25 Things New York is Famous For

Home to approximately 8.3 million inhabitants, New York City is the most densely populated city in the United States. Often called “The Big Apple,” New York is also a melting pot of cultures and has over 800 languages spoken throughout the city — a symbol of cultural diversity and freedom in America.

So, what is New York famous for?

New York is famous for landmarks like Central Park and the Statue of Liberty, iconic sights like yellow taxicabs and “I Love New York” logos, concerts in Madison Square Garden, musicals on Broadway, and neon lights on Times Square. It’s a mouth-watering haven for foodies, a treasure trove for art lovers, and a creative playground where trailblazers can reach for their dreams. 

One WTC in New York

Trust us — once you see that legendary skyline, you’ll be all about that “Empire State of Mind.” Without further ado, let’s hear it for New York!

Famous iconic sights in New York City

1. Yellow taxicabs

yellow taxicabs of new york

Need we say more? Yellow taxicabs are part and parcel of life in the Big Apple. Anywhere you go, the streets are filled with these bright-coloured cars, often starring in popular movies and television shows set in New York. Hail down a cab from the street if you want to navigate the city and watch the lights flicker past you — just like you’re a character in a movie! 

2. “I Love New York” logos 

i love new york keychains

No trip to New York City is complete without taking home a t-shirt, a cap, a souvenir, or any kind of merchandise with the “I Love New York” slogan! Designed for New York City in 1977, this logo has become a pop culture icon, inspiring similar trends in other cities around the globe. Indeed, what better way to proclaim your love for this amazing city? 

3. New York subway signs 

new york subway brooklyn bridge
Image credit: drpavloff

Do you recognize these tell-tale subway signs? These bold subway signs are distinctive icons of New York City. Not only will these signs tell you where you are and where you’re heading, but they also make eye-catching sights to admire at the train station. 

Taking the subway to your destination is one of the best ways to experience New York from a local’s perspective. If you’re visiting the Big Apple for the first time, be sure to check the train schedules and plan your trip using the MTA

Famous landmarks and attractions in New York City 

4. Empire State Building 

View of the Empire State Building from the boulevards of Manhattan

Who can ever forget that inspiring song by Alicia Keys? “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothing you can do, now you’re in New York!” Like a love letter to New York, the “Empire State of Mind” captures the irresistible appeal of the Big Apple.

The Empire State Building is one of the most highly sought-after attractions in New York City. Standing at 1,454 feet, this Art Deco skyscraper is currently the fourth tallest building in New York City. Moreover, it’s an iconic part of the city’s skyline.

Interestingly, the name of “Empire State” also happens to be a nickname for the state of New York! From the observation deck on the 86th floor, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city that people rarely get to see.  

5. Statue of Liberty 

the statue of liberty

When you think about what the state of New York is historically known for, the Statue of Liberty is usually what comes to mind. Located on Liberty Island, this statue of Lady Liberty lifting a torch to the sky has become a symbol of freedom and democracy in America. Furthermore, this was especially true among the immigrants who arrived in New York between 1886 and 1924.

Seeing the Statue of Liberty from the harbor, they knew that they had reached the land of the free; and they were about to begin the next chapter of their lives. 

6. Brooklyn Bridge

New York is famous for the Brooklyn Bridge

Built in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is a cable suspension bridge spanning roughly 1,595 feet over the East River. This bridge helps over 13,000 pedestrians and 3,000 bikers commute from Manhattan to Brooklyn on a daily basis.

Just like the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most widely photographed attractions in New York City. Many visitors like to take selfies on the bridge as fond reminders of their trips. 

7. Central Park 

new york central park in autumn

Wondering what New York is famous for? Look no further than Central Park, one of the most picturesque places to visit in New York City.

Situated between the Upper East and Upper West Sides of Manhattan, this 843-acre park is a green oasis in the city. It features lush gardens, elm trees, man-made lakes, bridges, and plenty of green spaces for anyone who wants to escape the commotion of the city. Any time of the day, you can find New Yorkers jogging, picnicking, or biking at the park. 

8. Rockefeller Center

Art sculpture in Rockefeller Center
Image credit: Michael Vadon

Filled with top-notch shopping and dining experiences, Rockefeller Center is a massive entertainment complex of 19 buildings with many exciting things to do in New York City!

At this historic venue, you can explore Radio City Music Hall, attend a live taping of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and even join a tour of NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza! During the holidays, Rockefeller Center is decked out with a giant Christmas tree and an ice skating rink for visitors. 

9. Wall Street  

wall street statue

Wall Street marks New York City as the leading financial capital of the world. Located in Lower Manhattan, this eight-block-long street in the Financial District contains the headquarters of the New York Stock Exchange. You can easily recognize the bronze sculpture of the Charging Bull in Bowling Green, as well as the Fearless Girl standing bravely across the New York Stock Exchange building. 

10. Grand Central Terminal

new york grand central terminal
Image credit: MTA

Out of all New York attractions, the Grand Central Terminal shows you what it’s really like to live in New York City. Inside this cathedral-like station, you can enjoy many shopping and dining options under one transit hub. Don’t forget to look up and admire the magnificent ceiling above you!

11. Times Square

New York is famous for Times Square

Big lights will inspire you at Times Square, a famous entertainment center in Midtown Manhattan that attracts nearly 380,000 pedestrians on a daily basis. This commercial intersection is abuzz with flashing billboards, digital marquees, and buskers at any time of the day.

Each year, thousands of New Yorkers and tourists gather at Times Square to celebrate the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, cheering as fireworks light up the sky. Between the neon-lit streets and the festivities at Times Square, New York City definitely earns its nickname as “The City That Never Sleeps!”

Arts and entertainment in New York City 

12. The setting of the TV show Friends and Hollywood movies

friends sitcom new york
Image credit: Friends on IMDb (left); Ajay Suresh (right)

Who doesn’t remember the theme song of the American sitcom Friends? Sadly, a majority of the show’s most iconic scenes — like the fountain and Central Perk — were actually filmed in Warner Bros. Studios in California. Not to worry though, as the apartment building of Rachel, Monica, Chandler, and Joey can be found right in New York’s Greenwich Village, at the corner of Bedford and Grove Street!

breakfast at tiffany's
Image credit: Screenshot of Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Feel like going on a tour of New York’s filming locations? Some famous movies set in New York include Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Annie Hall, The Big Short, Sleepless in Seattle, Taxi Driver, The Godfather, Manhattan, and of course, The Avengers

13. Famous celebrities who live in New York

Image credit: Spencer Means

If you’re lucky, you might spot a celebrity in New York! Among the celebrities who call this city home are Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lopez, Nicole Kidman, Matt Damon, Jake Gyllenhaal, Samuel Jackson, Neil Patrick Harris, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Hugh Jackman, Sarah Jessica Parker, and more. 

The great thing about New Yorkers is that they treat celebrity sightings very casually, like it’s no big deal. Oh, you saw Taylor Swift grabbing coffee? Just another day in New York!  

14. Broadway musicals and plays 

new york broadway

Theatre is alive and kicking in New York City, where millions of tourists enjoy watching show-stopping performances on stage! Watching a Broadway show is one of the most essential things to do in New York City.

Take your pick among long-established musicals like The Lion King, Wicked, and The Phantom of the Opera, which have been receiving standing ovations for decades now. Or catch the latest crop of Tony Award-winning musicals, such as Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Hadestown, and The Book of Mormon

Here’s a pro-tip that New Yorkers swear by. To score cheap Broadway tickets, head to the TKTS Ticket Booth on Times Square for discounted prices on the day of the show.

15. Books at Strand Book Store

strand book store
Image credit: Brianne.sperber

Bookworms will enter Strand Book Store feeling like they’ve ascended to book heaven. And you know what? They’re absolutely right.

For your next page turner, head to this charming neighborhood bookstore with 18 miles of books at Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side. Not sure what page turner to buy? Let the passionate booksellers offer their personal recommendations to help you out! 

16. Concerts at Madison Square Garden

madison square garden, new york

Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, U2, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, and BTS are some of the big-name artists who have performed to sold-out seats at Madison Square Garden!

Right in the heart of Manhattan, this stadium is known to be the most famous arena in the world. From high-profile concerts to basketball games with the New York Knicks, it serves as a venue for important cultural events in New York City.

Well-known museums in New York City

17. Metropolitan Museum of Art 

metropolitan museum of art
Image credit: Sracer357

America’s largest art museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a treasure trove housing more than 2,000,000 artworks within its halls. Visitors can spend days — if not weeks — admiring the vast exhibits that represent over 5,000 years of global history. From ancient Egyptian art to elaborate costumes worthy of The Met Gala, the Met has one of the finest art collections on the planet. 

18. Museum of Modern Art

MoMA
Image credit: Zé Carlos Barretta

One of the best museums in New York City, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is renowned for its modern and contemporary art collection. By taking a self-guided tour, you can explore 20th-century art exhibits, a sculpture garden, a Michelin-starred restaurant, and even a cinema.

Some of the greatest masterpieces of the museum include Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, Rene Magritte’s The Lovers, and Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans

19. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Image credit: Jean-Christophe BENOIST

Another popular attraction in New York City is the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, often called Guggenheim Museum or The Guggenheim. This pristine building stands out on Fifth Avenue for its unique architecture, whose cylindrical shape was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Set your sights on the museum’s growing collection of artworks, showcasing the work of Pablo Picasso, Vasily Kandinsky, Édouard Manet, and more.  

Foodie adventures in New York City 

20. A diverse and mouth-watering culinary scene

Katz's Pastrami
Image credit: City Foodsters

To say that New York is famous for its food would be a huge understatement!

From the pastrami sandwiches at Katz’s Deli to the pork buns at Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York’s restaurant scene is as diverse as its population. You can feast on everything from falafel platters at The Halal Guys to New York-style pizza at Lombardi’s. You can also visit Chelsea Market, a world-renowned marketplace that attracts foodies for its varied selection of meats, fish, artisanal cheeses, baked goods, and so on.

Remember to bring a big appetite because you’ll never leave New York City hungry!

21. Hot dog carts

hot dog carts in new york
Image credit: Prayitno 

Snacking on hot dogs in the street is one of the things every visitor has to try in New York. Both yummy and highly addictive, these New York-style hot dogs are a culinary icon and a staple for Americans. Treat yourself to juicy hot dogs at famous stalls and eateries in New York, such as Gray’s Papaya, Schaller’s Stube, Mile End, Feltman’s, Crif Dogs, and Frankel’s!

22. Delicious pastries and desserts

pastries

Got a sweet tooth? For pastries and desserts, you absolutely have to try the gooey palm-sized cookies at Levain Bakery, the cronuts at Dominique Ansel Bakery, the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery, the cereal milk and crack pie at Milk Bar, just to name a few! 

What do people love most about New York City?

23. The cultural diversity is incredible 

new york chinatown
Image credit: Yanping Nora Soong

Did you know that more than a third of New York’s residents are born outside of the United States? With over 800 languages spoken, New York is one of the most culturally diverse cities out there.

Thousands of immigrants bring their cultural heritage and traditions to this city, giving each neighbourhood a unique character and flair. No matter where you go in New York, you’ll encounter people from all over the world. This melting pot of different cultures is what makes New York so cosmopolitan and dynamic. 

24. You can be whoever you want to be

brooklyn pride parade
Image credit: Brooklyn Pride Parade

When it comes to city life, what else is New York famous for? Why, the people, of course!

If you still remember the Humans of New York interview project by Brandon Stanton, then you know that the residents of New York come with so many interesting personalities and quirks. New Yorkers hail from very different countries and walks of life; therefore, each person has their own story to tell. 

Embracing individuality and creativity is what makes the city remarkable. Differences are not just accepted; they’re also celebrated with pride. In New York, you can be whoever you want to be!

25. It’s a city with endless opportunities

billboards in new york
Image credit: Yoann JEZEQUEL

If America is the land of opportunity, no other city captures this idea better than New York. Take it from the classic “New York, New York” anthem by Frank Sinatra, who sings about the American dream: “I’ll make a brand new start of it in old New York. If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” 

More than offering people a fresh start, New Yorks hold countless opportunities for anyone who wants to pursue a new career, build a new life, or chase their dreams. Here, you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself. That’s what makes New York so exciting and vibrant — the feeling that greatness is waiting just around the corner.

new york skyline

And so, the next time someone asks you: “What is New York known for?” You can tell them that New York has more thrilling things to do than anyone can imagine! Perhaps the real question to ask is: “What is New York not famous for?” As we can clearly see, there’s a little something for everybody in this wonderful destination!

We hope you enjoy your adventures in New York City! 

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