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New York: The greatest city on earth

No place on the planet can match the buzz and excitement of the Big Apple.

By Martin Breen

Published 02/12/2015

Standing tall: The Empire State building and One World Trade Centre (in the distance) illuminating New York's skyline.
Standing tall: The Empire State building and One World Trade Centre (in the distance) illuminating New York's skyline.
The Beacon Hotel in New York is the perfect base for a visit to NYC's great attractions.
The Beacon Hotel in New York is the perfect base for a visit to NYC's great attractions.

New York for me is the most exciting city in the world with more to see and do than anywhere else on the planet.

Standing on the sidewalks of the Big Apple is like being on a film set and more than likely you will find yourself walking onto an actual set, as I did - onto the set of Bradley Cooper’s new TV show Limitless.

Whether it’s bars, restaurants, shopping, shows, museums or landmarks you are interested in, NYC has something for everyone.

Everything is so familiar, from the street signs and iconic buildings to the yellow taxis and skyline.

Staying in the fabulous Beacon Hotel on the Upper West Side, next door to the famous Beacon Theater where so many music legends have played, I found the ideal location to base myself for my recent break.

Managed by the charismatic Tom Travers, this hotel offered the biggest rooms I have stayed in while in New York and the location is just perfect - five minutes walk from Central Park and beside a subway which will bring you to the madness of downtown in minutes.

The Beacon rooms included a kingsize bed, living room, marble bathroom and fully-equipped kitchenette, a fantastic resource as the city’s famous Fairway Market is located directly across the street.

The area is buzzing with bars and restaurants and you feel a sense of the real New York as this is where many locals live and work, you will even often spot some local celebrity residents walking in the park as one of our group did when they literally bumped into actor Christian Slater walking his dogs.

One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum on the site where the Twin Towers stood before Al Qaeda attacked them in 2001.

This visit is a must for anyone travelling to New York. It is a real emotional rollercoaster, an incredibly moving experience as you see artefacts retrieved from the rubble and learn more about the stories of the victims, the survivors and the heroes of that day.

The museum, which takes around four hours to do properly, is exceptionally well laid-out and captures each moment of the events of September 11, 2001 in incredible detail.

Walking around the various rooms you will see the crumpled remains of fire trucks dispatched to the Twin Towers, the scorched steel and staircases from the buildings, children’s clothing recovered from the Pentagon plane crash site and glasses, watches and jewellery which were found among the 9/11 debris.

The museum falls silent in the section where you hear the voice messages left to their loved ones by those trapped in the burning buildings or on board the four doomed flights.

Make sure to book your tickets in advance as expect long queues at peak times if you don’t.

Outside, the footprint of where both World Trade Center towers once stood is now marked by two one-acre memorial pools, which have transformed the site into a place of peace, tranquillity and sadness.

Overlooking the pools is the new One World Trade Center which is the tallest building in NYC at 104 storeys and 1,776ft high.

Other buildings in New York offer fantastic views of Manhattan, including the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center, but this offers the best view of the city.

The observation deck on the 100th floor offers a completely uninterrupted, 360 degree panoramic view of New York and the experience to get there is something else also as the building has the world’s fastest elevators too.  Travelling 1,250ft up in just 47 seconds, it reaches speeds comparable to Usain Bolt’s world-record 100 metre sprint.

During this ear-poppingly swift ascent you get an incredible time-lapse CGI history of the city through the centuries to the present day. It includes a fleeting glimpse of the old South Tower before it vanishes as the timeline reaches 2001.

But this £2.5 billion building is about so much more than just the view. While there is no mention of what happened the previous World Trade Center bar that glimpse in the elevator, the skyscraper is testimony to the city’s incredible accomplishment in rebuilding its tallest structure 14 years after the New York skyline was altered forever.

While the One World Center now represents New York’s future there is no better place to trace its past than at the immigration station on Ellis Island.

Hopping on a ferry across I soon found myself standing in the hall which more than a million Irish people passed through between 1892 and 1954 when they made their journey to America for the first time.

Today one third of the US population traces its ancestry back to Ellis Island immigrants and during your visit you can check your own ancestors’ records to see if they passed through Ellis Island.

I got a real taste of the old and new worlds of New York and both are equally fascinating.

There is just that much to see and do in NYC that it is no wonder the song says the city is so good they named it twice!

WHAT TO SEE AND DO

- Tour of One World Observatory

oneworldobservatory.com/

- 9/11 Memorial

9/11memorial.org

- Tour of The Whitney Museum of American Art — known as “The Whitney”

whitney.org

- Sail to Ellis Island for a tour

Tour of the museum and recently completed Peopling Of America Center

LibertyEllisFoundation.org

Ellis Island is a symbol of American immigration. Tour the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and research your family history. View genealogy records of your ancestry.

WHere to eat

- Dinner at Delicatessen

www.delicatessennyc.com

54 Prince St, New York, NY 10012, United States

Phone:+1 212-226-0211

- Lunch at Le District

Brookfield Place

brookfieldplaceny.com

Brookfield Place, originally and still also known as the World Financial Center, is a complex of office buildings located across West Street from the World Trade Center site in the Battery Park City neighbourhood of Manhattan

Useful information

- CityPASS

The CityPASS provides free (and often priority) entry to six of the city’s most iconic attractions and museums. Check out

citypass.com/new-york

- For more ideas, including shopping, dining, tours, museums, sightseeing, green spaces and more, see nycgo.com

WHERE TO STAY

The Beacon Hotel

2130 Broadway at 75th Street

New York, NY 10023

Tel: (212) 787-1100

beaconhotel.com

This cozy boutique hotel is a four minute walk to the subway and seven minutes to the American Museum of Natural History. The contemporary rooms have kitchenettes, marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs and free wi-fi. Suites add separate living areas with sofa beds and/or extra bedrooms.

Room rates depend on the time of year, $209 to $319 plus taxes - Jan and Feb low rate special of $209 is in place.

One bedroom suites depending on the time of year range from $246 to $399 plus taxes. Speciality suites such as the Terrace Suite range from $740 to $850 plus taxes.

Promotions subject to availability, check website - stay two or more nights and get 15 per cent off the best available rate.

GETTING THERE

Aer Lingus fly twice daily from Dublin to New York and daily from Shannon to New York. Economy fares start from €239 each way and business class fares start from €969 each way, for travel to March 10.

PARK AND FLY

Taking the hassle out of your pre-holiday travels the four-star Maldron Hotel Dublin Airport, the closest hotel to both airport terminals, has a great Park and Fly package from €199.

The newly refurbished comfortable hotel offers on-site car parking at a very competitive rate of only €7.50 per day for the duration of your holiday, for those who overnight the day before or return from their holiday. It has a 24 hour shuttle bus service available to guests which will take you directly to the terminal building and pick them up when you return.

To find out more about park and fly packages go to: maldronhotels.com

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