Manhattan, New York contains the commercial and financial heart of New York City, the United States, and to some extent, the world. Found in Manhattan’s famous Financial District are Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange, the bustling South Street Seaport and the World Financial Center, located in the center of visionary Battery Park. Manhattan also holds much of the spirit of the United States, with its eclectic melting pot of ethnic neighborhoods, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island, where so many American citizens first set foot on their new homeland.
Midtown is Manhattan’s other key commercial area, perhaps the busiest moneymaking district in the nation. Towering skyscrapers cluster here, housing corporations, hotels and apartments. More than 3 million workers arrive at Midtown daily, staffing the plethora of retail and commercial businesses. The United Nations Headquarters, the Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building loom along Midtown’s horizon. The finest in elegant retail goods line the shops along Fifth Ave, Madison and Park Avenues, while the best in theatre plays on Broadway. Glittering Times Square delights visitors each day of the year, and its New Year’s Eve celebration remains an American tradition.
NYC’s borough of Manhattan includes Manhattan Island, several other small islands, and a portion of the mainland. Manhattan covers only 33 square miles, making it one of the smallest counties in the U.S. With a Census 2000 population of 1,537,195, Manhattan remains the most densely populated region in the nation. It lies mostly between the East River and the Hudson River, with extensive series of bridges and tunnels connecting it to New Jersey and the remainder of New York City. A ferry provides transportation to the southernmost borough, Staten Island.
During the 60’s and 70’s, Manhattan experienced a trend of ‘urban flight’, as residents moved to the outer boroughs and suburbs of New York City, to escape increased crime. This changed in the ‘80’s, though, with a renewal of interest in inner city living and the refurbishing of many of the old warehouse districts, which created fashionable loft apartments. After the devastation of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan during the September 11 terrorist attacks, borough leaders thought there would be a decline in growth. According to NY 2004 estimates, though, the population reached 1.56 million. The FBI calls New York City the safest big city in America, showing a marked decline in crime through the last decades.
Manhattan divides into 6 different districts, with a colorful array of distinct and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in each. Chinatown contains the largest Asian community in North America, but also overlaps into the Lower East Side, the historic NY Jewish enclave, and Little Italy. Greenwich Village emulates the bohemian districts of Paris, and while memories of Beat poets and hippy coffeehouse singers might linger, they probably could not afford today’s Village. Long been seen as a Mecca for those of African-American descent, Manhattan’s Harlem district celebrates its musical heritage in the Harlem Jazz and Music Festival each summer.
Lenox Hill in Manhattan’s Upper East Side retains classic New York culture, with Museum Mile, the gracious grounds of Central Park and elegant mansions. Inwood and the Financial District comprise the rest of Manhattan, though the list of neighborhoods goes on and on, ever changing with the influx of newcomers and atmosphere of vital energy that enwraps Manhattan.
Home to countless entertainment establishments, tourist attractions, and museums, visitors to Manhattan can spend a week and never see it all. Full of life, ambition, hopes and dreams, Manhattan captures the true essence of New York.