Wednesday 15 May 2013 -
New York is the most populated city in all of the USA; it is also the most cosmopolitan, boasting a rich cultural variety (Little Italy, Chinatown…). Manhattan is known for Harlem, capital of Jazz - it was from there that the expression "Big Apple" was made popular, sung by rough voices to groovy melodies.
The Bronx is another kind of cradle, that of hip-hop culture generally speaking and is considered the symbol of the American melting pot. A great way to soak up local colour is to take part in the famed New York Marathon, with its 34 000 participants always eager to heat up the tarmac. The city is also reputed for gastronomy; NY probably represents the greatest concentration of culinary variety in the world, from the truly authentic stir-frys in Chinatown to the Pizzaïolo artistry in Little Italy. Some French restaurants have also made a reputation over the years, such as Montrachet, and others have banked on being the "talk of the town", such as De Niro's Tribeca Grill.
New York bay was discovered by explorers Giovanni da Verrazano in 1524 and Henry Hudson in 1609. The bay was then claimed by the Dutch and named "New Amsterdam". Holland nevertheless failed to initiate trade in their colony. The area was offered as a gift to the Duke of York, hence the name. Columbia University, a symbol of the city's educational infrastructure, was founded in 1754.
New York became the capital of the USA in 1789 after a terrible and drawn-out war of Independence. The city developed a great deal during the 19th century, drawing immigrants en masse, and port activity began to thrive. Central Park is established in 1857, effectively giving the city a much-needed haven of fresh air: it is quite rightly known as the "lung of NY". The city of New York began once again to thrive after the War of Secession; the statue of Liberty was inaugurated in 1886.
Sky-scrapers appeared in the early 20th and, with Wall Street, came to symbolize power. The twin towers were destroyed on September 11th 2001, changing the city forever.
Central Park, in the north of Manhattan, is the city's natural lung; this 341-hectare space was landscaped in 1873 according to designs signed Frederick Law Olmsted. The 1929 crash led to the gradual deterioration of the park which was later renovated by Robert Moses, creating tens of playgrounds, basketball and handball courts, etc…
The park has a total of 36 bridges and artificial lakes and is surrounded by a 9,7 kilometre road which is closed to traffic in the evenings to the delight of joggers. Walking and jogging enthusiasts also enjoy the 2,5-kilometre track that runs round the Reservoir in the centre of the park.
Within Central Park there are two skating rinks and a zoo (with a tropical forest and a hundred or so species). The Metropolitain Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History are opposite each other, with the Great Lawn between them usually dotted with sunbathers and frisbee-players.
Central Park is home to numerous events throughout the year. Since it was taken over in the 70s by anti-war activists and hippies it has become something of a cultural and political centre.
Things to see and do in New-York...