Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to spend time in New York City. Unfortunately, those visits have usually centered around a meal or getting some sleep. This trip was different, there were seven of us, and we saw and learned more in four hours than most people do in two days.
Here’s the key, find two people that eat and breath NYC. This way you get twice the history along with two different viewpoints. Forget guided tours and open air buses, you need people from New York or New Jersey and you need comfortable shoes.
First, get them to drive, I guarantee that your rental isn’t equipped with a Bumper Buddy. Second, you’ll have no idea where to park. At this point leave your SunPass at home since New York EzPass doesn’t accept it.
We took the Lincoln Tunnel into the city, which cost $15.00. Some say it’s worth paying that just to get out of New Jersey.
For parking consider the Port Authority, as it puts you right in the middle of the action. Many of the locals don’t know that you can park there while you roam the city. A plus is that the bathrooms are clean.
Coming out of the Port Authority Carlo’s Bakery will be on your left if you need a sweets fix. Head east on 42nd Street and Madame Tussauds will be on your right. This evening Johnny Depp’s figure was out front.
When you get to 7th Ave turn left and you’ll be heading towards Time Square. Along the way, your nose and stomach will be under attack from the food carts spewing the scent of jerk chicken and fresh pretzels. I’m told the pretzels smell better than they taste. You’ll also get to see most every superhero and a few dance exhibitions. If you look up you can see where the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.
After you visit RCM walk East 50th Street and you’ll see the long line of people waiting to take the “Top of the Rock” tour. Before you know it you’ll be walking around the rink at Rockefeller Center, from there it’s only a few minute walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Despite your religious affiliations, the architecture here is beautiful. Ignore the security guards that inspect your bags if you want to approach the altar.
From there walk North on 5th Ave. and you’ll find the well guarded Trump Tower. Not sure if you can enter the building and didn’t bother to ask. Tiffany’s is located right next store and Trump purchased the “air rights” above their building for $5,000,000. This move thwarted any chance that Tiffany’s could expand their building upward. Down the street from Trump Tower is The Plaza Hotel from Home Alone 2.
Last stop was Grand Central Station. Strolling down Park Ave you’ll see a couple of sights. First, you pass a Ferrari store and second, you can see St. Bartholomew’s Church from the 1981 movie Arthur. Grand Central lives up to the hype, I could feel the energy as soon as I walked in.
Here are a few interesting facts about GCS:
The dark patch – Look up at the ceiling: In the northwest corner, you’ll see a little square black patch. Now imagine extending that color across the entire constellation that’s painted on the ceiling. That’s what was there before Grand Central Terminal was dramatically restored in the 1990s. That little black patch was left as a reminder of the bad old days. And what exactly does that black patch consist of? Decades of dirt? Try again. It was the result of decades of smoking in the terminal. That’s old nicotine and tobacco residue that was preserved, and it’s a testament to how dramatic this restoration was.
The backward universe – The universe as depicted on the ceiling is beautiful, but it’s also backward, a fact discovered by a commuter almost as soon as Grand Central opened. The problem caused no small amount of consternation to the Vanderbilt family, but then they came up with a brilliant idea. They’d claim the error was indeed intentional, and say it was meant to depict God’s view of the universe from somewhere up above.
Here are a few more GCS facts in case you’re ever on Jeopardy, LINK.
After the 3 mile walk, we were hungry and in search of some legit New York pizza. We found it after a 3 block walk west on 44th Street. John’s of Time Square is the real deal, so much so, that they serve pizza on a two story tray and they sell Stella Artois by the pitcher. After you’re done there’s a great gift shop right across the street that sells everything New York related.
As crowded as the streets were everyone moved along, no bumping or shoving. Lots of folks snapping pictures and lots residents being tolerable of it.
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