A few years ago, while studying in primary, my only obsession was to looking at my cheat sheet without being seen by the language teacher and happily copy while my companions had gone to bed at two o'clock in the morning studying for the final. If you had asked me then what I though of libraries, I'd have said they were the closest thing to a torture chamber. Yet now, years later, I find them wonderful cultural centers which invite you into a world of knowledge and science sprinkled with nostalgia and the great sages of the 19th century, the fathers of modern development. You can find it all right on 5th Avenue, the center of the world!
This place was first used as a city hall, then the capitol, from which George Washington was proclaimed the first President of the U.S. There is now a statue of him on the steps of the building. It is now a free museum, where there are several door safes and a history of the United States. Curious to see.
I was walking near the Brooklyn Bridge when I ran into the building of the Courts of New York. The first thing that came to my mind were film images, of actors coming through those doors and down those mythical stairs. A marvelous place.
The Sunday Gospel services in Harlem (a safe neighborhood) are a must. In Harlem is home to a primarily black community and there are many Baptist congregations which gather every Sunday for religious services in which the entire community comes together for religious Gospel songs. Some churches you can visit: Abyssinian Baptist Church, the usual church (located at 138th Street 132W); Canaan Baptist Church (located at No. 116 street 130W); Antioch Church (no. 515W 125th Street); Bethel Gospel Assembly (no. 26E Street 120). It is advisable to modestly dressed out of respect for the faithful because to them it is a very special celebration. Tourists often sit at the back of the church, both to let the front pews open and to leave before the end if you want. You can usually use camcorders and cameras (but respectfully), and although the entrance is usually free, you should offer a donation (the show is worth it).
While walking around Greenwich Village, I was struck by this magnificent building, which at first looked like a Church. I got a lot of photos and when I returned to Spain I found out it was a library. Its architectural style is very quirky, Russian Gothic, and it draws attention to other buildings in the area. When you see the photos, you are sure to recognize them from the movies.
The New York Society Library is the oldest cultural institution in Manhattan. It was founded in 1754, when the city was still functioning as the capital of the United States. Its special collections include books from private libraries of John Wintrope and Lorenzo Da Ponte. This library has moved four times, and can currently be found on the Upper East Side, located in a beautiful Renaissance-style building that was once the mansion belonging to Roger S. John. Is a non-profit organization and has about 300,000 volumes, more recordings and various publications and magazines of all kinds.
Located in the heart of Manhattan's business district close to Wall Street, the historic building of the Federal Reserve Bank deserves a visit. It's closed to the public, but its large size and distinctive architecture are worth a look. What you might know is that hidden in the foundations are the United States' gold reserves, as well as those of many other countries...strange to think!
While in New York I found a website that advertised free tours of different parts of the city (actually, you are expected to tip the guide at the end of the visit, and the going rate is about $10, but it's still cheaper than many alternatives). I took tours of Harlem and Brooklyn Heights, as well as a culinary tour of The Village, but there are many more available. You have to book online beforehand. I found the tours to be an interesting way to learn more about the history and unique atmosphere of each neighborhood. They last about 2 hours each, plenty of time to get to know the different parts of New York!
The imposing Bank of New York is located at 1 Wall Street, the most famous street in the world of finance. At 199 meters high, it really stands out because the building next door has only 3 floors. It is the tallest building on Wall Street, and for safety reasons, can only be admired from the outside.
The IAC Building, located in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, housed the headquarters of the internet company InterActiveCorp. Designed by Frank Gehry (his first building in the city) and resembling an iceberg, it was completed in 2007, and soon afterwards was chosen by Vanity Fair as one of the most attractive office buildings of the time.
The cage is famous among athletes and often mentioned in American films. The best basketball players in the world compete here, and the wonderful thing is that anyone can play! We were invited to take part in one of the games held inside, just like the famous Michael Jordan!
The Symphony Space is a cultural center where events are organized with writers and directors. They invite famous people, like Josh Radnor (famous for playing Ted Mosby in How I Met Your mother), Cynthia Fox, BD Wong and Liev Schreier and others to read and discuss the works of writers. The first time I went, Etgar Keret (my favorite writer) and Jonathan Safran Foer (author of Eating Animals) were the star attractions, discussing their work and the writing process. The actors read their works and then interviewed them, and at the end there was a book signing. If you have the time, then I recommend going. And a tip: the best place to sit is on the far right of the second row.