A View seen across the World: Brief Introduction

By Katrina Bernhardt

The city that never sleeps. The Big Apple. The Empire State. The “concrete jungle where dreams are made of.” The financial capital of America. The capital of the world

Though New York can be concisely described by these nicknames and titles, a picture of its skyline is worth a thousand words and centuries of history. New York’s iconic skyline of record skyscrapers and bright lights has permeated popular media, appearing in postcards, magazines, photo backdrops, and movies

“These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you, let’s hear it for New York…” Similar to this sentiment expressed in the popular song from 2009, “Empire State of Mind,” several other artists convey messages that portray New York as a place of grandeur, where people can “make it big” and follow their dreams. The skyline of the city is a major icon that represents this grand city.

The “NYC Official Visitor Guide,” among many tour guide books, promotes the view of the Lower Manhattan skyline as a “must-see” from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, “which boasts breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline.”[1] Tour guide books map out the major attractions for tourists sightseeing in New York City. The , and the view of the skyline is one of the top ones included across many of them, including nyc.com and TripAdvisor.[2]

These images, ideas, and messages that have reached most people around the world have portrayed and marketed this skyline as a desirable and monumental view that is a must-see for everyone visiting New York City. The widespread image and positive portrayal of the Manhattan skyline have largely contributed to the tremendous amount of tourism New York City experiences each year, which, in turn, raises the interest of the skyline in the media. This creates a circular relationship between the skyline’s popularity and portrayal in the media and its visitor attraction in reality.

Countless images of the Manhattan skyline saturate books, printed media, and the easily accessible web, but still, millions desire to see this iconic skyline first hand and get the best image themselves. What is it that makes the New York skyline, which has been growing and expanding for centuries, so appealing for millions of tourists each year?


[1] “New York City Official Visitor Guide” (tour guide book, New York City, 2012-2014), 11. See the rest of the tour guide book that contains information about various attractions throughout New York City in PDF version at http://www.nycgo.com/official-nyc-guides/. This book is also available to order in print.

[2] These websites have lists of major attractions in New York City, easily found on the web for visitors to New York to find and use to plan their trips to New York City. Both websites have ratings for their attractions; on nyc.com, the Brooklyn Bridge Park is rated with five stars, and on TripAdvisor, the Manhattan skyline is ranked #3, based on public ratings.