Welcome to Rockefeller Center
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New York is a city of such extremes that any visitor would be hard pressed to describe it without resorting to superlatives. Words like biggest and best come to mind when referring to America's most populated city. The superlatives are not always positive though. The enormous number of people, pace of life and stark urban landscape contribute to an often grim and sometimes frustrating experience when walking along its streets. Despite problems common to any major city, New York attracts 34 million visitors each year to its man-made canyons.

A true archipelago, the 314 square miles that make up New York City are a series of islands that embrace five boroughs, or administrative districts: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx. More than 8 million people live in the city's metropolitan area, which includes Long Island and parts of southern New York State, northeastern New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut.

Shopping

Shopping

New York is a shopping mecca for whatever your heart desires. You will have no trouble hunting down the basics or the extravagances in the stores lining block after enticing block.

While Peter Minuit got the best trade in the city's history—in 1626 he paid $24 for Manhattan Island, currently worth more than $50 billion—Manhattan is still a borough of bargains. The saying “I can get it for you wholesale” is nowhere more applicable.



Antiques

There are plenty of places in the city for antique lovers to indulge their whims. Good hunting grounds for antiques are along Madison Avenue; on Second and Third avenues from the upper 40s to the 80s; on E. 55th Street; and on 57th Street.

Manhattan Art and Antiques Center, 1050 Second Ave. between 55th and 56th streets in Midtown Manhattan, has nearly 100 shops with furniture, glassware, jewelry, pottery and other period pieces sold by a number of independent vendors.

For those looking for something a bit more down to earth, flea markets set up almost every weekend. Try the Outdoors Annex Antiques Fair and Flea Market, Sixth Avenue between W. 24th and 27th streets, or the SoHo Antiques Fair, Collectibles and Crafts, Broadway and Grand streets.



Malls

Typical American malls do not exist in New York City. Such a compact urban area lacks the luxury of unlimited space and miles of parking; expect something a little different and quite a bit more extravagant here.

Stern's department store anchors the Manhattan Mall, W. 33rd Street at Sixth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, and its collage of 60 shops. The eight-floor mall boasts four glass elevators, marble flooring and free entertainment.

Large malls are mostly found outside Manhattan. Kings Plaza Shopping Center is an enclosed mall 1 mile north of Belt Parkway exit 11N in Brooklyn. Elmhurst, in Queens County, has Queens Center, 2 blocks west of the Long Island Expressway (I-495) on Queens Boulevard. Staten Island Mall, 2 miles south of I-278 on Richmond Avenue, has 170 stores, including Macy's and Sears.

The Market at Citicorp Center, on Lexington at 54th Street, is a seven-story building housing international restaurants and shops. The atrium contains an indoor garden cafe with skylights; free entertainment is offered daily.

From designer originals to sweet treats, one of the 200 stores at Rockefeller Center is bound to carry what you crave. Trump Tower, 725 Fifth Ave. at E. 56th Street, has an elegant collection of fashion, food and gift shops within its glass, marble and bronze atrium. The building, reputedly the tallest concrete structure in New York, includes walkways, hanging gardens and an 80-foot waterfall.

Shoppers make a day of it at the South Street Seaport Museum complex on the East River. Here, Fulton Market sells a variety of goods at what was once a fish market. Fresh produce is still available, and there are trendy retailers like Ann Taylor and Abercrombie & Fitch.

While one-stop shopping in suburbia means the mall, in Midtown Manhattan it means the department store. Among New York's leading department stores are Bloomingdale's, 1000 Third Ave. at 59th Street; Lord and Taylor, Fifth Avenue at 38th Street; and Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Ave. at 50th Street. And let's not forget Macy's, known as the world's largest store, 151 W. 34th St. at Herald Square.

Takashimaya, 693 Fifth Ave. near 54th Street, is a popular Japanese store, and Alfred Dunhill Ltd., 450 Park Ave. at 57th Street, is a haven for gifts.

Women's clothing is the specialty of Bergdorf Goodman, Fifth Avenue at 57th Street; and Wallach's, 4123 13th Ave. in Brooklyn. Bolton's, with several locations including 57th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, and Loehmann's, on Seventh Avenue at W. 16th Street, are renowned for their discounted women's apparel.

For men's clothing, try A. Sulka & Co., Park Avenue at 56th Street; Barney's, 660 Madison Ave. at 61st Street; British American House, 488 Madison Ave.; Brooks Brothers, Madison Avenue at 44th Street; and Paul Stuart, Madison Avenue at 45th Street.

In Midtown Manhattan at 1540 Broadway in Times Square is Planet Hollywood, where the fascination with all that is Hollywood is captured in souvenirs ranging from designer T-shirts to key chains to leather jackets.



Outlets

Despite the emphasis on high-priced merchandise, New York also has plenty of bargains. The city prides itself on its discount clothing houses. Buying from exporters and wholesalers on Seventh Avenue can be rewarding, but there are some restrictions: usually cash-only transactions and no returns.

Clothing outlets are found all along Madison and Fifth avenues and along side streets between the Garment District and 85th Street.

Burlington Coat Factory, 707 6th Ave., is said to be the largest coat retailer in the country. It sells designer merchandise at a hefty discount. Go to Syms, 42 Trinity Pl. in the financial district, to buy bargain-priced men's and women's apparel. Do not expect doting salesclerks, and be ready to pay in cash.

In addition, you may find discounts of up to 80 percent on shoes, handbags and clothing at Daffy's, 111 Fifth Ave. at E. 18th Street in Lower Manhattan.



Specialty Districts

Often many shops of the same specialty are found within a radius of several blocks. These informal groupings are a boon for shoppers, who reap the benefits of convenience and competitive prices.

Art galleries are grouped between Fifth and Madison avenues from 45th to 85th streets; bookstores cluster between Madison and Fifth avenues, 46th to 57th streets, and 57th Street between Seventh and Third avenues. Flower markets adorn the 28th Street and Sixth Avenue area. And rumor has it that the Diamond District, W. 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues near Rockefeller Center, is where most of the big deals on big rocks are made.

Macy's anchors the 34th Street Shopping District, Midtowns Manhattan's 31-block retail, dining and entertainment hub bounded by Park and Tenth avenues and 31st and 36th streets.

Rows and rows of small retail shops sell shoes, suits, linens and more are at the Historic Orchard Street Shopping District on the Lower East Side.

Let it be known: Fifth Avenue is to shoppers what Baskin Robbins is to most ice cream lovers. For a seemingly limitless selection of goods visit the area from 54th to 59th streets, give or take a block in either direction. Here you can find Tiffany & Co. and F.A.O. Schwarz. Simply window shopping is quite a treat. Scoot down 57th Street, east or west, for more browsing at Rizzoli Bookstore, Ann Taylor and Hermes.

Shops that rival those on Fifth Avenue can be found on Manhattan's Upper East and West sides. Lots of glitter and plenty of funky threads can be found along Columbus Avenue (West Side) between 70th and 83rd streets. Madison Avenue (East Side) from 59th to 79th streets is another shoppers' playground, with dozens of retailers and restaurants galore. The Crystal District features the luxury boutiques of Daum, Baccarat, Lalique, Steuben and Swarovski on Madison Avenue between 58th and 63rd street.

For gourmet and specialty food items, follow your nose to Lower Manhattan's Chelsea Market, occupying a full block on Ninth Avenue between 15th and 16th streets. Built by Nabisco in 1890, this former commercial building is where the first Oreo cookie was baked.

Jewelry and handicraft items can be found in stores at Greenwich Village. If you do not see what you want, describe it to the shopkeeper—who often also is the artisan—and he or she will either be able to make it for you or tell you where to obtain it.