Why New York City Never Sleeps
Contrary to popular opinion and perception, America is not the world’s most popular tourist destination (this distinction belongs to France, which attracts more than 80 million tourists a year). However, while America may not have the numbers, it certainly has the reputation. The country remains to be an icon, despite the negative image it has had in the recent years—no thanks to its infamous war against terrorism during the term of George W. Bush and the financial crisis it is currently in. And one of the most iconic cities of this great country is New York, obviously located in the state of New York.
The famed city
New York City is perhaps the most famed city in America—not just because of its attractions but also because of its cultural, economic, and historical significance. In culture, New York is well known for being the center of the arts, may it be visual, musical, theatrical, or literal. For instance, the city is home to the Great White Way—more known as Broadway. It also houses a number of esteemed schools and universities, such as the Parson School for Design, New York University, and the Julliard School, among others. As an economic center, New York is known as the location of the New York Stock Exchange—the world’s largest stock exchange. Unfortunately, New York City also became the site of one of the most tragic events in recent history—the September 11 terrorist attack of the World Trade Center in 2001.
Around the world, New York City served as the setting for some of popular culture’s most renowned fictional creations. Woody Allen, for instance, filmed most of his earlier movies in New York City, the result of which are the two of cinemas most accomplished pieces, Annie Hall and Manhattan, named after one of the five boroughs of the city. The climax of the classic film King Kong was set in New York City too, as if to testify the relevance of the city vis a vis the rampaging monster wrecking havoc in the city.
Not surprisingly, the city is also a favorite in American sitcoms. No less than F.R.I.E.N.D.S and Seinfeld were set in New York City, as well as the recent sitcom How I Met Your Mother. Sex and the City, too, was set in New York City, and this show certainly knows how to use its setting properly—here, New York was not just a background; it is a moving, living thing. In these shows, New York City is more than just a setting—it is actually one of the characters, an integral part of the story. New York City has a life of its own, and these films and movies will be different creations without it.
But what it with New York City that inspires so much art out of people? It is probably the life and energy it evokes, the way it seems alive even at the darkest hours of the day. New York City never sleeps because it has everything. And who would want to sleep in a city where everything you could ever wish for is already within reach?
A city of relevance
The largest city in the country, as well as the most densely populated and the most populous, New York City is composed of five boroughs—the lesser known Staten Island, the popular Brooklyn and Manhattan, and the equally famed (yet sometimes infamous) Queens and Bronx. With more eight million residents, it is no wonder that the city is beaming with so much life.
Beyond the facts, however, New York City itself is a very important place in American history. As the name of the city already implies, it was named by the British after one of their own cities, a norm during that time. New York City is named after York in North Yorkshire, in honor of James II, the English Duke of York and Albany. However, beyond the discovery (or rediscovery) of America, the area was originally inhabited by the Lenape Native Americans. The Dutch soon bought the region from the Lenape for 60 guilders, the official currency of the Netherlands until the early 2000s, in 1614. This would cost around 1,000 dollars today. However, in 1664, the English conquered New York City—called New Amsterdam under the Dutch’s rule—and gave the city its name.
Because of its location, New York City became a vital area in America, primarily as a trading port. Soon after, it became the setting for a number of historical events, such as the establishment of the freedom of the press in the country, the foundation of the esteemed Columbia University, and the location for a number battles during the American Revolutionary War. It also became a temporary national capital, the location where the first United States president was inaugurated, and the location where the first Congress of the country assembled. It became the largest American country in 1790 and the first megacity during the 1930s. In between, the city experienced various ups and downs. It saw prosperity in 1920, when the area became the home of numerous skyscrapers, which would later become its trade mark. In turn, New York City was among the cities that severely affected during the Great Depression.
Meanwhile, after a well document fall, New York City bounced back during the 1980s, restoring its title as the world’s financial center. During the 1990s, New York City prospered anew, thanks to the establishment of Silicon Alley, an area where new media and Internet companies are mostly located. And in 2001, New York was one of the three sites of the September 11 attacks. But this did not hinder New York City from being the country’s center. Practically every field and industry in the country is based on this iconic city. Many media companies are situated at the heart of New York City—for instance, four out of five American television networks are in New York (CBS, Fox, ABC, and NBS; only CW, the smallest of the five, is located elsewhere).
Past the history, New York City is known for its numerous attractions and notable locations. The city is perhaps well known for the Statue of Liberty, located in Ellis Island. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the statue itself was present in 1886 by the French as a testament to their partnership during their revolt against the Britons. The Statue of Liberty symbolizes many things—New York as America’s gateway to the immigrants; America as the land of the free; America as the prime example of the benefits of democracy. The establishment of the Statue of Liberty took several years, garnered a number of criticisms, and was renovated several times, costing the country hundreds of dollars all in all. Yet, today, the end result was obviously worth the trouble. The Statue of Liberty has already attracted millions of tourists, and continues to do so until today—mainly because America, to them, is the Statue of Liberty.
Of course, New York City is more than just a statue. After all, the city is not static, but alive. One of the locations that can illustrate this life in the city is Broadway, located in Manhattan. Through the years, Broadway has been recognized as the theater industry’s pinnacle. A stage production is often regarded as not worth anyone’s time if it is not staged on Broadway. Housing 39 professional theaters—all of which have more than 500 seats—are located from the 42nd Street to the 53rd Street of Midtown Manhattan. Its nick name—the Great White Way—refers to the district’s main street, which does look like a white road thanks to the lighted marquee signs of the theaters. Broadway saw the rise of some of the world’s most acclaimed theatrical productions, most of which are award recipients of the Tonys and the Pulitzer. Among these productions are Rent, M. Butterfly, and the more recent Hairspray and Spring Awakening.
Another iconic location in New York City is Central Park, also located in Manhattan. A large public park, it attracts more than 20 million tourists a year. It is also rich in history; after all, this more than 800 acre national park was opened in 1859. Central Park, easily the biggest and most visited park in the country, is actually landscaped. It houses the Central Park Zoo, ice-skating rinks, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, as well as an outdoor theater, the Delacorte Theater. Its rich and wide landscape also provides visitors the venue for numerous outdoor activities, such as rock climbing, walking, skating, among others.
These three are perhaps New York City’s more famed destinations, especially among tourists who often see these three on television and on film. But of course, New York City is more than just the Statue of Liberty, Broadway, and Central Park—it is not the Big Apple for nothing, after all. One such destination is the SoHo, known as one of the former artistic centers of the city. The SoHo housed some of the country’s most renowned artists. The Metropolitan Museum of the Arts, also known as the Met, is well known for its impressive collections—from ancient Egyptian paintings to some of the most modern art pieces, the Met is a destination not to be missed. And, of course, when one talks about the arts in New York City, the Carnegie Hall can never be left out. A popular concert venue, the Carnegie Hall sees over 200 performances each season.
Meanwhile, Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue remain to be among the country’s top shopping destinations. They both aptly symbolize New York as an icon of wealth and prosperity, as it ranks with Paris, Tokyo, and London as among the world’s most expensive streets. Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue house some of the world’s most known luxury stores, sich as Tiffany & Co,m Burberry, Versace, Saks Fift Avenue, Christian Dior, Lacoste, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, and other equally famed (and expensive) brands.
This is perhaps why New York City is the setting of famed novels The Devil Wears Prada and Confessions of a Shopaholic, novels that present the city as the fashion and shopping capital of America—and maybe among the shopping capitals of the world. And aptly, it is one of the venues of the bi-annual Fashion Week (others are held in London, Paris, and Milan). The fashion week in New York is not the only fashion week held in America, but it is easily the most prestigious and the most awaited. Other festivals held in New York City are the Tribeca Film Festival and the New York Film Festival, among others.
Foreigners and locals alike go to New York City for its universities and schools. And with reason too, as it is home to some of the world’s best educational institutions. One of best institutions in the country is Julliard, a performing arts school ranked as one of the most selective schools in America. In fact, it is more selective than most Ivy League schools—including Yale and Harvard. Another esteemed education institution is the New York University, which has 16 divisions tackling different fields. It is also among the top schools around the world, as surveyed by various publications and institutions. And why shouldn’t they be? New York City is obviously one of the most conducive locations for higher learning, as it has everything anyone could ever want. It is in the center of culture and entertainment, of high art and popular culture.
New York City deserves its reputation today. Unlike other cities that are all spunk and hype, this important area in American history, culture, and economy remains to be relevant even until today. Even with all the hurdles it has faced, it remains powerful—and will continue to be so in the coming years. New York City may not be able attracted the numbers France can attain, but it certainly has captured the heart of the world. This city doesn’t sleep because it couldn’t. Despite everything, New York City is still full of life.