Orientation & Information

When most visitors think of New York City, they are thinking of Manhattan and its skyline famous the world over. But New York City is much more than just Manhattan! The city is comprised of five boroughs: Manhattan, the small island (13 1/2 miles ... more

When most visitors think of New York City, they are thinking of Manhattan and its skyline famous the world over. But New York City is much more than just Manhattan! The city is comprised of five boroughs: Manhattan, the small island (13 1/2 miles long, 2 1/4 miles wide, 22 square miles) at the center of it all and the place where most of the city's most famous attractions, buildings, and cultural institutions are found; the Bronx, the borough just north of Manhattan Island and the only one connected to the mainland United States; Queens, home of many extraordinarily diverse communities and both of the city’s major airports, JFK and LaGuardia; Brooklyn, across the East River from southeastern Manhattan, is home to world-famous Coney Island and recently became the undisputed Bohemian mecca of New York City; and Staten Island, directly south of Manhattan and accessible by the free Staten Island Ferry or by bridges from Brooklyn and New Jersey. For detailed information and interactive maps for specific areas or neighborhoods in New York, use our "Neighborhood Guides" pulldown. There you will find information on all the wonderful neighborhoods that comprise our one great city... more

When most visitors think of New York City, they are thinking of Manhattan and its skyline famous the world over. But New York City is much more than just Manhattan! The city is comprised of five boroughs:


  • Manhattan, the small island (13 1/2 miles long, 2 1/4 miles wide, 22 square miles) at the center of it all and the place where most of the city's most famous attractions, buildings, and cultural institutions are found;
  • the Bronx, the borough just north of Manhattan Island and the only one connected to the mainland United States;
  • Queens, home of many extraordinarily diverse communities and both of the city’s major airports, JFK and LaGuardia;
  • Brooklyn, across the East River from southeastern Manhattan, is home to world-famous Coney Island and recently became the undisputed Bohemian mecca of New York City;
  • and Staten Island, directly south of Manhattan and accessible by the free Staten Island Ferry or by bridges from Brooklyn and New Jersey.

For detailed information and interactive maps for specific areas or neighborhoods in New York, use our "Neighborhood Guides" pulldown. There you will find information on all the wonderful neighborhoods that comprise our one great city. The "Getting Around" pulldown has information on all the various transporation alternatives in New York.

Of course, the entire NYC.com website is designed to help you plan and prepare for your New York vacation. In particular, make sure to check out our New York Hotel Section, our Broadway Section, our New York City Guided Tours Section, and all of the other comprehensive channels we offer on our site. To view any of them, just click on one of the tabs in our main navigation bar found above.

First time here? Well, if you have never been to a large city, New York might feel overwhelming. Standing in Midtown, surrounded by buildings that really do seem to scrape the sky, with torrents of people streaming around you, it is hard not to feel insignificant. You will quickly understand how it is possible to feel anonymous and hidden in a city of over eight million people.

That said, it is also hard not to feel energized. The pace here is fast, and there is a palpable sense of destinations being reached, and decisions being made.

Truly a concrete jungle, with over 500 square miles of concrete, steel and brick, New York is filled with some of the stranger exotic species of humanity on earth. Once you get over the initial shock, you will find New York one of the friendlier places on the planet. The sheer size of the city breeds a solidarity among its inhabitants. Moreover, as many city residents did not grow up here and understand the shock for a non-native, there is a sensitivity to helping others.

So except for the guy in the suit charging through the streets with the jaw ache (or was that a cell phone?) you can stop just about anyone and ask just about anything. New Yorkers are definitively not timid. If you ask a question you will surely get a brisk (if not always accurate) answer. People are happy to help. And if they give you a quick answer and then move on, that’s just the New York way! If you ask directions, do make sure the person really knows what they are talking about. New Yorkers typically never admit they don’t know something! Luckily, NYC.com does know a lot about about New York City, and below you'll find some information you may find useful:

Useful Hot Lines
Call 911 in case of emergency to summon police, fire or ambulance crews.
The 24-hour Crime Victims Hot Line is tel. 212/577-7777
Alcoholics Anonymous may be reached at tel. 212/870-3400
Sex Crimes Report Line tel. 212/267-7273
Suicide Prevention Help Line tel. 212/532-2400
Almost all other services (taxi complaints, consumer affairs, parking regulations) can be easily reached by dialing 311.

Internet access
Most public libraries offer internet access, and there are many Internet cafes throughout the city. The biggest is located in Times Square. In addition, if you have a wireless laptop or PDA, many cafes and restaurants now offer wireless internet access for little or no fee. One of the most reliable networks is offered by the coffee chain Starbucks, which has outlets conveniently located all over the city.

Liquor Laws
Please be aware that the minimum legal age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages in New York is 21 years of age. Liquor and wine are sold only in licensed stores, many of which are closed on Sundays, holidays, and election days. Beer can be purchased in grocery stores and delis 24 hours a day, except before noon on Sundays.

Newspapers/Magazines
In addition to the local newspapers, many newsstands in New York City carry a selection of newspapers and magazines from around the world. If you want to find your hometown paper, try Universal News Magazines, 977 Eighth Ave., at 57th Street (tel. 212-459-0932).

Rest Rooms
The bane of New York City tourists, public rest rooms are scarce and poorly maintained in New York City. Thankfully, in recent years the coffee chain Starbucks has provided some welcome relief. They have stores all over the city, and offer clean well maintained rest rooms. While inside refuel on their coffee! Other options are large hotel lobbies, the bookstore chain Barnes & Noble, and McDonalds restaurants.

Smoking
New York City has become decidedly anti-smoker in the past decade. Aside from a steep tax on all Cigarette purchases in the city, new smoking laws have steadily pushed smokers out onto the streets. Smoking is prohibited on all public transportation, in taxis, in office buildings, in stores, in restaurants, in bars (yes, that's right, no smoking in bars!) and in most public spaces.

Traveler's Assistance
Travelers Aid is an organization that helps distressed travelers with all kinds of problems, including accidents, sickness, and lost or stolen luggage. Their telephone number is: (718) 656-4870


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