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Sophisticated and brutal. Exhilarating and oppressive. Earthy and aloof. A thorough description of New York City might exhaust the largest vocabulary. New York is indeed a city of dynamic contrasts, from the sleek granite high-rises of Wall Street and Midtown to the crumbling tenements of Brooklyn and the Bronx, from the bohemian spirit of Greenwich Village to the old-money atmosphere of Upper Fifth Avenue, and from the avant-garde art galleries of SoHo to the Apollo Theater and historic churches of Harlem.
Weighted down by wall-to-wall buildings and 7.4 million people, New York in its density may seem relentless and chaotic to first-time visitors. But it's essentially a city of small neighborhoods best explored one at a time. Don't exhaust yourself by trying to race from one end of the city to the other in the hopes of seeing "everything." Instead, make a list of must-sees in each neighborhood and enjoy all they have to offer before moving on to the next.
One of New York's chief attractions is the overwhelming number of places to visit. Every night on the town doesn't have to include dinner at a four-star restaurant and a Broadway show to be memorable, and you don't have to spend your days splurging in the expensive shops on Fifth or Madison Avenues. Some of New York's greatest pleasures are simple, and often inexpensive: sitting on the front steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and watching a mime while eating a hot dog; whiling away an hour in a cafe, sipping a cappuccino as the world goes by the window; walking through Central Park on a clear day and gazing up at the brilliant blue sky above the tall buildings; and, when you've said and done as much as youcan, waving good-bye to the Statue of Liberty from the window of a departing plane, humming "New York, New York."