Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tourist In My Own Town

What a fun day I had on Saturday. Friends from college were in town, and although I'd originally thought that Saturday was going to be my long-planned quiet day of seeing what sort of bird pictures I could get if I went to Canarsie Pol with the good camera and the zoom lens, when  they asked me to come play tourist with them I went with it. It's good to get that call every now and then -- I live in NYC, one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, but I get so caught up in my day-to-day routines here (work, boyfriend, garden, paddling club) that I just forget that it's fun to go see those things that bring all those people here every now and then - and also to catch up with college friends (and their very cool kids). The birds will be there next week. 

First stop - Empire State Building.

 Tourists and tour salespeople size each other up on 5th Avenue. 
We had agreed to meet at 11, but my friends stopped to ogle Grand Central (their words), which I was glad to hear because since the place has been utterly ogleworthy since the renovations. I admit that I did sort of like the way that before the cleaning, the celestial roof of the main hall was almost unnoticeable unless you looked very closely, it was like a special secret reward for stopping in your hurry to get where you're going, but after the deep cleaning of the late 90's, the station truly retook its rightful place as one NYC's most spectacular indoor public spaces - I would've suggested stopping there if I'd thought of it, so I was genuinely glad to hear that they had. While I waited, I enjoyed some excellent peoplewatching with the dance of the sharks and the marks out in front of the Empire State Building. My friends turned up around 11:15 and we went on in.

Who says it's lonely at the top?

The lines were long but they were moving well. Looking at the velvet-rope mazes that we ducked through, I imagine that this random pleasant summer morning had only produced a fraction of the visitors they sometimes get. Must be absolutely awful on days when holiday "doin's" like the 4th of July fireworks or the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade bring throngs. Not too bad for us although we were amazed at how long the layout of the lines was - P. compared them to the lines for a popular ride at Disney World.  They've arranged them so that they wind through 2 floors. The 1st winds through a display about the retrofitting that's been done to the building to save energy; the 2nd is up on the 80th where they have some interesting stuff about the original construction. There are big windows up there which they have frosted up to about 10 feet up so that nobody sees the view before they're supposed to. We were a bit baffled by that, we thought that being able to see out for a preview would have been nice, but I guess they're trying to give the first-timers a good ta-daa moment when they step off of the elevators on the 87th floor and see the view, which is, of course, a fine one. 

 Here, looking south. 

Looking down at 34th St. Note Macy's, marked by the red banner and the large painted "Macy's".

 Northeast view, with (L to R) MetLife building, Chrysler building,East River, Roosevelt Island, and the UN (just barely cut off by the right margin). Queens in the distance.

 My friends getting silly for a picture (they do that a lot :D ).

Lobby of the Empire State Building

Next stop (after a pizza stop for lunch) - Mood Fabric. I didn't know the dog was famous, but he was definitely cute. Turns out that his name is Swatch and he's been on TV lots, as this shop has been made famous by the television show "Project Runway".

 I've never watched it but P. and her daughter are big fans. Here's M. being overwhelmed by being here. 

It's an overwhelming store even for a non-watcher, though. I found myself "shopping" for fabrics for my theoretical mermaid parade costume. I think that if I ever do go in the Mermaid Parade I'll do better hitting Goodwill for a couple of old sparkly prom gowns to slice up. I apparently have very expensive tastes in fabric, no $10 a yard polyester for me, it was always the $50 iridescent silks and the $147 a yard hand-beaded stuff that caught my eye.

P. admires a roll, M. gets silly again, brother L. is amused by his silly sister.
 The excitement of visitng this shop was actually heightened by the fact that when we first got to 225 West 37th Street, we thought the place was closed, because we were looking at closed metal gates - but then Paige pointed upstairs, where it looked like lights were on. We walked into the building and the elevator operator must have seen that looking-for-Mood look on our faces, waved us right into his car and took us on up.

Next point of interest - Times Square. We just sort of walked/bulldozed our way through. Here are costume characters outside of the big Toys 'R' Us store.

Next stop - a good rest for tired feetses in Central Park. We sat here for ages. Lovely afternoon in the park. 

Next, we took the 57th street crosstown bus to Dylan's Candy Bar. What a dangerous store.

Nostalgic candy section:

At Dylan's, even the stairs are made of candy. The logo is done in Jelly Belly jelly beans.

Closer view of the steps. That's real candy embedded in them.

We had ice cream for dinner. Eight bucks for a single scoop was a bit of a shocker but it did make for a good break, and after that we found we had a little bit of energy left, and I'd mentioned that there are always some interesting public art installations in Madison Square Park, and the subway station outside of Dylan's was the exact right one to get there, so we went.

Reproduction of Edward Hopper's Nighthawks in the Flatiron Building Prow art space.

New York Life Insurance Building, on a reel.

In the park proper, we found this strange ropework wall. Baydog thought this for the hamburger supply for the Shake Shack when I posted it on Facebook, but it's more a monument to macrame (and maybe OCD). 

Actually reminded me of the Storm King Wall sculpture at the Storm King Art Center - only reproduced in miles and miles of knotted red plastic rope. Can't imagine how it was made. 

And that was it for the day -- I headed back on out to Brooklyn, while my friends went over to scout out getting back to Newark via Penn Station. All in all, a fun day, with an excellent sampling of the sights of Manhattan. 


Bursledon Blogger said...

timely post I'm going to NY tomorrow my first visit - breakfast lunch recommendation's welcome - I'm staying and working on East 40th 42nd st

bonnie said...

Well advance welcome to NYC! I'm not too familiar with the particular neighborhood where you're staying (Turtle Bay, maybe) but I'll see if I can find out any good places around there!

And if you want (and think you might have a free evening) I could see if I could manage to drum up any interest in a get-together, either at our favorite waterblogger gathering place, the historically salty Ear Inn or maybe Pier 66 the best bar and grill on the Hudson River - and when I say ON I mean ON, not next to, Pier 66 is actually a retired railroad barge. Both worth visits even if you don't want me to try to get a group together, and although not exactly in the neighborhood where you are, nothing in Manhattan is that hard to get to.

I'll see what I can find in the east 40's!

bonnie said...

Oh, GOODNESS. And if you want to get some rowing in while you are here, you should check out the Village Community Boathouse website!

bonnie said...

Well, sorry - no recommendations so far. I'm actually surprised, last time I asked my NYC friends for food recommendations I got an outpouring - but that was general favorites anywhere in the city, everybody's got several of those. For breakfast and lunch, though, Manhattan is full of diners and delis, they mostly offer similar fare at similar prices, the trick is just to find one that's convenient to your location (and looks clean).

Ian Berger said...

Lovely photo essay. I've always admired the art-deco majesty of the Empire State Building, even if it has a habit of attracting gorillas. ;-D

bonnie said...

Thanks, Ian! It was refreshing to actually have something different to blog about. Having a free afternoon on Sunday to actually take the time to have fun with it helped!

JP said...

What fun - I like letting myself be a tourist in ol' London Town.

bonnie said...

Speaking of London, did you see this? Looks like it was lovely!

Alana said...

Concluding with the Flatiron building - know that this native New Yorker (my first 21 years were spent in NYC) enjoyed this post because it brought me back to when I was 15. I realized that summer, after visiting relatives in Iowa, that I never did tourist stuff - you'd be surprised how many New Yorkers don't because they are too busy living their lives. So, that summer, I went with my Dad and we did the Empire State Building, the NY Botanical Gardens and some other places. I don't think I have been to the Empire State Building since (1968). As for Macy's, my Dad and I would go there a lot at holiday season, just to people watch. Thank you for the memories! (and thank you for telling me about Dylan's - it is now on my bucket list!)