New York City


This scenario (scenario guide) is a way of calling my students' attention to a city I love and have visited on several occasions. But it is also my humble tribute to the thousands of people who died there, and in Washington, D.C., on that tragic morning of September 11, 2001.

It is designed for EFL students in their fifth year of English (age 13+) with the aim of giving them some cultural information about New York City, from its early days to the present, before takinga virtual photo tour of the city.


To my students

To get the background information for your tour, you need to answer the eight sets of questions below. To do so, follow the appropriate links included in the 'Sites to search'.

Just for curiosity's sake,  did you know that New York was the first capital of the United States?


How you will work

1. Two groups of three students each will answer two sets of questions at a time: 1 + 2, 3 + 4, 5 + 6, 7 + 8.

2. Each group will have 15 mins. at the computer to read the corresponding texts, look for the answers and write them down.

3. When the 8 questions are answered, both groups (that worked simultaneously) will report their findings to the class, sorting out any differences that may come up.

4. The remaining students will listen and write down the answers in order to assemble cultural information about New York City.

5. Finally, the whole class will take a virtual photo tour of Manhattan (with the aid of a data show).

VIP(oint): Before you take a look at your questions, click on this map of Manhattan and get an idea of the place you'll be exploring.




If you have vocabulary problems, you can search for meanings at

Merriam-Webster Online (Dictionary).

1. Who originally inhabited New York (the island of Manhattan)? And who started colonizing it in the early seventeenth century? Why did they name it Nieuw Amsterdam? In 1626, the Dutch bought New York from the Indians: how much did it cost in USD? However, in 1664, it was conquered from them: by whom? That's when it was named New York!

2. What is the popular nickname for New York City? When did it originate? Popular folklore relates the origin of the nickname to two different groups of professionals: who are they? However, what seems to be the historical truth about it? Considering the information you just got, would you say that the word 'apple' is related to the fruit itself or is there a biblical reference to it (Eve. . ., the forbidden fruit. . .)?

3. Manhattan is an island, isn't it? How is it linked to the mainland (New Jersey and New York State)? How many of these crossings are there altogether? Which one outnumbers the other? By how many?

4. The Statue of Liberty, located in Liberty Island, symbolizes friendship, freedom and democracy. How tall is it (just the statue)? Who gave it to America? What does it celebrate? Did it arrive on time for the commemoration, or later? How was it transported across the Atlantic Ocean? Was it taken in one piece? Explain, if necessary.

5. Ellis Island is an island just a short ferry ride away from Liberty Island. Why is it a famous island in American History? (scroll down to Museum Exhibits) What important museum does it hold? What does it symbolize? There is a popular exhibit outdoors: what is it called and who does it honor?

6. The Empire State Building is a landmark of New York City. How tall is it (both in meters and in floors)? What year did its construction begin? How long did it take to complete? How many floors were built per week? When you go up to the 86th floor Observatory, from what height are you looking down at New York? If you went to New York next week and wanted to go up to the Observatory, how much would you pay?

7. Central Park is considered 'the lung' of New York City. Is it a natural park or a man-made park? When did it open to the public? It's a huge park in a huge city: how many blocks does it occupy? It is so famous that several film makers shoot scenes there. Name one or two films you've seen that have scenes shot in Central Park.

8. Times Square is 'the heart' of New York, 'a city that doesn't sleep/never sleeps'. Where exactly is it situated? What famous newspaper gave its name to this well-known square? Which celebration takes place every year that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors? Times Square is famous for many things, among them, its huge neon billboards. What did the first large electric billboard advertise?


Sites to search

Manhattan on the Web (general site where I got these specific links)


Interesting sites worth visiting

Ellis Island Postcards (of the immigration period)

Interactive Tour of Ellis Island

Interactive Map of New York City - Manhattan

Map of Manhattan

Photo Tour of New York City

Photo Tour of Times Square

Thomas Alva Edison's 1903 film of Roosevelt Island


Listen to songs about New York

New York, New York - Frank Sinatra (the lyrics)

New York, New York - Liza Minnelli

On Broadway - George Benson (the lyrics)

Downtown - Petula Clark (includes the lyrics)


Updated 3Aug04

Partly redone and enhanced in June 2002

Created in October 2001

Teresa Almeida d'Eca

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