New York City
Rather like Paris, Rome & London, you instantly feel as if you on a film set when you arrive in the Big Apple, such are the number of great films set in the city over the years.
The biggest joy for me in being there is just living like a New Yorker – walk tall, talk fast, think big. Seeing steam ascending out of the sidewalk, eating breakfast in a deli, hailing an iconic yellow taxi or just walking past all the huge skyscrapers, is as much fun as visiting any of the main attractions.
I have been to the Big Apple three times and unusually all three occasions have been business trips. This hasn’t stopped me taking time out to see the sights however!
There is probably not a great deal that you do not already know about the city that never sleeps, but here are some perhaps less well-known favourites of mine.
New York Public Library – Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
The free to enter library on 5th Avenue has a couple of major draws that will entice you up its expansive steps and into the statued marble halls.
Winnie the Pooh Collection
Christopher Robin’s original toys that inspired his father A A Milne to write the much loved Pooh stories are housed on the library’s ground floor inside a glass case.
That’s all apart from Roo who has sadly been lost forever.
However, the century old Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Kanger & Piglet are all there to delight both young & old.
New York Public Library Rose Main Reading Room
The reading room is an architectural highlight with beautiful painted ceilings, intricate wood & stucco craftsmanship and naturally row upon row of lovely books.
The vast room measures in at 78 feet by 297 feet with 52-foot-tall ceilings displaying murals of vibrant skies and billowing clouds.
New York Grand Central Terminal & The Oculus
Grand Central is the city’s second busiest train station, third in the US, and a great attraction in its own right.
Situated just around the corner from the library on 42nd Street and in the shadow of the iconic Chrysler Building, it is a real hive of activity akin to London’s King’s Cross, Victoria, Euston, St Pancras, Clapham Junction, Charing Cross & Waterloo all rolled into one.
Grand Central covers 48 acres (19 ha) and has 44 platforms, more than any other railroad station in the world.
Visit on a workday rush hour to appreciate the melee as thousands of commuters appear from the dinginess of the underground tracks.
Going downstairs into the basement is great fun. It’s here that you will find the varied food establishments, the shoe-shine vendors, the Italian barbers and bizarrely some human weighing machines.
From the old to the new and Oculus. Like a giant whale carcass (it’s supposed to depict a dove), it is New York’s newest transport hub finished in 2016 to serve the Wall Street Financial District.
It is situated adjacent to the Ground Zero memorials, the ostentatious structure costing a staggering $4 billion to build.
It has divided New York opinion and of course all New Yorkers like to have an opinion!
It is cavernous inside with entry & exit both to the financial district and directly into The new World Trade Center mall..
The interior was still being fitted out for retail outlets when I visited in 2018 and many train services were yet to move to the hub back then. I am sure it will become another rush hour spectacle if it isn’t already.
The one major station that I am yet to visit is Penn Street Station.
This is actually New York’s busiest and as well as a commuter hub, is also the main terminus for long distance Amtrak trains. I have purposely not yet visited as I plan to make a grand entrance journeying from Montreal, Chicago or Toronto for my station debut.
Roosevelt Island Tramway
The island situated on the Hudson River can be reached by the subway, but for the price of a subway ticket you can take the high ground across from Manhattan at at 59th Street and Second Avenue.
The marvellous feat of engineering was completed in 1976 and hoists you high above the river, running adjacent to a busy road bridge. The crossing takes about five minutes to complete.
Apart from a small tramway museum there is not a lot to go to Roosevelt Island for, apart from the journey back of course, followed by a short walk to Central Park.
See the tramway in action here.
I am yet to visit Radio City, Metropolitan Opera or Carnegie Hall or see a Broadway show and have no desire to go to the Museum of Modern Art, Coney Island or a Mets, Yankees or Giants sporting occasion, but apart from that I have pretty much done the rest over my three visits.
That is apart from ice-skating (because I would fall over), but that hasn’t stopped me enjoying watching the winter spectacle at the Rockefeller Centre, Central Park or Bryant Park.
Highlights have included The Statue of Liberty (awful security hassle to get there aside), ascents to the top of the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre (Rock on Top) and Chrysler Centre, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge crossing, the aforementioned Ground Zero monument pools, riding the subway, shopping (yes shopping!) at Macy’s & Bloomingdales, watching jazz in Greenwich Village, watching the goings on at Fisherman’s Quays, taking in a televised Manchester City match with the New York Supporters Club and much more (don’t bother with Time Square by the way).
Some other pictures from my visits: