Monday, February 05, 2007

36 Hours in NYC

It was Dawn's birthday on Sunday, so we went to New York for the weekend to celebrate. We hopped on a jetBlue redeye on Friday night, arrived early Saturday morning, and came back on Sunday night. Here's a short photographic rundown of our time in the Big Apple.

Did I say "short?" Just kidding.

I love the subway. If I lived in a city that had a system as extensive as New York's, I'd ditch my car immediately. Incidently, 75% of Manhattanites agree. I do have one gripe: $2 to go anywhere on the subway, but $5 for the five minute connection from JFK to the subway on AirTrain. Grr.

This is exactly how much hotel room $148 buys you in midtown Manhattan. I'm not complaining - we didn't spend much time in the room, and it was a great location (50th & Broadway). It's the Amsterdam Court Hotel, if you're interested.

Dawn and I started our morning by taking the train to Brooklyn and walking back across the Brooklyn Bridge promenade. The bridge was quite a feat of engineering in 1883 and is still impressive today. If you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you...

This was incidently the point at which we realized we picked a really cold weekend to visit New York. Saturday had a high of 30 and Sunday perhaps 25, which wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for a 20 mph gusty wind. Winters in SoCal and the PNW have made me go soft. New York would dewussify me quickly.

Lower Manhattan from the bridge. The twin towers used to dominate this scene, as none of these buildings are more than 952 feet tall.

God and Mammon. Heh. Trinity Church's steeple was the tallest structure in Manhattan from 1846 until 1890.

Contrary to popular belief, the charging bull statue isn't by the NYSE building. It's several blocks away on the southern edge of the financial district. It's generally overrun by tourists giggling at its bronze bullocks. I successfully resisted the urge to photograph its posterior.

Fritz Koenig's sculpture, "The Sphere." It originally stood in the WTC plaza and was damaged; it's now a temporary memorial in Battery Park.

Battery Park, the southern tip of Manhattan. This was all originally part of the harbour; dirt from the original WTC excavation in the 1970s provided the landfill to build the park.

Manhattan from the ferry to Liberty Island. You can see part of Brooklyn Bridge at far right and the Empire State Building in the distance on the left.

Yes, this entire post contains photos of iconic landmarks you've seen hundreds of times in film and print and could imagine quite well with your eyes closed. Well, except for the last four pictures. Skip there if you're bored.

The Registry Room at Ellis Island. Both Dawn and I have ancestors that passed through this room.

OK, so Radio City Music Hall is iconic and all, and I'm sure it'd be quite lovely to see a performance there. But a tour for $17? There can't be anything that interesting to see on a there? If anybody's done it, let me know.

Dawn and I ate at Afghan Kebab House #1 on 9th Ave between 51st and 52nd streets, and highly recommend it. No pics, though.

Every show and movie set in New York (IE the half that aren't set in LA) has featured the central concourse of Grand Central Station. It is pretty cool.

View of midtown from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building; the Chrysler Building can be seen at right. Want to hear something really sick? When the WTC was around, the Empire State Building charged $6 admission to the observatory. With that competition gone, prices have skyrocketed to $18. All the more reason to get Freedom Tower built.

Midtown West. The bright spot at lower left is Times Square.

Looking south towards downtown. To coax my cheap digicam into taking a clear shot, I had to hold it still in winds gusting up to about 40 kt on this side of the building.

Looking up at the spire and radio mast. The 102nd floor observatory of An Affair to Remember fame is up there. That'll be an extra $15, please! Notice how many of my gripes have to do with money? If there is a cheap bone in your body, being a pilot will bring it to the forefront.

Looking down Broadway at Times Square. By 11pm we were more than ready to call it a day.

Refreshed with bagels & coffee, we were ready to go again on Sunday. Well, not "go" quite as much as take it easy and see a Broadway show, "Momma Mia!" First we set out to see just how cold it'd be walking through Times Square in a skirt...for Dawn, not me. She reported it as being "continuous severe to extreme cold." She's a good candidate for aviation dork, I think!

Here's the "Times Square Shuffle" - 7th Ave and Broadway join up.

Fresh from the show (it was good but sorry, no pics), we say goodbye to New York before taking the E train back to JFK.

Okay, as promised I have four pictures of a great landmark you may have not seen before. The only recent movie it's been featured in is Catch Me if You Can. Vacant for now but soon to reopen as part of jetBlue's new terminal, this is the Eero Saarinen designed TWA Flight Center, otherwise known as Terminal 5.

I love this building - not just because it's an airline terminal or associated with TWA, although those factors do play into it. I remember the first time I saw it. It was while I was an intern for TWA, and I was jumpseating to Cairo. We'd just landed in JFK at night, and from the cockpit I spied this great glowing winged insect cum spaceship. I was about to ask what it was when I saw the neon TWA on the roof. I couldn't believe something that beautiful and strange and graceful and impractical could ever be an airline terminal. These days the bean counters would never allow it. There were a lot of questions about Terminal 5's future after American bought TWA; I'm really excited that jetBlue is going to put the proper effort into restoration and then put it back into use. It's such a fitting place to begin an adventure.

The NYC pictures that are conspicuously absent, of course, are those of Ground Zero. It wasn't really a question of propriety, at least not after seeing all the street vendors hawking 9/11 merch all around the site. It's moreso because there's nothing to see. It's a big hole in the ground and an increasingly busy construction site for Freedom Tower. I felt almost nothing looking at it. It'd compare it to when I take off from Runway 24L at LAX. Although I know that's where a Skywest Metroliner and USAir 737 collided in 1991, I never feel any of the sorrow or angst I associate with fatal plane crashes. Any artifact of the carnage has long been cleared away and it's now simply a point in space where something happened. My eyes stayed dry at WTC.

Until I started looking at the photo exhibit, at least. The temporary memorial at the site consists of several dozen enlarged photographs on posterboard mounted to the construction fence. For better or worse, they're very effective at conjuring up the essence of that hellish scene. Many don't show the WTC at all, but rather capture reactions from New Yorkers like the ones I'd spend the day around. The look on their faces as they watched the towers fall or as they fled down debris-choked streets was far more poignant than the pit beyond the fence.

Anyways, it was a great weekend together. Next stop: Wenatchee, WA. Weekend after that: Marquette, MI. I could get used to having weekends off! But I promise - I'll post the next installment of Landing the Job soon!


Fred said...

Happy birthday to Dawn. NY looks really good, but I couldn't and wouldn't live there, just a shopping trip to Barneys or something. Also, the food!

Justyn said...

Cool post, I have never been to NYC, but I will go there someday. I see you are going to Marquette, MI in a couple of weeks. You must be going for the UP200? I will be there the same weekend for the race and to see friends from school. If you have any questions about Marquette or the race, I would be happy to answer them. Anyways, you have a great blog, I have enjoyed reading it.

Sam said...

Hey Justyn,

Nope, we're going to Marquette to visit a friend... but since nothing is on our agenda for the visit, the UP 200 sounds like fun. It's a dogsled race, yes? I understand it takes place over several days - do you know when it'll be in/around Marquette? Thanks!

B. N. Sullivan said...

I always loved that TWA terminal, too. Your photos do it great justice!

Justyn said...

Yes the UP200 is a dog sled race. Its starts between 6:30-7:00 in downtown Marquette on Friday (16th). I know you can travel to one or two of the check points to watch the mushers and their teams go through, but I never have, so I cant give much info there. Saturday night you can watch the start of the mushers and then you can watch the mushers return on Sunday late morning to early afternoon. If you can go I would definately suggest it, it is lots of fun!! Just remember to dress warm, as it can get very cold in MQT during this part of the year. Anyways, I hope you have fun in da UP wit da Yoopers and enjoy the race!!

Justyn said...

Oops, I didnt put in that the race starts between 6:30-7:00 PM. Enjoy!

amulbunny said...

I have tons of good memories of the TWA terminal. Since I non revved out of there to most of my European adventures, I spent a good deal of time there. I knew the secret codes on the company phones to call my dad at LAX and tell him I was once again on American soil and to have someone at T3 to meet me when my flight got back.

Glad you had a great time in NYC with your lovely wife. Was Mamma Mia that good?


Sam said...

Well, it was better than I thought a musical featuring ABBA's music could be [grin]. We both enjoyed it, although it was the first Broadway show for us both so nothing to compare against.

Anonymous said...

I had a 33-hour layover in NYC starting Friday night. Did the exact same thing as you! It wasn't that cold out! Just a bit windy Saturday. Funny how my pictures seem to be the same as yours!

Sam said...

Heh. It's the standard NY tourist circuit, I think. Except in the summer there'd be more Central Park.

clint said...

sam-those are some great pics. i loved the one of the TWA terminal. i am glad jetBlue is going to restore it and not bulldoze it. happy birthday to your wife.