Mike Vickers' Blog

July 16, 2011

A Holiday in Manhattan

Filed under: Personal, USA — derryvickers @ 8:46 pm

We did the Town – well everything that was available on the New York City Pass!  The weather was great – only one afternoon of summer storms

Impressions – remarkably clean- very cosmopolitan, few obvious WASPs and very few beggars. Yet there is still a hierarchy of who does what.

No obvious signs of depression in Manhattan – although going between Newark Airport and the Penn Station much dereliction.

Food fine although expensive by Scotland’s standards.  One exception was a Food on Foot tour over a lunchtime – the leader knew his stuff and pointed us at some very edible take away joints in East Village.  Clearly If we lived there we could find cheaper meals – we did once and had a great Chinese lunch.

We did the museums, the Guggenheim, the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art – also a couple of smaller ones on the history of New York and on Skyscrapers.  The best was the Metropolitan Museum of Art – very like the British Museum in London – comparable art – excellent section on 19th and 20th century art (which get to me) – at least as good as the Museum of Modern Art;  unbelievable collection of Degas and Cézannes and Picassos all over the place.  The Guggenheim interesting as a building with its circular architecture and circular staircase – used to good effect for an exhibition of paintings by a Japanese artist Lee Ufan – art is going nihilistic – representation is out.  Thankfully no Damien Hirst anywhere to be seen anywhere.

To the moderns in the Metropolitan:  Pollocks, Rothkos – AnselmKiefer is worth looking at modern yet representational.

Yes and of course there are the skyscrapers – great views from The Top of the Rock and the Empire State Building, both MidTown. The Empire State is particularly impressive – built in 1931 in 420 days – at its peak they were building 4.5 floors a week! Is this still a record or have the Chinese overtaken this rate? 

The Skyscraper museum makes the point that skyscrapers are a natural successor to the factory buildings of the twenties and thirties and provides an excellent film on the building of the Twin Towers – steel frame, floors and cladding all to a basic plan – drag and drop!  The new One World Center Tower is going up and will be the tallest in the US when finished in 2013.  I had not realised that the whole World Center complex was built on reclaimed land vacated when the liners ceased crossing the Atlantic.

And this takes me to the Financial District at the southern tip of Manhattan; where MidTown and beyond is built on a grid plan, the Financial District is more higgledy giggly  as the financial district in London – the US has the Brits to thank for that! 

And I did love the inscriptions built into lower Broadway of all the great and the good who had been given ticker tape parades.

Yes, we did just get to Brooklyn just by walking the Brooklyn Bridge and we did see Manhattan, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty from a cruise during the day and from a clipper ship at night.  But probably the place we got to know most was Central Park- our hotel was near by – and so refreshing with walkers, joggers, baseball pitchers and of course dog walkers – so many dogs in a city full of apartments. 

For those who know, how does Manhattan cope with all the new offices going up while the subway looks to be as it was in the thirties; also where do office workers get their lunch.  Walking through the Financial District at lunch time and while there are quite a few take aways there were very few takers. 

A few things stand out particularly

Queues are universal – one lady asked me politely as I was waiting for my wife to get cash out of an ATM ‘Are you a line’

The Police Vehicles all have Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect on their sides

There are public drinking fountains advertising the quality of their water.

Oh and we did do a Show – that was a requirement – a musical – ‘Wicked’.  I have to say it was very colourful and well done.

In summary Manhattan is a great place for a holiday – we were there a week – it works and works well. But for the Land of the Free there was quite a lot of regulation, perhaps more than in the UK.

1 Comment »

  1. Wow! Sounds like you had a great trip to New York! Next time you head this way you need to check out Family In New York. They offer custom private New York tours. They can create a custom tour for you and show you parts of NYC you didn’t see the first time! They love to create tours that take people off the beaten path and show them parts of the city they didn’t even know existed!

    Comment by lize7 — August 14, 2012 @ 1:59 am

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