We finally made it to the Big Apple! Having never actually been there myself, it was exciting planning our road trip. We made many stops a long the way, but the big feature was a couple days in the big city.
New York City is probably one of the most well known cities in the world and is one of the largest cities I have ever personally seen! When you look out over the city, it is endless! The activity never stops. Every street corner has something going on!
Getting off the train and walking into the main terminal of Grand Central Station is truly an impressive thing. For years, I have seen Grand Central featured in movies, on television and in magazines. But walking into the main area of the terminal is an unforgettable experience!
We bought “off-peak” tickets and even during those “off-peak” times, the crowds were so big compared to what we normally see in our little mountain town. People rushing from one track to another with bags, briefcases, luggage and what not. Others running an Olympic sprint and still others were like us, tourists, perhaps there for the very first time who couldn’t help but look up at the beauty of this building.
In 1831 the first rail line into the City was formed. It was called the New York and Harlem Railroad. But it wasn’t until the following year when service began at the terminal located at 4th Avenue and 23rd Street. And in 1869 when Vanderbilt purchased land between 42nd and 48th Streets and Madison Avenue and Lexington construction of a depot building began of what would become Grand Central Station.
Years of development and growth followed and in 1903 the winning design submitted by the firm of Reed and Stern became the blueprint for the Grand Central Terminal that we know today. As with many large projects, nepotism sometimes takes precedence and this was no different. Reed’s sister was married to New York Central’s vice president of construction, William Wilgua. After the competition an appeal was filed by New York architects Warren and Westmore, of which Warren was none other than the cousin of New York Central’s chairman, William Vanderbilt. Needless to say, after winning his “appeal” the firm of Warren and Westmore teamed up with Reed and Stern to become co-architects of the construction of Grand Central Station.
Ten years of construction and Grand Central Station officially opened in February 1913. Despite the fact that construction was not completely finished, the terminal still functioned without missing a beat. It wasn’t until years later after decades of ill repair and neglect that the terminal got a restoration. In 1998 a complete overhaul began and in 2012, the terminal had finally been restored to the original splendor that it had once been. This year the Terminal celebrates 100 years and if you ask me, I think it is still a grand place! And despite whatever challenges it went through at the initial stages, I enjoyed my time visiting it!
We walked around a little before heading over to the big double decker buses. The sites and sounds were constant and the characters that we saw was sometimes quite hilarious! From Elvis to the young man dancing in his heels and underwear, there is always something going on.
We loved the street markets and it suddenly hit me that New York City is made up mostly of small business. Everyone you look, is small business. Sure, the big stores and big corporations have their space, but when you go into the different neighborhoods, there is no Wal-Mart or big grocery store chain. It’s small business running the neighborhoods. That’s what America is all about!
There was even a little corner “flea market” and everywhere we looked were the street food vendors. There was everything from hot dogs, sweets, Asian foods to Middle Eastern foods.
Of course, we had to stop at the Empire State Building. This is one of the most famous buildings in the world and is featured in so many movies such as Sleepless in Seattle with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and one of my all time favorites, An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.
Did you know that the Empire State Building sits on about 2 acres? No wonder I was so tired after walking completely around the building trying to find the special entrance we were supposed to use with our VIP passes! Hot city sidewalks that just seemed to be never-ending. If it weren’t for the scaffolding providing some shade, I think I would’ve just died!
Sitting 1,250 feet above street level, the 102nd floor Observatory offers some spectacular views of the City! There are 6,514 windows in this building and they estimate that about ten million bricks were used in the construction of this building. After walking all over the place, elevator after elevator, we finally made it to the top! With our tickets, we were allowed VIP access and could bypass the long lines, so we didn’t have to wait the 2-3 hours it normally takes. So, I knew it would be crowded and it was. Rows two and three-deep lined the deck, but with a little patience and keeping the camera ready at all times, we were able to snap a few great shots.
From the top of the world, the views just take my breath away! I can only look in silence and in awe. And if I speak, it only comes out in a whisper!
And the the new Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site is high in the sky! Not quite completed, it stands taller than any building in the skyline.
Feeling exhilarated after our sky-high adventure, we jumped back on the open top busses and went looking for more sites of what the City could offer us. One stop was to see the Cast Iron Buildings. The City is currently cleaning the buildings which accounts for so much of the scaffolding. This is the E. V. Haughwout Building at the corner of Broome Street and Broadway. It originally was a fashionable emporium selling imported cut glass, silverware, fine china and chandeliers. And this was the place that the new official White House china was ordered by and made for Mary Todd Lincoln.
And it was in this building that the world’s first successful passenger elevator was installed on March 23, 1857. It was a hydraulic lift designed for the building by Elisha Graves Otis and was powered by a steam-engine installed in the basement. It wasn’t until 1965 when the building was designated a New York City landmark that it was protected from being torn down.
I loved all the little parks scattered through out the City. Makes the concrete jungle seem less…concrete. It seemed like every neighborhood had one squeezed in between two busy streets somewhere! Needless to say we did not have enough time to see everything and want to go back someday. Stay tuned for more photos from our trip…