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Downtown NYC is the financial capital of the world - Wall St. The World Trade Center used to be here of course, near the southern tip of Manhattan. Now the scene is Ground Zero, where construction is slowly beginning on the Freedom Tower that will stand near the same spot. Take the subway to the City Hall station, get out, and follow the walkway around city hall towards the Brooklyn Bridge. A pedestrian walkway sits atop the famous span, and you can enjoy this busy path out into the middle of the East River, with lovely views looking back at the downtown skyline. Head back to City Hall and walk south to Trinity Church, the oldest church in NYC. Alexander Hamilton is buried in the church yard.
Cross the street and head down Broad St., and find yourself at Federal Hall at the corner of Wall St. A giant statue of George Washington looks out towards the front of the New York Stock Exchange, which looks more like a military zone these days with barricades and K-9 police units patrolling all day. Walk down Wall St. and find the famous bronze statue of the giant bull - makes a great tourist photo. A little farther brings you to Battery Park, looking out over NY Harbor. To the left is the big ferry terminal for the Staten Island Ferry, the best free sightseeing event it New York! Hop aboard, enjoy the closeup view of the Statue of Liberty as you head out into the harbor towards Staten Island. Roundtrip takes 1 hour, but the views are outstanding as you look back at Manhattan from the harbor, and did we mention it was free? If you want to visit Liberty Island, you need to take the ship at the tip of Battery Park - although as of 2005 you can no longer climb up the staircase inside Lady Liberty. You can also make your way up the east side of Manhattan and have lunch at the South Street Seaport, a few blocks south of the Brooklyn Bridge.
There are quite a few restaurants, bars, and clubs along this main stretch. This whole area is a famous artistic neighborhood, and starting with the angled streets that breakout of the standard rectilinear pattern of NYC, Greenwich Village has a soul of its own and revels in its uniqueness. Spending an evening at a local jazz club is a great way to see the Village - check out who is playing at BlueNote, 55 Bar, Small's, or The Garage. Head over to Bedford St. and check out the hidden literary haunt called Chumley's, a speak easy where Steinbeck, Kerouac, and many others hung out in the old days. ee cummings used to live here as well. NYU is also around the block from here, so you will likely find quite a few college students hanging out at the nearby college bars (ie, cheap drinks). Stroll past Washington Square Park as well.
Walk up 5th to 42nd St - you'll see the famous NY Public Library here, with the giant lion guardian statues. Head east down 42nd - you'll hit the United Nations building if you go far enough, but before that you will pass Grand Central Station (go inside and marvel at the massive interior - have a drink at one of the elevated bars on either side and watch the hustle and bustle) and the towering Chrysler Building soaring above you. If you go through Grand Central and out the north side, you end up on Park Avenue, the glitzy east side thoroughfare and home of the Waldorf Astoria, just a few blocks up on the right. All the way up through the 80's, the east side is a great neighborhood to explore, with lots of restaurants and bars on 1st and 2nd, and mostly residential buildings as you get closer to 5th Avenue moving west. Find you way back to 5th Ave. and check out Rockefeller center.
The outdoor skating rink is at Rockefeller center, with the towering GE building above and the golden statue of Prometheus watching over you. The Today show is filmed in the studio to the left, and you will often see those wild sign-waving crowds on a weekday morning. Just across 5th avenue is the majestic St. Patrick's Cathedral, the largest Catholic church in the US. JFK lay in state here. Just off 5th and 53rd, check out the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). This 6 story giant houses works ranging from Picasso to Andy Warhol - some is breathtaking, some makes you say "What the #%^@#!". At $20 a pop, its a little expensive, but worth the visit at least once, even if you are not a huge modern art fan. Central Park begins at 5th Ave. and 60th - also known as Central Park South. The famous Plaza Hotel is on the corner here, looking like a giant Baroque palace. On the other side of 5th is the famous FAO Schwartz Toy Store, also known as kid-heaven - enter at your own risk! Thirty blocks north on 5th brings you to the Metropolitan Museum (the Met). With gorgeous exhibits covering Egyptian and Roman and Greek art, modern art, European paintings and statues, and entire rooms recreated for your pleasure (Italian courtyards and gardens, Egyptian temples, and more!). If you are planning just a brief visit, take advantage of the "suggested" ticket price and pay whatever you want for a ticket. Hand over $2 and ask for two tickets, and you'll get 2 passes, no questions asked, while your neighbor is coughing up $30.