New York city major airports are all within an hour from the city center by taxi or bus. The city's train and bus terminals are centrally located and connected to major subway stations. Three major airports serve New York. International and domestic flights are handled at John F Kennedy (JFK) (tel 718/244-4444), La Guardia (tel 718/533-3400) handles domestic flights only.
The most beguiling city in the world, New York is an adrenaline-charged, history-laden place that holds immense romantic appeal for visitors. You could spend weeks in New York and still barely scratch the surface, but there are some key attractions - and some pleasures - that you won't want to miss.
Sights to see - Statue of Liberty, The Financial District, Municipal Center, Chinatown, Little Italy, Lower East Side, SoHo, West and East Villages, Chelsea, Murray Hill, Empire State Building, 42nd Street, Fifth Avenue, 59th Street, Central Park, Upper West Side, Lincoln Center, American Museum of Natural History, Riverside Park, Upper East Side, Museum Mile, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Madison Avenue, Harlem.
Information for the visitor to New York City
New York City comprises the central island of Manhattan along with four outer boroughs - Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Manhattan, to many, is New York - whatever your interests, it's here that you'll spend the most time and are likely to stay. New York is very much a city of neighborhoods and is best explored on foot.
Offshore, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island comprise the first section of New York (and America) that most nineteenth-century immigrants would have seen. The Financial District takes in the skyscrapers and historic buildings of Manhattan's southern reaches and was hardest hit by the destruction of perhaps its most famous landmarks, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Just northeast is the area around City Hall, New York's well-appointed municipal center, which adjoins TriBeCa, known for its swanky restaurants, galleries, and nightlife. Moving east, Chinatown is Manhattan's most populous ethnic neighborhood, a vibrant locale that's great for food and shopping. Nearby, Little Italy bears few traces of the once-strong immigrant presence, while the Lower East Side , the city's traditional gateway neighborhood for new immigrants, is nowadays scattered with trendy bars and clubs. To the west, SoHo is one of the premier districts for galleries and the commercial art scene, not to mention designer shopping. Continuing north, the West and East Villages form a focus of bars, restaurants, and shops catering to students and would-be bohemians - and of course tourists. Chelsea is a largely residential neighborhood that is now mostly known for its gay scene and art galleries that borders on Manhattan's old Garment District. Murray Hill contains the city's largest skyscraper and most enduring symbol, the Empire State Building .
Beyond 42nd Street, the main east-west artery of midtown, the character of the city changes quite radically, and the skyline becomes more high-rise and home to some of New York's most awe-inspiring, neck-cricking architecture. There are also some superb museums and the city's best shopping as you work your way north up Fifth Avenue as far as 59th Street. Here, the classic Manhattan vistas are broken by the broad expanse of Central Park, a supreme piece of nineteenth-century landscaping, without which life in Manhattan would be unthinkable. Flanking the park, the mostly residential and fairly affluent Upper West Side boasts Lincoln Center, Manhattan's temple to the performing arts, the American Museum of Natural History, and Riverside Park along the Hudson River. On the other side of the park, the Upper East Side is wealthier and more grandiose, with its nineteenth-century millionaires' mansions now transformed into a string of magnificent museums known as the "Museum Mile," the most prominent being the vast Metropolitan Museum of Art. Alongside is a patrician residential neighborhood that boasts some of the swankiest addresses in Manhattan, and a nest of designer shopping along Madison Avenue in the seventies. Immediately above Central Park, Harlem, the historic black city-within-a-city, has a healthy sense of an improving go-ahead community; a jaunt further north is most likely required only to see the unusual Cloisters, a nineteenth-century mock-up of a medieval monastery, packed with great European Romanesque and Gothic art and (transplanted) architecture.
Airlines Toll-free phone numbers of foreign airlines include: Air India tel 1-800/223-7776; Air New Zealand tel 1-800/262-1234; British Airways tel 1-800/247-9297; El Al tel 1-800/223-6700; Japan Air Lines tel 1-800/525-3663; Korean Airlines tel 1-800/438-5000; Kuwait Airwaystel 1-800/458-9248; Qantas Airways tel 1-800/227-4500; Virgin Atlantic Airways tel 1-800/862-8621.
Consulates Australia, 150 E 42nd St (tel 212/351-6500); Canada, 1251 6th Ave at 50th St (tel 212/596-1628); Denmark, 1 Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza (tel 212/223-4545); France, 934 5th Ave (tel 212/606-3600); Germany, 871 UN Plaza (tel 212/610-9700); Ireland, 345 Park Ave at 51st St (tel 212/319-2555); Italy, 690 Park Ave (tel 212/737-9100); Netherlands, 1 Rockefeller Plaza (entrance at 14 W 49th St between 5th and 6th aves) (tel 212/246-1429); New Zealand, 780 3rd Ave (tel 212/832-4038); Spain, 150 E 58th St (tel 212/355-4080); Sweden, 1 Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza (tel 212/583-2550); UK, 845 3rd Ave between 51st and 52nd sts (tel 212/745-0200).
Electric Current 110V AC with two-pronged plugs. Unless they're dual voltage, all British appliances will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter. Be warned, some converters may not be able to handle certain high-wattage items, especially those with heated elements.
Emergencies For Police, Fire or Ambulance dial 911.
ID Carry some at all times, as there are any number of occasions on which you may be asked to show it. Two pieces of ID are preferable and one should have a photo - passport and credit card are the best bets.
Laundry Hotels do it but charge a lot. You're much better off going to an ordinary laundromat or dry cleaner, both of which you'll find plenty of in the Yellow Pages .
Left Luggage The most likely place to dump your stuff is Grand Central Station (42nd St and Park Ave tel 212/340-2555), where the luggage/lost and found department is by Track 100, on the lower level, open Mon-Fri 7am-11pm, Sat & Sun 10am-11pm, and charges $2 per item per calendar day. Photo ID required.
Lost Property Things lost on buses or on the subway: NYC Transit Authority, at the 34th St/8th Ave Station at the north end on the lower level subway mezzanine (Mon-Wed & Fri 8am-noon, Thurs 11am-6.30pm tel 212/712-4500). Things lost on Amtrak: Penn Station (Mon-Fri 7.30am-4pm tel 212/630-7389). Things lost in a cab: Taxi & Limousine Commission Lost Property Information Dept, 40 Rector St between Washington St and the West Side Highway (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm except national holidays tel 212/302-8294).
Noticeboards For contacts, casual work, articles for sale, etc, it's hard to beat the noticeboard just inside the doorway of the Village Voice office at 36 Cooper Square (just south of the Astor Place subway stop). Otherwise there are numerous noticeboards up at Columbia University, in the Loeb Student Center of NYU on Washington Square, and in the groovier coffee shops, health food stores and restaurants in the East Village.
Public Holidays You'll find all banks, most offices, some stores and certain museums closed on the following days: January 1; Martin Luther King's Birthday (third Mon in Jan); Presidents' Day (third Mon in Feb); Memorial Day (last Mon in May); Independence Day (July 4 or, if it falls on a weekend, the following Mon); Labor Day (first Mon in Sept); Columbus Day (second Mon in Oct); Veterans Day (Nov 11); Thanksgiving (the third or last Thurs in Nov); Christmas Day (Dec 25). Also, New York's numerous parades mean that on certain days - St Patrick's Day, Gay Pride Day, Easter Sunday and Columbus Day, to name a few - much of 5th Ave is closed to traffic altogether.
Tax Within New York City you'll pay an 8.25 percent sales tax on top of marked prices on just about everything but the very barest of essentials, a measure brought in to help alleviate the city's 1975 economic crisis, and one that stuck.
Terminals and Transit Information Grand Central Terminal, 42nd St and Park Ave (Metro-North commuter trains tel 212/532-4900); Pennsylvania Station, 33rd St and 8th Ave (Amtrak tel 1-800/USA-RAIL or 212/582-6875); New Jersey Transit (tel 973/762-5100); Long Island Railroad (LIRR tel 718/217-5477); PATH trains (tel 1-800/234-7284); Port Authority Bus Terminal, 41st St and 8th Ave, and George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal, W 178th St (between Broadway and Fort Washington) both tel 212/564-8484; Greyhound (tel 1-800/231-2222); Peter Pan Trailways (tel 1-800/343-9999); Bonanza (tel 1-800/556-3815).
Time Three hours ahead of West Coast North America, five hours behind Britain and Ireland, fourteen to sixteen hours behind East Coast Australia (variations for Daylight Savings Time), sixteen to eighteen hours behind New Zealand (variations for Daylight Savings Time).
Tipping Expected everywhere a service is performed; in restaurants, easiest just to double the tax.