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.
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.