One of the world's great cities, New York City (known as "The Big Apple", "NYC," or just plain "New York") is a global center for media, entertainment, art, fashion, research, finance, and trade. The bustling, cosmopolitan heart of the 4th largest metropolis in the world and by far the most populous city in the United States, New York has long been a key entry point and a defining city for the nation.
From the Statue of Liberty in the harbor to the Empire State Building towering over the Manhattan skyline, from the tunnels of the subway to the riches of Wall Street, from the bright signs of Times Square to the naturalistic beauty of Central Park, and from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York's landmarks are quintessential American landmarks. The city's neighborhoods and streets are so iconic they have become ingrained into the American consciousness. Here the power, wealth and culture of the United States is on full display in one of the largest and most iconic skylines in the world, in the food and music to be found around every corner, and in the diverse population of immigrants who come from every corner of the globe to take part in what this city has to offer.
For shorter distances, there is no better way of getting around New York than hitting the sidewalk. If you use the subway or buses, you will almost certainly need to walk to and from stations or stops. In all areas of New York a traveler is likely to visit, all streets have wide, smoothly-paved sidewalks. For long distances, walking is also fine and a great way to see the city.
To ride the buses and subways in New York City, it is most likely that you will need a MetroCard. The Metropolitan Transit Authority, or MTA, sells MetroCards for use on the New York City bus and subway systems. While it is possible to pay bus fare using exact change (coins only), you must have a MetroCard to enter the subway system. Cards can be bought at station booths, at vending machines in subway stations, and at many grocery stores and newsstands (look for a MetroCard sign on the store window). The vending machines in the stations accept credit cards; however, MetroCard vending machines will require that you type in your 5-digit zip code, or your regular PIN on international cards.
The PATH rapid transit rail system, which operates between New York and New Jersey, is not operated by the MTA and is therefore a separate fare. Even though PATH accepts payment by MetroCard, no free transfers are available to or from MTA subways or buses. JFK AirTrain also accepts MetroCard, but again, is not operated by the MTA and therefore no free transfers are available.
Despite a reputation for being dirty, the subway, which operates 24 hours a day, is the fastest and best way to travel around the city. Fares are $2.75 (unless you use Single Ride MetroCard, which is $3.00), regardless of distance traveled. The much-feared subway crimes of the 1970s and 1980s are for the most part a thing of the past, and it is usually completely safe. Just remember to use common sense when traveling late at night alone. Try to use heavily-traveled stations, remain visible to other people, and don't display items of value publicly. While violent crime is rare, petty crime - especially theft of iPhones and other expensive electronics - is very frequent, so be aware when using your phone on the train.
Even in Manhattan, with its dense subway network, buses can often be the best way of making a crosstown (i.e. east-west) journey — for example, crossing Central Park to go from the Metropolitan Museum to the Museum of Natural History. And outside peak hours, a ride by bus from the tip of Manhattan at Battery Park to Midtown is a good and cheap way of taking in the sights.
In some areas, livery cabs can be flagged on the street. Though this is technically illegal (the driver, not you, could get into trouble), it is useful in upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs and is accepted practice, though this has mostly been replaced by the Borough Taxis. The minimum fare in these cabs is about $7, and it is advisable to negotiate the fare before you get inside (again, tipping your driver is expected). Since yellow cabs are hard to come by in the outer boroughs, these cars are particularly useful for getting to the airport (your hotel can arrange one, or look up car services in the Yellow Pages).
New York City has a humid continental climate and experiences all four seasons, with hot and humid summers (Jun-Sept), cool and dry autumns (Sep-Dec), cold winters (Dec-Mar), and wet springs (Mar-Jun). Average highs for January are around 38°F (3°C) and average highs for July are about 84°F (29°C). However, temperatures in the winter can go down to as low as 0°F (-18°C) and in the summer, temperatures can go as high as 100°F (38°C) or slightly higher. The temperature in any season is quite variable and it is not unusual to have a sunny 60°F (16°C) day in January followed by a snowy 25°F (-3°C) day. New York can also be prone to snowstorms and nor'easters (large storms similar to a tropical storm), which can dump as much as 2 feet (60 cm) of snow in 24–48 hours. Although snowstorms are a regular occurrence during the winter months, the snow rarely lies more than a few days before it partially melts. Major snowstorms can happen as early as Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November) and as late as the second week in April, though this is not the norm. Tropical storms can also hit New York City in the summer and early fall.
The currency used in New York is the American Dollar.
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My first visit to New York was full of back to back excursions, I went with a friend who was also visiting for the first time.
When you visit a new city for the first time, the best thing to do on the first day is to do some sort of city tour, it helps find your way, understand the city layout and find out a bit more about the history of the place.