12.29.2012

New York City: Day 3

Heidi and Sherry's luggage finally arrived; they were thrilled to have clean clothes to wear, even if they were bright. Seriously, nobody told us that everyone in New York City wears black. 

They all wear black clothes. At least half of them have headphones. They look straight ahead as they are walking down the street. And they don't ever talk to anyone. Except to tell us that we looked lost. 


If we stopped for more than five seconds to check an address on our phone or glance at the subway map, someone would come up to us, tell us we looked lost, and offer to help with directions. (Heidi knows the city really well, and we only got mixed up a couple of times.) The "help" people offered us generally left us more confused than we had been in the first place.

Our first destination was the Manhattan New York LDS Temple. Between the subway stop and the temple, we came across some great roadside stands. They were selling breads:


Colorful vegetables: 


And fruit. But yikes, look at those prices:


We stopped at the Wafels & Dinges truck. Partly because Belgian waffles are delicious and partly because it's impossible to walk away from someone this friendly: 


Looking at these pictures makes my mouth water.


We looked over the menu and ordered waffles covered with their specialty topping, Spekuloos spread. I say it could become the next Nutella, but Steve says it's disgusting. 


Also known as cookie butter, it's a paste made from Belgian gingerbread cookies. Like the ones they serve on Delta flights. Steve tried Spekuloos at a food show a few years ago and says it's been around long enough, it would have taken off by now if it was going to. But I completely disagree. Nutella was first produced in 1964 and the obsession just exploded in the last decade. Spekuloos spread is only five years old, and it's nut-free and vegan. 


Curious to try it out for yourself? Try Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butterthe original recipe, now sold through the Lotus brand, or make your own with this Homemade Speculoos Recipe

We finally made it across the street to the temple:

 

So strange to see the ten-foot Angel Moroni right next to a skyscraper. 


The Manhattan New York Temple is very unique. It was the second multipurpose temple of the Church, following the Hong Kong China Temple in 1996. The second floor houses a public affairs office and distribution center; a meetinghouse is located on the third floor. The Manhattan New York Temple was the third temple built from an existing building, following the Vernal Utah Temple in 1997 and the Copenhagen Denmark Temple in 2004. The temple is virtually a building within a building, which is completely soundproofed from the hustle and bustle of the City. The cornerstone of the Manhattan New York Temple is located within the multi-purpose building, but on an exterior wall of the temple. The outside of the building is labeled as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:


As we were approaching the building, I said something about it being the very first time I'd seen a temple decorated for Christmas. (There were wreaths hanging over the windows.) But those exterior walls are for the multi-purpose building, not the temple. The temple is located inside:


Once in the lobby, you enter through a second set of door inscribed Holiness to the Lord: 


This is the view from the Relief Society room on the third floor. The shorter building on the left is the Julliard School


I'm afraid I would have a hard time concentrating on the lesson. . .


Looking out the other window and across the street, that's where Barbara Walters conducts her interviews:


The Lincoln Center is located across the street in the other direction: 


I would be curious to know how many couples are married in the Manhattan New York Temple. I wonder where they would stand to pose for pictures?


Then we got back on the subway to go to Central Park. Beautiful tilework adorned the walls of every subway station. (I would have taken more pictures, but the lighting was never great.)


We came across the Columbus Circle Holiday Market, which had just opened up the day before. The first order of business was to find some warm hats. Because we were freezing cold:


We walked through all of the different booths. I fell in love with the art from LinePosters. Lots of handmade items and gourmet foods, like Raaka Chocolate. (In addition to stunning packaging, they also have a great website; check out their story.)


It's far more satisfying to make purchases like these at a market. But I was happy to learn that many of the companies we encountered, like Spices and Tease, offer free shipping on larger purchases. 


Then you wouldn't have to worry if any unwanted materials made their way into the beautiful-but-so-very-exposed bowls of herbs and spices.


There were lots of pedicab drivers, working for Central Park Pedicab Tours, walking around, trying to recruit customers. Central Park is huge and there is no way to walk around and see everything. We agreed to the price of $85 and cozied up with a blanket in one of these rickshaws: 


I should have taken a picture of our driver's name tag so we could remember his name. Because he turned out to be one of our favorite people we met in New York City. Most definitely. 


I was feeling badly that our driver had to walk us up the small hill. Until I saw another driver do the same thing with his empty rickshaw. 


I was also feeling a little jealous listening to Heidi point out areas over by Heckscher Playground where she used to take her kids to play. Until. . . . Nope, still jealous.  


New Yorkers pay a hefty price to go iceskating. . . $18 for admission and skate rental on weekdays and $22 on the weekends. They even charge $5 for spectators. So this is the closest we got to Wollman Rink:


It was a beautiful fall day, albeit freezing cold. 


This is the very center of Manhattan:


This is the view from the very center of Manhattan:


These folks might have been riding in style, but I can guarantee you that we had more fun. 


Our driver dropped us off to walk down to the Betheseda Fountain, which overlooks the Lake:


The fountain sculpture was designed by Emma Stebbins in 1868. Also called the Angel of the Waters, the statue refers to Chapter 5 in the Book of John, where there is a description of an angel blessing Jerusalem's Pool of Bethesda, giving it healing powers. The scriptural reference was a parallel to the opening of the Croton Aqueduct, which opened in 1842 and provided New York City with it's first dependable supply of pure water. In today's world, where reference to religious thoughts and beliefs has become so taboo, I love seeing expressions of faith. 

The ornamental stonework on the sides of the Terrace is amazing: 


The Terrace turned into a drug-trafficking venue in the 1970's, but was cleaned up and restored by the Central Park Conservatory in 1980-81.


The herringbone paving of bricks laid on their edges:


The Bethesda Fountain and Terrace was the first site that I recognized from all of the pop culture references that our driver was telling us. (The Terrace is where Mel Gibson's son is kidnapped in the movie Ransom; the fountain is shown in Home Alone 2 and the movie Elf.) It became very apparent that Sherry was the only one of us who really knows anything about pop culture.


Before we got back into the rickshaw, I made Sherry pose for a picture:  


And Heidi too:


They insisted on taking one of me as well, but I am a much better at taking pictures that remembering to smile in them. 

I'm not sure if there is any way to fully explain this next set of pictures, but I will try. Our driver took us over to the Cherry Hill area to see what he told us was the fountain from the television show, Friends. Thousands of tourists stop to take pictures at the Cherry Hill fountain. But it turns out, it's not the fountain shown in the opening credits of the show.

But we didn't know that.

So when he said, "You friends? You get your picture taken in front of Friends fountain."

We listened to him and got out of the rickshaw.


And then when he said, "You put your hands up like this and smile."

All three of us actually listened to to him and put our hands up exactly how he told us and posed for this picture:


We decided to jump for a picture:


And then he told us, "Stand in a line and pretend to walk."

We're not sure why we kept following his ridiculous instructions, but we did.


We kept fake waking, and he kept snapping pictures:


By this point, we were laughing uncontrollably. And there were quite a few people watching us: 


By this point, Sherry was about to pee her pants:


"You need Facebook pictures," he told us.

Heidi willingly posed:


Until she was laughing so hard that she couldn't stand up: 


So then we decided we wanted a group shot of us jumping off the fountain.

We climbed up on the edge. And then said, "Put your hands up like this and smile."

I have no idea why. . . but we all listened. Again.


And then, since our hands were already up, we made the mistake of holding hands while we jumped:


Sherry and I jumped up. Heidi jumped out. Horizontally.


It didn't work out too well, especially for Heidi.


As evidenced by the expression on her face: 


Heidi hit the ground with a thud. Our driver set down my camera, and ran to help them. I ran straight for my camera, so I could keep taking pictures:


Yes, by then there were lots of people watching us. Or rather, watching them: the two Primary-ladies on the ground in front of the fountain.


I wish I had this next part on video because then our driver took a few minutes to explain to them what they did wrong:


How your feet need to hit the ground: 


So you can land properly: 


It was hysterical.


And then he decided to show them how it was done:


A perfect landing. I think this is probably my very favorite picture from the whole trip. I can't look at it without laughing. 


This two-tower building is called The San Remo and is much more lenient in regards to their admission standards, compared to the other side of the park. (There are some buildings that anyone can live in, if they have enough money. There are other buildings that you can only live there if you are connected to the right people.) Past and present residents of The San Remo include: Tiger Woods, Steven Spielburg, Demi Moore, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Martin, Bruce Willis, and Bono. (And no, I did not remember all of those. . . I looked them up on Wikipedia.)


Jerry Seinfeld and John McEnroe live in this building, called The Beresford. There were supposed to be four corner towers on top, but they ran out of money and only built three. Click on the links of these buildings to see the astronomical average price per square foot. If our house was an apartment in The Beresford, it would cost over six million dollars!


This is the site of the rollerblading scene on Big Daddy:


Strawberry Fields is a 2.5-acre area of Central Park that is dedicated to the Beatles singer, John Lennon. This area of the park is a quiet zone where dogs are prohibited and no running, rollerblading, or bike riding is allowed:


This black and white mosaic, named after another one of John Lennon's famous songs, was a gift from the city of Naples, Italy:


There is a bronze plaque that lists more than 120 countries that planted flowers and donated money for the maintenance of the area. They have also endorsed Strawberry Fields as a Garden of Peace.

John Lennon was murdered in 1980 as he was walking into his his home in The Dakota, seen on the right:


His wife, Yoko Ono still lives in The Dakota, which is considered New York's most exclusive building. Melanie Griffith and Antonia Banderas wanted to buy a three-bedroom apartment in The Dakota, but were not approved by the co-op. Applicants are required to submit years of tax documents and financial statements and pay thousands of dollars to submit themselves to investigation. All without any guarantee of acceptance. Madonna tried to buy an apartment in The Dakota, but was denied, simply because Yoko Ono doesn't like her.


This is where runners cross the finish line in the New York City Marathon:


Tavern on the Green was closed for renovation. As of October 2010, the building is a public visitors center and gift shop run by the parks and recreation department. Tavern on the Green had operated as a restaurant under various owners for seventy-five years. In 2007, it had gross revenues of $38 million, making it the second-highest-grossing independent restaurant in the United States. (Behind one of my very favorite restaurants, Tao in Las Vegas with sales of $67 million.) Tavern on the Green had its last seating on December 31, 2009, after filing for bankruptcy. 


Central Park boasts a total of 26 baseball and softball fields. These are the Heckscher Ballfields:


This picture shows Manhattan's tallest condo skyscraper, where the crane collapsed during Hurricane Sandy:


This bridge is called the Pinebank Arch. I can't remember what movie this bridge is famous for. . . something to do with a snowball fight?


I can't remember the significance of this picture either. Maybe you do, Sherry? Our driver was spouting out names of movies and celebrities faster than I could process.


Our driver told us this was New York City's first jail:


I think one of these is the building where P. Diddy lives. Our driver said that he sees him in the park every once in a while, but he's usually rude. On the other hand, Jerry Seinfeld is very cool in real life.


Trump International Hotel and Tower:


And that was our tour. Definitely one of the highlights of our trip. Mind-boggling to think that we only saw the south side of the park. . .

We went back to the Columbus Circle Holiday Market and ate lunch from the Red Basil Thai Kitchen.

Red Curry:


Coconut Soup:


 Much like the day before, our lunch was so good. But it was a little too cold outside to fully enjoy it.

Then we rode the subway to the National September 11 Memorial. Although there is no admission charged, visitors to the memorial must reserve advance passes for a specific date and time.


We were longer at Central Park than we had planned, so we were running a little late. As we checked in at the memorial, we asked the man who scanned our tickets where the restrooms were. There weren't any. No bathrooms at a national memorial. . . what? He told us where to go to find the nearest public restrooms, but none of the options were anywhere close by. We walked across the street and saw two doormen at a fancy building and kindly asked/begged if they had a restroom available. One of the men accompanied us into the building, and up to a bathroom on an upper floor. Such a lifesaver.


The September 11 Memorial covers eight of the original sixteen acres of the World Trade Center site. The memorial consists of two pools, each nearly an acre in size, set within the original footprints of the Twin Towers. Thirty-foot waterfalls cascade down the sides of both pools, disappearing into deep square holes in the pools centers:


The 2,983 names of those killed in the 9/11 attack in New York, at the Pentagon, and on Flight 93, and the victims of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing are inscribed into bronze panels surrounding the pools. 


Names are arranged by affiliation, so that the employees of a company, a first responder unite, or the crew of a flight are together:


The memorial was quiet, except for the noise of the water falling down the sides of the pools. There is a small visitor's center located outside of the memorial. The National September 11 Memorial Museum is under construction and will open soon.


This is the Survivor Tree, which was recovered from the rubble at the World Trade Center site in October 2001, long after recovery workers expected to find anything alive at the site. At the time of its recovery, the tree was eight feet tall, was badly burned, and had only one living branch. The tree was brought to a nursery in the Bronx to be replanted and cared for, even though it was not expected to survive. In the spring of 2002, the tree had new growth and its caretaker knew that the Survivor Tree would make it. In December 2010, the Survivor Tree, grown to a height of 30 feet, was returned to the World Trade Center site in an event that was attended by several members of the community of survivors and rescue worlds. It is prominently featured as part of the memorial. 


Keating Crown, a survivor of the attacks, said, "It reminds us all of the capacity of the human spirit to persevere."  


Wall Street: 


Occupy Wall Street:


It was a good place to distribute some pass-along cards


Look how cute they were: 


Our next stop was Trinity Church, which is a very historic, active Episcopal church at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway. During the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, people took refuge from the massive cloud of debris inside the church. I didn't take any pictures of the outside of the building, but you can see a good one here. Now look at this picture to see what that 281-foot Neo-Gothic spire looked like in 1846, without any tall buildings around. The Neo-Gothic spire dominated the skyline of lower Manhattan and was a welcoming beacon for ships sailing into the New York Harbor.


As soon as I took this picture, the churchwarden came up and motioned for me to give him my camera. Heidi and Sherry thought I was in trouble for taking pictures.


But then, without saying a word, he gestured for us to go stand in front of the table (altar?):


He took quite a few pictures of us. We forced ourselves to keep smiling, even though it was a little strange.


And then the churchwarden slowly walked away with my camera and just kept snapping pictures, as if he was a professional photographer: 


He pointed at me, and I was silently directed to sit on the bench in front of the organ: 


And then on the step in front of the crucifix: 


Sherry was poking fun at my lame poses, but I am not sure that anything else would have been appropriate? I am certain that the other visitors and worshipers in the chapel were wondering who we were. 

The Trinity Churchyard cemetery, which reminded Sherry and Heidi of Boston:


Columbia University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution. The university was founded in 1754 as King's College. The very first class was held in the building adjoining the First Trinity Church. 


My favorite sign of the day: 


We got back on the subway and rode as close as we could to Battery Park. We had to walk quite a few blocks, and I lagged behind the others while I was talking on the phone to Steve. I hurriedly told him I needed to get off the phone and yelled at Sherry and Heidi to stop. They had been laughing about their clothes all day, and I just had to get a picture of them with the statues across the street: 


Afterwards, I called Steve back and apologized for rushing him off the phone. "It's okay, I understand how hard it is to navigate, watch for traffic, and talk on the phone in New York City." 

Yep. . . or maybe I just needed to take a silly picture of my friends.

The Staten Island Ferry is incredible. It transports some 60,000 passengers per day between the boroughs of Manhattan and Staten Island. The five mile trip takes about 25 minutes each way. Service is provided 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. 

In 1897, the fare to ride the ferry was set at 5 cents. In 1972, the fare was raised to 10 cents. In 1975, the fare was increased to 25 cents. In 1990, the fare went up to 50 cents. Finally, in 1997, the fare for foot passengers on the ferry was eliminated. 

The Department of Transportation operates the Staten Island Ferry as a form of mass transit, but the boat ride also provides a majestic view of the New York Harbor, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty, for FREE. 



The Pano version: 


A prize to the first person who can figure out why there are two suns in this picture:


Manhattan skyline and Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal (in lower right corner):


We left Manhattan around 4:30 or 5:00 pm, just in time to catch the sunset. The boat was very crowded. I would say that at least 98 percent of the passengers on the ferry were commuters, returning home to Staten Island. As soon as I pulled out my camera, the girl next to me willingly gave up her window seat so I could get a better picture of the Statue of Liberty: 


Riders are required to disembark at each terminal and reenter through the terminal building: 


Our return trip provided a great nighttime view of the Manhattan skyline: 


It was much more difficult to get a good picture of the Statue of Liberty at night, but at least this picture shows the size of the ferry traveling in the other direction: 


There were very few people on the boat for the return trip, and a man sitting near me asked where we were from. (Since it was so obvious that we were tourists.) He had lost his apartment and everything he owned in Hurricane Sandy. As in, everything had been swept away into the harbor. He had car insurance, so that was covered, but since he didn't have renters insurance, everything else was a complete loss. He had moved in with his brother until he could get back on his feet again. He worked as a security guard for a building in Staten Island, but had to take the ferry into Manhattan each day to check out, since his company's office was located here. We talked to him about Utah, the Utah Jazz, and the LDS Church before giving him our very last pass-along card. 

Our next destination was SoHo, which is a re-purposed neighborhood known for its artists lofts, art galleries, and trendy boutiques. (The name SoHo refers to the area being SOuth of HOuston Street.)  The 26-block neighborhood of SoHo is a model for inner-city revitalization and is definitely the part of New York City that I would want to live in. The sides of the streets are lined with Belgian blocks and the streets themselves are narrow enough to truly feel like a neighborhood. 

We stopped at a fun little toy store and found another item reminiscent of Sherry and Heidi's brightly colored jackets:


We browsed at some clothing stores. Sherry totally would have bought this, except for the $228 price tag: 


Before our trip, back when we were making our list of things to see in New York City, Heidi declared that we must go to Cafe Habana for the "best corn elote and cuban. I insist, this one is not an option, it's a must. They have a take out window so we can eat on a curb and not wait 3 hours for the restaurant."

We lucked out and got right in for a table. Or part of a table. It was so small that when the server came with our food, we just looked at her, wondering where in the world it was supposed to go. (She had us move our drinks onto the ledge behind our booth.)

I took a few pictures, but the photos on their website were way better, so I'll just use theirs. See the fan at the very top center of the picture. We were sitting directly below. With a large group squished in next to us. 


I have to say that the lime they served with their Grilled Corn made it better than Sonora Grill's Corn on the Cob.


But I think the Cuban Pork Sandwiches we ate at Paseo on our way home from Alaska were better than Cafe Habana's.  

After dinner, we walked back to the New York Shaving Company barber shop so Sherry could buy her husband a birthday gift. More questions about where we were from, more discussion about Mormons. 

For dessert we had rice pudding at Rice to Riches. A scene from the movie Hitch was filmed at Rice to Riches. But I'm thinking they must have removed most of the signage inside the restaurant for the filming, since at least half of it was inappropriate.


Sherry and Heidi love rice pudding. Me. . . not so much. A bite or two is fine, but I can't imagine eating an entire bowl: 


We walked to the subway and traveled back to Central Park. We saw the Plaza Hotel, which I recognized from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. When the Plaza Hotel opened in 1907, the cost of a room was only $2.50 per night. Today, rooms start at $700 per night. 


We hurried to see the legendary FAO Schwarz before they closed for the night. Founded in 1862, it is the oldest toy store in the United States. 


FAO Schwarz is known for its large assortment of stuffed animals and the famous piano dance mat featured in the Tom Hanks movie, Big


The store also offers some limited-quantity luxury items including a $1500 Jeweled Classic Etch-A-Sketch and a $25,000 Barbie Foosball Table. The FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue store was the scene for the chase between the Smurfs and Gargamel in the 2011 movie, The Smurfs


Toys are fun. But we were really just there for the candy: 


Then we went to the Apple Store. My pictures didn't turn out very well, so you should click here to see more pictures of the architectural award-winning glass cube. 


The Fifth Avenue Apple Store opened in 2002, and in order to serve the needs of the city that never sleeps, it stays open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. 


We walked down Fifth Avenue to see Trump Tower, the location for the NBC television show, The Apprentice. I watched almost every single episode of that show, when it first came out in 2004, but I am not a fan of Celebrity Apprentice


The building was decorated for Christmas, Donald Trump style: flashy and ostentatious. 

There was a man trying to take a picture of his son, with the big Christmas tree in the background. Just as he went to take the picture, his phone ran out of batteries. So I took a picture for them, and then the son typed in his email address for me to send it to him. Except he typed his address in wrong, so it got sent back to me. Here they are: 


We walked around and saw all of the glitzy Christmas decorations on Fifth Avenue:  


And all of the snazzy Christmas windows at Bergdorf Goodman: 


And then, just because we really like to walk, we took the subway back to Rockefeller Center where we saw Radio City Music Hall: 


And then walked back to see the Rockefeller Center Tree, all lit up: 


There were so many people there. Enough that we got tired. . . and decided to call it a night. 


Now for a recap of Day 3: Manhattan New York LDS Temple, Central Park, National September 11 Memorial, Wall Street, Trinity Church, Staten Island Ferry, SoHo, FAO Schwarz, Apple Store, Trump Tower, Christmas decorations on Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center Tree. 

Wow

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