March 3, 2016
Cathie and I had a wonderful trip to New York City. While brief, we were able to visit with family from both sides, see sites, eat good food, and generally get a feel for the most iconic city in the United States. There is enough to share for more than one post, so consider this my initial installment.
We had planned to make this trip as part of our east coast stay, but the actual timing was set by Ken and Kathy Schipper’s visit to see their son Jonathan. Since we had planned to see Jon, as well as Leslie Jamison (both live in Brooklyn), it was a bonus to see Ken and Kathy too. Of course there is so much to do and see in NYC even if you don’t know anyone, and we did our best by playing the role of tourists.
Since we were flying we had to kennel the three dogs. Cathie found a good place near Freeport, ME, about 30 minutes from the Portland International Jetport. All very convenient. The flight via JetBlue into JFK was short, under an hour, and was uneventful. We took a yellow cab from JFK to our AirB&B room in Brooklyn. The room worked out fine, and the price was right, but we did have to go down a short hall to the part of the apartment that had the bathroom. Maybe next time we’ll splurge and have everything together.
This neighborhood in Williamsburg has some early signs of gentrification, but is still, how should I say, older city. Nonetheless, there are nice places to eat or get coffee nearby. In addition, the Graham St. subway station on the L line was just a ten minute walk away. The L line goes straight into Manhattan about midway between the Empire State Building and the One World Trade Center. The One World Trade Center was built after the destruction of the World Trade Towers on September 11, 2001. More on that in another post.
Our room was a few minutes form Jon’s shop and home. He not only makes all sorts of art pieces that often have strong technology elements in them, but he manufactures iPhone cases, rims for glasses, and recently briefcases. All are made in whole or part, from aluminum. Apparently there is a market, which is great.
We had left our barn apartment at 7:00 am, found our Brooklyn room, and were ready to see New York City by 3:00 pm. I was gung-ho to go up the Empire State Building, so off we went. As a side note, I thought I remembered going up the ESB in 1960 when we came back from Brazil via Europe and Great Britain. However, neither my sisters nor my father could confirm the accuracy of that memory. Joanne and my father both remembered going up when she was six, but that was many years earlier. Well, for certain I’ve been up now.
We walked to Graham Station, where we each bought a 7-day unlimited subway pass, and rode the L train to the Union Square Station which is near E 14th St and Broadway. Since visiting hours for the 86th floor observation deck are between 8:00 am and 2:00 am, we felt we had plenty of time to walk the 20 blocks to the ESB. This is not quite the journey it might sound like since the blocks are short going uptown/downtown compared to the East River to Hudson River direction. In fact, looking at a map suggest it takes three short blocks to make one long block.
One reason I wanted to go right away was because the weather was pretty good. It was cold and a bit windy, but quite clear. No point in going up if you can’t see anything. Around E 23rd St and Broadway, next to Madison Square Park, we got our first good luck at the Empire State Building. There are taller buildings in the city, but none that evoke New York City in quite the same way.
We had read that the line for waiting to get to the line to get tickets, the ticket line, and the line to the elevators could be long. We, fortunately, missed all that. Early March on a cold afternoon is a pretty good people filter. The way everything was roped off was a bit confusing, but we made it to the 86th floor. There was a decent crowd but it was easy to get to all the various viewing points. It really is a magnificent way to see Manhattan and beyond.
In the middle of the north looking panorama (uptown is how a New Yorker would orient things), there is a very tall (1396 ft) skinny building. That is 432 Park Ave. It is all residential with each floor a residence. We read online that the current owner of the penthouse paid $95 million. We learned later that some of the lower floors, perhaps the 40th or lower, can be purchased for half that price. Oh, the bargains out there for the 0.1 percenters.
It takes two elevator rides to reach the observation deck. The first takes one to the 80th floor which has a museum and souvenir store. A second takes one to the 86th. You can take a third elevator to the 102nd floor, but it costs almost as much again, so we took a pass. On the way down we stopped at the 80th to look at the displays. Mostly pictures and documents. Two statistic that impressed me were: the building was physically built in 12months, and it cost $25 million dollars. That $25M would be $350M in today’s dollars, but the One World Trade Center, while half again bigger than the ESB, cost an estimated $3.9B in 2012. Something has changed.
We really hadn’t had much to eat – somehow we left without breakfast – so by 5:30 pm we were pretty hungry. We knew NYC could be expensive so we purposely looked for something affordable. To that end we found Pure & Fresh which is a cross between cafeteria style and restaurant. However it should be classified, the food was good. I had custom ordered pasta and soup. Cathie had a deli sandwich and soup.
After eating we decided to call it a day and walked back down to 14th St and took the L train to Brooklyn. It was a little early but it had been a long day. We did arrange to meet up with Jonathan and his parents for breakfast the next day. Humus breakfast? Look for the next post.