Get to Know NYC

The streets. The vendors. The subway. The skyline. Central Park. Grand Central Terminal. Whatever moves you β€” it's waiting in New York City.

Why Planners πŸ’™ New York

All of planning's basic tenets β€” and lessons learned β€” are on display in New York. For example ...

Walkability. Welcome to America's most walkable city β€” with a Walk Score of 85/100. On the grid system, streets are short and avenues are long. That's north of Houston. South of Houston (pronounced House-ton), pack a GPS.

Density. New York is the most densely populated major city in the United States. The city has double the population of L.A., within a smaller footprint. Sprawl? Nope.

Greenery. Concrete jungle? Not so much. About 14 percent of the city β€” 29,000 acres β€” is parkland. Central Park (883 acres) is the most visited urban park in the country. In a city essentially surrounded by water, you'd also expect to find some beaches. Check. New York has 14 miles of sandy shoreline.

Diversity. As many as 800 languages are spoken here, making New York the world's most linguistically diverse city. Queens, the largest borough, is the most ethnically diverse urban area on the planet.

Healthy communities. Could all that walking and green space make New Yorkers live longer? Something does. Life expectancy in the Big Apple is nearly 81, about two years longer than the national average.

Safety. The New York murder rate is the third lowest among major U.S. cities. And while some other cities' spiked, New York's rate fell in 2016.

Resiliency. From the September 11 attack to Hurricane Sandy, the New York region has proven its ability to experience catastrophe and come back stronger.

Mobility. The New York City subway runs 24/7. That's not to mention buses β€” crosstown and intercity β€” and commuter trains. Most New Yorkers get to work on mass transit and this is the only U.S. city where more than half the households don't have a car. Learn more about getting around in New York.

Food trucks! Look around: New York has about 4,000 licensed mobile food vendors. There's a good chance you can grab a hot dog or falafel wherever you roam. So when you get up and go, you won't go hungry.

History's Been Made Here

Broadway, from 159th Street to 218th Street, is named Juan Rodriguez Way in honor of New York's first non-Native American settler. He came from the island of Hispaniola in the winter of 1613–14.

The Federal Hall National Memorial, 26 Wall Street, is where the John Peter Zenger trial of 1735 established freedom of the press in North America. In 1789, Federal Hall became the seat of America's first capital. President Washington was inaugurated, the first U.S. Congress and Supreme Court sat, and the Bill of Rights came into being there.

The Brown Building, site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, still stands at the east edge of Washington Park. The 1911 fire claimed the lives of 146 garment workers and spurred better conditions for factory workers.

One of the hottest spots during the Harlem Renaissance was the Apollo Theater. It opened its doors in 1914 as a burlesque theater and became the Apollo in 1934. About 1.3 million people visit the Apollo every year.

The Stonewall Inn gave its name to the 1969 riots credited with launching the LGBT rights movement. The inn, at 53 Christopher Street, is still open for business. And it's a National Historic Landmark. How many of those are open until 4 a.m. every day?

The Five Boroughs

The Bronx

The Bronx has a complex β€” the largest cooperatively owned housing complex in the country. Co-op City has 15,372 residences in 35 high-rise buildings and seven townhouse clusters on 320 acres of land. That leaves plenty of room for shops, schools, and green space.

Pelham Bay Park, all 2,765 acres of it, is the city's largest park. Biking. Birding. Bocce. Beaches.

And don't forget the Bronx Zoo β€” the largest metropolitan zoo in the world β€” and the New York Botanical Garden.


Downtown Brooklyn is the third-largest CBD in NYC, behind Midtown and Lower Manhattan. It's also the only central core neighborhood in the outer boroughs. Move along to the New York Transit Museum, located in an out-of-commission rail station.

Want to walk the Brooklyn Bridge? Consider taking the subway to the Brooklyn side and walking toward the Manhattan skyline. Allow an hour if you want to stop for photos.

Coney Island, dating back to the 1870s, was one of the first amusement parks in the United States. The rides, boardwalk, and beach are still drawing crowds.


The High Line is a rails-to-trails park running above the streets on Manhattan's West Side. You can follow it from the Meatpacking District just about to the Javits Center.

Head down to the Lowline Lab, on the Lower East Side, testing ground for the world's first underground park.

Ten museums are located on Museum Mile: Fifth Avenue from 82nd Street to 105th Street on the Upper East Side.


Get your bearings at the Queens Museum of Art. It houses a 9,335-square-foot scale replica of the five boroughs. About 895,000 New York structures make an appearance.

Queens has welcomed musicians β€” especially musicians of color β€” for decades. In the 1940s, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Charlie Parker called Queens home. More recently, hip-hop artists like LL Cool J, Nicki Minaj, and A Tribe Called Quest have lived and worked there.

Flushing Meadows–Corona Park hosted the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs. The U.S. Open Tennis Championships are held there each year.

Staten Island

In September 1776, Benjamin Franklin met with General Howe to try to work out a peaceful end to the American Revolution. The effort failed, but the Conference House on Staten Island where they met still stands.

The Staten Island Greenbelt has the city's largest remaining forest preserve (2,500 acres), plus 28 miles of walking trails and seven city parks.

The Staten Island Ferry offers unobstructed views of Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Lower Manhattan. It runs 24/7, and it's free.

Fast Facts

You are not alone. Nearly 60 million tourists visited New York in 2015.

Smile! New York is the most photographed city in the world.

Those water tanks on the roofs of New York buildings aren't relics. The city started requiring them in the 1800s on buildings higher than six stories. Why? To keep high water pressure from breaking municipal pipes. The pressure's still on, and the tanks are still full.

When the Brooklyn Bridge first opened in 1883, New Yorkers were afraid to cross it. To prove its strength, P. T. Barnum led 12 elephants across the bridge.

New York City accounts for one in three mass transit users in the United States and two-thirds of the nation's rail riders.

Taxi! There are about 13,000 yellow cabs in New York.

Although half of New York households don't have a car, the George Washington Bridge is the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge. Must be the taxis.

New York City health inspectors give letter grades to the city's 24,000 restaurants. They're supposed to be posted in restaurant windows. Don't see a letter? Could be a sign!

You could eat at a different New York restaurant every day for 12 years and still have more eateries to try.

If you want to have what she's having, head for Katz's Delicatessen where the famous scene in When Harry Met Sally was filmed.

What do Scrabble, gelatin, air conditioning, and Foursquare have in common? They were all invented in New York.

The I Love New York campaign debuted in 1977, when the city was on the edge of bankruptcy. Madison Avenue ad agency Wells Rich Greene came up with the campaign, and designer Milton Glaser created the iconic logo.