THIS IS NYC
Overview of New York City
Despite the travel bans, reduction in H1B visas and tighter immigration, New York City remains an attractive destination to most Indians — tourists and expatriates. More than 35 per cent of New York City’s population is foreign born. It’s not known how many of these are Indians — but each year in August, since 1981, the metropolis celebrates New York City India Day Parade. It is hosted by The Federation of Indian Associations (FIA)“to present our progress and unity to the many diversified ethnic communities in this area”. It is a huge affair that kicks off with bands of NYPD and Indian Temple Organisation singing the national anthem of both nations. About 40 floats, 20 marching groups and six professional bands parade from 40th Street and Madison Avenue towards 27th Street and Madison Avenue. Cultural performances take place between 2pm and 6pm, which sees participation from Indian celebrities.
There is a Little India in Jackson Heights on 74th Street between Roosevelt and 37th Avenue. It is much like being transported back to the country with women in saris, Bollywood music blaring from speakers and the aroma from surrounding Indian restaurants. About 20 minutes from here is a similar neighbourhood in Lexington Heights.You will read more about these buzzing settlements in the coming pages.
INDIAN TOURISTS IN NEW YORK
Statistics company, Statistia calculated the number of inbound Indian visitors to the US at 1.13 million in 2015, and to the state of NewYork at around 0.3 million (out of the total of 58.5 million tourists it received from the world over). This was the same year when Christopher L Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA had told PTI: “We view India as [one of the] top five emerging markets [with] a potential to hit the goal of having 100 million international travellers by 2021.” And a year later, Economic Times had reported that NewYork City is one of the top four “most searched destinations for Indian travellers”. After Trump’s victory, Indians became sceptical of travelling to the US for the fear of racial profiling and sporadic inspection patterns, some of which can leave you feeling humiliated. This was in spite of the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus’assurances that American green card holders and valid visa holders will remain unaffected. It is, however, understood that if you’ve recently visited any of the countries proscribed under Trump’s ban; you will be subject to extra scrutiny.
Having said that, on a whole, the number of inbound Indian tourists to the metropolis continues to rise. Some are repeat tourists, and others are first-time visitors. The most visited attractions remain Central Park, Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty to name a handful. Many find New York City’s food markets to be an experience within themselves — their ingredients are sourced from local producers. After all, agricultural produce makes up a larger chunk of New York’s economy, apart from the finance industry and mining.
The state is a leading fruit and vegetable producer in the east coast and is one of the top five apple producing states in the US. Maple syrup, oats, potatoes, soya beans and wheat are other important crops produced here. Some of the best produce is found in Chelsea Market.Visitors can spend an afternoon here buying fresh groceries and eating lunch at one of the many food kiosks. In the next few pages, there is a detailed review of these and other unusual tourist spots in NewYork City that one must visit if you haven’t already.
You will also read about its many community
neighbourhoods that have been in existence for a little over a century now. Apart from food, you’ll find a lot of authentic, societal lifestyle on your exploration of these localities. This diversity became more apparent in the 19th century when NewYork City saw an influx of immigrants, first from Europe; and after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, it received an upsurge from India and the rest of Asia. Today, it is known to have the highest number of immigrants in the country, making it one of America’s most culturally diverse cities, and a promising one to acquaint oneself with various ethnicities.
Of the five New York City boroughs, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, the first is the most important. It is here that you will find the popular tourist sites such as the Wall Street bull, Times Square, Central Park, Empire State Building, High Line, One World Observatory, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Broadway.
The Bronx is more popularly known as the home of the New York Yankees. It also has the famous Bronx Zoo that is surrounded by woods, and the New York Botanical Garden. If it’s ghetto culture you’re looking for, this is where you will find it. Hiphop originated from here and art deco marvels are a common sighting.
Queens is synonymous to sports because of the Citi Field stadium in Flushing Meadows, and USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center next door where you can watch the US Open. In Long Island City, you can visit Socrates Sculpture Park and MoMA PS1, the “oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art institutions in the United States”.
Brooklyn has live music every night at the quirky Williamsburg neighbourhood that is also known for shops selling vintage wares. Scenic walks can be enjoyed at Brooklyn Bridge and Brooklyn Heights promenade. If hockey and basketball are of interest, you can catch a game at Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn.
Staten Island is popular amongst culture enthusiasts with its collection of museums and historic landmarks. These include Staten Island Museum, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Alice Austen House Museum and Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art amongst the many others here. People often visit for its beaches and large expanses of parkland that include NewYork City’s largest forest preserve in the Staten Island Greenbelt. Rides on the Staten Island ferry are also popular.
NewYork City’s subway is the most widely used public transport here, which is convenient for its connectivity. If you must choose a taxi, Uber would be an economical option, as compared to the local taxis.
Previous page: the Brooklyn bridge From left to right: Statue Of Liberty; view of the city from the Hudson river; and Central Park