New York City
The "Big Apple", the biggest city, though not the capital city of the USA
(that's Washington D.C.
, of course), but in many ways New York is kind of the capital of the world. Not only is it the main seat of the United Nations
, it's also probably the most cosmopolitan city on Earth. Hyperboles about this metropolis abound, but it really is one of the most fascinating cities one can travel to.
For the dark tourist, and for the world, New York's aura was forever changed by 9/11
. That scar, both physically (still) and psychologically remains deep. In fact, ethical issues surrounding dark tourism came to the fore here, when people started visiting the site out of some kind of morbid curiosity, and the local souvenir trade quickly caught up. Still, it can't be denied that "Ground Zero
", as the site of the collapsed Twin Towers became known almost instantly, makes New York a major destination for the dark tourist and will continue to do so even more now that the official memorial that had been under construction for so long has finally been finished.
>What there is to see
>Access and costs
>Combinations with other dark destinations
>Combinations with non-dark destinations
What there is to see:
not many dark sites, but that includes one of the world's most significant recent ones, "Ground Zero"! Furthermore there's a much older site which was a defining element for New York and the USA
in its own way too: the immigration centre on Ellis Island. The UN Headquarters make for some dark tourism elements as well, esp. on guided tours:
In addition, there are a few secondary places one might want to consider visiting when in New York as a dark tourist. The Museum of Tolerance
(its main base is L.A.
) has a New York branch in the heart of midtown Manhattan on East 42nd Street. It is open Monday to Friday 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. (closing early on Fridays at 3.30 p.m. from November to March), closed on Saturdays and open by appointment only on Sundays for groups of 20+, phone 212-697-1180.
Many would also consider the place where ex-Beatle John Lennon was shot outside the Dakota Building as dark site. Nearby is the associated pilgrimage site at "Strawberry Fields", esp. the memorial in the form of mural on the ground that says "Imagine" (after a peace anthem by John Lennon). Find them at the end of West 72nd Street at Central Park.
Almost a pilgrimage site is also the legendary Chelsea Hotel, whose list of famous guests of artists and musicians reads like a Who's Who of 20th century pop culture. Amongst the most famous names are Bob Dylan, Alan Ginsberg, Leonard Cohen, Alice Cooper, Jimi Hendrix, Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Rivers, Arthur Miller, etc. etc. – from a dark perspective, however, it's esp. two names that stand out. The first is Dylan Thomas who may have drunk himself to death here (although it's disputed – and anyway he actually died after having been taken to hospital). The second is Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols who (so it is presumed) stabbed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen to death in their room at the Chelsea in 1978. The hotel is on West 23rd Street between 7th and 8th Ave. Until recently you could still stay at the hotel to savour its aura – or, for just a quick nod to its history, you could simply pop by for a drink in the hotel's bar.
UPDATE: the hotel has been closed for renovation for a few years now, and it's all not quite going to plan. There's controversy about/with long-term artist tenants and the costs for the renovation are running dramatically over budget. Allegedly, the all-new incarnation of the hotel is to open its doors in 2017. We'll see … also how much of the old character will have been changed ...
on the north-eastern coast of the USA
, just north of the border of New Jersey, at the estuary of the Hudson River.
Access and costs: easy to get to, but can be expensive.
New York is one of the main entry points for international flights to the USA
. Often bargains can be had, but even at regular prices, flying to New York can be cheaper than flying to other destinations a similar distance away. From within the US, buses and trains can be an alternative to flying (bus companies like Greyhound or Megabus can be exceptionally good value, especially if booked well in advance – trains tend to be significantly pricier).
And of course in the land of the automobile you'd expect (hire) cars to be a favourite option. Not within New York though. Here a car would not only be not very useful, it would actually be a hindrance. New York is famous for being a place in which even millionaires walk to work. And for longer distances there's a highly efficient public transport network (the Subway being the main one).
Accommodation in New York can be very expensive, and when shopping around for budget options be careful not to end up anywhere dodgy (as happened to friends of mine once).
Food and drink
can be pricey too, especially eating out at fine dining restaurants, but there's also plenty of cheap options, esp. at ethnic restaurants, of which New York has so many that it would be impossible to even list the range of national cuisines here.
Time required: just for the dark sites a day or two may suffice, but it would be a shame not to savour some of the other marvels this city has to offer. A week can easily be filled.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
New York is of course a major tourist destination in itself and the list of things to see and do as a tourist in the city is endless. Highlights must include a trip to the top of the Empire State Building, a visit to Central Park, walking across Brooklyn Bridge, and any of New York's world-famous museums. And simply wandering around the city's iconic architecture of famous skyscrapers (mostly in Midtown and Downtown) – now minus the Twin Towers (though I've heard some New Yorkers say that from a purely architectural point of view they're not much of a loss … only the mode of their demolition wasn't what one would have wished for). Now the new developments at "Ground Zero
" are significantly altering the skyline again …
Apart from the Empire State Building current must-see NY skyscrapers, in my opinion, are first and foremost the Chrysler Building (possibly THE most iconic skyscraper of them all), also the Woolworth Building (which started the tall skyscraper craze), the "Lipstick Building", and many more …
A boat trip to the Statue of Liberty, which you can combine with a trip to Ellis Island
, is probably also virtually obligatory. You can even go on helicopter sightseeing flights around Manhattan, though these are quite expensive.
Bronx Zoo, a long subway ride north, is also worth the excursion – it's one of the largest and best I've ever encountered anywhere; and the range of animals is also exceptional (some extremely rare and hardly ever seen in zoos elsewhere).
Another way-out-of-the-city destination of note is Coney Island with (what's left of) its amusement attractions. The area (in particular Brighton Beach) is also known as "Little Odessa", thanks to its high proportion of emigrants from the former Soviet Union
The cosmopolitan character of New York City is also reflected all over the city – not least in a restaurant scene that offers a variety of world cuisines second to none in the world.
The richness of other cultural offerings in New York is similarly legendary – there are more world-class museums, art galleries, music venues, etc. to name here. From an architectural point of view, the most iconic is probably the Guggenheim, on 5th Avenue opposite the southern rim of Central Park.
New York also makes a perfect starting point for exploring further afield in the USA
– esp. of course the Mid-Atlantic region. Both Philadelphia
(ca. two hours' drive away) and Washington D.C.
(a good four hours) are easily reachable by long-distance bus or train.
- New York 01 - Chrysler building from the Empire State
- New York 02 - Statue of Liberty
- New York 03 - Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline
- New York 04 - Manhattan in 2002
- New York 05 - Midtown Manhattan
- New York 06 - Empire State building
- New York 07 - inside Empire State
- New York 08 - on top of Empire State building
- New York 09 - Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge
- New York 10 - Brooklyn Bridge
- New York 11 - Manhattan skyscrapers
- New York 12 - Lipstick building
- New York 13 - Trump Tower
- New York 14 - Downtown Manhattan seen from Brooklyn in 2002
- New York 15 - sightseeing helicopter
- New York 16 - NYC with Central Park from the helicopter
- New York 17 - USS Intrepid Sea Air Museum
- New York 18 - steam vent
- New York 19 - The Guggenheim
- New York 20 - dilapidated buildings in Little Italy
- New York 21 - Williamsburg Broadway
- New York 22 - nuclear fallout shelter in Downtown Manhatten
- New York 23 - Central Park
- New York 24 - the old Chelsea Hotel
- New York 25 - rats of steel
- New York 26 - new architecture
- New York 27 - skyline, old and new
- New York 28 - by night
- New York skyline in 2002