July 02, 2007

Adios, New York

Saturday, March 10

I would be leaving NYC tonight and since my flight doesn’t leave till about 2200 at night, I practically have the whole day for more sightseeing. My first destination was the Grand Central Station. This Beaux Arts building, built between 1903 and 1913, is a magnificent train station where approximately 500,000 commuters and subway riders pass through daily. The vast majestic main concourse is a must-see, with its high windows that allows sunlight into the area, providing a glint to the brass clock tower and chandeliers. The ceiling is decorated with constellations of the winter sky.

Just outside the train station, I could see Chrysler Building, one of NYC's finest office buildings. Built as Chrysler Corporation headquarters in 1930, it was designed as a tribute to the booming automotive industry. It was the world's tallest skyscraper at the time, until the Empire State Building claimed the spot just months later.

I then made my way to the New York Public Library. The famous library is home of the larger-than-life lion sculptures – Patience on the left and and Fortitude on the right. Open since 1911, the library is stunningly beautiful inside and out. With a public library as magnificent as this, one can just spend hours relaxing in the grandeur, reading newspapers and surfing the net.

Next, I headed to the Rockefeller Centre by walking down the famous Fifth Avenue. Home to the city's most high-profile haute shopping, I walked pass big name stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Chanel, Hermes and the NBA Store. The Rockefeller Centre is the world's largest privately owned business and entertainment centre, with 18 buildings on 21 acres. It houses hundreds of offices, a number of NBC studios including Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and NBC's Today. From the entrance at Fifth Avenue, the Channel Gardens slope gently to the Promenade, graced by the gilded bronze statue of Prometheus. There are a number of tours available including the NBC Studio Tour and Stage Door Tour but I skipped those as I wanted more time to explore Central Park. Walking further along Fifth Avenue heading towards Central Park, the recognizable Trump Tower from the popular Apprentice TV series came into view. I couldn't resist going in for a peek and boy, the building was so crowded. I couldn't figure out if all those people work there, or simply busy bodies like me.

Grand Central Station and Rockefeller Centre (left) and Chrysler Building (right)

New York Public Library (top) and 5th Avenue (bottom)

Central Park spans 843 acres and was the first urban landscaped park in the United States. Originally conceived in the salons of wealthy New Yorkers in the early 1850s, the park project spanned more than a decade and cost the city ten million dollars. This natural retreat amidst the concrete jungle of NYC is a favourite with New Yorkers and visitors alike. Among the many attractions of the park are the Mall, a long formal walkway lined with elms shading benches and sculptures, leading to the focal point of Central Park, the Bethesda Fountain. Unfortunately, the fountain was closed for maintenance works while I was there. I also managed to squeeze in some time to visit The Belvedere Castle and the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre.

The Mall (top), carousel and Alice in Wonderland Statue (bottom)

Strawberry Fields is a gorgeous garden centered around an Italian mosaic bearing the title John Lennon's most famous solo song, and his lifelong message, Imagine. It is a memorial to the Beatle great, who was murdered across the street at the Dakota apartment building. His widow, Yoko Ono, still lives here at the 1884-built apartment building.

Belvedere Castle and lake (top), Strawberry Fields and the Dakota (bottom)

I had also wanted to visit the American Museum of Natural History, which is just across the road from Central Park. This is one of the must see museum, hosting the space show Are We Alone? and Cosmic Collisions, about the violent beginning of the universe, Big Bang Theater, Hall of the Universe and Hall of Planet Earth. However, I only had one more hour so there wouldn't be enough time to explore the museum. I decided to take a leisurely stroll back to the hotel and stopped by Stage Deli, for a taste of their corned beef sandwich. The sandwich was of a mammoth size, to say the least. I collected my luggage from the concierge and headed to the airport at 1830, bringing back fond memories of my short sojourn in the Big Apple.


Zara's Mama said...

Very very beautiful.. now hmm.. should I make a trip to New York? My best friend lives there and at least I save on accomodation.

Best type of biz trip, you get to see a new city/country all paid for!

A Mom's Diary said...

Zara's mama, yes you should make a trip there, and staying at your best friend's place can really save a lot. I paid a bomb (by our standards) for the extra nights there. But I really don't mind and always look forward to business trips to places I've never been.