Fashion and New York are intrinsically woven into each other’s pasts. As early as 1890, the garment trade was New York's most significant industry. This was driven by the influx of immigrants from Germany and Eastern Europe. The Lower Eastside became the heart of the clothing industry, as well as immigrant life. Stroll through 35th to 41st streets and take in the plaques of the Fashion Walk of Fame. Here you'll see the names of American designers who made the Garment District a world fashion capital. See names like Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, and Bill Blass.
Close by on West 47th you’ll find another famous fashion zone, the Diamond District. The area also traces back to communities from Eastern Europe. The refugees that fled to America from Belgium, which was the centre of the world’s diamond trade, brought with them skills and knowledge of the diamond industry. They began to populate an area within the Garment District. Today descendants of these original immigrants still ply their trade.
One of the city's skilled diamond cutters and dealers is Yair Shimanksy, who recently launched a boutique on 5th Avenue, Shimansky, is one of the best engagement ring stores and features The Shimansky Diamond Experience. The permanent exhibition houses replicas of the world’s most famous diamonds. You can schedule a personal appointment with the founder Yair Shimansky who will talk you through the 3 billion-year-old story from a diamond's formation to the final polished stone, and his personal journey in the diamond industry.
· The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has a collection of more than 33 000 costumes and accessories. They’ve been sourced from all over the world and represent seven centuries of fashionable dress from the fifteenth century to the present. Find our more here.
· The Fashion Institute of Technology. The museum’s permanent collection encompasses some 50 000 garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present. Prominent designers such as Balenciaga, Chanel, and Dior are represented. Find our more here.
A museum that explores the lives of immigrants from a different angle to the Diamond and Garment Districts is the Tenement Museum. It reveals how immigrants lived on the Lower East Side in the 19th and 20th centuries. For example, the Sweatshop Workers Tour shares the stories of two families, the Levines and the Rogarshevskys, who lived at 97 Orchard Street. The tour takes you inside the apartment – what better way to discover what life was like than through the homes of immigrants?
New York's brownstones may be the architectural wallpaper of the city, but its poster child is the Empire State Building - the world's most famous office building. The art deco skyscraper opened in 1931 and has been named "America's Favorite Architecture" in an American Institute of Architects poll. Make a stop on the 2nd and 80th floors to explore the Sustainability and Dare to Dream exhibits. The first exhibit explores the Empire State Building’s retrofit, which began in 2009 to reduce the total energy consumption of the building. The second gets into the nuts and bolts of the planning and building process of construction.
It may not be as big as the Empire State Building, but it's equally iconic. In 1902, when it was built, Manhattan was already crowded, and open plots were hard to come across. The characteristic triangular shape of the Flatiron Building enabled it to fill the awkwardly shaped property at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. A visit to the building is the perfect opportunity to set your Instagram feed alight with this beautiful slice of New York’s architectural history.
The island features over 40 buildings associated with the former Ellis Island Immigration Station, which opened in 1892. The main building, a French Renaissance Revival structure, has been renovated and is now home to the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. It was built in 1900 by architects Edward Lippincott Tilton and William Boring, and sealed the destiny of 12 million immigrants that passed through it.
· The Queensboro Bridge, which connects Manhattan to Queens, isn't as famous as the Brooklyn Bridge, but it is an architectural landmark. It was designed by the American architect Henry Hornbostel and has featured in movies including The Dark Knight Rises and The Great Gatsby.
· The Metropolitan Life Tower was built in 1909 and at the time was the world's tallest building. Designed by Napoleon LeBrun & Sons, you'll find it on the corner of East 23rd Street and Madison Avenue.
· Trinity Church in downtown Manhattan is a beautiful Gothic Revival structure. It was completed in 1846 and survived the damage of the attacks on the nearby Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.
· The Ansonia Hotel is a Beaux Arts-style building ahead of its time concerning sustainability. It was built in 1904 and the hotel had a rooftop with chickens, ducks, and goats. The Ansonia was home to Babe Ruth at one time and was given the title as a New York City Landmark in 1972.
· New York’s Grand Central Terminal is one of the world’s most beautiful train stations, but it narrowly escaped demolition in the 1970s. Fortunately, its beautiful ceiling mural and the iconic four-faced clock were saved (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was one of the many architectural supporters that campaigned for its reprieve). Now restored, you can take in the majestic building in all its glory. Even better, take a ride into New York State for the full experience.
The New York mafia has inspired countless novels and Oscar-winning movies, and discovering La Cosa Nostra in the city is a thrill. To get the inside scoop (and the juicy stories guide books won’t tell you), book The Rise and Fall of the American Mafia Walking Tour. The three-hour tour takes you through lower Manhattan, retelling the story of The Mob with refreshments naturally served up at the cafes and restaurants where the deals went down in the day. You’ll literally walk in the steps of Charles “Lucky” Luciano and John Gotti.
Fancy dinner at a restaurant that's synonymous with Gotti? The Boss ordered a hit on other mobsters, Paul Castellano, and underboss Thomas Bilotti, and they were gunned down outside the entrance of Sparks Steakhouse (210 East 46th Street in Midtown) in 1985. Now there’s a memorable meal.
· Sign up for a Gangs of New York Tour, which focuses on the city’s most infamous and brutal neighborhood, Five Points. The 19th-century neighborhood in Lower Manhattan was considered a slum that gangs with nefarious names like the Bowery Boys and the Dead Rabbits plied their trade. They were the real-life inspiration for the Gangs of New York movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
· For a truly spooky experience of Manhattan's streets, you could try the Ghosts, Murders and Mayhem Walking Tour. Carrying a lantern, you'll discover the stories behind the city's most notorious murders in Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan and Hell's Kitchen.
For a truly spooky experience of Manhattan's streets, you could try the Ghosts, Murders and Mayhem Walking Tour. Carrying a lantern, you'll discover the stories behind the city's most notorious murders in Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan and Hell's Kitchen.
The Diamond Experience at Shimansky on 5th Avenue is one of the newest experiences on offer in New York. You can schedule an appointment for a personalized consultation or diamond and jewelry tour with Yair Shimansky. The store is open Monday through Friday from 09:30am to 06:00pm.