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Eight Essential Facts About New York City

New York City promises a lot of exciting adventures and a one-of-a-kind experience to its tourists. However, before you book that flight and head to this major city, you might want to know a little more about it to help you fully experience it.

Location

Lying on the Northeastern part of the United States, New York is situated on the Atlantic coast’s large natural harbor. It is approximately halfway between the states of Boston and Washington, D.C. the city’s location at the Hudson River’s mouth, has tremendously helped the city to grow in its trading sector.

Making a Call

If you are thinking about making a call to New York City, like making hotel reservations, always remember that the city has four area codes: the original which are 646 and 212 in Manhattan and 718 and 347 for the city’s outside boroughs. The 917 area code, although common, is assigned especially for cellphones only.

If you are in New York already, making a call, whether in or outside of the city, would not be hard as there are several public payphones in the city. To use these phones, you need to buy first prepaid calling cards which are often sold in packaging services and many convenience groceries. Local calls cost around $.25 to $.50, while international calls cost depending on where you are calling.

Opening Hours

In general, business hours in New York start from 10 am 7 pm, Mondays through Saturdays. On Sundays, most businesses open at noon then closes at 5 pm. Banking hours start from 9 am to 5 pm, on weekdays; there are banks that extend until Saturday morning though, and some even on Sundays.

Emergencies

Making life easier for those who are in an emergency, New York City has consolidated its police fire and ambulance assistance through 911. So any trouble or problem that you encounter in the city, all you need to do is dial the number.

Restrooms

If you see yourself having a call of nature in the city, you must know that finding a public toilet is not easy as most of them are only found in the Modtown’s visitor centers. New York City restrooms are often found only in hotel lobbies, museums, restaurants, department stores, bus stations, and railway.

These are just a few of the things you need to know before heading to the Big Apple. Reading through the pages of this site, you will find out more that will help you in your visit to New York.

Boroughs

One of the world’s largest cities, New York is made up of five boroughs – an incorporated municipality that is smaller than a city. Collectively, the city is known as the Five Boroughs. Most politicians in the city use the term so as to place all the five boroughs in New York on equal footing. These New York City boroughs are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island.

Of the five boroughs, Manhattan is the most densely populated as well as the oldest. It lies primarily at Hudson River’s Mouth, on Manhattan Island.  The borough is a major financial, commercial, and cultural center not just in the U.S. but the whole world as well, making it also the most famous of New York’s five boroughs.

Among the attractions of the borough are its landmarks, museums, and universities. It is here where the United Nations Headquarters is found. The heart of the city’s metropolitan region, Manhattan hosts the seat of the city government.

Brooklyn

With over 2 million residents, Brooklyn is the most populated borough of New York. Next to Manhattan, it is the city’s second-largest area. The borough is famous for its beautiful parks and other attractions which include the 585-acre Prospect Park, the magnificent Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, and the unique Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

Queens

Located in the easternmost part of the city, Queens is home to two of the city’s three major airports, the LaGuardia Airport and the JFK International Airport. The borough was founded in 1683 as one of New York’s original 12 counties. Of the five boroughs of New York, Queens is considered to be one with a more suburban setting.

The Bronx

The Bronx also referred to as Bronx County, is the last to be incorporated of New York State’s 62 counties. It is situated north of Queens and Manhattan and on the southern side of Westchester County. The borough is known to have one of the five poorest U.S. Congressional Districts, which makes the borough’s image not as great as that of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Staten Island

Staten Island lies in New York City’s southwest side. The Kill Van Kull and Arthur Kill separate it from New Jersey. It is used to be called the Borough of Richmond until 1975, and often referred to as the “forgotten borough” as many of its over 400,000 inhabitants feel neglected by the government of the city.

Geography

The largest city in the US and among the largest in the world, New York is located at Hudson River’s mouth and on the state’s extreme southeastern side. It is a major hub in terms of manufacturing, finance, transportation, culture, and communications. The Big Apple is also a significant trading center in the world mainly for New York Harbor’s sheltered bays and deep waters.

New York is one of the United States’ most populous cities as well. In the country, there are only 11 states with more people than in the city. For many years, almost all of US immigrants entered the country through New York – many of them even stayed in the city.

The five boroughs of the city lie between eastern North America’s two geologic provinces. The Brooklyn and Queens boroughs are both located on Long Island and are part of the coastal plain on the east side. Bronx and Manhattan are on the Newark Basin’s eastern edge. The Newark Basin is a block of Earth’s crust that sank downward during Pangaea’s disintegration in the Triassic period.

Much of New York’s land has already been altered by human intervention. Its total land area is estimated to be at 321 square miles or 831.4 square kilometers. The city’s highest natural point is the Todt Hill which is located in Staten Island; it rises 409.8 ft above sea level.

People

New York is called the Big Apple for nothing. Seen by many as a place to achieve big dreams and a better life, New York’s population is the highest in the entire country. As of 2010, the city already has record-high 8,175,133 inhabitants – a 2.1% increase from the last 10 year’s count.

The majority of the city’s population is made of non-Hispanic people (also called whites) with 33%, it is followed by the non-Hispanics (or black) at 23%, and Asians at 13%. Although the last has the lowest percentage of the city’s population, it was seen to be the fastest-growing race.

Because of this varied descents of the city’s people, it is not surprising for it to be also tagged as a melting pot of brains and talents. In fact, there’s quite a number of New Yorkers who have made their names throughout the world.

Some names who excelled in their field are the following:

Sports

Among the famous icons in the field of sports are boxers Giacobbe LaMotta who is better known as Jake LaMotta, James J. Braddock whose life was made to film through “Cinderella Man”, and of course, Mike Tyson. Former basketball player and coach Mario Elie, college football coach, Joe Paterno, and ice hockey defenseman Mathieu Schneider are also natives from the city.

Film and Television

Many of Hollywood’s A-list stars are also proud New Yorkers. Academy Award nominee Sigourney Weaver; actress, model, and author Brooke Shields; television star Alyssa Milano; versatile actress Anne Hathaway; and sultry Scarlett Johansson are just among the beautiful faces we see on screen who are from New York. Male famous New Yorkers include Film director Woody Allen; multi-awarded actor and director, Robert De Niro; action star Vin Diesel; and Academy Award nominee and film director, Tommy Lee Jones among others.

Music

Many native New Yorkers have been ruling the pop charts these days. Some of them are Jennifer Lopez whose song “Jenny from the Block” mentioned about her growing up in the Bronx, R&B star, Alicia Keys; Grammy winner, Norah Jones; and even the multi-awarded singer and songwriter, Lady Gaga.

Science and Non-Science

Proving that it’s not only in the entertainment industry that the New Yorkers excel, NASA director Daniel Goldin, Nobel laureate Kenneth J. Arrow, judge Charles Daly, industrialist Armand Hammer, and Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Burton Richter are some of those considered geeks from the city.

These are just to only name a few of the famous personalities who are native from the city. With this wide list of ‘celebrities’, it’s not a surprise why many people flock New York City.

Weather

New York has four distinct seasons. Fortunately, neither the peak of the summer nor the depths of the winter can hamper tourists from having a good time in the Big Apple. However, just to help you picture out the city during each season, here are some things that you need to know.

Autumn

Many people in New York, even returning tourists, find autumn as the best season to be in the city for the calm and mild weather it brings. Between October and November, people can go stroll around the “Gotham City” without worrying about either rain or heat. The city’s colorful and extravagant Christmas decorations, as well as the fabulous store displays, make autumn in New York more interesting.

Rainfall

New York does get wet, too. But unlike other cities in the world, the pattern of rainfall, in general, is evenly spread throughout the year. Annually, New York averages about 46 inches of precipitation. The difference though between its wettest month (November) and driest month (February) is not so significant that you need not worry about it.

Winter

With an average of about 38 degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest month in the city in January. Snowfall comes unpredictably during these times, which sometimes goes as thick as about 2 feet on the ground. However, with the number of foot traffic and cars in the city, snow does not stay for long. While it sends you to chilling cold, snow in New York is stunningly beautiful, especially if this is your first in the city.

Spring

Around April and May, the city blossoms after the snow and gives tourists delightful weather that’s a perfect time to explore the city. The temperature during these months averages at about 61 degrees Fahrenheit.

Summer

Many consider summer in New York as one of the worst seasons to be in the city. While heaters are required by law for the winter, air conditioning in many establishments is optional. Thus, if you are staying in a cheap hotel in New York in summer, expect a little discomfort due to the heat because many of these low-cost establishments do not have air conditioning.

Religion

Catholicism is the predominant religion in New York City. Although the Dutch, who were mostly Protestants, were its first European settlers, it did not influence much of the city’s religion mainly because the Dutch colony was never a religious one.

New York, also referred to as the Big Apple, is also famous for its large population of Jewish people; most of its African-American inhabitants are Baptist but they only make up a small minority of the city’s overall population.

The Irish and Italian Roman Catholics came to the city in the 19th Century which was considered to be the city’s biggest wave of immigration. Adding this to the Latin American Catholic settlers, you get Catholicism as the majority. Statistically, the religion makes up about 40% of New York’s religion, other major religions are Protestants at 30% and Jewish at 8.5%.

Among the famous and fascinating religious structures in the city are the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Temple Emanu-El, and the Church of the Transfiguration.

Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave

With a 5000-seating capacity, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. Its construction began in 1892 and was built mainly of traditional Gothic engineering. The church is the seat of New York’s Episcopal Diocese; however, it also embraces St. John’s tradition of interfaith.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral
5th Ave Between 50th and 21st Sts

St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the United States’ largest Roman Catholic cathedral. It is also New York’s Archdiocese seat. Designed by James Renwick in 1879, the cathedral structure is made up mainly of white marble and stone. The church has a seating capacity of 2,200.

Temple Emanu-El
1 E 65th St

One of New York’s most famous synagogues, the Temple Emanu-El is the largest of all Jewish houses of worship in the world. It showcases a majestic blend of Romanesque and Moorish styles that symbolize the harmony of the Western and Eastern cultures.

The temple, aside from being a house of worship, also has a museum that features a remarkable collection of Hanukkah lamps from the 14th to 20th centuries.

Church of the Transfiguration
1 E 29th St

Standing around the high-rise condominiums in the neighborhood of Madison Square, the historic structure of the Church of Transfiguration is called the Little Church Around the Corner for its location. It was built in 1849 and was given a US landmark title in 1973.

New York though is not defined mainly for its religion. There is actually more to the city than its churches and religious structures.

Economy

New York is considered a global leader in commercial and financial services. The much-famed theater district Time Square and financial district Wall Street can both be found in New York. Most Fortune 500 and 1000 companies in the country such as JP Morgan Chase & Co, Citigroup, and Verizon Communications, and eight of the world’s top 10 securities firms like Merrill Lynch & Co and Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP to name a couple is also in New York.

The manufacturing sector remains strong with the presence of diverse industries, ranging from clothing to food products, print materials to chemicals and sporting goods to electronic equipment. Numerous biotech and pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer Pharmaceutical Products are situated in New York.

Mass communications, entertainment, advertising and printing, and publishing also contribute significantly to the growth of its local economy. The majority of the printing plants in the country are headquartered in New York. The city is also home to some major television and film studios such as ABC, NBC, CNN, Fox News, HBO, Kaufman Astoria (home studio of Sesame Street) and MTV studios. New York has enjoyed a rush of television and film production over the years and major movie and television studios in Los Angeles now have satellite offices in New York for their New York-based productions.

In addition, three of the “Big 4” record companies: Universal Music Group (formerly MCA and the largest of the Big 4), Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group are all located in New York. (The fourth-biggest record company is EMI which is based in London, United Kingdom.)

The “Silicon Alley,” a wordplay on California’s Silicon Valley, in Manhattan is the center of the tech community and was created following the internet boom in the late ‘90s. After an initial decline in early 2000, Silicon Alley is seeing steady growth and renewed optimism. Google, Apple, and Facebook now have offices in New York City. Start-ups like Gilt Groupe, Foursquare, OpenTable, and Tumblr are fast becoming lucrative and hiring more people.

Tourism is another industry that continues to see growth in New York. The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center and Central Park are among the top tourist destinations. The World Trade Center (also referred to as Ground Zero), the site of the catastrophic 9/11 attack also attracts many tourists to the city. The influx of tourists is manifested in the growth of New York’s hospitality industry. In 2010 alone 25.7 million overnight stays in the city’s hotel rooms were recorded, from 23.6 million in 2008.

Other sectors that contribute to New York’s economy are agriculture and mining. New York is a leading producer of dairy products and a leading producer of fruits and vegetables in the Eastern part of the country. New York is the lone state that produces wollastonite used in plastics, ceramics and friction products. New York is also among the top producers of garnets and zinc in the United States.

Media

New York City media are considered to be among the biggest in the US; many of which are influential not just in the country but throughout the globe as well. Some of the world’s most important papers, most prolific television studios, largest publishing houses, and even the biggest record companies are based in the Big Apple. The city is one of the shakers and movers in the field of television, radio, newspaper, music, and publishing industries.

North America’s largest media market, New York boasts of several media conglomerates including the Thomson Reuters CorporationTime WarnerHearst CorporationNews Corporation, and Viacom. Even seven of the eight top advertising agencies and three of the four record label giants in the world are headquartered in the city. Over 200 newspapers and 350 commercial magazines have an office in New York; even the publishing industry also employs about 25,000 people living in New York.

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which are two of the top daily newspapers in the country, are in the Big Apple, too. Some of the city’s major tabloids include the New York Post which was founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1801 and the Daily News which is a fifth of the most widely circulated tabloids in the country.

Because the city is also home to many people with a different country of origin, it also has several print publications in different languages. One of these is El Diario La Prensa, which is the city’s largest Spanish-language daily and the country’s oldest. The New York Amsterdam News on the other hand, which is published in Harlem, is famous among African-American readers.

In the field of television, New York is home to four major networks in the country: NBCFoxCBS, and ABS. Many cable channels are also based in the city. Some of these are MTVComedy CentralHBO, and Fox News. As of 2005, there are already over 100 shows taped in the city.

This page is just to give you a glimpse of the media organizations in New York. Find out more about the film and television, print, and radio companies in the city in their corresponding pages.

Safety

Every place (big or small) has its own risks, so does a place like New York. Staying safe in New York (and virtually anywhere else in the world) only requires two things: vigilance and common sense.

Most areas in New York are practically safe especially if you go about them during the daytime. Always walk like you know where you’re going. Be wary of conmen who will try to bump you and pick your pocket or pose as taxi driver agents in terminals. Before leaving your hotel, be sure that you’ve planned your trip and know what train or bus to take. Never walk the streets with your map out because that will instantly give you away as a tourist.

It is not a good idea to have all your money kept in just one place. Have a belt bag for your extra money, cellphone and ID just in case someone takes your bag; preferably, don’t wear a backpack and always wear comfortable shoes. Don’t wear ostentatious jewelry as they might attract thieves. If ever you are out late at night, for instance after watching a Broadway performance, go with other tourists who are also returning to their hotels. Chances are you’ll find someone billeted in the same hotel as you. The same goes for when you are riding a mode of public transport. Avoid empty subway cars and wait for another train if necessary. Remember, there is safety in numbers.

It is also good to know the culture of New York. If you are a sports fan, avoid going into a sports bar on game days wearing the cap or jersey of a rival team. Don’t drink excessively and if you notice the crowd going rowdy, leave immediately. Also, dress like a local. The goal is to blend in and not stand out.

Certain places in New York have higher crime rates and it is better that you avoid going to these places like the Spanish Harlem in Manhattan, Bedford Stuyvesanttown, Jamaica Queens and Harlem Bronx unless you personally know somebody there. Brooklyn has a lot of good buys and bargain deals but is sure you are with somebody knowledgeable of the place.

If you ever find yourself lost in New York, don’t panic. Call 411 on your cellphone and let them know where you think you are and where you want to go. If ever you are robbed, don’t fight back as this might result in injury or death. Instead, focus on getting a good description of your assailant. If ever you’re attacked, scream, fight back and try to free yourself from your assailant’s grip, and then run.

Just remember to always be vigilant in protecting yourself and use your common sense when confronted with a potentially dangerous situation. Cops are all around in New York so help is always near you.

Happy trip to New York and stay safe.

Sandy

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