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The glorious Central Park.
The glorious Central Park.
Empire State Building.
New York City today.
Ground Zero lasers.

Fifth Avenue & Ground Zero

Thursday, May 9, 2002
David pays the Big Apple a get-well visit to see how she is recovering as well as showing us around Fifth Avenue.

Getaway has visited New York City many times over the past 10 years, and going by viewers' responses, it is a very popular destination.

While everything has been said, printed, filmed and photographed about the terrorist attacks which took place in the United States last September, we wanted to revisit and see for ourselves just how New York was recuperating.

Our researchers were moved by reports and accounts of survivors, and the crew which went there armed with briefs agreed that no words could ever truly describe the feeling and emotion emanating from Ground Zero, formerly the place where two skyscrapers made up the World Trade Center.

Almost 3000 people lost their lives as the building crashed to earth and now this quiet and rather eerie place attracts thousands of people each day, not so much as sight-seers, but to pay homage to those who died. City officials have had a viewing platform erected for 250 people and free tickets allow visitors half an hour to sit and contemplate.

There are many schools of thought as to what should now happen to the World Trade Center site — some feel it should be left as it is as a reminder, others feel it should be built on — and there are many opinions in between. Time will tell.

Life goes on in this most wondrous of cities, and tragedy may have softened the edge of the crispness most visitors found its inhabitants had.

A good tonic is to walk along part of 5th Avenue, probably the world's most famous street. It stretches 138 blocks from Harlem to Greenwich Village.

5th Avenue is the spine of Manhattan, cutting it in half, and forming the centre of the grid pattern of streets. Everything is east and west, so the city is a user-friendly place.

Harlem is probably the world's most famous black community. In the 1920s, it was a safe haven for black intellectuals, writers, artists and musicians who feared discrimination elsewhere. Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong all lived there, and in the 1960s, civil rights activists went to Harlem to listen to Malcolm X.

For many years it was not a safe place for non-blacks, but that has all changed, and those who love soul food have all their prayers answered in a myriad of restaurants in Harlem. Malcolm Shabazz Market is a good place to visit.

One stretch of the Avenue is known as Museum Mile. The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum at 89th Street was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and is bursting with works by Chagall, Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky, Pollack, Monet and Van Gogh. There is another Guggenheim Museum on Broadway at Soho.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art at 82nd Street and known simply as the Met, is home to more than three million works of art. Around five million visitors go there each year. The Museum of Modern Art, known as MoMA, is on West 53rd between 5th and 6th Avenues. El Museo del Barrio, a Hispanic Museum and the Jewish Museum with works covering 4000 years are also on 5th Avenue. There, too, you will find Goethe House.

5th Avenue is home to Rockefeller Center, Trump Tower and St Patrick's Cathedral — venue for many famous marriages and funerals, St Thomas' Church, Temple Emanu-El, the 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church and The Conservative Synagogue.

On the western edge of Central Park is the famous Dakota Building where John Lennon lived until his murder outside it. Opposite The Dakota is a little slice of Central Park called Strawberry Fields which is a memorial to him. Other famous people who live or have lived in the building are Leonard Bernstein, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland and Rex Reed. Built in 1882 to a design by Henry J Hardenbergh, who also designed the Plaza Hotel, the Victorian and Gothic architecture was featured in the spooky Roman Polanski film Rosemary's Baby.

New York is a shopping Mecca for tourists and locals alike. The footpaths are a constant mass of people who walk 30 percent faster than people in smaller cities. They love to go to Tiffany's, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, Fendi, Prada, Cartier and Gucci. At 47th Street, you will find the Diamond District, and this is where you buy your stones and bargain as hard as you can. FAO Schwarz, the 116-year-old toy store, is a child's paradise and the NBC Experience Store is where you can buy things related to your favourite television personality and take a studio tour.

Between 49th and 47th Streets each year, 5th Avenue is host to the famous Easter Parade. People don their best bonnets to watch the colourful parade which has been the subject of song and film.

Of all the attractions this city can boast, surely its most well-known is the Empire State Building. It took just a year to build in the 1930s and is a little under half a kilometre tall. The Observatory is on the building's 86th floor and attracts three-and-a-half million visitors a year for an unsurpassed view across Manhattan.

As you draw closer to Greenwich Village, the skyscrapers become less frequent and by the time you reach Washington Square Park there are more trees, there is more colour and more little individual shops. The Village, with its desirable brownstone buildings, is home to New York University and is where bohemians and beatniks mingled with rebel actors studying under the groundbreaking father of method acting, Lee Strasbourg. These days it is a thriving community of artists, intellectuals and homosexuals.

In the 1860s, 350 hectares of land were donated to the people and Central Park was created. It keeps the city going as it is an escape from crowds and summer heat and is somewhere green and clean amongst the skyscraper canyons. Some refer to it as the lungs of the city.

Location

The eastern seaboard of the United States.

Cost

Qantas flies to New York three times a week. Prices per person start at $2364 from the east coast, $2624 from Adelaide and $2964 from Perth.
Entry to the Empire State Building is around $17. It is open from 9.30 am to midnight every day.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

NYC and Company — Convention and Visitors Bureau
Ph: 0011 1 212 484 1200
www.nycvisit.com
Find out when the best time to travel to New York is.

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