Running in New York City, made up of 5 boroughs, is an opportunity to discover the achievements of a resolutely modern and frenetic urbanism. From the skyscrapers of Manhattan to the "brownstones", the typical dwellings of Brooklyn, run through the Big Apple !
"I go to Paris, I go to London, I go to Rome, and I always say, 'There's no other place like New York'. It's the most exciting city in the world today. That's just the way it is. That's it," said Robert De Niro, a famous American actor, about the Big Apple.
New York's history dates back to 1524, when the navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano, on a mission from the King of France, landed in the bay, then inhabited by the Lenape people. He named it St. Margaret's, after the sister of Francis I, and called the land in the bay and along the river "New England. Today, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, linking the boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island, is a reminder of this first European explorer to cross the Narrows, the strait that separates Lower New York Bay from Upper New York Bay. Preoccupied by other imperatives, François I did not take any further interest in the region, which was rediscovered in 1609 by Henry Hudson, an English explorer. Hired by the Dutch East India Company, he bequeathed his name to the river that runs through New York.
It was not until 1664 that the English conquered New Amsterdam, which was renamed "New York" in honour of James, Duke of York. Today, after a phenomenal expansion between the 18th and 20th centuries, it is made up of five boroughs known as Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. A major international financial centre, the third most populous city on the American continent, the seat of the UN... New York collects titles and its fame is indisputable. It attracts 50 million visitors annually. As a result, running there can be very rewarding, both culturally and emotionally!
Manhattan, city of glass and steel
Manhattan is the vibrant heart of New York. Located on the Manhattan peninsula, it is the location for a staggering number of films. When you visit New York, you'll feel like you're in a Hollywood production at every turn!
As you run or walk through the streets of Manhattan, you're likely to see Ground Zero, the scene of the 9/11 tragedy. From there, The Battery Park is close by, offering a breathtaking view of Upper Bay and Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty stands. Then, after passing the Empire State building and heading northeast, you can see Times Square, a neighbourhood named after the former headquarters of the New York Times. Located between 42nd Street and Broadway, it is known as the "Crossroads of the World". However, you need to enjoy the crowds in order to appreciate the view: about 365,000 people pass through here every day!
Not far from there, on the edge of Central Park, stands the Metropolitan Museum of Art, nicknamed the "MET". It is the most famous museum in Manhattan along with the nearby Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). With its two million works, 130,000 square metres and 4.5 million visitors per year, the MET is one of the largest museums in the world. Don't forget, during your run in Central Park, to notice its famous grey squirrels (especially on Mondays)!
Brooklyn, Dumbo and Williamsburg
Brooklyn occupies the western end of Long Island and is adjacent to Queens. It has been connected to Manhattan since 1883 by the Brooklyn Bridge, which is the oldest suspension bridge in the United States. A former working-class district, sometimes discredited, Brooklyn has nevertheless experienced a new dynamism since the beginning of the 21st century. This is reflected both in the growth of the business districts of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, reputed to be a den of "hipsters", and in the craze for Dumbo.
Dumbo is not (only) the name of a big-eared elephant in New York. It stands for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass", one of the city's most expensive districts. Popular with artists, it is filled with old warehouses converted into luxury lofts, which gives it a very special atmosphere!
Further south, you will discover the Brooklyn Museum, one of the largest in New York, and the immense Prospect Park adjacent to it. Finally, don't hesitate to go down to Coney Island during your run in Brooklyn! This peninsula, located at the southern end of the district, has many attractions, including a magnificent sandy beach bordered by a famous amusement park.
Queens, "The World's Borough"
Queens is the largest borough in New York City and the second most populous after Brooklyn. It is nicknamed "The World's Borough" because of its cosmopolitan population. As a result, running in Queens is also about getting to know its diverse multicultural neighbourhoods.
Flushing is now the largest Chinatown in the United States, while Jackson Heights and Elmhurst are home to Indian and Tibetan communities, as well as Hispanics. Astoria, close to Manhattan, is the Greek district, the birthplace of Maria Callas. Corona has historically been home to a large Italian population and is now the heart of the Latin American settlement in Queens, while Jamaica is home to a large African-American and Caribbean community. Finally, from Rego Park to Kew Gardens lies the historic Jewish Quarter.
While in Queens, you can also visit Long Island City and see the MoMA PS1 museum, or enjoy the greenery of Gantry Plaza State Park. Along the East River, you'll discover street art wonders before heading to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Here you'll find the Unisphere, a 43-metre-high steel representation of the Earth, set above the Perisphere, a structure with a pool and water jets. It gives the illusion of floating in space!
It is impossible in so few lines to express what is the essence of New York, its diversity. The Bronx, long reputed to be violent, is the cradle of hip-hop culture and a neighbourhood in the process of gentrification. Staten Island, the most outlying district, has five uninhabited islands, and for a long time threatened to secede from New York City, before a regular ferry was established in 1993!
Today, the central hills of the island are home to a series of public parks, well connected by hiking trails, a trail nicknamed the Greenbelt, making it a runner's paradise.
Contrary to popular belief, there is significant biodiversity in New York in the parks, the Hudson River and the various wetlands in the bay. There are hundreds of species of birds, and dozens of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. As well as 3,000 species of plants! During your run, you may come across a snow goose or an ibis. And as you will have understood, despite its reputation as an "urban jungle", New York is full of parks and natural spaces, and you will surely meet its famous squirrels or its discreet raccoons! 27% of the city's total surface area is in fact occupied by green spaces.
Run with Runnin'City from Staten Island to Manhattan!