So what other way to waste the night lazying around at night at New York but spending your time at Times Square. On the streets in general, New Yorkers, though friendly are not as cheery as their Californians counterparts as a whole, and yes the people culture here is still leaps and bounds ahead of that in Singapore. The city here never sleeps and Times Square is no exception either- It’s so bright here at night with all the billboards around that the whole street is nearly self illuminating. Not that was a problem keeping us awake throughout the night with plenty of coffee courtesy of a nearby Starbucks.
Many cafes with their extended outdoor seating areas line the streets here at night, offering patrons a seat with a night view like no other, bathing in the luminescent of technology, not to mention, LED lighting and various scrolling news tickers. Then there was crazy fun at the nearby Toys “R” Us too. The store here is home to a large kiddie indoor ferris wheel which sits in the basement of the building, spanning the full internal atrium height to the ceiling. With us grown ups in a toy store, you can always expect some well, grown up fun with the toys around. The subway in New York operates 24 hours on most major lines at reduced capacity, but it will get you back wherever you want to go anyway, so you will have no worries about hanging out too late.
Our following day in NYC was spent checking out the museums on the upper Manhattan area, specifically those along Central park. Here we have iconic ones like the the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum Of Art. The up town subway of New York serves all these museums, stopping at various points along the outer perimeter Central park. The Museum of the City of New York houses a showcase of the history of New York City, USA and its people. Itself is a small brick and limestone building located at 1220 Fifth Avenue and was founded in 1923 as an art gallery and history museum. The Museum is government supported and run by a private non-profit organization, admission is $10 for adults and free if you purchase the CitySights tour bus tickets.
The front lobby of the museum is home to the general reception, museum store and ticketing counters. The museum looks like it is built and refurbished from an old mansion, complete with an elaborate looking grand staircase which serves the upper level exhibits. The upper floors houses various Victorian and early day furnitures in themed rooms settings as well as very detailed toys and doll houses from the yesteryears. The chronological change of New York are also all plotted on a timeline through the ages, documenting the city’s transformation over the times. The museum itself is almost like the Museum of London in terms of showcasing the history of the museum, but is very much smaller with few galleries and less than impressive exhibits. With that, you can pretty much cover all the exhibits just under an hour.
Just outside the Museum of New York sits the Conservatory Garden part of Central Park, it’s a large open garden with a centerpiece fountain in the middle of the manicured field. Central Park itself is a 843 acre public park which opened in 1857 and was granted the National Historic Landmark status in 1963. Surprisingly, the park itself is all completely man-made, from the lake to every single tree here all artificially planted. Only the rock faces here reside in-situ in the park itself. These giant bouldered rocks you see along the roads from outside Central park are hard slate, which is a very good material for the construction of tall skyscrapers, particularly for the foundations of the buildings themselves. These very stable rocks makes New York an excellent location for the construction of tall buildings and fueled the city’s skyscrapers revolution.
Moving along 5th Avenue will eventually bring you to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Opened in 1959, it’s a modern arts museum housing various of impressionist, post-impressionist, as well as early modern and contemporary art on top of special on-going exhibitions throughout the year. It will float your boat if you are into modern art, but most I know say that it does not quite live up to it’s hype. The building exterior and interiors on the other hand, is impressive with the trademark curvy walkways which line the inner atrium of the museum. The building itself was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and is one of the 20th century’s most important architectural landmarks. The end of the Central Park on this stretch will be the Grand Army Plaza, the Apple glass cube store resides here by the Pulitzer Fountain.
The next part of my New York tour involves a cruise along the Hudson river. Besides the helicopter city tours, this is the other better way to see the city New York from the river surrounding it, either way it offers a different perspective than from the streets itself. Being on the go most of the time between sightseeing locations, our pre-cruise meal on the way to the terminal comprises largely of hotdogs. New York can be unofficially called the hotdog stand nation and I say, running off $1 hotdogs for lunch from the roadside stands are really very good for the buck, not to mention a quick dirty yet filling meal on the go with tons of ketchup an mustard. Moreover, these food stands are literally dotted all around New York city, so it won’t be pretty hard to get one.
Hudson River Cruise
It’s no time where we are chugging along the Hudson river passing by several iconic landmarks in the city. The cruise out here on the river is where you can appreciate the sights out of the city, offering a different experience away from the buzz of the city streets; a stark contrast with a very different kind of tranquility out here on the river. The route starts off from the piers from downtown at 46th street, heading north on the Hudson passing by the Wavertreess boat, then making a turn towards the South Street Seaport and Kips Bay.
It’s on the southern circle of the Hudson past the Staten ferry terminals where you can catch full unobstructed views of the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan such as the Empire State, Bank of America Tower and Chrysler Building. Here on the southern end too sits Ground zero with the One World Trade Center seen under construction in the background. The boat carries on under the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge, passing by long island before circling the statue of liberty for some awesome photos.
Just off the north pier sides of downtown Manhattan is the USS Intrepid, you can’t miss this huge ship of an aircraft carrier located at Pier 86 off 46th Street on the West Side of Manhattan. The Intrepid, together with the USS Growler (SSG-577) forms the main exterior displays of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Intrepid itself is decommissioned ship and one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II, many old fighters line the top decks of the carrier as permanent decorative fixtures. The history museum is an on-land building with a collection of museum ships in New York City.
Moving on back into downtown Manhattan was pretty much an uphill climb back into the heart of Times Square, but not without Lunch was at the Papaya Hot Dog joint, I was told this fast food store just off Wall Street has rather good reviews, offering affordable Fast Food and Hot Dogs at a great price and location. It’s located off 333 Avenue of the Americas and is popular with the people working at the nearby financial districts. It offers both dine-ins and takeways and man was the chicken and fish & chips oily good!
Having mentioned Wall street, it’s only a matter of time after a short walk where we are at the iconic financial district of New York City. Wall Street started off as a street in the area, named after and centered on the street running 8 blocks from Broadway to South Street on the East River in lower Manhattan. It didn’t take long before the name stuck, itself becoming a metonym for the financial markets, signifying New York-based financial interests and that of the United States as a whole. People totting around here in business suits is a rather common sight here, together with the upmarket retail stores which line the ground floors of some of the office buildings here. Wall street is the home ground to the NASDAQ, the New York Mercantile Exchange, the New York Board of Trade and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), with the latter being the world’s largest stock exchange by market.
The Wall Street Charging Bull sits just outside the Street, standing just in front of the Bowling Green Park near the YWCA NYC itself, it is also known as the Bowling Green Bull. It’s a 3.4m long bronze sculpture made by Arturo Di Modica and weighs about 3 tons, it’s pretty much an oversized bull sculpture depicting symbols of the aggressive energy and strength of the financial market, as well as optimism, prosperity and unpredictability of the stock market.
Ask any New Yorker on the street on best observation deck in for the best sights in New York city and they will recommend you without doubt the Rockefeller center. The Rockefella GE building here located on 47-50th street is sited right in the center of Midtown Manhattan, spanning the area between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue. The deck up at the top is often known by the locals here by the nickname “The Rock”. The center itself was implemented and built by the Rockefella family after acquiring the land lease in 1928 from Columbia University (who actually owns most of the land here in NYC). The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
At street level, the Rockefella plaza has about 200 flagpoles showcasing the flags of United Nations member countries. The center itself is home to NBC Studios and is served directly by the Subway terminating at the Rockefeller Center station on the B D F & M subway lines. There, you have to option to head up above ground or take the underground pass into the below ground Rockefella plaza shopping concourse. The centerpiece of Rockefeller Center is of course the 266m tall GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The front entrance of the Rockefella building is rather posh looking, decked out in brown gold with oriental like trimmings. Student discounts are offered with a valid ID at the attraction’s ticketing counter. You will be directed through a series of displays explaining the construction and history of the building before boarding the express lifts up to the top floor observation deck.
On the lift to the top of the Rock
The GE/Rockefella building itself stands at 70 floors, which is surprising, meaning that the Rockefella building is not the tallest building in the New York. Believe or not, it’s actually the 10th tallest, just after the Trump World Tower at 9th. The Empire State Building still stands tallest at 102 floors, followed by the Bank of America Tower and the rocket shaped Chrysler Building.
However, The Rock is the only public accessible observation deck which offers one of the best open and unobstructed views of New York City. It boosts a full 360 degree view which is in fact, better than the one offered by the Empire state building. This allows you to catch both the sights of lower and upper Manhattan at a go, with the full greenery of Central park in full view up north and the Hudson river down south too.
The observation deck pretty much occupies the two most upper floors of the building. You first enter into a fully air-conditioned deck with floor to ceiling glass paneled windows and an outdoor viewing balcony area complete with telescopes. Taking an escalator up to the roof access floor will bring you to a fully outdoor viewing deck lined with large acrylic and tampered glass walls on it’s full perimeter, possibly meant to keep us and our belongings up here on the deck. The viewing deck here, together that with the Empire state sprouts many old city myths, including one that throwing a penny off a building so high will generate enough force to instantly kill anyone at the ground floor, thankfully, that is untrue, with the myth busted by the Discovery channel’s Mythbusters.
The views from the Top of the Rock roof just gets better as you climb up the floors of observation deck. The roof access deck is the highest you can go, with the exception of the roof top antenna mast, this floor is the highest point of the building and is as far as you can go up from the enclosed bottom decks. It can get rather windy up here, so do pack a jacket if need be. The Empire state building can be seen squarely in front of the panorama above.
The good thing about going on observation decks just before sunset is the ability to catch both the day and night views of the city in a single sitting. You can watch how the city of New York slowly transforms into a sea of gold lights as night time approaches. It shouldn’t be too difficult to spot the Times Square from up here too, just look for the very noticeable bright patch of lights in the streets down south towards lower downtown Manhattan.
I will end this New York trip update with a bang, by leaving you with the fantastic panorama city skyline of the beautiful city of New York itself. Clicking on the panorama above will bring you to the respective image in the photostitch/panorama section where a full sized image will be viewable.
- New York City & Brooklyn (Photos: New York City & Brooklyn)
- New York Hudson River Cruise, Wall street and Rockefeller Center
- American Museum of Natural History (New York) (Photos: AMNH)
- Washington D.C. (Photos: Washington D.C.)
- Newseum, Washington DC (Photos: The Newseum)
- National Gallery of Art, Washington (Photos: National Gallery of Art)
- Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC (Photos: Arlington National Cemetery)
- Smithsonian Natural History Museum (Photos: NMNH)
- Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (Photos: Air & Space Museum)
- Orlando, Florida & Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort (Photos: Disney Magic Kingdom)
- Orlando Disneyland Hollywood (MGM) Studios (Photos: Disneyland Hollywood Studios)
- NASA- Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Cape Canaveral (Photos: Kennedy Space Center)
- Islands of Adventure, Orlando Florida (Photos: Islands of Adventure)
- Universal Studios Orlando, Florida (Photos: Universal Studios Orlando)
- Miami Florida, South Beach and Aventura mall (Photos: Miami Florida)
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Photos: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
- Cedar Point coaster kingdom, Sandusky Ohio (Photos: Cedar Point)