New York City is the center of world trade and finance. It is the financial capital of the United States and holds the headquarters of many of the world's largest corporations.
In Manhattan, Wall Street is home to the nation's largest stock exchange and the headquarters of the country's largest brokerage firms. Barons of American industry, from the Carnegies to Donald Trump, have traditionally made New York City their home and headquarters, often lavishing their fortunes on building skyscrapers and patronizing the arts.
The city also includes numerous outstanding museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. Broadway is synonymous with world-class drama, comedy and musicals. Modern artistic movements, from Pop Art to punk rock, were born here, while the American film industry began in this city before heading west to California. New York City is also home to one of the most famous concert halls in the world - the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. It is the home of the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic, and the New York City Ballet.
New York City is an ethnic melting pot, attracting people from every country in the world, creating a cultural scene that is richer and more varied than most other metropolises. The United Nations headquarters sit on the East River.
To see New York, it's best to break down the city into neighborhoods, each of which has its own character and lifestyle. Manhattan is New York's economic and cultural heart and is called "the city."
The southern tip of Manhattan is the oldest developed part of New York and its financial center. Immigrants, who poured into the city at the turn of the century, passed the Statue of Liberty, the beacon of freedom of hope in the harbor just south of Manhattan and were processed in nearby Ellis Island. Those new Americans settled in The Lower East Side, once the most crowded and unsanitary places on the planet. Today, the Lower East Side is home to strong Chinese and Italian communities. Further north, SoHo and TriBeCa are artistic enclaves, containing countless private galleries, fashion boutiques and chic cafes. Greenwich Village is the home of New York University. Formerly, it was a bohemian area, where writers such as Eugene O'Neill and musicians including Bob Dylan resided.
The middle of the island, generally termed Midtown, contains one of the strongest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the world. It includes the shopping promenade of Fifth Avenue, lined with the world's most prestigious shops. It is the site of Times Square, the Theater District, the monstrous Rockefeller Center, a corporate and communications complex of offices, shops and television studios, the art deco landmark Empire State Building, and countless skyscrapers which together form the world-famous skyline of Manhattan.
Further north along Fifth Avenue, hugging the eastern side of Central Park, is Museum Mile, home to the Guggenheim and other world-class museums. Across expansive Central Park is the Upper West Side, most notably the home of the Lincoln Center arts complex. Columbia University resides to the north of the island alongside Harlem, rich in black-American history and culture.
Brooklyn offers a similar mix of cultures and classes while Queens is mainly residential and middle class, and Staten Island remains suburban. The Bronx contains solid middle-class pockets, but is largely the victim of urban blight.
The New York Public Library is one of the best research libraries in the world. The city's extensive system of public parks features Central Park which occupies the center of Manhattan and provides an oasis of green away from the bustle of the city. Outstanding private colleges and universities include Columbia, New York, Rockefeller, and Fordham universities as well as many medical schools, the New School for Social Research, and the Juilliard School.
New York City's subway system carries 7 million passengers per day and has the largest subway car fleet in the world. The heavily-used Lincoln and Holland Tunnels connect the boroughs with Manhattan. International and domestic air service is provided by Kennedy, La Guardia, and Newark (New Jersey) international airports. Visitors will inevitably ride the city's ubiquitous yellow cabs, though finding one in the evening and at rush hour may prove a challenge.
There is an endless array of restaurants and eateries in New York while its shopping is world famous. Often called the "city that never sleeps", New York offers entertainment around the clock. There is endless live music, theater, dance and film available, not to mention sports clubs such as the world-famous New York Yankees, basketball's New York Knicks and hockey's the New York Rangers.
Though long bearing a reputation as a dangerous city, New York has dramatically cleaned up its act in recent years, as symbolized by the opening of a giant Disney store in the middle of once-infamous Times Square.