Sunday, July 12, 2009

Walking around New York City

In every novel I've read set in New York, everyone is always hailing taxis, and God knows 5 out of every 7 cars on the New York Streets are taxis; but with a couple of exceptions, we traveled the Big Apple by subway (and, once, by train) - we got unlimited MetroCards. We traveled by subway, and of course we walked; I thought my feet were going to fall off the first couple of days. We stayed in the Essex House hotel (now the Jumeirah Essex House), on Central Park South, so we had several nearby subway stations to choose from.

Subway stations in New York have stairs. There may be an occasional dark, hidden elevator; there are no escalators. There are stairs, often several flights, but separated - you think you're done with them and then you find another flight. I haven't climbed so many stairs since we visited London in 1996 and the Tube people were repairing all the escalators in Victoria Station.

New York is beautiful. The buildings are beautiful; unexpectedly among the glass towers, you find a 5 or 10 story gem with delicate architectural details. The houses on the side streets go up 4 and 5 stories, and come right out to the sidewalk, except for an area to access the basement - yards, if any, are in back. God help you in New York if your knees go out.

Our first morning there, we were looking for a place to have breakfast (I never eat breakfast in a big city hotel, there's always a cheaper place a block or two away), and I suddenly realized I was looking at Carnegie Hall! Now explain to me why I took a couple of photos, but never bothered to find out what was playing there and whether we could get tickets. I haven't figured that out.

So where did we walk? We walked through midtown to Rockefeller Center and Radio City Music Hall. The decorations on the buildings are astounding - gorgeous bas-reliefs (not painted), bas-reliefs painted in brilliant colors, decorative designs just painted on the wall. We saw the Prometheus statue, and more statuary around the skating rink (converted to a restaurant for summer) - and, we saw a procession of Fox News supporters, marching around Rockefeller Center, waving signs advertising their patriotism, and suggesting that Keith Olbermann should be sent to Guantanamo Bay. I never did find out what he said.

We paid to go to the Top of the Rock and see all of southern Manhattan Island, spread out on a brilliant sunny day. Rockefeller Center is gorgeously, outrageously Art Deco, which I adore. The observation platform is protected by the usual suicide barriers, ten foot panels of thick scratchy glass - conveniently spaced just far enough apart to fit a 50 mm camera lens between the panes! Only on the very top level, which is a setback (so you can only fall about 8 feet), can you see and photograph over the glass panels.

I'm doing a new thing with photographs, we'll see how it goes. I've signed up for SmugMug, and here's a link to a photo gallery with some of my New York photos. If you like them, check back - I'm nowhere near done uploading!


  1. It's pretty neat how the background color on SmugMug coordinates sso well with the colors of the photos you've uploaded so far!

  2. That's coincidence - I use tan for all my galleries. The black background just does nothing for me. By the way, other galleries are available at, if you're interested in my photos.

  3. M & I went to New York four years ago--our first time--except for when M went there as a toddler to have an eye operation in the early 1950's.

    New York is--well, New York. We ate fabulously ($$$$), though not always well. The thing is: It's a bunch of neighborhoods, with oddly undefined borders separating them. It could be any big modern city with precincts and arrondissements or what-have-you, that just grew up over time and never completely melded together.

    We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge in the rain, after meeting one of those huge hounds so big it comes up to your waist. This one, friendly fellow, simply reared up and put one paw on my shoulder and rested it there, as casually as you please. That's the first time--please note I'm 6'4" in stocking feet--a dog had stood up and looked me in the eye.

    Aren't animals wonderful.

    The New York of extremes.

    We visited Patchen Place, where Cummings lived.

    Next time please don't let me forget to visit Argosy Books. They're supposed to be much better than Strand's, especially since Gotham Book Mart closed.

    Tonight's the All Star Game, and Tim (improbable phenom) Lincecum is starting. Don't bother me, I'm watching!