"My views reflect those of one who keeps her driver's license solely as a form of a government- issued identification and who crosses the street in the middle of the block. If I get run over, I get up. Resliencey: the key to your fluidity."- The Tour Goddess, Jane Marx
New York's history began at the toe of Manhattan Island in 1625 with the creation of the Dutch colony of Nieuw (New) Amsterdam. It was the only Dutch colony of America's original thirteen. Yet by 1643 eighteen languages were heard on its streets, and have subsequently proliferated into the hundreds.
Wall Street and Colonial History
In 1653, the settlers fearing an invasion from Connecticut, built a wall at the northern border of New Amsterdam. The British, however, arrived in 1654 by sea. The Dutch i power surrendered without firing a shot. By 1699 where once a wall stood got the name "Wall Street" coined by the British. There George Washington was inaugurated President in 1789 and the New York Stock Exchange opened in 1792.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty -- properly, "Liberty Enlightening the World" --was a gift from France to the United States in honor of the 100th anniversary of the issuance of America's Declaration of Independence. Erected in 1886 on the former Bedloe's Island, Bartholdi's statue, despite its austere face and foreboding stance, is America's most emotionally provoking icon.
Annie Moore, from County Cork Ireland, was the first immigrant to be processed at the first federally financed immigration center, Ellis Island. Open from 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million individuals waited to hear the words, "Free to land" and learn upon entry the concept of freedom.
Battery Park City and Ground Zero
Battery Park City, a planned urban development, faces "Ground Zero," the site of the World Trade Center complex. The twin towers (formerly the tallest in New York) and several other buildings were destroyed on September 11, 2001 when hijacked airliners piloted by terrorists flew into them and thus was born an on-going memorialized event.
The largest ethnic group processed at Ellis Island was the Italians, whose neighborhood in lower Manhattan became known as Little Italy (there was also vibrant Italian communities in East Harlem and the Bronx). What is left if often privy to the imagination; though a few sites remain.
Wo Kee, residing at 8 Mott Street, was the city's first Chinese resident. Today New York has the largest Chinese community outside Asia, although -- like China itself -- it has absorbed immigrants from all over East Asia.
The Lower East Side
In September, 1654 twenty-three Jewish settlers arrived in New York from Brazil. By the early 20th century, the Lower East Side was home to 400,000 Jews -- mostly from Eastern Europe -- and a population density rivaling Bombay.
South Street Seaport
New York's waterfront for sailing vessels from around the world was the East River. South Street, paralleling the waterfront, was a "forest of masts" -- with ships packed so tightly that it was often hard to tell which ship a particular mast belonged.
Opened on May 24, 1883, with a span of 1595.5 feet between its two towers, this steel suspension bridge across the East River was the longest in the world. It was destined to become a landmark, an icon, and an inspiration to artists and writers.
Once on the city's western frontier and its distribution center for eggs, butter, cheese and candy, TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal) is filled with architectural gems. It's also a magnet for families, a site for night spots, and home to the stars.
Shops brimming with cutting edge fashion and items for the home, and "of the moment" galleries slowly disappearing due to escalating rents, SoHo (South of Houston) started out as farmland. Its 26 blocks of cast iron buildings, the highest concentration in the United States, make up the historic district; a worthy note.
NoHo (north of Houston) is a sliver between the East and West Villages and SoHo. Artists now live where Astors and Vanderbilts used to reside; as well as "starchitecturally" designed residential buildings. Interspersed are small theaters and performance spaces.
New York University students roam its streets, as well as financially flushed newcomers. But the the East Village's florid past is still prnounced. Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians and Jewish radicals left their stamp on the streetscape and on traditional to avant-garde theatrical establishments.
Exploring the West Village is akin to time-travel to the 19th century. Lined with single family homes, off-beat shops, and sidewalk cafes, its street pattern defies description, as do many of the local characters, both famous and infamous.
Meat was produced here for local consumption since colonial times. With wholesalers moving to the Bronx, their formers spaces -- once thawed -- have turned into art galleries, shops, night clubs, expensive restaurants and high-end apartments.
Clement Clarke Moore's Chelsea
Originally farmland inherited by Clement Clarke Moore, Chelsea still has many extant 19th century brick row houses due to Moore's diligently imposed building codes and business savvy. An expert in Hebrew and Greek, Moore is much more than the "probable" author of "A Visit From St. Nicholas" ( " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas").
Art Lover's Chelsea
A run down neighborhood in the 1970s, Chelsea became gentrified beginning in the 1980s, with shops, restaurants and the all too familiar escalating real estate prices. More than 100 art galleries have sprouted in West Chelsea, which was once an industrial area.
This former residential square bounded by the "union" of Broadway and the Bowery,was also a theatrical district and a magnet for socialist rallies. Today its fame rests with its popular Greenmarket where "local" farmers sell produce, eggs, baked good, plants and home-grown Christmas trees.
Exuding 19th century residential exclusivity, with New York's only private park, open only to residents facing the square who pay a fee, Gramercy Park also played a vital role in shaping America's artistic values.
Flatiron District or SoFi
The Flatiron building (1902) standing 20 stories high, was one of the city's earliest skyscrapers. In the 1960s artists and photographers settled into neighboring lofts. By the 1980s SoFi (South of the Flatiron) was born -- cafes, night clubs and a thriving business district.
Former homes to the likes of the Tiffanys and Morgans, there still remain a few residences and carriage houses suggesting its past grandeur. There are also private clubs, churches, high-rise apartments and town houses built in the early 20th century.
Grand Central Terminal (and 42nd Street)
Wedged into mid-Manhattan, Grand Central Terminal operates with much of the action under and around the buildings -- all hidden from view. With its eye-popping renovation, it's now a magnet for sightseers and diners all awe-struck by its architectural magnificence.
Times Square (and 42nd Street)
Once famed for vaudeville, legitimate theater, cabaret, the movie palace and the video parlor, Times Square has regularly changed its face. Gone are the "erotic" businesses, replaced by renovated theaters, new sleek office buildings and hotels and chain restaurants.
In colonial times the area was farmland and forest. In the 1850s with the opening of a railroad station, slaughterhouses, warehouses, lumberyards, factories and tenements made their appearance. Today urban trendsetters inhabit establishments where Puerto Rican, Italian, Greek, West Indian and Polish used to dwell.
The center of Manhattan is dominated by such skyscrapers as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the Seagram Building. In the neighborhood also stand such icons as the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (soon to be condos), the Plaza Hotel, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral and Carnegie Hall.
Upper East Side
The Upper East Side, or "the silk stocking district," represents the wealthiest population in the city; especially of yore. Mansions, many vanished or converted to schools, consulates, museums and galleries and opulent apartment houses, stretch from 59th Street to 96th Street, from Fifth Avenue to Park Avenue.
Gracie Mansion and Carl Schurz Park
Gracie Mansion was built on a bluff(1799 - 1804) at Horn's Hook as the country home of Archibald Gracie, far away from the noise and disease of the city. It became the official mayoral residence in 1942 by Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia. Today the house is in a park named after Carl Schurz, a German immigrant who went on to to become a senator, abolistionist, writer and editor and a friend of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Carnegie,
Upper West Side
Before the American Revolution country homes dotted the area between 59th Street and 125th Street west of Eighth Avenue. Today it's awash with brownstones, historic apartment buildings, houses of worship, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Columbia University.
Covering 843 acres, and "officially" opened in 1873, Central Park was the first landscaped public park in the United States as well as an extensive public works project. It continues to be shaped by birdwatchers, bicyclists, joggers, skaters, softball players, nature lovers and those who want to remember our rural past.
The "Cosmopolis of the African-American World" is filled with diverse attractions, from Sugar Hill to Striver's Row to 'the Gold Coast' to former President Bill Clinton's office. Originally a suburb, Harlem has wide boulevards, brownstones, churches, public transportation and artistic and educational institutions; a variety of fodder to get the imagination going.
Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters
Named for the last English governor of the colony of New-York, the park is a high-wooded ground, once inhabited by Indians. In 1938 the Cloisters opened here, as a showcase for the medieval art collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Even when Brooklyn was a separate city, this high land above the docks had been a residential area. After Robert Fulton's steam ferry began having scheduled crossings of the East River, around 1814, speculative development took root. Thus, walking the streets here it is possible to see more than six hundred pre-Civil War structures, 19th century churches, commercial and governmental buildings. It's Borough Hall has been refurbished, recalling the days when it was the City Hall, before January 1, 1898.
Coney Island, Brooklyn
Coney Island has more than two miles of beachfront property. It was once the place for bathing, strolling on the boardwalk, listening to music, dancing, going to a vaudeville theater, watching circus performers and going on amusement rides. Todayiit's reflected glory has been dimmed by the wrecker's ball, but shadoes of the past remain had the rides indicate and Nathan's hotdogs confirm.
Crown Heights, Brooklyn
In west central Brooklyn, where mansions once lined the streets on what had been farmland, there are now one and two-family houses. Many black immigrants moved here from the Caribbean, to be joined with Germans, Scandanvians, Irish, Italians and Jews. Eastern Parkway, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Botanic Gardens feature prominently as icons; as did Ebbets Field until its destruction.
DUMBO(Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass)
Home to artists before the costs skyrocketed, and now dot.comers, this once no-man's commercial strip of box factories, is now a sought after residential neighborhood and a mustpsee on tourist's maps. It was Jacques Torres's s Chocolates and St. Anne's Warehouse, home to live theater, which initially acted as the magnets, but now there's a 1920's carousel, residential housing in former box factories and the Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Named for its grassy expanse that extended into the East River, it's farming area became the site for printing, pottery, petroleum and gas, glassmaking and ironmaking; including the Continental Ironworks which produced the Monitor and Astral Oil Works. The streets bear names of people, places and items inportant to industry. After World War 11 Puerto Ricans and Poles arrived. McCarrren Park stands on what was Bushwick Creek. Gentrification has worked to reconfigure its topography.
Red Hook, Brooklyn
Its soil had a reddish tone. Hook is anglized Dutch for point. The land juts into the East River. There ships could be overhauled in the Erie Boat Basin. Its pre-Civil War warehouses, throwbacks to its commercial past with their metal shutters, are art galleries, restaurants, shops, and there's new residential development and IKEA.
Williamsburg mixes its warehouses, factories, storage facilities, with immigrant history, tenements, row houses, and glass high rises reflecting the legality of residential waterfront construction. Now there's trendy restaurants, coffee bars, art galleries and musical establishments. Hipsters mingle with Hasidics, yuppies, Latinos, artists and tourists. It's expanisveness is its strength.