One of the perks of living in New York City is that we never have to travel there on vacation. For the rest of the world, New York is a prime destination, maybe even the dream destination for more people around the world than any other. Even after September 11th, maybe even more so because of it.
There was a time when people arrived in New York by ship, the Statue of Liberty their fabled first sighting upon entering the harbor, the skyline of lower Manhattan growing more imposing as they came closer, and the Empire State Building dominating midtown as ships sought their berths along the piers of the Hudson River.
American travelers came by train, catching glimpes of the skyline as they approached the city, but always across desolate landscapes like the Bronx or the Hackensack meadowlands of New Jersey. They would then rumble underground into Grand Central Station or Penn Station, where the palatial depots themselves became the first awe-inspiring sights of the city. Then it was straight out onto the city streets.
Now, and for the past half century, most visitors travel to New York by air. Arriving at sprawling airports well beyond the outskirts of the city, and then having to make the long torturous trek into Manhattan over the metroplitan area's sclerotic traffic arteries, there was no romantic sight to capture the imagination right at the start (unless you were lucky enough to fly into LaGuardia on an approach that took you right over or along the island of Manhattan -- and had a window seat and cooperative weather).
So the artists commissioned by the major airlines to tempt travelers to New York -- as if the city needed to sell itself! -- got their inspiration from the city itself, its streets, buildings, and parks, its world-famous landmarks that drew people to New York in the first place.