In spring 2015 the tallest building in the western hemisphere will open its observation deck in Lower Manhattan. No one needs an excuse to book a trip to New York City this year, but here are 10.
The big opening: One World Observatory
The biggest (or at least the highest) event for travelers to NYC in 2015 will be the unveiling of the viewing deck at the top of One World Trade Center, scheduled for spring. The observatory will span floors 100 to 102 of the 1776ft skyscraper – now the tallest in the western hemisphere – giving rare views of Manhattan and beyond. It’s not by chance that the viewing area is at the same level as those of the destroyed Twin Towers, but the experience promises to be quite different. With use of immersive technology, 3D visual displays and other high-tech vertiginous thrills, One World Observatory is intended to be more than a simple view. In the lobby area visitors will learn about the history of the construction of the building before being whizzed up 102 floors in some of the world's fastest elevators. Here, a 14-ft wide platform called the Sky Portal will show a high-definition view of the streets below. Gadgetry aside, the main draw will be the vast 120,000 sq ft of space for restaurants, shops and floor-to-ceiling panoramas of the New York skyline. Ticket reservations open soon. (oneworldobservatory.com).
The High Line is finished, and better than ever
In September last year, the third and final section of the High Line was opened, creating a 1.45-mile leafy stroll from the Meatpacking District all the way to Midtown. The new section is a showstopper: looping west from 30th Street in a U-shape, it is the only part to reach the Hudson River. With the river on one side, and the West Side Rail Yards and city skyline on the other, it's particularly lovely as the sun goes down.
There are humpback whalesDid you know you can go whale watching from New York? In 2014 there were more sightings of humpback whales in the waters off New York City than in many years – 87 in fact, compared to just 15 in 2012. Experts are unsure why they are returning, whether it’s cleaner water or a simple change in behavior, but seeing one of the world’s largest sea mammals breach within view of Manhattan’s skyscrapers is a remarkable experience. Whale watching tours are run by American Princes Cruises ( americanprincesscruises.com) and New York Beach Ferry ( newyorkbeachferry.com).
Remembering September 11
The most anticipated museum opening of 2014 happened underground. The National September 11 Memorial Museum lies below the surface at the World Trade Center site and documents the day of the attacks through a huge collection of artifacts. Items such as the ‘survivors staircase’ used by workers to flee the area, and the burnt-out cab of a NYC Fire Department fire truck bear silent witness to the events. Accompanying them is real-time audio and video footage, including recordings of 911 calls made from people trapped inside the towers, plus nearly 2000 oral histories of the victims. You’ll need at least two hours inside.
More green spaces
Those who haven’t been to the city in a while will find it’s greener than ever. The High Line and the Brooklyn Bridge Park have both transformed once inaccessible spaces into glorious public parks. In 2014 New Yorkers got another 30-acre playground. Just seven minutes by ferry from Lower Manhattan, Governors Island park features 1500 trees, two soft ball lawns and the Hammock Grove, containing 50 hammocks. Things get even more verdant in 2015 with the completion of The Hills, an ambitious collection of artificial slopes offering new city and harbor views, public sculptures and a giant hill of slides.
All hail Queens
2015 is the year to discover the varied delights of Queens. Loved by locals, New York’s biggest borough has long been overlooked by visitors, or simply passed through on the way to the airport. Now, with new hotels popping up, a flourishing art and craft beer scene, plus two revamped major museums, the borough has come into its own. Luckily what’s always been fascinating about Queens is still there, namely its ethnic diversity, the largest Chinatown in New York, and a food scene that will take you to every corner of the world larder in the swish of a sari. Read more about why you should visit Queens.
Coney Island got its loop back
Fans of faded seaside resorts, low-brow fun and old Woody Allen films will appreciate the return of the Thunderbolt to Coney Island. The roller coaster is a reimagining of a previous ride of the same name that was torn down in 1983 (in the film Annie Hall, Alvy’s family live in a house beneath the tracks). The new Thunderbolt features a 125ft vertical drop and four ‘inversions’ that dive, twist and loop-the-loop four times in under two minutes. It won’t win any prizes for innovation but it’s the first time Coney has had a loop-the-loop since before World War I.
New and revamped museums
Bored of the Met? Finished with the Frick? Bet you haven't checked out the Victorian death masks at the Morbid Anatomy Museum yet, or projected your favorite William Morris design into the Immersion Room? Just a couple of recent additions to New York’s ever-vital museum scene. In store for 2015 is the launch of the expanded Whitney Museum of American Art. On 1 May, the collection of all-American modern and contemporary art – think Mark Rothko, Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keefe – will be unveiled in a new home designed by Renzo Piano. The Chelsea space will house New York’s largest column-free gallery, a theater, an outside plaza with river views, and 50,000 sq ft of galleries providing the most comprehensive display of the permanent collection to date.
Craft beer adventures
New York’s craft beer craze shows no signs of slowing and in 2015 even the nerdiest of beer snobs will be well-served by a trip to NYC. In 2014 a host of new breweries opened in locations as diverse as the Bronx, Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn and Staten Island. There is even a new brewery hiding underneath the Pulaski Bridge in Queens. Expect buzzing tap rooms, expertly created brews and passionate staff. Read more about NYC’s beer scene.
The coffee is better
If all that sightseeing sounds tiring, at least now you can get a decent caffeine injection. Cult coffee has gone mainstream in New York and artisan roasters can now be found all over the city, even in former coffee deserts such as Midtown. Brooklyn Roasting Company, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Blue Bottle Coffee, Toby’s Estate, and Little Collins are leading the charge.