Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Big Apple

Trip Date: August 2013

My family decided to get away for a few days this summer so we headed to New York City!  Other than my Dad spending an afternoon in the airport a number of years ago, none of us had been there before.  We wanted enough time to see a lot of the sites, so we booked flights and hotels for a five-day trip.  We'd heard nothing but great things from friends who had been there previously and we were all very excited to start our vacation.  

New York City, also referred to as The City That Never Sleeps, The Big Apple, and Gotham, is the most populous city in the United States with 18.9 million people living within its metropolitan area.  It is located in the state of New York on the northeast coast of the USA.  New York City is broken into five boroughs (Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island) and if the boroughs were each their own city, four of them (with the exception of Staten Island) would be among the top ten most populous cities in the United States.  

We would be staying at the New Yorker Hotel in midtown Manhattan.  The hotel opened in 1929 and is across the street from Madison Square Garden, home of the NBA's Knicks and the NHL's Rangers.  Like the city it's named after, the hotel itself has quite a storied past.  Throughout the 1940's and 1950's it was one of New York's most fashionable hotels.  The New York Observer noted that in the building's heyday, "actors, celebrities, politicians, mobsters, the shady and the luminous - the entire Brooklyn Dodgers roster during the glory seasons - would stalk the bars and ballrooms, or romp upstairs."  In later years, Muhammad Ali would recuperate there after his March 1971 fight against Joe Frazier at the Garden.  The hotel ultimately became unprofitable as new, more modern buildings were built around it and the hotel closed in 1972.  It eventually reopened in 1994 with both hotel rooms and residential living space.

The New Yorker
The famous red sign as seen from a few blocks away
This logo can be found on the lobby floor
Madison Square Garden
The world's most famous sports arena can be found just down the street from the New Yorker
Across from MSG is the James Farley Post Office Building, built in 1912.  The building is famous for having the inscription, Neither snow nor rain nor heat not gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Times Square
We didn't realize just how close our hotel was to this popular attraction
Macy's department store
I do what I want!
Empire State Building
It is a 102-story skyscraper in Manhattan and held the distinction of the world's tallest building for over 40 years (between 1931-1972).  It is now ranked 23rd tallest in the world.  
The New York Public Library was established in 1895 and is currently the third largest in the world
The Chrysler Building is a 77-story skyscraper in Manhattan and currently sits as the fourth tallest building in NYC
Grand Central Terminal, originally opened in 1871, is the largest train station in the world by number of platforms with 44
Inside the main concourse with the famous brass clock in the centre
Chris, Mom, Kyle, and Dad inside Grand Central
I still do what I want!
Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Construction was completed in 1878, but it is currently undergoing a $175 million renovation/restoration project
Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center is a series of 19 commercial buildings in Midtown Manhattan
Radio City Music Hall
NBC Studios
Kyle enjoying his $10 Westside Manhattan at Beer Authority in Midtown Manhattan!
The New York Times
 While we were in New York we wanted to catch a baseball game.  The Yankees were on a road trip, but the Mets were in town hosting the Kansas City Royals.  I'd never been to a MLB game before so I didn't really care who was playing.  All I wanted to do was just see the game in person and experience a New York City sporting event!  The Mets play at their new ballpark, Citi Field, in the borough of Queens.

Citi Field opened in 2009
The Home Run Apple was brought over from the now-demolished Shea Stadium, which was the Mets previous home
Citi Field was the site of the 2013 MLB All-Star Game
The game's starting lineup
The Mets logo on the way into the park
Inside Citi Field
Mets All-Star David Wright
Wright hit a two-run homer during his first at-bat
We had pretty good seats along the first base-line in right field
Chris and I enjoying the game
The Jackie Robinson Rotunda acts as the main entrance to the stadium
Me, Kyle, and Dad standing in front of Jackie Robinson's now-retired number 42
The Mets beat the streaking KC Royals 4-2 in 11 innings of play
The USS Intrepid, permanently docked at Pier 86, is now a major part of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
El Galeón is a wooden replica of Spain's 16th century West Indies Fleet
On Saturday we purchased tickets for a hop-on, hop-off water taxi that would take us down to the 9/11 Memorial, as well as the Statue of Liberty.  It was a great way to see New York City from a different vantage point and allowed us the freedom to come and go as we pleased, without being confined to a strict schedule.  
New York Water Taxi
Docking in Battery Park.  You can see New Jersey across the Hudson River
American Merchant Mariners' Memorial
The Charging Bull is a popular sculpture near Wall Street
We made our way from Battery Park to the 9/11 Memorial.  The memorial is located at the World Trade Center site where the Twin Towers used to stand.  The site is the principal memorial and museum commemorating the September 11 attacks in 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people.  Construction is well underway on new towers and buildings at the World Trade Center site.  The proposed plans state that there will be six new towers, as well as a performing arts center, a transportation hub, and the memorial museum.

One World Trade Center (left) with 7 World Trade Center (right).  Tower One is scheduled to officially open in early 2014, while Tower Seven opened in 2006.
4 World Trade Center (right) opened in 2013, while 3 World Trade Center is still being constructed (bottom left) with an estimated opening date of 2015

The photo below is of the "Survivor Tree".  Originally planted at the World Trade Center plaza in 1970, the Callery Pear Tree, was reduced to an eight-foot-tall stump in the wreckage at Ground Zero.  The tree was nursed back to health in a New York City park and eventually grew to 30 feet.  The tree returned to the World Trade Center site in December 2010 and stands just west of the south memorial pool. 

The Survivor Tree
One of two memorial pools.  The nearly 3,000 names of victims of the 9/11 and 1993 attacks are inscribed in bronze around the perimeters of the two pools.  
The north pool is situated below One World Trade Center.  Tower One is the third tallest skyscraper in the world.
The Flag of Honor bears the names of everyone who perished in the 9/11 attacks in 2001
The current World Trade Center site, with Tower One (left), Tower Seven (centre), and Tower Four (right).  Towers Two, Three, and Five are still in the early phases of construction.
 Over the nine months of recovery at Ground Zero, approximately 1.8 million tons of material were removed from the site.  Some 1,500 pieces of structural steel were saved by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, many repurposed into memorial settings.  The steel beam in the photo below is on display at the Military Museum in Calgary.  

This steel beam from the World Trade Center was gifted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
The sewers really do have steam coming out of them in NYC!  I always thought that was a movie effect.
You can see One World Trade Center from Battery Park
Back on the water taxi.  We were given a tour around Lower Manhattan complete with views of the Financial District.
About to dock at the South Street Seaport
The building on the right is the tallest residential building in NYC.  The two-story penthouse at the top of the tower is rented at a rate of $60,000 per month!!
Looking across the East River towards Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883, making it one of the oldest suspension bridges in the USA.  The bridge crosses the East River and connects Manhattan with Brooklyn
The Manhattan Bridge was completed in 1912 and also spans the East River between Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn
The Williamsburg Bridge, completed in 1903, also connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn
A close-up of the wires of the Brooklyn Bridge
Governor's Island was historically used as a base for the US Army and the Coast Guard
Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty was a gift to the United States from the people of France.  It was dedicated in October of 1886.
She stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbour.  She is a representation of Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. The tablet in her left hand bears the inscription of the date of the American Declaration of Independence; July 4, 1776.
Ellis Island was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States.  It was the busiest immigrant inspection station between 1892 and 1954.  
Lower Manhattan's impressive skyline
Midtown Manhattan's skyline complete with Empire State Building
The Pigeon is likely New York City's most famous bird!
As a huge basketball fan I really wanted to see the famed Rucker Park in person.  We ventured up to the Harlem neighbourhood in Manhattan on Sunday afternoon to do just that.  The court is named after Holcombe Rucker who was a teacher in Harlem and the playground director for the New York City Parks Department.  He started the Rucker Tournament back in 1950 as a way to keep kids off the streets and aim for college careers.  Many notable professional players honed their skills on the famous court before making it big in the NBA or overseas.  These players include, but are not limited to, Earl "The Goat" Manigault, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Kenny Anderson, Nate "Tiny" Archibald, Julius "Dr. J" Erving, Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, Connie Hawkins, Rafer "Skip To My Lou" Alston, Lance Stephenson, and Jamel Tinsley.

Rucker Park
There was a game going on when we got there.  It was a 13 and under youth game.
The Entertainer's Classic was also happening over the summer.  The hardwood floor is the old floor from Madison Square Garden that was donated specifically for the tournament.
A view of some housing projects from inside Rucker Park
Columbus Monument at the centre of Columbus Circle near Central Park.  The monument was erected as part of New York's 1892 commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus' landing in the Americas.
Central Park
Horse drawn carriage rides are a popular way to see Central Park
Entering the park.  The park initially opened in 1857 and is now the most visited urban park in the USA.
The Pond with a view of the city above
Team Green standing in Central Park
Classic New York City Taxi's
A return to Times Square during the day
The famous New Year's Eve ball.  It appeared much smaller in person than on TV.
It was busy, but we didn't see the Naked Cowboy performing!
People watching in Times Square before heading to the airport
We had an absolutely great time in New York City and I hope to return at some point in the future.  Five days gave us a perfect taste of the city, but there's so much more to see and do.  I honestly think you'd need several trips to actually get a good sense of what the city is all about and what it truly has to offer!  It can be quite overwhelming due to its size and the sheer number of people everywhere at all times, but it is well worth a visit at least once!