Rikers Island | About the World’s Largest Jail

by NYJ Team

Rikers Island in New York City is considered the world’s largest penal colony. This notorious jail occupies the entire 1600 km2 island after which it is named and is home to over 130,000 inmates on an annual basis.

To keep these prisoners in line, the New York City Department of Correction – with a budget of over $850 million – employs 10,000 police officers and hundreds of civilians.

Rikers Island

Click for more details on Rikers Island

History

Rikers Island prison was established in 1884, after the city purchased the island from the descendants of an original Dutch settler to the area, Abraham Rycken in the 1700’s. The city paid $183,000 for the island and set about immediately converting it to an incarceration facility.

Landfill was added to the island in the 1950s in a bid to expand the existing space. In recent years, in order to cater to the growing demand for prisons in the New York City area, extra inmates began their incarceration in new facilities built on an eight hundred bed barge that was constructed in the East River.

Rikers Island Facilities

Rikers Island has come to be known as a city within a city, with nearly 20,000 people present on the island on any given day. There are ten jails that make up this facility, each housing different criminal types. The majority of the jails have been built in the last seventy years, with several of them being floating detention centers constructed from original Staten Island ferries.

What used to be known as the Rikers Island Infirmary now houses special case prisoners, including those who are going through detoxification, those who are mentally ill and those who require special health treatment.

In order to serve the needs of the visitors and staff on Rikers Island, many facilities have been set up, including clinics, schools, religious institutions, supermarkets, sports fields and barbershops.

Reaching Rikers Island

To reach Rikers Island visitors have various options. Passengers could take the Q101 Express bus, also known as the Steinway Transport Corporation bus that is marked Rikers Island Limited Stop Service.

The Q101 bus service departs from the south end of the Plaza on 27th and 28th Streets, making its last stop on 19th Avenue. The bus then heads onto an unmarked bridge, known as the Francis Buona Bridge.

There are also several privately owned ferry services that take visitors to and from the island, while the Corrections Department provides transportation for those visiting inmates on the island.

While it is possible to reach the Rikers Island parking lot by car, this is generally not encouraged because of the lack of parking space in the area.

Visiting Rikers Island NYC

Rikers Island is part of New York City’s less glamorous landscape but still manages to instill a lot of curiosity and interest among visitors and locals alike. While city authorities prefer to keep the facility away from the public eye, the irony is that Rikers Island is on of the first things that visitors see from the air when they fly into La Guardia airport.

Click for more information on Rikers Island.

Chrysler Building | An Elegant & Iconic Symbol of a Bygone Era

by NYJ Team

New York City’s skyline has been anchored by a number of iconic and beautiful skyscrapers over the years, including the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, the new One World Trade Center, and of course, the sleek and elegant Chrysler Building.

The Chrysler Building stands tall on 42nd and Lexington Avenues, towering over midtown Manhattan just to the northeast of its rival Art Deco masterpiece, the Empire State Building. For a brief period of time after its completion in May 1930, the Chrysler Building stood as the tallest in the world. However, that prestigious title lasted less than a year, until it was bypassed by the spire that was installed on the top of the Empire State Building.

Today, the Chrysler Building still helps anchor and define the New York City skyline, alongside its famous contemporaries. Its graceful form has been featured in countless movies, including The Devil Wears Prada, Spiderman and Serendipity.

Chrysler Building

Click for more details on the Chrysler Building


Classic Art Deco Design
While the taller Empire State Building may draw more attention and more movie roles, many architects widely consider the Chrysler Building to be the more beautiful of the two skyscrapers. It was one of the last of the great Art Deco buildings, designed specifically for the Chrysler car company. It also served as the company’s headquarters well into the 1950’s.

You can see the influence of the automotive inspiration in many of the Art Deco design features, particularly in the famous gargoyles which were modeled after Chrysler hood ornaments. As well, the spire on top of the building was inspired by a radiator grille.

The terraced steel crown of the building is what really sets the Chrysler Building apart. It was designed in a sunburst pattern, and is a classic example of the sleek lines and beauty of the 1920’s Art Deco style.

Visiting the Chrysler Building
One of the most notable differences between the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building is that the Chrysler Building is not open to the public. There was once a public viewing on the 71st floor, but that was closed down in the 1940’s. There was also a private dining club called The Cloud Club inside, but that too closed in the 1970’s.

The building is currently occupied by private business offices, and you will only get as far as the lobby if you stop by. However, it is still well worth a visit, just to admire the lobby’s breathtaking ceiling mural designed by Edward Trumbull, as well as its gleaming marble floors, and the unique wood and inlay on the elevator doors.

So, if you want to admire the beauty of this Art Deco gem, you’re going to be standing outside. The best view from the street is at the corner of 3rd Ave and 44th St. It is a great idea to bring your telephoto lens or even a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at the entire building.

If you don’t feel like craning your neck, the other great way to admire the beauty of the Chrysler Building is to stop by its rival. For a few coins, you can use the pay telescopes at the northeast corner of the Observation Deck at the Empire State Building, which will give you a clear and level view of the world famous and awe-inspiring Chrysler Building crown.

Click for more information on the Chrysler Building.

Empire State Building | On Top of the World

by NYJ Team

When it comes to what to see and do in New York City, the sheer number of options can seem a little overwhelming. However, there is one thing that should be at the top of every travel list, and that is a visit to the top of the iconic Empire State Building.

It is simply one of the most famous buildings in the entire world and it has come to symbolize the bold and majestic grandeur of the Big Apple itself. The Empire State Building has been featured in countless movies, television shows and books set in New York, from King Kong to An Affair to Remember to Doctor Who to Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

Empire State Building

Click for more details on the Empire State Building


The Great Building
The Empire State Building has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It stands 103 stories high right on 5th Avenue in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. It was the tallest building in the world for almost 40 years, until the completion of New York’s World Trade Center in 1970. Aside from its height, it is also famous for its classic Art Deco architecture, which can be seen everywhere from the spectacular cathedral-like three story lobby, to the sleek railings and design of the observation deck.

The Empire State Building also acts as symbol to mark holidays and world events. Floodlights were added to the top of the building in the 1960s, and now the building lights up in different colours depending in the occasion. The building is lit up red, white and blue for the 4th of July, green for St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas, and in 1998, it was bathed in a blue light when Frank Sinatra (Old Blue Eyes) passed away.

Tips for the Perfect Visit
Since the Empire State building is at the top of everyone’s must-see list, expect long lines. Tickets do offer an express option which will let you skip the lines, but you can expect to line up long before you get to the ticket counter. Instead, it’s cheaper and more efficient to plan your visit for a time when lines might be a little less long.

The best times to visit are first thing in the morning, around 3 p.m., or at night, when the lines are shortest. Don’t let bad weather keep you away. A little rain or snow does nothing to dampen the incredible view, and it does a lot to speed up your trip to the top. The most romantic time to visit is at night, when the city that never sleeps is sparkling at your feet.

The View
You can see the entire city of New York from the top of the Empire State Building, plus a little more. From the south Observation Deck, and you look out towards Lower Manhattan, the Lower Bay and Staten Island. You can see the famous Flatiron Building below, out towards the resurrected tower at One World Trade Centre, and past to Statue of Liberty.

From the North Observation deck, Broadway winds past right below your feet, leading to the Columbus Circle and the vast green oasis of Central Park, which sits nestled between the Upper East and West with historic Harlem capping it off on the north.

The best view is from the northeast corner, where you look out towards Brooklyn and the sparkling East River at the other of New York’s most iconic Art Deco gems; the shining and breathtaking crown and gargoyles on the Chrysler Building, which can only be properly appreciated at this altitude.

Click to visit Empire State Building official website.