New York's Central Park
Photo by: InsdorfG (Stock Exchange)

Good day, all! As the northeast deals with one of the biggest winter storms in recent memory, I hope everyone is safe and sound where they want to be for this holiday season. We here at the Disabled Travelers Blog are settled in for some great seasonal celebration. I just thought I’d pop in and continue our wheelchair accessible journey through NYC right quick – this time putting together a little access guide for a few of the city’s most iconic attractions. In the last part of our City series, we mainly covered getting there and getting around; now it’s on to disability access around the classic sights.

You just can’t think of New York without thinking of the Statue of Liberty, so let’s talk accessibility around Liberty Island. The whole shebang is under the care of the National Park Service which – though its websites can sometimes be a bit buggy – is a great bunch of folks. They have information for disabled travelers here. At the moment, the statue’s crown is closed, and the climb requires a fairly high level of mobility. But Liberty Island itself has been carefully sculpted to be level and wheelchair accessible.

On a very related note, handicapped travelers can also enjoy Ellis Island and rest assured that the entire ferry system can accommodate standard wheelchairs and any requests for additional assistance. Guide animals are welcome, and wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Handicapped accessible parking is available from a number of facilities nearby.

You might want to drop by good old Central Park, and while you’re there, who can pass up the Central Park Zoo? All buildings there are wheelchair accessible, and they have a handy chart that describes the nearby terrain to give you a better idea of what’s right for you. The Zoo also offers a limited number of free wheelchairs. Some of the exhibits are well-suited for those with visual and auditory impairments as well.

For all sorts of information on New York’s Chinatown, try this Internet guide. There’s not much here on disability access, but you can get a great idea of what to expect from the restaurants and hotels. There are some great events every year, including the traditional Chinese New Year held in January or February according to the Chinese lunar calendar. If in doubt, call ahead. There’s another great guide right here, run by local maintainers.

Last time I talked a little about the great accessibility of New York’s Broadway theaters. Not only is there plenty of wheelchair accessible seating in many theaters, but also accommodations for the hard-of-hearing and visually impaired available at a large portion of shows. But let’s switch gears and swing ‘round to some of the great television events you might get to attend in NYC.

As part of a feature on NYC in August 2002, World on Wheelz reported that mobility impaired access at Ed Sullivan Theater – home of “Late Show With David Letterman” – wasn’t very good. Bear it in mind, just in case. Sadly, Conan O’Brien no longer tapes in New York, but if Jimmy Fallon is an acceptable alternative, NBC Studios is said to be wheelchair accessible by a number of specialist tour operators.

Well, friends, there’ll be more to come as we count down the days to the New Year here on the Disabled Travelers blog. As always, if you have any questions, don’t forget to write. Adventure on – and stay out of the cold!


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