Summer Weekend in New York City

New York City has such a strong character, so people either love it or hate it. And, frankly speaking, both have valid reasons to do so. I&...

New York City has such a strong character, so people either love it or hate it. And, frankly speaking, both have valid reasons to do so. I've been in the City of Big Apple (as New York City is often called) seven times so far, and my own attitude to New York City has evolved from very negative to highly positive.

If you've never been to New York City, here is my advice to you: go there when the weather is good and never ever drive a car in Manhattan. To save some money, stay in a hotel in a satellite city (e.g. Brooklyn, Queens, Jersey City) and take a public transit to Manhattan. My own preference is to stay in New Jersey, drive to the Hudson River, park a car and take a ferry or a subway train called PATH. This way you'll save time, money and, of course, nerves. 
New York City has been known as a gateway to the United States. Millions of immigrants have "discovered America" and begun their new life in New York City. Today many tourists make New York their first and often the only destination in the United Stated. Hence, they judge about America based on what they have seen in New York City. While some of it is true, New York City is very different from the rest of the country. Here, people of different cultures, races and backgrounds coexist in a relatively peaceful way. You can see millionaires and homeless people together on the city streets. It's a tough yet rewarding place to live where everyone has an opportunity to succeed. New York City is very rough, busy and hardworking where beauty yields to practicality. Because of these and thousands other reasons, New York has been attracting new immigrants as a magnet.
Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal at the Liberty State Park. Many new immigrants who arrived between 1892 to 1954 began their journey across America here after they had passed immigration on Ellis Island.
New immigrants used to arrive to Ellis Island exactly the same way as these tourists did on a cruise ship. Interesting fact: Ellis Island is just a few hundred meters off the coast of New Jersey, and is connected to a mainland by a bridge. This bridge was built and used by trucks during the reconstruction of the Ellis Island's historical facilities in 1980's - 1990's. After the reconstruction had been completed, some people suggested that the bridge be used by pedestrians to get to the island. But the two cruise ship companies, that own exclusive rights to bring tourists to the island, have voted against it. So the bridge has never been open to public. These companies' argument was that if tourists come on foot to the island, they are not going to experience the same feelings the new immigrants did when they first arrived to New York City.
Five years later after the immigration centre was opened here, the old wooden building burned down. The new one in French Renaissance style was built from the money collected from immigrants.
Today the main building houses the Museum of Immigration. Evacuation followed the Hurricane Sandy in 2012, left almost no historical artifacts here. Whatever you can see on the picture, is apparently not worth protecting.
Today the Great Hall, where immigrants would be registered, is almost empty. Back in old days, immigrants often had to stay overnight because of long lines. This hall is on the second floor. While immigrants were going upstairs, doctors who were standing to the side, would perform an initial visual medical check and identify those who could potentially be sick or unfit for work. They specifically looked how people walked, if they had any trouble breathing, limped, etc. About 20% would be sent to an additional medical examination. However, those new immigrants who were denied to enter the United Stated because of their health made no more than 2%.
During the Civil War of 1861-1865, only about 5,000 immigrants a year came. At the beginning of 1900s, this number has rocketed to more than 10,000 a day. The majority of the people arriving to the United States were from Europe. Many of them - from Western Ukraine.
Museum has a lot of fascinating facts and stories. For example, did you know that immigrants of Asian origin (from China, India, Japan, etc. and even native Indians) were not eligible to get a US citizenship up until 1952? However, their children born in the United States were able to get it since 1898. Gay were considered mentally ill until 1979, and they simply would not be allowed to enter the United Stated if they identified themselves as gay. Mexicans living in the lands that were taken by the United States after the peace treaty in 1848, in fact, had no rights and freedoms until the early 20th century. They lived in so-called limbo. This museum has many other interesting facts and stories about immigration, so take your time to explore it.
For a modest price of $7 per half an hour, you can have a chance to find your old relatives in the museum's archives.
A cruise ship makes the next stop at Liberty Island with its famous Statue of Liberty. On this picture: Jersey City (far left), Ellis Island (in the middle) and Manhattan (right).
Like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Tower Bridge in London, the Statue of Liberty is the hallmark of New York City. The fact that it is named in honor of freedom, is not accidental. The concept of freedom was often associated with the United States in 19th century, so the French decided to make a symbolic gift to America. Of course, every apocalyptic movie with the United States has to culminate at the Statue of Liberty which is always hit by a natural or an artificial disaster: fallen meteorite, tsunami, earthquake or a monster from the unknown planet.
The Statue of Liberty was designed by a French sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, and built by Gustave Eiffel. Yes, the same Eiffel who built the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris that was so criticized by Parisians. The Statue of Liberty was even compared with the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world.
Here is a lifehack: if you take a cruise from Jersey City, you can actually save some time and money as you can get off a ship on Manhattan after visiting both islands. And you get a perfect view of New York City in all its glory from the water.
There is, however, another way to see Manhattan from the water, this time it's completely free: you can take a Staten Island Ferry (big orange ship on this picture) which departs from the Battery Park in Lower Manhattan.
Downtown Manhattan and its famous financial district.

With all its mesmerizing beauty of high-tech architecture, this place reminds about the tragedy which happened on September 11, 2001. Americans simply call it "Nine Eleven".
Park at the 9/11 Memorial.
Two identical pools are part of the 9/11 Memorial. They are located precisely where there used to be the old towers 1 and 2 of the World Trade Center. Pools make two-stage waterfalls. The lower waterfall looks like an abyss, so you can't actually see the bottom. The waterfalls deafen the noise of the city, and make you think about what happened there more than 14 years ago. Next to it is the new One World Trade Center - the highest building in North America and the 4th highest in the world. For those who like 360 degrees rooftop views, there is a new observation deck up there opened in 2015.
Empty Sky Memorial in Jersey City across the Hudson river. If seen from the distance of 100-150 feet (30-50 m), these metal walls resemble the towers of the World Trade Center fallen on 9/11.
Downtown Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Grand Central Station. But where are the tracks? Everything is here, but buried underground for over 100 years now. It's hard to believe, but the station has 44 platforms and 67 tracks which makes it the largest train station in the world. At the lowest level, there is a secret track number 61. It was used by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. That platform is only accessible via a secret elevator from the hotel "Astoria" above it.
The beauty and the Beast: Chrysler Building (left) and Rockefeller Center (right).

Lego: you don't have to use bricks, you can use books.
New York City skyline from the Central Park (left) and magnificent St. Patrick's Cathedral on the 5th Avenue (right).
The Central Park is the lungs of New York City.

More posts from America to come. Stay tuned!

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