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From Washington To A-Rod: Everyone Loves New York

When New York set out to build skyscrapers, we built the Empire State Building; when we set out to build bridges, we built the Brooklyn Bridge; and when we set out to build parks, we built Central Park. Now, we have set out to produce the biggest political convention ever — and you won’t want to miss it.

Long before New York earned a reputation as the “World’s Second Home” — for our world-class mix of finance, fashion, art, theater, music, media, nightlife and more — we were given an even greater honor: serving as the first capital of the United States of America. When the Republican National Convention comes to town Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, visitors will be able to experience the wonders of both capitals.

In 1783, George Washington gave an emotional farewell address to his troops in Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan. Six years later, just a few blocks away at Federal Hall, he was inaugurated as our nation’s first president. He then led a procession to St. Paul’s Church, where he regularly attended services. Today, Fraunces Tavern and Museum is still serving food and drink to the public; visitors to Federal Hall can see the Bible on which Washington placed his hand when taking the oath of office; and at St. Paul’s, visitors can see Washington’s regular pew and the first Great Seal of the United States of America that hangs above it.

St. Paul’s sits across the street from the World Trade Center. Miraculously, it survived the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the collapse of the Twin Towers virtually unharmed. The city suffered unimaginable losses that day, but our spirit — and the spirit of our nation that lives in St. Paul’s — has only grown stronger.

There is no better place to showcase America’s ideals, history and leadership than New York City, one of the most dynamic, popular and enjoyable tourism destinations in the world — as well as one of the safest. In 2003, crime in New York City hit a 35-year low, making New York the safest big city in the country and safer than nine of 10 small cities, too.

Visitors can choose from the city’s 18,000 restaurants, 37 Broadway shows, more than 1,500 annual off-Broadway productions, and hundreds of art galleries and world-class museums. Golfers are often surprised to learn that New York has 12 first-rate public golf courses. Tennis, anyone? The world’s best players will be serving in Flushing Meadows at the U.S. Open. After tennis, stroll over to nearby Shea Stadium and watch the New York Mets. Or, if you prefer pinstripes, head to the Bronx and tour the House that Ruth Built.

For a day on the water, take the kids on a boat ride past the Statue of Liberty to Ellis Island, where you can walk in the footsteps of millions of immigrants. Or, enjoy a cruise around Manhattan or a paddleboat ride in Central Park. If you prefer to travel by horse, take a romantic carriage ride through Central Park. For the cowboys who will be in town, saddle up your own horse — right in Manhattan!

Of course, no ride offers the same thrill as Coney Island’s Cyclone, the world-famous roller coaster from the Roaring 1920s. While you’re there, have a Nathan’s Famous hot dog and visit the New York Aquarium. If you prefer the woods to the water, spend a day exploring the trails that run through New York’s 28,000 acres of parkland, including the last virgin forest in Manhattan — now home to bald eagles!

Wait — I have not even mentioned South Street Seaport, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Harlem, Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center, The Bronx Zoo, Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and shopping that you can’t find anywhere else. You can do it all and so much more while moving easily and quickly on a clean, safe subway system that carries nearly 5 million riders every day — myself included. With all this, it’s no wonder A-Rod chose New York City over Boston. (If only everyone had such judgment!)

There is no better place than New York City to enjoy and celebrate America’s history, diversity, creativity and strength. We are honored to be the host city for the Republican National Convention, and we look forward to providing the delegates, guests and media with a uniquely New York experience and a convention unlike any other. You won’t want to miss it.

Michael Bloomberg (R) is serving his first term as mayor of New York.

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