We all know the rule – if it’s not on Instagram, it never happened. The same goes for what you ate for breakfast, if we can’t see the details of your meal cropped in that little square, then did you even eat it?
In a world where visuals reign supreme, it’s hard not to succumb to the phenomenon that is Instagram. A quick scroll through some destination hashtags and you’ll feel like you’ve already travelled the world over, one landmark at a time.
When it comes to New York, the obvious landmarks like Central Park and Empire State Building flood the Instagram feed, but what else is #trending in the Big Apple? Spoiler alert – It’s definitely not apples.
TOP OF THE ROCK
We’ve all seen the pics from our favourite Instagrammers showing off aerial views of Central Park and the Concrete Jungle that surrounds. But how exactly are they getting to these great heights? The answer lies in one of New York’s most popular tourist attractions, top of the Rockerfeller Center, or otherwise known as Top of the Rock.
RUSS & DAUGHTERS
It’s not quite a landmark, but it certainly is Insta food worthy. Russ & Daughters are a New York hot spot, serving a delectable array of specialty fish and delicatessen items. The family owned deli or ‘smoked fish heaven’ has been around since 1914 and is a New York rite of passage. Just one hot tip – Order the smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel (while you’re busy perfecting the perfect Instagram shot of course).
THE LOVE SCULPTURE
The Love Sculpture is arguably one of the most famous pieces of pop art residing on the corner of Sixth Avenue at 55th Street, Midtown Manhattan. The original design was created by American artist Robert Indiana in 1958, which served as a print image for the Museum of Modern Art Christmas car in 1964. Since then, the design has been used in a variety of formats including a postage stamp and the infamous ‘LOVE’ sculpture seen in Manhattan.
Who doesn’t love a bit of live baseball?! Located in the Bronx, Yankee Stadium is the home of the New York Yankees and several other sporting events including college football, soccer and concerts. Opening in 2009 as a replacement for the old Yankees stadium that sits about a block south of where this one currently stands, it is officially the most expensive stadium ever built.
Street art can be found plastered on walls and in alley ways all over the world, but there’s something about the street art in the Big Apple that seems to paint it on a grander scale. From work by the infamous Banksy through to mosaics by Invader, New York has pockets of street art at every turn. The work below is by Eduardo Kobra and although it’s incredible in its own right, many a traveler have flocked here to reenact the infamous kissing scene in front of Eduardo’s work. For an in-depth guide into street art in New York and beyond, ‘Street Art’ by Lonely Planet is a practical guide with maps and details of where to find those secret stashes.
STATEN ISLAND FERRY
Operating between Manhattan and Staten Island, the Staten Island Ferry moves around 22 million passengers a year and offers unforgettable views of the Manhattan skyline. The best thing about the service? It’s free. That means you get a ride to Staten Island, incredible views of the skyline and glimpses of the Statue of Liberty, all at no cost. The ferry has appeared in several films and TV shows, being a feature in the hit TV series Sex and The City. Contrary to Sex and The City’s infamous episode where Carrie gets stranded after she misses the ‘last’ ferry at midnight, you are not actually stranded after midnight as there are services that run on the hour between 12:30am and 5:30am.
Established in 1857, Central Park is New York’s playground, spanning 843 acres and 2 ½ miles long and ½ mile wide. Loved by locals and travelers alike, the park is one of the most visited urban parks in the United States, with 40 million visitors a year. In August 1997, Central Park was the site of the largest ever concert on record. Country singer Garth Brooks performed a concert for free to a crowd of 980,000 people. Central Park is also one of the most filmed locations in the world and of course, makes a regular appearance in Instagram’s newsfeed.
SOUP NAZI CAFE
The ‘Original Soup Man’, as the café is officially known, shot to fame when the owner Ali Yeganeh became the inspiration for the ‘Soup Nazi’ character in the TV sitcom Seinfeld. In the fictional episode, Yeganeh is portrayed as a tyrannical soup server, forcing his customers to follow a strict set of rules in order to get their bowl of soup. History has it that the actors in Seinfeld went to lunch there for several weeks after the ‘Soup Nazi’ aired and when Yeganeh recognized Jerry Seinfeld, he forced him into apologizing for “ruining” his business, before shouting “no soup for you!” and ejecting the actors from the restaurant.
Built on a historic freight rail line, the High Line New York is a public park elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side, extending from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street. The original rail line track opened in 1934 to freight trains, but in 1999, almost 10 years since the track had last been used, a non profit organization repurposed the area to create the site that it is today – a beautiful, peaceful park.
GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL
The original version of Grand Central Terminal – Grand Central Depot – was built in 1881. Since then and to this day, it’s served as one of the city’s most beloved landmarks, benefiting the public on many levels. It’s not only the gateway to one of the city’s most practical forms of transportation, it also houses some New York’s biggest mysteries, including a hidden bar, whispering tunnels and track 61 – a private railroad station still in occasional use by distinguished guests such as the President.
A NEW YORK ROOFTOP
New York just isn’t New York without a rooftop bar where you can settle in for the evening and watch the sunset. A popular insta-worthy rooftop is the The Standard Rooftop Bar which is located in the Meat Packing District. Locals and tourist alike flock here in Summertime to catch the incredible views at sunset – and it’s little wonder when it offers views like that! The jury is still out as to which is the best rooftop in NYC, but Trip Advisor’s forum can offer some great insight into the best options, depending on where you stay and what your preferences.
CARRIE BRADSHAW’S STOOP
We know these stairs well as they were the landmark for many of Sex and the City’s scenes featuring character Carrie Bradshaw. Although these stairs appeared in many episodes, a little known fact is that Carrie’s actual apartment (where they filmed the inside scenes) was at a different address. You can check out Carrie’s infamous stoop at 64 Perry St in the West Village, but her actual apartment address remains unpublished.
THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE
No visit to New York is complete without a walk on the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s an iconic location that has been around since 1883, connecting the boroughs of Brooklyn to Manhattan. It’s also a site featured in many films and TV shows and a place for lovers to meet – who could forget the episode in Sex and The City when Miranda gets back together with Steve on the bridge?! If you’re planning a trek across the bridge, be sure to begin your journey in Brooklyn, that way you’re walking towards the incredible views of the Manhattan skyline without having to turn your head as you go.
MANHATTAN SKYLINE FROM JERSEY CITY
We’ve all seen the incredible pics circulating showing the skyline in all its magnificent glory. But it’s always been a bit of mystery as to how these people actually get these shots. Where exactly are the photographers standing? How can they get that angle? Well wonder no longer, as it’s been decided that the best pics of Manhattan’s skyline are taken from Jersey City. Stand basically anywhere along the Jersey side of the Hudson River and you can be sure to grab that perfect shot.
Established in 1888 with the original name of Iceland Brothers, Katz’s Deli sits on Ludlow St in New York’s Lower East Side. A New York institution that’s not only popular for its pastrami sandwiches and hot dogs, but has been rated as the number 1 deli in New York. Katz’s was the site of the infamous fake orgasm scene played by Meg Ryan in the movie ‘When Harry Met Sally’. The table that Meg and Billy Crystal filmed the scene now has a sign that says “Where Harry met Sally… Hope you’ve had what she had! Enjoy!” Great news for Brooklynites – it’s just been announced that Katz’s is just weeks away from opening its first outpost in Brooklyn.
Times Square isn’t my favourite place in New York – the crowds, the flashing lights and the blatant consumerism can be a little overwhelming, but I’ll have to admit that it is extremely insta-worthy. A little known fact about Times Square is that it was originally named Longacre Square but got its name changed in 1904 when the New York Times moved its headquarters to the Times Building (now called One Times Square). Tainted by what some call a ‘seedy’ history, in the mid 1990s Rudolph Giuliani led an effort to clean up the area by closing pornographic studios, relocating undesirables, increasing security and opening up more tourist friendly and upmarket establishments. The first neon advertisement appeared on the side of a bank in Times Square in 1904 and today it costs between $1.1 million and $4 million a year to have a neon billboard lighting up the Square.
A hipsters heaven, Williamsburg is located in Brooklyn and has become famous for its indie vibe, full of music performances, gallery shows, thrift shops and some of the best coffee you can get in the US. It is one of New York’s most culturally vibrant enclaves, and although now very gentrified, Williamsburg was originally a true working class suburb of Brooklyn. Like most of New York, the ‘Burg is steeped in history, from its first early French settlers, through to its large slave population and the tragic story of the Revolutionary War. Prison ships would anchor in Wallabout Bay, full of men packed in like sardines and left to die from disease, starvation and malnourishment. As the daily death tolls would rise, dead bodies were dumped into the river or buried quickly on the shores. For years after the war, people walking the beaches of Williamsburg would stumble upon skulls and other bones of the departed. That part of history was somewhat reconciled when many of those skeletons were given proper burials.
New York is such a diverse and interesting city that I could write for days about it’s landmarks, personality and quirks, and still not even come close to covering it all. Did you know that there are enough restaurants in New York that you could eat out every night for 54 years straight and never visit the same restaurant twice?! Pretty incredible to think there’s so much diversity in just one city and things continue to change every day. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, it’s true that New York has all the iridescence of the beginning of the world. Time for another visit.