After breakfast at 8, I set off for Central Park. I had a loose plan to visit Bloomingdales department store along the way for a present for Mrs Wilbur and to take a look at the Roosevelt Island Tramway.
After being delayed by watching the antics of some entertainingly zealous NYPD traffic cops, my first port of call was the Chrysler Building.
What a beauty it is too with its magnificent roof exterior and marvellous Art Deco interior. The building was constructed by Walter Chrysler, the head of the Chrysler Corporation, and served as the corporation’s headquarters from 1930 until the mid-1950s. Upon its completion in May 1930 it held the title of the world’s tallest building for one year until the Empire State was completed.
I had meant to watch the tramway in operation, but couldn’t resist the draw of a ride across to Roosevelt Island. For the price of a subway ticket ($2.75) I was soon airborne. The tram/gondola lift floats parallel to Queensboro road bridge and gives a great view back across Manhattan as you take the five-minute journey.
Over the other side I lingered to take some videos of the fun, before enjoying the ride back again. You can watch some videos on my YouTube channel by clicking TRAMWAY.
I picked up a cashmere scarf at Bloomingdales with a 10% foreigner’s discount and then headed for the Park.
Central Park is like no other. Built on 843 acres of former swamp & wasteland, it now defines the whole of Manhattan. East Side and West Side relate to the sides of the Park, whilst the island is further divided into Up Town, Mid Town & Down Town. The Americans like it simple and NYC with its easily numbered street grid system is possibly the easiest place to navigate anywhere.
I shunned offers of cyclo or horse & trap rides costing $1 per minute and set off for a stroll, first past the Wollman Skating Rink, then along Literary with its statues of writers & poets and nearby other statues of artists, musicians & composers.
There was a huge leaf clearing operation going on that day, which looked hot & tiring work. I spoke to a couple of energetic retirees, who confirmed that it was voluntary work, in their words “for the insane.” Rather them than me I thought!
CP is in fact festooned with statues, which I gave up snapping as there were so many. In the middle of the Park you come first to The Ramble & Bethesda Fountain and then to the boating lake and Loeb Boathouse Restaurant & Cafe. With the lake frozen, the rowing boats were all redundant and stacked up for the Winter. I stopped for some refreshment and a rest stop, before continuing in search of the famous Bow Bridge.
The Park is also home to plenty of wildlife. There are thousands of grey squirrels, the type that are not afraid of humans on account of the amount of food that tourists give to them.
It is also home to hundreds of bird species and I was delighted to spot red house finches, bluejays and several varieties of woodpecker (my camera battery packed up at this point, so I resorted to my phone).
After a visit to Strawberry Fields and the John Lennon memorial garden, I stopped off at the zoo for more refreshment, before exiting once more on the East Side after spending over two & a half hours inside.
In 1998 I had gone inside the famed Plaza Hotel. The wonderful hotel has stood guard over the Park since 1907 and is perhaps best known as playing a central role in the film ‘Home Alone Two, Lost In New York. They must have tired of Home Alone fans like me cluttering up their lobby and have now banned non-guests from entering. A shame for me.
My sight seeing was nearly over. I was actually in the Big Apple for a business trip and had clients to meet. Never one to miss an opportunity, I had fitted in a good amount of tourist activity. There was just time to look indignantly at Trump Towers, pass the spot where Marilyn Monroe was famously filmed in a billowing dress and take to the hotel for a couple of hours R&R, before meeting up for cocktails and a steak dinner. The all-day workshop next day would be my most restful day of the trip!