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NEW YORK America’s best city will not be defined, tamed or—against all odds—contained.

Updated: Oct 6, 2019

the designation as “The City That Never Sleeps” has long referred to this kingdom of human ingenuity’s nocturnal pursuits. Today, it encapsulates the unshackled ambition of pushing the limits of what’s possible in an urban context while stewarding a place for future generations.

It’s in this combination of openness, human friction, density and contrast that the potential of urbanism—and the human spirit—is unleashed.

Not surprisingly, then, New York finished third in our Prosperity category, behind only Beijing and Dubai, led by having the fourth-most Global 500 companies headquartered here.

But as befits this city’s century-old friction between capitalism and creativity, New York the financial wealth magnet also boasts some of the best Programming—which includes Shopping, Culinary, Nightlife and Culture—on the planet. Chalk one up for Fearless Girl.

In 2017, 40 new Broadway shows launched—the most in three decades. New York storytellers Billy Joel and Jerry Seinfeld did residencies all year

in 2017—the former at Madison Square Garden, the latter at the Beacon Theatre—just because they could.

No wonder the city finished first in the world for Culture, measured by the number of quality culture and performing arts experiences recommended by locals and visitors in a city.

New York City’s cultural bounty resulted in a Top 10 finish for global museums and galleries. Helping its cause of late is the Whitney Museum of American Art’s first biennial in its dramatic new location. The iconic venue doubled its exhibition space four years ago when it relocated to Chelsea and the terminus of the High Line, ballooning its visitation numbers as well.

New York’s #7 global Culinary ranking speaks to its importance as a food town—77 of its restaurants boast one, two or three Michelin stars. In early 2017, Eleven Madison Park was named best restaurant in the world by the global authority on such matters, becoming the first U.S. room to grab the honor since 2004. The difference between culinary lineage of old and today? Starred restaurants are tucked relatively off the map, in Bushwick (Faro), Harlem (Sushi Inoue) and Williamsburg (Aska).

This sprawling, crammed theater of big money and big dreams is why New York keeps smashing visitor numbers—a record 60.3 million arrived in 2016, including 12.7 million from outside the U.S.—and why smitten visitors keep feeding the legend of New York in their own words. As such, the city finished Top 5 in Promotion, powered by #1 in Google Trends and second for Facebook check-ins in the world. Not surprisingly, the city also surfaced the fifth-most Google Search Results on the planet.

Despite a national political environment that seems to challenge its open-for-business pitch and its heritage as a place of sanctuary, New York is going all in on welcoming the world, reciprocating the love it has received from across the globe since that dark September day in 2001.

“New York City has ducked out from under the American flag before and we may have to do it again,” Fred Dixon, CEO of tourism and marketing organization NYC & Company, told Resonance recently. “But this isn’t entirely tied to the recent U.S. election. With the rise of cities, we are reverting to ancient times with the organization of the city-state.”

The city sure makes it easy to keep visiting. There’s the Empire State Center (or for our money—The Top of the Rock), but now there’s also One World Observatory, complete with a time-machine-like ascent up the Freedom Tower that displays the buildout of the city over four centuries.

The experiential bounty across the five boroughs rivals most countries. Amazingly, it’s mostly reachable by an expanding public transit system—an attraction unto itself. This past summer, the cost of a subway ride also put you above ground and on the East River courtesy of the new 18-ferry NYC fleet, complete with bike racks, free WiFi and well-stocked bars, with service to Red Hook and the emerging Rockaways.

Another place accessed by water— Staten Island—is making its own Manhattan- sized buzz, with the revitalization of the St. George neighbourhood with new parks, shopping and the audacious new icon- in-waiting, the New York Wheel—a 630-foot-tall observation wheel that was to be the world’s tallest before Dubai scooped the honor. Fortunately for the overwhelmed tourist, it doesn’t open for another year (late 2018). In the meantime, get your island experience at the rejuvenated Governors Island.

And. It. Just. Keeps. Building

If you haven’t heard of Hudson Yards, you soon will. The mini-city on the West Side along the Hudson River is Manhattan’s largest development since the 1930s construction of the Rockefeller Center. Built on a 28-acre platform over 30 active train tracks, it is by far the largest private real estate development in the country’s history, at $25 billion upon build-out in 2025. More important, it will yield 4,000 residences, 100 shops, parks, a playground, the Shed Art and Performance space and new gallery space—much needed breathing room in a city that has visitors and residents taking deep breaths just to keep up. The development will further cement New York’s best-in-the-world ranking for Shopping, as will the much-anticipated 2019 opening of the three-level, 100,000-square-foot Hermès temple in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.

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