WQXR web site.

American Museum of Natural History

The America Museum of Natural History, a great place to get lost, is found in the Upper West Side west of Central Park. It spans from W. 77th St. to W. 81St. and from Columbus Ave. east to Central Park West. The museum was founded in 1869. This is an absolutely marvelous museum which everyone will enjoy and should see. But there is so much to see you cannot see it all in one day, maybe not a week. You will need a map to find your way around and to select what you have time to see. Maps are available when you purchase tickets at the museum. There are five massive floors of exhibits. Below is a review of what is found on each floor with information from the American Museum of Natural History's web site, where they have an Interactive Floor Plan. You should study this plan in advance of visiting the museum, especially if you have a short time and must concentrate on limited things, because there is a lot! I recommend that you start on the 4th Floor with the dinosaurs and work your way to lower floors.

Lower Level

1st Floor


2nd Floor

Ancient statute in American Museum of Natural History.

Ancient statute in American Museum of Natural History.

3rd Floor

Faces in American Museum of Natural History.

Faces in American Museum of Natural History.

4th Floor

Dinosaur skeleton in America Museum of Natural History.

Dinosaur skeleton in America Museum of Natural History.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Horse and carriage in Central Park.

Horse and carriage in Central Park.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is so big that you cannot reasonably see it in one day. It is found on the Upper East Side surrounded by Central Park, which is pictured above, with the museum's east side facing 5th Ave. Its southern side is just north of E. 79th St. and its northern side is just south of E. 84th St. It was founded in 1870. When you purchase a ticket be sure to get a map so you can find the different exhibitions. Below is a summary of the art exhibitions floor by floor taken from the Met Museum's web site. I recommend that you study their floor plan before visiting the museum. The museum has a cafe, restaurant, and a Met Store. Note that most of the museums medieval collection is found in The Cloisters located in North Manhattan, and discussed in that section.

1st Floor and Mezzanines

2nd and 3rd Floors

5th Floor

Central Park

Rebecca and Sunny in Central Park.

Rebecca and Sunny in Central Park.

Central Park is a place to jog, bicycle, go boating, take in a concert or a play, visit a zoo, or play chess. You can enjoy musicians that entertain anyone that passes by. A violinist is shown below. It is a great place for a picnic. Yet there is so much more that you can do in Central Park, as you will see below. Above all, it is a great place to relax in a wonderful environment of 843 acres. It spans north from W. 59th St. to W. 110th St. and east from Central Park West to 5th Ave. The Park is entirely man-made, and was constructed between 1858 and 1873. It is considered the premier public park in the world and is a National Historic Landmark. To find out where things are you need to carry a map. We bought one at a Visitors Center within the park. Points are located by the relevant city street number(s) and whether they are on the west side (W), Center (C), or east (E) side of the park. The sites below are so identified starting at the south end of the park and moving north. An Interactive Central Park Map is available at the Central Park Conservancy web site.

Musician in Central Park.

Musician in Central Park.

The information below was summarized from the Central Park Conservancy map purchased at the park.


There are lots of great stores for shopping. For example, on 5th Ave. south of Central Park you can find Saks Fifth Avenue, Gucci, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Apple and others. On Madison Ave. east of Central Park is where you find Barneys, Polo/Ralph Lauren, and many more stores.

North Manhattan

North Manhattan is defined as the area north of W. & E. 110 Sts. This area, which is north of Central Park, is often ignored but has important sights to see.

Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

Construction on this massive Cathedral Church, pictured above, began in 1892. It is located at Amsterdam Ave. and W. 112 St, and is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. It is the length of two football fields back-to-back and seats 5,000 people! Although construction on the church has never been finished, it is very impressive both inside and out. You enter the church through the Great Bronze Doors. Near the altar in the nave are seven special chapels. It is of Episcopal denomination, but all faiths are welcome. It has a Skinner organ with 8,035 pipes. Musical programs and lectures are offered, and you can check the schedule at the St. John the Divine web site. From College Walk at Columbia University you walk south down Amsterdam Ave to St. John the Divine.

Columbia University

Low Library at Columbia University.

Low Library at Columbia University.

Columbia University is older than New York City, and it is the fifth oldest university in the United States. A royal charter of King George II led to the founding of Columbia University. It was first known as Kings College. The name changed to Columbia in 1784. The first classes were taught in a schoolhouse at Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan. Among the students in the early years were John Jay and Alexander Hamilton. The campus was moved to E. 49th St. and Madison Ave. in 1857. The move to the present location occurred in 1897, and the campus now consists of 36 acres. The main entrance is at W. 116th St. and Broadway. The campus is attractive and has some impressive buildings such as Low Memorial Library seen in the picture above. This is where the main administrative offices are now found. The main library is now Butler Library, also seen in a picture below. The building to the left of the library is a dormitory, which I called home when I lived on campus. Just east of Low Library is St. Paul's Chapel, which also has a dome and is of historical interest. Pupin Hall for physics, north of Low Library, has been designated a national historic landmark because of the important atomic research that was done there. The academic excellence of the university is well established; Columbia University has had more Nobel Laureates associated with it than any other university in the world. Some of the university's programs are located separate from the main campus. These include the Columbia University Medical Center on 20 acres at W. 168th St. and Broadway. The Nevis Laboratories for research in high energy physics is located on 60 acres in Irvington, New York north of the city. In Palisades, New York is found the attractive 157-acre Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campus, which is one of the world's leading centers for studies of the Earth. My office was in the Oceanography Building when I was working on my Ph.D. in geophysics. Lamont is less than an hour drive from the main campus, and is located in New York ten miles north of the George Washington Bridge overlooking the Hudson River. It is interesting to note that General Dwight David Eisenhower was president of Columbia University after the Second World War. He resigned that position to run for and became the 34th-President of the United States.

Butler Library at Columbia University.

Butler Library at Columbia University.

The university makes a good central location for visiting nearby sights which include the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, Riverside Church, Grant's Tomb, and Riverside Park. From Midtown Manhattan take subway number 1 Uptown to the stop at W. 116th St. and Broadway. From there you can walk on College Walk west through the campus to Amsterdam Ave. You will pass Low Library on your left and Butler Library on your right.

Riverside Church

Riverside Church, which overlooks the Hudson River, is located on Riverside Drive and W. 120th St. It has a 24-story tower that rises over everything in the area. From Columbia University walk west to Riverside Drive and then to W. 120th St. The church is interdenominational, but is affiliated with both the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Churches. Construction on the church began in 1927. There you find the world's largest carillon, which is in the tower at 392 feet above street level. It consists of 74 bronze bells ranging in weight from 10 pounds to 20 tons. The Nave of the church, seen below, is quite beautiful, and the church organ has 5 manuals, 152 voices, 193 speaking stops, 222 ranks and creates a marvelous sound through its 12,416 pipes. Organists from around the world go to the Riverside Church to give concerts. The late renowned organist Virgil Fox was at one time the church organist. I attended some wonderful organ concerts at the church during the time I lived on the Columbia University main campus. For information on music programs or other activities of the church go to the Riverside Church web site.

Riverside Church.

Riverside Church.

Grant's Tomb

His picture is on our $50 bill. He and his wife now rest in a tomb overlooking the Hudson River across the street and a short distance north of the Riverside Church. The address is Riverside Drive and W. 122nd St. The tomb is within Riverside Park, and is the second largest mausoleum in the Western Hemisphere. It is 150 feet high. Ulysses S. Grant was born in the state of Ohio in 1822. In 1843 he graduated from West Point. During the Civil War he was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as the supreme commander of the Union armies. He became President of the United States in 1869 and served two terms. He died at age 63 in 1885. Grant was first placed in a temporary tomb in Riverside Park. The present Grant's Tomb was dedicated in 1897. Upon her death in 1902 Julia Dent Grant was entombed beside her husband. The walk to the tomb is lined with trees creating a stately atmosphere. Note the picture below.

Walk to Grant's Tomb.

Walk to Grant's Tomb.


If you walk up Broadway from Columbia University to W. 125 St. you will be in Harlem. However, to the east Harlem extends further south to Central Park. There are a number of attractions in this area including the City College of New York at Convent Ave. and W. 138th St. Former President Bill Clinton's office is at 55 W. 125th St. Other highlights in Harlem include the Canaan Baptist Church of Christ known for gospel music. It is located on W. 116 St between 6th Ave. (known also as Malcolm X Blvd. or Lenox Ave.) and 7th Ave. (known also as Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.). From this church walk a short distance to the west on W. 116 St. to 7th Ave. to the First Corinthian Baptist Church. The building was once the Regent Theatre, which explains the decorative nature of the building. On W. 138th St. between 7th and 6th Aves. is the famous Abyssinian Baptist Church. It dates from 1923, and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. once served as its pastor. He was the first black person elected to the U.S. Congress. To the west of the church between W. 138th and W. 139th Sts. is an area called Striver's Row. Here you find attractive upscale homes, some dating from the days of horses.

The Cloisters

In the far northern part of Manhattan in Fort Tryon Park high on a hill is The Cloisters, a very fascinating place. It is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and is where most of the museum's medieval collection is found. In constructing this museum they incorporated the cloisters of medieval monasteries brought from Europe. Some of what you see dates from the 12th century. There are impressive displays which include Unicorn tapestries, sculpture, and metal work. It was interesting to observe that some of the period furniture is smaller than would be normal today. There are also gardens with plants like those that would have been seen during medieval times. Concerts are also offered of medieval musical. Check the Met Museum's web site. Admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art includes admission to The Cloisters on the same day.

The Rest of New York City

In addition to Manhattan the four other Boroughs in New York City have sights to see. Some of the important places to spend time are listed below.

Final Words

In what has been presented it is clear that New York City has a lot to offer. Yet, not discussed are many more museums, music venues, cultural activities, historic sights, and neighborhood experiences. You will learn more about what else you can do when you go to New York City. Are you ready to go?

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Photos by Sunny Breeding. Picture of Rebecca and Sunny by Belle Darden.