NYC 2019: Discovering the Big Apple

This year it’s time for a new adventure: discovering the American continent. First stop: New York City (NYC).

July 18

We left Malaga on a direct flight with Delta around 8 in the morning. You arrive several hours early at the airport for boarding, go through extensive checks as a very friendly “conversation” with a company employee at the check-in counter, who writes down everything you say and asks several more serious questions such as whether you’ve been at all times with your suitcase and such.

We passed the passport control, and while waiting, a company worker approaches one of my companions and tells her that she has been randomly selected for a pre-boarding control and that she should accompany her. The rest we ship by conventional methods.

Road to New York

The plane was quite comfortable, seats relatively spacious, the crew very friendly and the food quite decent. From time to time they passed by offering you something to drink, an ice cream and things like that. Onboard entertainment quite good. The trip becomes very pleasant (considering that more than half I do it sleeping).

We arrived at JFK airport around 10:30. From what I had been told, the festival begins, the heaviness of going through the heavy controls of US airports. Nothing is further from reality. Luckily there were almost no queues at the controls, at the post: photo, fingerprints and passport. All very fast. We went out to get the luggage. Now yes, you will see the records, the questions, etc… well, again I fail. The suitcases were waiting for us, we pick them up and go directly to the terminal… is that it? That easy? Marvelous. It has been easier to enter the US than to leave Spain.

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So direct to the subway to go to the accommodation; an apartment in Jersey City since in New York it was very expensive and we were 6 people. After more than an hour of subway and transfer with the PATH we finally arrived. We left the suitcases and went out throwing mistos to eat that already the desire to eat was important at that time.

PATH train to Ney Jersey / New York

If you prefer to arrive more comfortably and quickly, you can do so by hiring a transfer. Here is a link to one that works great:

Transfer in New York

First acquaintance with American greasy junk food: a hamburger at a restaurant called Leftbank Burger next to the apartment.

Very good and dripping, with a strange breading that turned out to be breaded macaroni and cheese… well, like a macaroni croquette. Accompanied by ice water to mitigate the embarrassment it made. In New York they always give you cold water when you enter a restaurant.

Leftbank burger

Already with a happy stomach, we headed to Manhattan to see what’s going on there. First stop… 33rd Street st. We take a leisurely stroll around the Empire State Building, walk part of 5th Avenue to the Flatiron Building.

The Flatiron Building, originally called the Fuller Building, is a 22-story, 87-meter-high triangular building located at 175 Fifth Avenue. Designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Dinkelberg, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city after its completion in 1902, and one of only two “skyscrapers” north of 14th Street, the other being Metropolitan Life.

Flatiron Building
Flatiron Building

We retrace our steps to enter Macy’s to rest in the air-conditioned shoe store and see the wooden escalators.

Macy’s which was originally called R. H. Macy & Co. is an American department store chain founded in 1858 by Rowland Hussey Macy.

After resting a bit in the cool, we took a walk to the very crowded and oppressive Times Square.

Times Square is a major commercial intersection, tourist destination, and entertainment center at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Characterized by numerous billboards and giant neon signs, it stretches from West 42nd to 47th Streets.

Times Square

The truth is that it is impressive. I think it shocked me more than the first time I visited Shibuya in Tokyo. Both because of the publicity and because of the number of people who were there.

From here we went for a walk around the neighborhood until we reached Madison Square Garden. Colloquially known as The Garden, it is a multi-use indoor arena located between 7th and 8th Avenues from 31st to 33rd Streets, it is situated atop Pennsylvania Station. The arena is used for professional ice hockey and basketball, as well as boxing, concerts, ice shows, circuses, professional wrestling, and other forms of sports and entertainment.

Madison Square Garden

After a hard day, we decided to go back to Jersey to buy something for dinner and have breakfast the next day at a supermarket.

July 19

We woke up very early startled by the apartment’s fire alarm due to some toast burning in the toaster. The lack of habit of having these types of alarms. Well… early and well alert for the day of walking that was upon us.

Today it was time to indulge myself and freak out a bit, so we put the direct to the building that acts as headquarters in the ghostbusters movie (the original). I had read that there was nothing but we found out that it is a small fire station.

Ghostbusters Headquarter

For the very geeks, this one is located at 10 North Moore Street.

From here we went to Chelsea Market, an old meat processing factory converted into a grocery store, very hipster in my opinion. As it was chilly we got some iced teas and some homemade sweets in a bakery called Sarabeth’s.

After gaining strength, we left the building to go through the Higline elevated park. An elevated linear park of 2.33 km, which runs along some old abandoned New York Central Railroad tracks. It was designed between James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Piet Oudolf and opened in June 2009. It’s a pretty cool place with lots of shade to walk around in the heat.

Highline Elevated Park
Higline elevated park.

At the end of the park, a strange construction called The Vessel awaited us, which is a kind of viewpoint, built with the design of the British Thomas Heatherwick; and opened in March 2019. The structure is honeycomb-shaped and has 16 stories and with 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps and 80 landings for visitors to climb (closed from 2021).

Just opposite we find Hudson Yards, a huge shopping center that also served us to rest a bit in the cool… or cold because in NY I think they put the air conditioners at 10ºc. How cold it is everywhere.

Refreshed, we took a (long) walk along 5th avenue to the Trump tower. The tower is a 58-storey, 202-meter-high skyscraper located at 721-725 Fifth Avenue. It is a multipurpose building in which former President Donald Trump and some of his relatives also live.

We continue walking and stop to eat at a nearby place, at fresh & co. a franchise of salads and organic food that is quite good and not expensive.

Full of energy, we headed to the New York Public Library, the second largest library in the United States and one of the largest in the world, containing more than 53 million items. And as a good geek, it is the scene of the first scene of the ghostbusters.

The building is quite spectacular both inside and out. It is quite a long visit even though you can only see part of the building. That yes, it is necessary to respect because in spite of being tourist it is still a library and some rooms are visited in which there are people consulting and studying, although not everyone is civilized.

New York Public Library
New York Public Library

Already when closing the library we took another walk to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It is a neo-gothic cathedral, seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, built between 1858 and 1878. It is considered one of the most visible symbols of the Catholic Church in the United States.

You can enter for free and the truth is that the building is quite spectacular and, in addition, it has air conditioning and you are very comfortable.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Since it wasn’t too late when we left, we crossed the avenue to get to Rockefeller Plaza in front of Rockefeller Center, a plaza that has appeared like that in a million movies.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral.

From here we went to Chinatown to buy some souvenirs and have dinner in a restaurant. We had dinner at a place called Joe’s Ginger. We ate well and cheaply.

July 20

Today it’s time to climb the Empire State Building. Early morning, energetic breakfast and the PATH towards Manhattan.

The Empire State Building is a 102-story, 443-meter-high skyscraper designed by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon and built between 1930 and 1931 in the Art Deco style. At first it was the tallest building in the world until it was superseded by the Twin Towers in 1970. After their destruction in 2001, it was once again the tallest building in the city (not in the world) until 2012 when it was surpassed by the One World Trade Center.

Empire State Building

There were quite a few people waiting but it was going fast. As soon as you enter, they take a photo with a chroma key with the city in the background in case you want to buy it on the way out. What can we say about the views… they are spectacular.

Empire State Building

After going all the way around, it was time to go all the way up. At that moment, an employee of the building shouted that the wait for the elevator was about 35 minutes and that anyone who wanted to could go up the stairs at that time, which would take about 7 minutes. So we did. I do not understand how there are people who go up in a marathon from the bottom.

The ticket price is between $42 and $49. You can easily buy your ticket from the following link:

Empire state building tickets

That day we were on heat alert. In spite of this, we wanted to and from the Empire State Building we went to the Manhattan bridge to cross it and return through the Brooklyn bridge.

The Manhattan Bridge is a 2,089-meter suspension bridge that spans the East River connecting Lower Manhattan at Canal Street with Downtown Brooklyn at the Flatbush Avenue Extension. It was designed by Leon Moisseiff, built by The Phoenix Bridge Company, and opened to traffic on December 31, 1909.

It was so hot that it was an impossible mission, when we had been about a quarter of the bridge over, we stopped, took some photos and turned back.

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan Bridge

We decided to come back and stop at a Chinatown bakery called Audrey Bakery And Café to freshen up a bit. The cakes were to die for. And what they had on display all looked amazing. Of course, people kept coming in to take food.

After that, we headed down Wall Street through the shade past the Supreme Court buildings. Until you reach the Stock Exchange and Federal Hall buildings. But on the way, almost arriving, we ran into a small and curious church. It is St. Paul’s Chapel. Built in 1766, it is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan, and one of the best examples of late Georgian church architecture in the country.

St. Paul's Chapel
St. Paul’s Chapel

The chapel belongs to Trinity Church, a historic parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The building that we can see is the third to be built, between 1839 and 1846 by Richard Upjohn in the neo-Gothic style. It was the tallest building in the United States until 1869, as well as the tallest in New York City until 1890.

The Stock Exchange Building was built in the Beaux Arts style by George B. Post in 1903. The adjacent building was designed by Trowbridge & Livingston and opened in 1922. Both buildings were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978.

Wall street
Stock Exchange Building

The Federal Hall building is a historic building located at 26 Wall Street. The first building, opened in 1703, was the first United States Capitol and the place where George Washington was inaugurated as president in 1789. This building was destroyed in the 19th century. It was replaced by the current building, which was opened in 1842 in the Greek Revival style.

In front of Federal Hall is a statue of George Washington made by sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward and placed in 1883.

Federal hall
Federal Hall building

I was very surprised at how small the place is with the Federal Hall and Stock Exchange buildings. With so many people and heat, it was also quite overwhelming to be there. So a photo of rigor, a bottle of cold water in a kiosk that was there for which they nailed us $3.50 and shooting for the statue of the Bull of Wall Street.

The Wall Street Bull is a 3,200kg bronze sculpture depicting a bull, the symbol of aggressive financial optimism and prosperity. The sculpture was created by Italian artist Arturo Di Modica in the wake of the Black Monday stock market crash of 1987. On December 14, 1989 Di Modica dropped the sculpture from a truck at the entrance to the stock exchange building . After being removed by the police, that same day it was installed in the nearby Green Bowl park.

At the statue there were about a million people queuing to take a photo rubbing the “balls” of the bull, so we stood on one side without getting in the way of the others and had a balls-taking photo.

If you wish, you can take an interesting free tour of the area, so you can always learn new information that the guides don’t tell you about.

Free walking tour of new york

As it was quite late we decided to eat something in a Subway right in front of the bull. Big mistake. The sandwich was good, but the soda machine and the two bathrooms they had had broken down. Very cool everything.

After filling the crop and as it was still very hot, we jumped to visit the 9/11 Museum that was very close. The truth is that the museum is quite impressive even considering that most of us remember exactly what happened that day and we still have the images stored in our memory. It takes a long time to visit it if you want to see it carefully. It took us about two hours.

At sunset we set out to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, a must see in New York. It was opened on May 24, 1883 and was the first to cross the East River. At the time of its opening it was the longest suspension bridge in the world at 1,825 meters long. It was also the first suspended by steel cables. Since then, it has become one of the most recognizable symbols of New York.

It was a very pleasant and relaxed walk. I don’t know if it was because it was less hot, but it was full of people. It is worth it as the views are quite spectacular. Once we reach the end of the bridge, it’s time to return to Jersey City for dinner and rest for a new day.

Brooklyn bridge
Brooklyn Bridge

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what to do in new york

July 21

We started the day getting a lot of energy by getting between chest and back an energetic American breakfast at International bagel & cafe next to the apartment in Jersey. Although it may seem incredible, the coffee was very good and they put it to go.

new york

After breakfast we head to the PATH station and take transportation to the Staten Island Ferry. A great option to see the Statue of Liberty for free. It is the ferry line that connects Manhattan with Staten Island that passes next to Liberty Island but without stopping, so you cannot go down to visit the statue but since we had no intention of going in… Apart from the statue you can also see the skyline of Manhattan and Jersey beautifully.

New york skyline

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World) is a neoclassical sculpture located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. It was designed in copper by the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and its metal structure was built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886, and was a gift from the French people to the United States to commemorate the centennial of the United States Declaration of Independence.

She holds a torch above her head with her right hand, and in her left hand she carries a tabula ansata inscribed JULY IV MDCCLXXVI (July 4, 1776 in Roman numbers).

St. Paul's Chapel

The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island, a small uninhabited island owned by Manhattan and maintained by the National Park Service. Formerly known as Bedloe Island until 1956 it was renamed by an act of the United States Congress and was home to Fort Wood, a defensive fortification in the shape of an eleven-pointed star. The island is an exclave of the state of New York located within the territorial waters of the state of New Jersey.

From the boat we can also see Ellis Island, a small islet that was the busiest immigration inspection station in the United States. Between 1892 and 1924, nearly 12 million immigrants who arrived at the port of New York and New Jersey were processed there under federal law.

Today, it is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and is accessible to the public only by ferry. On the north side is the main building which is now a national immigration museum. On the south side is the old Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital and is open to the public through guided tours only.

Ellis Island
Ellis Island

Once we got to Staten Island, we got out of the boat and went back in as we went (even though there were signs saying that you couldn’t but we weren’t the only ones) and headed back to Manhattan.

If you want to get off the island and visit the Statue of Liberty, you can do so through a guided tour, which also includes a visit to Ellis Island.

Statue of liberty guided tour

Back in Manhattan and after about half an hour on the subway, we got off at 125th street in Harlem. From there we walked around the neighborhood for a bit, passing in front of the mythical Apollo Theater.

The Apollo Theater is a prominent venue for African-American entertainers, and is home to Showtime at the Apollo, a nationally syndicated television variety show that showcased new talent, from 1987 to 2008, spanning 1,093 episodes. It opened in 1914 as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theatre, and was designed by George Keister in the neoclassical style. It was renamed the Apollo in 1934 when it was opened to black patrons as it had previously been a white-only venue. In 1983 it was designated as a New York City Landmark.

The Apollo Theater

We continue walking to St. John the Divine Cathedral, the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Construction began in 1892 in the Byzantine Revival and Romanesque Revival styles and is still unfinished.

In 1909 the plan was changed and it continued in the Gothic style. The towers above the western facade, as well as the south transept and a proposed bell tower above the crossing, were never completed.

To enter the cathedral you have to pay but from the lobby you can see it quite well and save a few dollars. Although the recommended thing to see in the cathedral is the Fountain of Peace, a 12-meter-high sculpture sculpted in 1985 by Greg Wyatt.

The sculpture represents the fight of good and evil, as well as a battle between the Archangel Michael and Satan. The sculpture also contains the Sun, the Moon and different animals.

Fountain of Peace
Fountain of Peace and the cathedral in the background.

Despite the tremendous heat we went to try to go through Central Park but it was a frustrated attempt. It was hell hot. So we left and went into the American Museum of Natural History where it was cool. It is a complex of 26 interconnected buildings that house 45 permanent exhibition halls, as well as a planetarium and a library.

The museum’s collections contain more than 34 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts, as well as specialized collections of frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data.

We entered through the side door which I had read was less crowded and it was. If you buy the ticket for $23 at the machines, you enter directly without queues, so we decided to stand in line (about half an hour) and paid the “voluntá”, which was $5 each, taking into account that there were only a couple of hours left. to close and it only gave us time to see a minimal part.

The museum is quite spectacular but it is not full, saturated with people.

New York

At 6:00 p.m. when they kicked us out, we saw that it was a good time for lunch (we were on the verge of fainting) so we had a quick (and nauseating) hamburger at a Wendy’s and running to Rockefeller center that we had tickets for the Top of the Rock viewpoint at 7:15 p.m. to see the views at sunset.

Rockefeller Center is a large shopping complex consisting of 19 buildings. Of these, 14 Art Deco buildings are originals commissioned by the Rockefeller family.

Until 1928 the land belonged to Columbia University which was leased to John D. Rockefeller Jr. and originally a new building was going to be built for the Metropolitan Opera but it could not afford it financially so they decided to build Rockefeller Center. Its construction in 1931 and the first building was opened to the public in 1933, and it was completed in 1939.

Rockefeller center
Rockefeller center

Once again, the views from the spectacular heights, even more than those of the Empire State. That yes, until the flag of people. The spectacular sunset watching how the city gradually lights up, and at night without words. From here we can see the play of lights that they make from the Empire State.

Top of the rock NYC

The times of sunrise and sunset are $10 more expensive since they are the most requested. Hiring the joint visit to the 9/11 Museum, it has the same price at any time of the day.

July 22

Last day in New York and we will have to take advantage of it. Again we take the PATH to the 9th street station to take the subway to Central Park. To do this, we cross Christopher street passing in front of the mythical Stonewall Inn bar, where the riots took place in 1969 for the liberation of the LGTBI collective.

Stonewall Inn bar

Already at the Christopher Street station we took the subway to the Columbus Circle station to walk through Central Park.

Central Park, located in the center of Manhattan, is the fifth largest park in New York with an area of more than 340 Ha. It is the most visited urban park in the entire United States with more than 40 million visitors a year.

Its construction began in 1857 with a design by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux called the “Greensward Plan.” The first areas of the park were opened to the public in late 1858 and it was fully opened in 1876.

After a period of decline in the early 20th century for New York City parks, a program to clean up Central Park began in the 1930s on the orders of Commissioner Robert Moses. In 1980, the Central Park Conservancy was created to combat further deterioration in the late 20th century, renovating many parts of the park beginning in the 1980s.

Central Park

Taking advantage of the fact that it wasn’t too hot, we took a long walk through the park. After five days of non-stop walking we took it pretty easy and even had a good time (including a nap on my part) lying on the lawn in the shade and buying some souvenirs. Going out for an aperitif we went to Sprinkles on Lexington av. to eat some cupcakes that were to die for.

Apparently the cupcakes weren’t enough, we took the subway to Washington Square Park and, very close to the station, we decided to eat at a Fresh & Co, from the same chain where we had eaten a few days before.

After eating very calmly, we approached Washington Square Park, a public park located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, while the sky threatened to unload heavy rain. It is one of the best-known public parks in the city and is an icon, as well as a meeting place and a center for cultural activity.

One of the highlights of the park is the Washington Square Arch, a triumphal arch built in 1889 to commemorate the centennial of George Washington’s presidency. The original was built of wood and plaster but was soon replaced by a marble one, designed by Stanford White between 1890 and 1895.

Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park

Due to the threat of rain it had to be a quick visit. A few pics and running to the subway to go to Grand Central Terminal.

For movie fans like me, Grand Central Terminal is a must see. Many movie scenes have been shot there and it also has many curiosities. The truth is that the station impresses with its size and beauty… And with the amount of people there are. It can also be even fun since on the ground floor at the entrance to the Oyster bar (which has been open since the opening of the terminal in 1913), if you speak to a column, it is perfectly heard in the column opposite.

Grand Central Terminal was opened in 1913 on the site of two predecessor stations. The largest terminal station in the world in number of platforms (44) and the third busiest train station in North America, after New York Penn Station and Toronto Union Station.

The most striking of its architecture are its brick vaults patented by Rafael Guastavino, called ‘The architect of New York’.

Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal

At the exit, the Chrysler building is practically next to it, which you cannot enter but from the outside it is a spectacular building. Inside it must be a real wonder.

The Chrysler Building is a building designed in Art Deco by the architect William van Alen. At 319 meters tall and with 77 floors, it was the tallest building in the world for eleven months, until it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931. Today it is number 11 on the list of tallest buildings in New York.

Chrysler building

Our joy did not last long since at that moment it began to drizzle. So we decided to jump to Times Square to say goodbye to Manhattan thinking that with the rain there would be fewer people.

Halfway through we had to stop due to the universal deluge falling on us. It was so much that umbrellas were useless.

When it slowed down and we were able to get out of where we were stuck, we arrived at Times Square and the truth is that there were very few people, what a difference with previous days. He was walking very well until the universal deluge began to fall again and we decided to return to Jersey to have dinner and go to bed because we had to get up very early because the flight left in the morning from La Guardia airport.

Time Square

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what to do in new york

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