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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

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COLUMN: More than just the Empire State Building — a lot more

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From watching “Gossip Girl” to “How I Met Your Mother” (which I do believe is better than “Friends”) to “Suits,” I’ve experienced New York City from my little corner in Bangalore, India. Moving to the U.S. meant getting the chance to travel to NYC, and I did not miss the chance. I booked my tickets to New York for spring break the first week of January, dedicated to experiencing the city for what it truly is: a cultural and artistic hub.  

As enchanting as the Empire State Building and Grand Central Station are, during spring break I realized there’s so much more to New York than what the guides and tours have on their websites. So here’s a list of things to do if you want to fall in love with the true NYC, and not just what the Instagram blogs and guides make it seem! 

High Line Park  

Let’s begin with a lesser-known park, but arguably one of the prettiest and most unique ones you’ll find. A five-minute walk from Penn Station and situated in the middle of Manhattan, this one is a hidden oasis. The entire park is built on an abandoned rail line that ran through the West Side of New York City during the 1900s and was abandoned in 1980. With great architecture and incredible lighting, this park is truly one to visit. On this path, one can admire The Vessel along with a few other sculptures — some even rotate depending on the hot topics at the time. I saw and found "Curtain Call" by Karon Davis particularly interesting. The sculpture is a homage to the artist’s parents and sisters who were all professional dancers. This sculpture emulates the physical and mental toll dancers go through while putting up a performance. As a ballet dancer, I resonated with this sculpture and loved the concept behind it. "Old Tree" is another iconic bright pink sculpture one can always find at the High Line.  

Upper West Side  

A lesser known, but equally as beautiful neighborhood of Manhattan, this paradise is filled with diverse restaurants catering to every diet. Better known as the performing arts hub of New York City, the Upper West Side is also home to the Lincoln Center, the venue where the New York Film Festival takes place each year. In the same block lies the NYC Ballet, The American Ballet and The Juilliard School. This performing arts paradise is a must visit for every ballet and theater lover.  

Museum of Modern Art 

We’ve all heard and fantasized about wandering through the Metropolitan Museum of Art and bumping into a charming prince, like Blair did while in Paris. However, the Museum of Modern Art is another great museum that one must visit. With its greatest attraction being Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the institution also displays works by Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet’s "Water Lillies".

Bethesda Terrace  

Central Park is one of the prettiest parks in the middle of the greatest city of all time. However, its size can be overwhelming. If you’re contemplating which part of it to visit, the Bethesda Terrace and Bethesda Fountain is  the place to go, especially if you’re a fan of “Gossip Girl." As the place where Chuck and Blair got married and where Blair and Serena made up, this is an iconic spot to the Gossip Girl realm.  

Garment District  

A dream neighborhood for any fashion major, minor or enthusiast, the Garment District houses the famed Big Button sculpture. With stores featuring every kind of textile you could think of, this is the perfect spot to shop around and spend an entire day, if not two! Being right around the corner from Times Square, its energy and environment is incomparable, and the dining options are endless.  

These five locations are a must add to your list of spots to hit the next time you visit New York City - the city that never sleeps. As put by Ted Mosby, New York City’s the greatest city in the whole wide world.” So the next time you’re there, explore these spots that will truly make you fall in love with the city. If you have some time left, one can never get enough of the "Empy," Ted Mosby’s nickname for the Empire State Building in “How I Met Your Mother.”  

After visiting these places, I was struck by the beautiful, cultural, and artistic presence throughout the city. Under the strong influence of television shows and mass-media, my vision of the city was misguided. New York City, as I came to know it after my week-long visit, is a city with strong roots in art and culture, with sculptures spread through the city. This city celebrates individual voices and ideas, providing artists and individuals alike with the space to communicate their ideas in ways they wished. There is a lot more to the city than busy roads, big names, and fancy stores. The heart of the city lies in its expressive freedom.  

We often plan out vacations based on preconceived notions we hold and the movies that show these places. However, upon deeper speculation of a place, its history and its story, one comes to realize there’s a lot more to the city than what’s shown on the big screen. Travelling and exploring different cities is what helps one truly see and experience the city for its true, authentic self.  

I, for one, fell in love with New York City not just for its skyscrapers and big billboards in Times Square, but for the freedom of expression it evoked in me as I walked through the streets with graffiti and murals on one side and museums and sculptures on the other.  

Pehal Aashish Kothari is a freshman majoring in marketing with a minor in apparel merchandising.  

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