June 29, 2007

New York City - Part 1

My tales of New York got a little side-tracked...so here's the continuation of the story, the antepenultimate snippet of my trip.

Thursday, March 8

I purchased the New York in a Minute Package from the Gray Line New York Sightseeing which included a Hop-on Hop-off Downtown Loop double decker bus ride and tickets to the Empire State Building Observatory and the Lady Liberty Harbour Cruise.
I boarded the bus from Times Square, a mere 5 minutes walk away from my hotel. As the name suggests, the bus runs through the downtown area and travels through attractions and neighbourhoods such as the Empire State Building, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown, Financial District and Battery Park, the departure point for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

I disembarked at Battery Park with the intention to board the ferry to Liberty Island, home to the Statue of Liberty or more affectionately known as Lady Liberty. For the millions who first came by ship to America in the last century, Lady Liberty was their first glimpse of America. Next to Liberty Island is Ellis Island, America's main entry point for immigrants from 1892 to 1954. Over 17 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island in those 64 years and Lady Liberty quickly became their symbol of freedom and opportunity in this land of plenty.

To my dismay, I found out that the ticket that came with my package was not the ferry ticket to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Instead, it was a 45 minute cruise circumnavigating Liberty Island but would not make any stops. As I had paid good money for the package, I didn’t want it to go to waste so I just went ahead and boarded the cruise. I wasn't disappointed though, as we got a close up look at the Brooklyn Bridge and the breath-taking views of the Manhattan skyline from the water. When it approached Liberty Island, the cruise paused on the water for several minutes so we could take close-up pictures of Lady Liberty in all its glory.

The Brooklyn Bridge and view of Manhattan from the water

Lady Liberty in all its glory

Ellis Island

I had planned to take the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island after the cruise, but by then, the queue had become really long. As it was already almost noon, I didn't want to waste time in the queue so decided to give the islands a miss. Come to think of it, I was quite thankful that I was able to take good shots of Lady Liberty on the cruise, because if I had landed on Liberty Island, I wouldn't have been able to get good photos of the statue, as I would be staring 152 feet up at her.

I made my way back to the Financial District and I grabbed some lunch at a pizzeria amidst office workers of the famous Wall Street. I then wondered around Financial District to see its many attractions. First up was the US Customs House, a relatively modern building and now houses the National Museum of the American Indians. Further along the road, many people gathered to take a closer look at the bull statue of Wall Street. The majestic Federal Hall National Memorial is one of Wall Street's most recognizable sights. Built in 1842, the memorial, with a statue of George Washington on the steps, is located directly across from the New York Stock Exchange. Other attractions in the area include Trinity Church, a neo-Gothic house of worship and Ground Zero. Until Sept 11, 2001, the Financial District was anchored by the World Trade Center, but it is now just another construction site for a new complex. My last stop was City Hall at the northern border of the district, before leaving the Financial District on the double decker bus, which made its way past South Street Seaport, Chinatown, United Nations Building, Rockefeller Plaza, Radio City, and the famed Fifth Avenue, home to the city's most high-profile brand names.

US Customs House, the famous Wall Street bull, Federal Hall National Memorial

Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange

Ground Zero

I continued my ride to the Empire State Building. The 102-storey building is no longer the world's tallest skyscraper but the classic Art Deco architecture and rich history still attracts droves of visitors daily. Built in 1931 during the Great Depression, the exterior observatory is located on the 86th floor of the 1454 foot tall building. I had the good fortune of arriving at the observatory in the late afternoon, and witnessed the magnificent transformation of the city skyline from bright daylight to dusk and nighttime. It was pure magic seeing the city bathed in bright neon lights at night.

The Empire State Building against the blue sky

Watching the skyline turn from day to dusk from the Empire State Building. Central to both photos is the Chrysler Building

I had dinner in a nearby restaurant. As it was getting very cold and I was dead tired from the long day, I decided to take the subway instead of walking back to the hotel. That was my first subway ride in New York City.


KittyCat said...

Wow! You got to see NY during the summer. Lucky you! I only saw it during the very early days of spring :P

Btw, I did your tag on the "meaning of my name" =)

A Mom's Diary said...

Kittycat, it wasn't summer yet. It was early spring coz I was there in early March. Backdated post la, hehehe...Temperature was between 2-5 Celsius, in fact it snowed one day and this kampung girl was so excited.

Zara's Mama said...

Nice pix! Lucky you, in New York when day light is long!