New York State of Mind

I have to be honest; if only I had more time in New York City this list would look totally different! I would have loved more time to be a culture vulture or explore some of the weird and wonderful things going on in the city, but with just 4 days I was drawn to the Big Apple’s main attractions. Here, in this blog, I will share my top 5 highlights and recommendations for a first time visit to the city that actually does sleep- just a little more than Shanghai.

I first visited New York City as a young art student in 1996 and it literally blew me away. I was so inspired that I built my whole student portfolio and degree study on what most excited me about the city - the architecture, the scale, the repetition of windows and the reflection of blue skies and neighboring buildings in the vast glass towering skyscrapers. 18 years later (wow, how did that happen!), I was filled with excitement to see how the city had changed, especially in the wake of 9/11.

Highlight # 5 The 9/11 Memorial and World Trade Center

It is with great consideration that this ‘highlight’ has reached #5 and is meant with absolutely no disrespect. It is difficult to refer to a memorial as a highlight or to list it in 5th position of a 1-5 pole; but my reasons are clear, it is an absolutely unmissable but heart-wrenching experience.

Visiting the site gives you a true perspective of the enormity of this tragedy and those affected, as well as giving an insight to how something so horrific can bring a sense of solidarity and unity to a city as large as New York.

The memorial is a poignant and beautiful testament to honour those lost on that fateful day. Each and every name of the fallen victims of 9/11 (as well as 6 people who lost their lives in the 1993 terrorist attack) are inscribed in the bronze surround of two reflecting pools which sit within the footprints of the Twin Towers.

Expect your emotion to run deep but don’t let this put you off visiting. I walked away not only with a feeling of great sadness and empathy, but also with a real understanding and appreciation for the sense of resilience and humanity that many New Yorkers have found in the aftermath of the event.

As you look up you can see the One World Trade Center (also unofficially known as the Freedom Tower) towering almost infinitely into the sky.

The observatory deck offers incredible views of New York Harbour, Midtown Manhattan and New Jersey. I’d highly recommend a pre-arranging express pass to save time queuing.

Highlight #4 The High Line

The High Line concept was introduced by the non-profit organisation Friends of the High Line, which was founded in 1999. Residents of the area sought to transform the disused elevated railroad into a public urban garden similar to the Promenade Planteé in Paris. The project was supported by Diane von Fürstenberg, which gave it great momentum from the early days, and later encouraging other high profile backers.

The walkway runs from the historic Meatpacking District at Gansevoort Street and Washington Street, (it’s most southern point) to the Hudson Yards on 34th Street. Along the High Line you can enjoy a new perspective of NYC taking in the incredible views of the Hudson River and Manhattan whilst admiring the urban landscape design.

The project is a perfect example of taking something old and rundown and transforming it into something beautiful.

There is always something new to see and do here including market stalls, food and drink venues, live performances, pop up events and interactive art installations.

Visit the official High Line website for details for upcoming events.

Art appears all along the elevated walkway offering great viewing points of famous urban artworks from artists such as Banksy and Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobras.

The linear garden route also passes through Chelsea’s Gallery District, therefore making this a great hop on, hop off point for those wanting to explore the city’s art scene.

Left- Banksy's Einstein- Love is the Answer

For more on where to find Banksy’s work click here

Bottom right- Eduardo Kobra mural based off the iconic 1945 photograph V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt

For a map of other galleries in the area visit

Highlight #3 The Empire State Building at sunset

With pre-arranged express tickets visitors can choose to access the Empire State Building at any time during the opening hours of their selected day.