New York, New York: Core views of the Big Apple

There are many ways to get a fabulous view of New York. And they don't all need to involve scaling dizzy heights.


There was a time when the best view over New York was to be had from the Empire State Building. First timers to the Big Apple would traditionally head to Fifth Street and West 34th Street where this iconic building rises up seemingly into the sky, to take a lift to the 86th or 102nd floor observation decks.

The reward: a sensational sense of orientation and an idea of just how big the city is.

And anyone who has seen Sleepless in Seattle will have had a heads up about just how romantic the vista is at night when the city lights up and shimmers into the night sky.

However, the Empire may well have been knocked off its pedestal by the view from One World Trade Center - also known as Freedom Tower.

Opened in May this year, it offers a 360-degree view from the observation deck at a heady height of 1,776ft. To give you a perspective, the view from the Empire is at 1,250 feet.

Fact file

Fly: All business class airline, La Compagnie, offers return flighs from Luton to Newark from $769 return
Stay: Trump Soho. Doubles from £394 per night
High-rise views:
Empire State Building
Top of the Rock
Freedom Tower
Statue of Liberty
On the water:
Circle line tour

A speedy lift takes you to the 102nd floor in less than a minute. At a press of a button, the interactive HD video, City Pulse tells you about the any of neighbourhoods you are looking at.

There's also the observation deck at Top of the Rock on the 70th floor of the GE Building. You will find this in the of the top of Rockefeller Center - a complex of 19 commercial buildings. From its ship-shaped deck you can see Central Park, The Empire State Building and the Bronx and way beyond if you use the vintage coin operated telescopes. Get there in January and you can buy the Sky Skate Combination ticket (not cheap at $48) which means you can combine your trip into the heavens with skating at the Rockefeller Center Rink.

In case you didn't know, Manhattan is an island and it offers a whole new perspective when seen from the water. The three-hour Circle Line Best of NYC Cruise sails under three bridges via seven rivers. You'll get to see the forest covered cliffs over the Hudson and Fort Tryon Park. Or take the one hour cruise that sails around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. The latter is the hub where immigrants arrived before being processed and settling in New York. It's an emotive experience and you may wish to make a note to catch a boat from Battery Park Terminal to see it.

Better still, buy a combo ticket for the opportunity to climb over 100 steps of the spiral staircase that joins the feet to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. This 305 foot icon is gift from France, and was dedicated to the city on October 28, 1886.

The view, through plexiglass, takes in the harbour, a glimpse of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Verrazano Bridge and Staten Island.

But here's a tip: Only 365 people are given access to the crown each day, so if this is on your bucket list, be sure to buy tickets months ahead, especially for a weekend visit and during the summer.

You can also experience New York by water taxi. Not only is this a fun way to get around, if you catch the route from Pier 17 in South Street Seaport to Brooklyn's Fulton Ferry you will get to see Brooklyn Bridge and the lower Manhattan skyline.

There are also views you can enjoy for free, in particular from the city's bridges. They soar over the East River and of course crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is bound to be on any holiday-makers' list. After all, it was given a certain cachet by its appearance in Sex in the City, Enchanted and Limitless.

There are lots of photo opportunities and if you position yourself on the south west corner -- the side closest to the Statue of Liberty - you can take a selfie against the backdrop of the Manhattan skyscrapers.

When you get to the other side of this bridge, make your way to Brooklyn Heights for a view of Manhattan.

The least attractive bridge - you may have seen it in American Gangster - is Williamsburg Bridge, which incidentally has been nicknamed Jewish Gangplank because it is favoured by the Chasidic population. It connects Manhattan's Lower East Side (where Chinatown and Little Italy are located) to Brooklyn and has several viewing points. Strollers can see trendy Manhattan on one side and the Chasidic neighbourhood on the other and residents of both use it. Despite its tall, ornate columns, the graffiti gives it an edgy, almost scruffy look. But when it comes to people watching you'll find lots of colour to keep your interest. Once on the other side, it's a short walk to markets, diners such at Katz's Deli, and ample shops.

You can also combine a fabulous view with a little culture at the Metropolitan museum on Fifth avenue.

Yes, it has incredible art inside, (such as Van Gogh, Wheatfield with Cypresses and Giotto, The Epiphany and stacks of American art) but make your way to the 5th floor to the Cafe and Martini Bar. From this vantage point you can peer out over Central Park while enjoying a drink and a snack. As a bonus you can also stroll through its rooftop's sculpture garden.

Perhaps one of the city's gems is the High Line Park.

This is a one-and-a -half mile stretch of abandoned railway line. It hovers above the streets of Manhattan's West side and was transformed into a pedestrian walkway and park filled with shops, restaurants gardens and, of course the views.

You'll spot the newly-opened Whitney Museum of American Art and later the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty will come into view when you reach the point where the High Line crosses 10th Avenue. At 26th street, you can look over the Chelsea district.

Here's a tip: Get there early (it opens at 7am) before the crowds to experience a peaceful stroll along the stretch. Make sure you have comfy shoes and your camera so you can photograph New York from angles that you simply can't catch from anywhere else.

This is a lovely pre-breakfast stroll and you can reward yourself with a huge breakfast at one of the restaurants at the end of the line.

Staying in a hotel with a view is a real treat. A fairly new addition to the Manhattan skyline is 49-story Trump Soho hotel with bedrooms that have floor to ceiling windows to maximise the city views.

But surely getting an eyeful of Manhattan and the Hudson River at sunset from their Penthouse suite bath has to be a highlight.

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