The city so good they named it twice, New York is so iconic that even those that haven’t visited are able to recognise it instantly thanks to its distinctive skyline. In this guide, we look at some of New York’s most iconic buildings.
30 Rockefeller Plaza
Famous for its elaborate Christmas tree, romantic ice rink and unique art deco style, 30 Rockefeller Plaza (also known as the Rock), is a must-see when on a cruise to New York. The Rock, and several other surrounding buildings, were designed by John D. Rockefeller Jr in a similar art deco style - giving the area a completely unique feel. 30 Rockefeller Plaza’s observation deck is hugely popular thanks to its impressive views of Central Park and the Empire State.
We chatted to Keri from Ladies What Travel, a blog dedicated to celebrating travelling females, she told us, “I really enjoyed both my trips to the Rockefeller Center. I’ve visited in winter, where I got to see it in all its festive charm and also in summer, where I got to enjoy lunch outside in the very same spot. It’s always busy but even when you’re queuing to get to the top, there’s so much information on the building’s history to keep you entertained.
“When in NYC, I think everyone should visit the Rock. It’s one of those iconic buildings that you simply can’t miss. The panoramic views make it a perfect way to see the city in all its glory, above the noise and most of the buildings. If you make it on a clear day, you can literally see for miles! In my opinion, the best time to go is a little before sunset, then you can see the city in all its glory.”
Brooklyn Bridge’s distinctive style makes it instantly recognisable. Used to link the Brooklyn Borough of the city to Manhattan over the East River, the bridge has been operating for almost 140 years. In 2016, it was estimated that 105,679 vehicles crossed the bridge per day.
Amber from Roam the Gnome told us, “The Brooklyn Bridge is a favourite of ours because it leads to a new and marvellous world of New York that’s just for kids. There’s so much to do on the other side - parks, playgrounds and kids museums galore. Visiting the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City should be near the top of every tourist’s cruise bucket list - the views of the skyline are spectacular but for us, we love it because the bridge gives us an insight into Brooklyn and NYC locals going about their daily lives.”
We also chatted to Ruth from Tanama Tales, she told us, “Even though it is considered a tourist attraction, I walked the entire span of the Brooklyn Bridge during my last visit to New York City. I was lured by the incomparable aesthetics and wonderful views of Manhattan. However, the visit ended up revealing a lot more.
“To start with, there are several fascinating facts related to the construction of the bridge. Did you know a woman aided the work’s supervision? Or that the president of the United States crossed the bridge during an inaugural ceremony? “In addition, the neighbourhoods at both ends of the bridge deserve exploration. On the Manhattan side, get ready to discover the City Hall, the Borough President’s Office and a residential building designed by Frank Gehry. On the Brooklyn side, take a peek at the colourful brownstones of Brooklyn Heights or stroll the different parks overlooking the river.”
Situated on the east side of the city, the Chrysler Building is most recognisable for its art deco architecture. Although not a tourist building, it is still a very distinctive part of the city and for good reason. Built in 1930 by Walter Chrysler, head of the Chrysler Corporation, it was the tallest building in the world for only 11 months before being knocked off the top spot by the Empire State Building in 1931.
Ellis Island Immigration Building
Hidden behind the Statue of Liberty you’ll find Ellis Island. Famous for being the main gateway into the US between 1892 and 1924, over 12 million immigrants are thought to have crossed this island in search of a better life. The Ellis Island Immigration Building tells their stories and recounts the moving tales of these people. For anyone interested in the history of America, this is an unmissable stop.
Empire State Building
Perhaps America’s most iconic structure, the Empire State Building is adored by architects worldwide thanks to its instantly recognisable silhouette. Offering an unobscured view over Manhattan, the observation deck is visited by over 3 and a half million people every year, making this an essential part of a cruise to New York.
We chatted to Nastasia from Dame Traveler, she told us about her very first visit to the Empire State Building, “When I first visited the Empire State Building, I was overwhelmed with the beauty and awe of the sprawling city below me. New York is just magical, it sets my heart ablaze. I truly believe that there is no other place that can come close to my love for this city. I may not have been born here but it is truly my home. Seeing New York City there in front of you glimmery, expansive and begging to be explored - it’s a must-see!”
Nastasia explained why everyone must visit the Empire State Building, “Visitors should be sure to visit the Empire State Building so they can experience the magic of New York’s skyline for themselves. Besides the beauty, the building itself has such rich history and is something worth learning about as well. Truth be told, there are only so many iconic buildings. It’s important to learn about any place’s background and iconic architecture - whether you’re from there or not!”
The Flatiron is one of New York’s most unique buildings. Only 6-metres wide at its smallest end, locals believed the structure may not last in a large gust of wind when it was being constructed. Built in 1902, it was thought to be completely ground-breaking and it is still as unique and interesting as it was then. Located right next to Madison Square Park, the area around the Flatiron is perfect for brunch, a cup of coffee or a chance to plan your day.
One World Trade Center
Also known as the Freedom Tower, One World Trade Center is a relatively new addition to New York’s skyline. Built metres from the footprints of the Twin Towers, One World Trade Center is an important part of this city’s history. The building was constructed with purpose and highly considered, standing at 1,776 feet tall to reflect the year the United States Declaration of Independence was signed - 1776. At the top is One World Observatory, the highest observation platform in the city.
As well as the Freedom Tower, the World Trade Center consists of the 9/11 memorial plaza and museum. Memorial Plaza is a sanctuary and place to remember, with two large pools set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers. The Memorial Museum is a considered learning experience that pays homage to the victims of 9/11. A thought-provoking and unforgettable experience, for those who wish to learn more about what happened, a visit to the World Trade Center is an excellent way to pay respects.
Lyla, a New York native known as Globetrotting Mommy online, told us about her experience at One World Observatory, “Our visit to One World Trade Center was quite memorable. The views from downtown New York are spectacular and there is so much information to take in as you read about the various New York City neighbourhoods. I loved that we weren’t rushed at the top as is the case with some other tourist attractions.”
Lyla explained why everyone should visit the One World Trade Center, “From the history-filled elevator ride to the spectacular 360-degree views, One World Trade Center is a must for New York City visitors. Seeing the city from above gives visitors a really great perspective and a great way to get their bearings. The glass floor viewing area is especially fun for children.”
Statue of Liberty
A greeting to the city, the Statue of Liberty stands tall looking over the Upper Bay from her home on Liberty Island. Although so close to Manhattan, she doesn’t actually live in New York at all and is just tucked into the next state, New Jersey. We suggest standing on deck as your ship pulls in and trying to get a glimpse of her. If not, there are frequent ferry tours available to get up close and personal with one of the most famous women in the world.
Gifted to the US by France in 1886, the statue is designed to represent freedom and democracy and is located where it is so visitors to the country and city see it as they arrive. If you want to go above and beyond, you can even visit the crown. After 377 steps, you’ll ride an elevator to the top for an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline.