The Big Apple continues to have major influence and impact on the world’s economy, entertainment, media, education, art, technology and scientific research
by RAHMAN DAROS/ pic by RAHMAN DAROS
YOU may not drink coffee, as teh tarik is your thing. Toast is out of the question as roti canai is your morning staple.
In a city like New York where Starbucks are almost on every corner, what choice do you have?
Yes, one may easily find the famous coffee joint here for your morning fix, as easy as finding a mamak restaurant in our own backyard.
However, getting a seat may be a little tricky any time of the day, especially when the outlet is near the subway stations like the one in between Penn Station and Times Square.
People go to this kind of cafes to warm up in the winter or cool down in the summer with a hot or iced coffee with some fresh pastries.
Well, that’s New York for you. If you’re unlucky on any given day, you may find yourself immersed in between long lines waiting to be seated at any restaurant of your choice.
Being one of the most populated urban areas in the world, the Big Apple continues to have major influence and impact on the world’s economy, entertainment, media, education, art, technology and scientific research.
The city’s population has risen over the years. According to its Department of City Planning, New York City’s (NYC) population was estimated at 8.39 million as at July last year, compared to 8.17 million in 2010.
Each of its five boroughs, namely Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, gained between 1% and 4.7% in its population.
With a total of 800 languages spoken throughout NYC, this is the most diverse city in the world when it comes to linguistic multiplicity.
Due to its large immigrant population, it seems that NYC is more of an international city than something specifically “American”.
The seven largest communities are from the Dominican Republic, China, Jamaica, Russia, Italy, Poland and India.
This cultural diversity has of course had a great impact on the tourism business.
Manhattan is a tiny fast-paced island that is also the home to the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square and the Broadway theatres.
Millions from around the world have been there. It recorded a number of 62.8 million tourists in 2017 alone.
If you are a fan of Sex and the City, you’d find that apart from love and labels, NYC is actually the fifth major character alongside the fabulous foursome — Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda.
And, Manhattan is where most (if not all) of the shots were taken. Viewed as the pulse of the city, the island of Manhattan is unarguably THE place that you’d want to visit at least once in your lifetime.
Although it is the smallest borough in NYC, it holds many iconic landmarks and is packed with actions.
As Manhattan is divided into three sections — Downtown, Midtown and Uptown — with Fifth Avenue separating its east and west sides, you should plan in advance on where to go, what to see and what to do, especially if you are a firsttimer here.
Remember, this is a city with so many things to do and so many places to visit.
Therefore, time is of essence here, especially if you are on a short stay.
On a bright summer day, take this opportunity to view the whole of Manhattan (and New Jersey across the Hudson River) from atop.
For that, make your way to Midtown and get into the rooftop of Rockefeller Centre, also known as Top of the Rock Observation Deck.
This is where you should go first if this is your “virgin” trip to the Big Apple. In fact, this is where you need to go before the Empire State Building or the One World Trade Centre.
Although it is not as tall as the two buildings, it offers great views that money cannot buy.
There are three different viewing levels and each one gets better than the previous one. There are also glass panels but they do not obstruct the view of the entire city.
The experience begins with the 15-minute elevator ride, equipped with see-through ceiling and the programmed projection of what to expect at the observation deck.
Once you are at the top, take your time and really take it all in. Stay as long as you want and enjoy the stunning panoramic views.
At the end of it, you’d realise that you have absorbed the city’s energy, wonders and beauty.
The Midtown is also an amazing location to appreciate how mind-blowing New York architecture really is.
Right round the corner from the United Nations building are even taller buildings such as the Empire State Building and the iconic Grand Central Station.
Here, you’d know the city’s first-timers as they could not help but looking up all the time!
It is in Midtown where the Broadway Theatre District is located. There are about 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located here and in Lincoln Centre along Broadway.
It is a fact that many tourists come to New York to watch Broadway shows. Whether it is musical, straight-play, revue or dance musical, there are at least 100 longest-running shows on Broadway to choose from.
The TKTS booths sell same-day tickets and in certain cases next-day matinee tickets for many Broadway and Off-Broadway shows at a discount between 20% and 50%.
These booths are located in Duffy Square, Times Square, Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.
However, expect long lines here. Cheap tickets normally come with extra efforts.
If you are a fashion-focused tourist, take the subway and walk your way to Fifth Avenue between 49th and 60th Street, also in Midtown area.
These are among the most expensive streets in the world as they are lined with prestigious boutiques and many flagship stores.
It is also the home to luxury departmental stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman.
For those who find that shopping is a therapy, one thing for sure is that your shopping experience will definitely be different than anywhere else.
Once your hands are full with shopping bags, hop into a cab, dump your shopping items in your hotel room and come back for more.
It is also highly recommended that first-timers should take a boat trip around Manhattan.
There is no better way to get intimate with the island than taking a cruise down the Hudson River.
There are quite a number of boat operators that offer the cruising experience. The writer, however, headed to Pier 83 at West 42nd Street to try out the two-hour boat ride by Circle Line Cruises.
The boat ride covered the many magnificent landmarks of the city such as the Statue of Liberty, Battery Park, Ellis Island, Pier 54 (Titanic Pier), Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, World Financial Centre, UN headquarters and many more.
As the boat operator offer free-seating policy onboard, make sure you choose your seats at the uncovered upper deck for better view.
Make your way to the Downtown or Lower Manhattan — the centre of the American economy. The Financial District is full of impressive turn-of-the-century buildings and is a hive of activity during the day.
The famous Wall Street, One World Trade Centre, South Street Seaport and Battery Park — a departure point for ferries to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Staten Island and Governors Island — are all in this neighbourhood.
There are quite a number of restaurants and eateries that serve halal menu in Manhattan. You may refer to www.zabihah.com for listings.
For a more down-to-earth selection, The Halal Guys at 6th Avenue and West 53rd Street serve the best halal meals from their pushcarts for less than US$8 (RM33.52). They are opened until 4am.
Stick your hand up for a cab and keep it raised until they stop right in front of you. However, do not rely on them from 4pm to 6pm as the drivers are off-duty.
If you are taking the subway, you need to check the direction of the train before going down into the station. Most of Manhattan is safe after-hours, but stay away from parks at night.
When tipping, you should leave at least 15% of your bill. If it seems complicated, just double the amount of the sales tax on your bill.
You don’t want to be seen as a cheapskate in New York now, do you?