Flights to New York
Did you know?
Did you know?
New York has more than a few surprises up its sleeves (which is only to be expected, given its size, history, and diversity). Brush up on your Big Apple trivia with these surprising facts about some of the city’s most popular landmarks, from the Statue of Liberty to Washington Square Park.
- The Statue of Liberty resides on Liberty Island – and is actually closer to New Jersey than New York. In fact, Liberty Island is claimed by both states, despite the statue’s reputation as a quintessential emblem of New York.
- Times Square is no stranger to transformation. Once known as “Longacre Square,” the Midtown landmark changed its name when The New York Times moved into the area. The newspaper has since relocated, but “Times Square” was catchy, so the name lives on.
- Modern-day Wall Street takes its name from “de Waal Straat.” It’s what Dutch colonists called the wall that surrounded their New Amsterdam settlement, which separated their territory from nearby English colonists and Native Americans.
- Washington Square Park is now a hub for NYU students and other downtown bohemians, but long ago the space served as a cemetery. In a macabre twist, there are an estimated 20,000 bodies buried beneath the park’s famous arch and its surrounding greenery.
- Beginning in the 1920s, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and 40 Wall Street were engaged in a public race to be the tallest building in the world. Though the Empire State Building was the last to be completed, it quickly trumped the competition.
Novelists, filmmakers and musicians have long gravitated to New York’s bright lights, and the result is a rich cultural output that sees the city function as both backdrop and creative muse. Get a head start on your next New York getaway with these famous Big Apple books, movies, and tunes.
1. Bright Lights, Big City. Jay McInerney
McInerney’s tale chronicles the glittering – and at times absurd – life and times of status-obsessed New Yorkers in the 1980s, revealing the fragile heart that beats within every Manhattan go-getter.
2. A Little Life. Hanya Yanagihara
An ensemble narrative that follows four close friends from college to middle age, Yanagihara’s brilliant book captures a New York both light and dark.
3. Another Country. James Baldwin
Baldwin’s novel is a mesmerising tale of unconventional lives and longing, told against the backdrop of a jazzy, 1950s Greenwich Village.
4. Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann
Tethered around Philippe Petit’s incredible tightrope walk between the Twin Towers, Let the Great World Spin follows a cast of diverse characters as they navigate the streets of 1970s New York.
5. The Age of Innocence. Edith Wharton
This Pulitzer Prize-winner looks at ritzy New York life during the Gilded Age, complete with a scandalous love affair that doesn’t stand a chance.
6. Motherless Brooklyn. Jonathan Lethem
Lethem’s magnificent detective tale, told by a tough guy protagonist with Tourette Syndrome, depicts a New York that’s laced with neo-noir humour.
7. The Catcher in the Rye. JD Salinger
The quintessential young man with an attitude problem, Holden Caulfield gets kicked out of prep school and takes readers through his formative adventures in New York while cynically picking his world apart.
8. Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Truman Capote
Capote’s meditation on status and self-awareness sees New York society sweetheart Holly Golightly caper through various romantic entanglements.
9. The New York Trilogy. Paul Auster
Containing three interwoven novellas, Auster’s thrilling take on the city contains detective story elements with a postmodern flourish.
10. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier Clay, Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon’s vision of New York is colourful and freewheeling, a super-sized conflation of the midcentury with older myths – and comic books.
Films. 2 of 3
1. When Harry Met Sally
Nora Ephron’s story of two friends (Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan) who reluctantly try out love also whispers sweet nothings to Manhattan (or, in the case of the Katz’s Delicatessen scene, slightly louder expressions of affection).
2. West Side Story
The Jets and the Sharks fight it out and sing it loud in New York, in this musical take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet .
Martin Scorsese’s wild ride of a movie follows a young taxi driver played by Robert DeNiro as he coasts around the city at night – and begins to lose his grip on reality.
4. Hannah and Her Sisters
The majority of Woody Allen’s films celebrate New York in a huge way. This film takes it a step further with its generous street scenes and a dazzling showcase of urban architecture.
Francis Ford Coppola’s classic mob flick casts New York as a city of dreams and nightmares, where intrigue and danger exist just below the surface.
6. The Devil Wears Prada
For a feel-good boost, this fashionable flick shows the inside machinations of a top style magazine, and explores the dream of every cosmopolitan glamour girl.
7. Do The Right Thing
Spike Lee’s masterpiece hones in on the Bed-Stuy neighbourhood of Brooklyn during one midsummer day, when temperatures – and tempers – begin to rise.
8. Dog Day Afternoon
Based on a real-life altercation, this 1970s flick sees a young Al Pacino take on the role of hapless bank robber (and accidental hostage taker).
This 2013 black-and-white indie depicts what New York life is like as a twenty-something, from love to loss and back again.
Everyone’s favourite 1980s flick may focus on the paranormal, but it’s also a classic New York movie, with filming locations including the New York Public Library and the Columbia University campus.
Music. 3 of 3
1. Daydream Nation. Sonic Youth
The New York-based indie pioneers were famous for their distortion-heavy yet pitch-perfect sound.
2. Ready To Die. Notorious B.I.G.
The king of Brooklyn hip-hop, Biggie Smalls turned the music industry on its ear with his inimitable sound.
3. License to Ill. The Beastie Boys
The three wiseguys in The Beastie Boys fused punk and rap, creating some of the most enduring tracks ever to emerge from the five boroughs.
4. Kind of Blue. Miles Davis
A defining moment in jazz history, this recording was made in August of 1959 in New York City, and will forever be a part of this town.
5. Fever to Tell. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Famous for her spangly leotards and on-stage shenanigans, Yeah Yeah Yeahs lead singer Karen O stoked this art rock group’s breakout in the early 2000s.
6. Horses. Patti Smith
The raw force of Patti Smith’s voice and lyrics created an irresistible sound in New York City’s punk scene.
7. The Velvet Underground Nico. The Velvet Underground Nico
One of the most influential records of all time, the Velvet Underground’s debut is still a classic.
8. Hamilton, Original Broadway Cast Recording
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical about Founding Father Alexander Hamilton has shaped up to be one of Broadway’s biggest all-time smashes.
9. Is This It, The Strokes
Famous for ushering in the early 2000s New York rock revolution, The Strokes earned instant fame with their laidback cool and jangly refrains.
10. Ramones. The Ramones
Beyond the leather jackets and skinny jeans, New York punk was at its coolest with the Ramones, who formed in Queens in 1974.