The City of New York, also known as the Big Apple, is the United States' biggest and most exciting urban area. The metropolitan area stretches over three states from New Jersey through New York to Connecticut. With a metropolitan population of almost 19 million people, the Port of New York is the fifth largest city in the world. It is a huge city with five distinctive boroughs, each of which contains attractions, restaurants, nightlife opportunities, and lodgings. This global city is a center for politics, finance, film, fashion, music, and multi-national culture. It contains many world-class art galleries, museums, and, of course, theaters. Who hasn't heard of Broadway? The Port of New York is home to immigrants from more than 180 countries, making it a cornucopia of culture. There are far too many opportunities for visitors to describe in this article. For more information on the many things to see and do in the Port of New York, please visit the Port of New York's tourism website.
The Port of New York has a humid subtropical climate that enjoys sunshine over 230 days per year. It is the northernmost city in North America in the humid subtropical climate zone. Summers are usually hot and humid, and head advisories are not unusual. Winters are cold and windy, although the influence of the Atlantic Ocean keeps it warmer in the Port of New York than in nearby inland cities and cities at the same latitude. Spring and fall are unpredictable but are normally comfortable and relatively dry. The Port of New York does get snow each year, and while hurricanes and tropical storms are rare, they do happen occasionally. Temperatures range from an average high of 29 °C (84 °F) in July to an average low of -3 °C (26 °F) in January. Snowfall occurs primarily in January, and rain is distributed fairly evenly throughout the year, although it is slightly less from September through November.
Infrequent visitors to the Port of New York may want to start their trip by taking the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise, a two-hour, half-island cruise of Manhattan that passes the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the United Nations, and the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. The cruise moves up the East River and passes under the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg bridges. There is also a three-hour full-island cruise that circumnavigates Manhattan and explores three rivers, seven bridges, and over 25 world-famous landmarks.
A definite must-see in the Port of New York is the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. A ferry leaves Battery Park every 25 minutes and stops at Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Advance reservations are necessary to enter the museum at the base of the statue and climb to the top, and there are strict security procedures to get into the museum. The Immigration Museum at Ellis Island offers free admission. Both islands are open every day except December 25th and have extended summer hours. The Port of New York's Liberty Island is an almost five-hectare island where the gift from the people of France, the Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, celebrated her hundredth birthday on July 4, 1986. The Americans built the pedestal, and the French built the statue and assembly. In 1984, the United Nations designated the Statue of Liberty as a World Heritage Site.
In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson added Ellis Island to the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Ellis Island became the country's main federal immigration station in 1892, and it operated through 1954. Over its lifetime, the station processed more than 12 million immigrants. Abandoned for 30 years, the building was restored and re-opened as a museum in 1990. More than 40% of American's today have ancestors who entered through Ellis Island. This small island just off the New Jersey coast, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, started as a 1.3 hectare island that was expanded over the years to over 11 hectares by landfill. The island has a rich history that began with the local indigenous people's name of Kioshk or Gull Island. The island offered rich oyster beds and fishing grounds. Already called Oyster Island by many generations of Dutch and English colonists, Samuel Ellis bought the island in 1770. The Federal government bought the property in 1801 as a site for fortifications. The island became part of the harbor defense system. In the latter half of the 19th Century, problems in Europe drove new waves of immigrants to the United States and the Port of New York. New York State's immigration station was overwhelmed, and the Federal government constructed a new Federal station on Ellis Island and opened it in 1892. First- and second-class passengers arriving in the Port of New York were not processed through Ellis Island unless they were ill nor had legal problems. Steerage, or third-class passengers, however, had to go through an inspection process to assure that the unsanitary conditions in which they traveled did not come with them into the United States. For healthy immigrants without legal problems, the process lasted from three to five hours.
The Port of New York's Ellis Island Immigration Museum contains the American Family Immigration History Center where people can research their ancestors. The museum also offers self-guided exhibits about the Ellis Island role in US immigration history, with memorabilia, photographs, and mementos. The American Immigrant Wall of Honor faces the Statue of Liberty and contains over 700 thousand names of people who were processed here. The Ellis Island Living Theater has programs by professional actors that run through the warmer months. The actors bring the experiences of immigrants to life in 30-minute plays based on actual personal immigration stories.
Rockefeller Center is also a world-famous attraction in the Port of New York. The complex covers almost nine hectares and contains 19 commercial buildings between 48th and 51st Streets. Declared a National Historic Landmark 1987, the Rockefeller Center has over 74 hectares of buildings that include Radio City Music Hall, the Rockefeller Center Ice-Skating Rink, and the complex centerpiece, the Art Deco Skyscraper GE Building.
Radio City Music Hall opened in the Port of New York in 1932. At the time, it was one of the world's most modern, lavish theaters. Named "Radio City" instead of "International" because the new studies of NBC and the RCA Building were well known. Before it was over, the RCA Building was called by many Radio City. The Music Hall has seating for six thousand people, and it eventually became the biggest tourist draw in the Port of New York. Restored to a fault in 1999, the interior of the Hall is a wonderful Art Deco design. In 1979, the theater converted from showing movies and stage shows to presenting special events and touring performance. During the holiday season, the Port of New York's Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a 70-year-old tradition. Over 300 million people have attended performances there since it opened.
The Rockefeller Center Ice-Skating Rink opened on Christmas Day 1936 on the former site of a Port of New York shopping courtyard. More than 250 thousand people come to the skate rink each winter. Open from October until April the almost 669 square meter rink can only hold 150 people at a time. Reservations are not required, and skates are available for rent.
The Port of New York's GE Building is the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center. The 70-story building was known in the past as the RCA Building. It is also called "30 Rock." Most of the National Broadcasting System's (NBC) studios in New York are housed here, including the studies for Saturday Night Live and The Today Show. Visitors can take the NBC Studio Tour any day of the week or go to the rooftop observation deck to get 360-degree views of the Port of New York. One of the most famous skyscrapers in the Port of New York, the Art Deco façade combines style with functionality. Unlike other Art Deco buildings of the era, the GE Building does not have a spire on the roof. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a weather radio station that operates for the tri-state area from the top of the building.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of New York by sea can find a long list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.