French Culture Guide

French Culture in New York, with a Touch of Paris

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

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“I’m king of the world!” is a famous phrase yelled out by Jack Dawson (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) to describe his intense feeling of a promising horizon as he leaned forward on the bow of the Titanic. We all know the tragic end of this legendary movie (which, by the way, is now back in theaters in 3D), so to keep you from the same fate, let me tell you about a chance to have the same feeling, with your feet planted on solid ground.


Indeed, you can be the king of the world in New York City where there is a much less chance of drowning or succumbing to hypothermia. However, in this most populated island, you can sometimes feel stifled and exhausted by the mass of people and the non-stop activity around you. When you feel this way, you wish you could step back and move away from it all. In the back of your head, you think about taking a break from the city by going away for the weekend, or longer. However, have you considered another way of feeling less trapped? The city is known for its architecture and internationally renowned for its skyscrapers. And as if it were never enough, they continue to build, and there are projects everywhere, from the one in Ground Zero to the more-than-50-story hotel also under construction in Times Square; the buildings seem to be in the middle of an intense competition to reach the sky.


This battle is not a recent occurrence. It started with the confrontation between two families controlling two brands. Sounds a little like a mafia movie or Shakespeare play, no? General Motors and Chrysler were the Montagues and Capulets, in this case. Beyond their competition in the auto market, they fought to establish their supremacy. They both decided to build the highest building in New York City. This skyscraper race ended with the construction of the Empire State building, which at 1,250 feet all but surpassed the 1,046 foot-tall Chrysler Building, which had been the tallest building in New York for a mere 11 months. These historical buildings became the proof of man’s amazing capacity to achieve the impossible, and to create the identity of the city.


Millions of visitors come every year to get a glimpse of the Big Apple from the 86th and 102nd floor observatories of the Empire State Building. The interesting point is that it’s not only tourists who are attracted to this site. Even real New Yorkers yield to the desire to look over the city and be reminded of its breathtaking beauty. This exercise is a kind of communion between the inhabitants and their city. However, mixing with noisy and cumbersome foreigners is not the best way to relax. Fortunately, there are other places where you can still touch the sky and enjoy the view in peace.


A lot of buildings offer access to great rooftops. At these places, you can experience different kinds of ambiance. You can either have a quiet and peaceful moment while you are having brunch or a cocktail, or you can choose a more dynamic option, such as the 48th floor of the Marriott Hotel in Times Square, where you can dine or have drinks in a rotating restaurant. Otherwise, you can also enjoy the fresh air in front of a heart stopping view atop of the outdoor rooftop bar called 230 Fifth, in the Flatiron district.


French Culture Nights decided to celebrate the beginning of spring by organizing a party on one of the most famous rooftops, the Sky Room. It was a chance to meet new people while you are having a pleasant evening in a sublime frame of mind. Stay posted with our announcements, so you can attend more events on different rooftops, until autumn weather forces us indoors.


By Kenza Yahrfouri