1.26.2013

New York City: Day 4

I think it's time to get these New York City posts wrapped up so I can feel better about planning another trip. 

Day 4 was our last day riding The Box House Hotel taxi:


We took Heidi's father-in-law's suggestion and went on a Circle Line tour of the harbor: 


We chose the Full Island Cruise, which lasted for three hours. Our tour was extremely informative and provided a fantastic geographical perspective of the island, but it might have been an hour or so too long. We were accustomed to being on the go, and the elderly man who was our tour guide had an incredibly calming voice that left us drowsy. Add those factors to the gentle rocking of the boat, and it should be no surprise that I fell asleep. When I woke up, lying across three or four folding chairs, the tour guide, who roamed throughout the boat as he gave the tour, was sitting directly in front of me. Sherry and Heidi were giggling at me from a few rows back. They probably moved so nobody would think we were together. At least they didn't take any pictures. 

The cruise departs from Pier 83 and heads south on the Hudson River, going counterclockwise around the island. We actually didn't make a full circle because some of the tides were still too high from Hurricane Sandy. But we still saw most of the sites. 

The easiest building for me to identify on the NYC skyline is always the Empire State Building. With 102 stories, it was built from start to finish in only fourteen months and stood as the world's tallest building for 40 years, until construction of the World Trade Center's North Tower was completed in 1972. The Empire State Building was completed during the Great Depression. Much of its office space was left unrented, earning it the nickname the "Empty State Building". 

Over thirty people have committed suicide from the top of the Empire State Building. In 1979, Elvita Adams jumped from the 86th floor, but was blown back onto the 85th floor by a gust of wind and ended up with a broken hip. 


Pier 76 is the location of NYPD's Violation Tow Service Facility. The number of vehicles that are towed in New York City and the amount of revenue per year is astounding. I looked online, but couldn't find the exact numbers. I did, however, find the subsection, under FAQs on Towed Vehicles, named "Who the Hell Towed my Vehicle".


The structure seen on the right side of this picture marks the Manhattan entrance of the Holland Tunnel,  a highway tunnel that goes underneath the Hudson River. The 1.6-mile tunnel, which connects New York City to Jersey City, was the first mechanically ventilated underwater vehicular tunnel in the world. 

The Holland Tunnel opened to traffic on November 13, 1927. It has been recognized as an outstanding engineering achievement and has also been designated a National Historic Landmark. The tunnel consists of a pair of tubes, which each provide two lanes for traffic. The tubes are situated in the bedrock beneath the river, with the lowest point of the roadway approximately 93 feet below the water. There are a total of 84 gigantic fans that can completely change the air inside the tunnel every 90 seconds, allowing for ventilation of the carbon monoxide emissions 

The toll to travel from New Jersey into New York City is $13 per car. There is no charge to travel from New York City into New Jersey. Over twenty million vehicles travel into New York every year through the Holland Tunnel. It is considered to be a high-risk terrorist target site. 

Next up on the tour was Battery Park City, the 92-acre planned community that didn't even exist 50 years ago. Battery Park City was created by land reclamation on the Hudson River using soil and rocks excavated during the construction of the World Trade Center and from sand dredged from the New York Harbor.

Construction on the first residential building in Battery Park City began in 1980. In 1995, there was a big push to attract demographics consisting of families, so they adopted a policy that apartments must be built no less than 1,000 square feet. Battery Park City was heavily impacted by the September 11 attacks. Many residents were not allowed back to their apartments for months, and by then, many of them had been looted. More than half of the area's residents moved away permanently. The population of Battery Park City is only about 14,000 people. 
One World Trade Center is the 104-story skyscraper that is being constructed in the the World Trade Center site. When it is completed, it will be the third-tallest building in the world by pinnacle height, reaching a symbolic 1776 feet. One World Trade Center has been New York City's tallest building since April 30, 2012. The estimated cost of the building is $3.8 billion, making it the most expensive single building in the world. 


The boat tour provided us with the most amazing views of the New York City skyline: 


And then we approached the Statue of Liberty:


If Heidi and I would have switched positions, this would be a great picture:


The boat tour was worthwhile just to get a closer view of the statue. The Statue of Liberty closed on October 29, 2011 for installation of new elevators and staircases and to bring other facilities up to code. The statue remained closed to the public until October 28, 2012. A day after the reopening, the statue was closed again due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

The Statue of Liberty was not damaged from the storm, but some of the infrastructure on both Liberty Island and Ellis Island was destroyed. The dock used by the ferries bringing visitors to the statue was severely damaged; both islands will remain closed for an indefinite period of time for repairs to be made.


When the Statue of Liberty National Monument is open, there is no charge for entrance. But there is a cost for the ferry service that all visitors must use, as private boats are not permitted to dock at the island.

We tried again to get a decent shot with the three of us together, but bystanders aren't always the best photographers. Or maybe I'm just too tall.


So instead, I took lots of pictures: 


Including pictures of Heidi taking pictures:


As many as possible before the statue was out of site:


Our boat tour took us right underneath the Brooklyn Bridge, which was especially neat to see from that angle since we had walked across it our first night in New York City. The Brooklyn Bridge has six lanes for motor vehicles and a separate footpath along the center for pedestrians and bicyclists. (Watch out for the bicyclists.) More than 4,000 pedestrians and 3,000 bicyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge each day. 

At the time it opened, and for two decades after that, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It was also the world's first steel cable suspension bridge, and it's completion was considered a great technological engineering feat. It has since been designated a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. 

Construction of the bridge took fourteen years and resulted in the deaths of 27 workers, including the untimely death of the bridge's designer, John Roebling. The project was brought to completion by his young son, Washington Roebling. Soon after his father's death, 32-year old Washington Roebling  suffered a paralyzing injury, caused by decompression sickness. After Roebling's debilitating condition left him unable to physically supervise the construction firsthand, his wife, Emily Warren Roebling, stepped in. Under her husband's guidance, Emily studied the the calculations of catenary curves, the strengths of materials, bridge specifications, and the intricacies of cable construction. She spent the next eleven years assisting Washington Roebling, helping to supervise the bridge's construction. 

When the Brooklyn Bridge was opened for use on May 24, 1883, Emily Warren Roebling was the first to cross the bridge. But even after the inauguration, many New Yorkers were not convinced that the bridge was safe. To prove the doubters wrong, P.T. Barnum led a parade of circus animals, including 21 elephants, across the bridge in 1884. John Roebling designed a bridge and truss system that was six times as strong as he thought it needed to be. Because of this, the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing when many of the bridges built around the same time have been replaced.   


I love this picture of Heidi and Sherry as we are approaching the Manhattan Bridge. Except Sherry says it looks like she is about to bite Heidi's ear. I actually tried to have my sister Photoshop me into the picture, but it didn't help the ear-biting situation, and I looked like a giant.


The Manhattan Bridge was the last of the three suspension bridges built across the lower East River, following the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges. Unlike the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge is open to commercial vehicles. The bridge has four vehicle lanes on the upper level. The lower level has three lanes, four subway tracks, a walkway, and a dedicated bicycle path. The neighborhood near the bridge on the Brooklyn side is called DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

The High Line is a linear park that was built on a 1.5-mile section of the former elevated New York Central Railroad. It has been redesigned and planted as a greenway and can be identified in this picture by its green color:


The redevelopment of the High Line park was advocated for by residents of the neighborhood the High Line ran through. A similar redevelopment in Paris, the Promenade plantee, provided inspiration for this project. The southernmost section of the High Line opened as a city park on June 8, 2009. The second High Line section from 20th Street to 30th Street was opened on June 7, 2011. Crime has been extraordinarily low in the park. Park advocates attribute that to the high visibility of the High Line from the surrounding buildings. "Empty parks are dangerous. Busy parks are much less so. You're virtually never alone on the High Line."

The iconic Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City, which has a relatively small population of only 25,000 people:


Tug boats towing barges of recyclable materials across the Hudson River to New Jersey:


New York City residents produce 12,000 tons of garbage every day, and New York City has no landfills or incinerators. Some of the non-recyclable waste is sent to landfills in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia. Other garbage is sent to New Jersey to be incinerated. Paper recycling makes money for New York City, netting $7.5 million, after the costs of collection. Almost half of New York City's paper is still thrown away. 

Next up was the United Nations Headquarters. Most of the buildings were constructed in 1949-1950; the tallest building, the 39-story Secretariat, opened in 1953. The complex is known for it's gardens and outdoor sculptures.


I thought I took more pictures. We saw lots of other neat sites: the projects, the Woolworth Building (one of the only skyscrapers ever financed in cash), the Chrystler building (the tallest brick building in the world), and the 59th Street Bridge (made famous by Simon & Garfunkel's song, Feelin Groovy). And I am a hundred percent sure that I took a picture of this tiny-by-comparisson building that at one point was the tallest building in New York City. (They called it a cloudscraper.) I am thinking I must have later deleted it, without realizing what was its significance was. 

The last thing we learned about was the "Miracle on the Hudson". Our tour ended just beyond the site where US Airways Flight 1549 emergency landed in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. The plane ended its six-minute flight with an unpowered ditching while heading south in the middle of the North River section of the Hudson River. The pilot, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger said in a television interview that his training prompted him to choose a ditching location near operating boats so as to maximize the chance of rescue. The location was near three boat terminals, one of them being the tour boat operator, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises. 

Air temperature at the time of the emergency landing was about 20 degrees, and the water was 36 degrees. Local commercial boats from the NY Waterway and Circle Line responded almost immediately. NY Waterway ferry was on the scene just four minutes after the ditching. A few minutes later, vessels from FDNY, NYPD, and the USCG were on scene to help with the rescue. Passengers were standing knee deep in the icy cold water on partially inflated evacuation slides. Some panicked and jumped into the water, trying to swim to shore. 

The 150 passengers on the aircraft each received a letter of apology, $5,000 in compensation for lost baggage, and a refund of the ticket price. In addition, passengers reported they were offered $10,000 each not to sue US Airways. 

And then the tour was over. It really was enjoyable. Nap and all. 

We had a long walk back to Rockefeller Center. Along the way, we saw all sorts of cool things.

The New York Times Building:


Elvis:


(I missed so many cool shots of random people because I just couldn't get my camera out fast enough.)

The Ed Sullivan Theater:


(This is embarrassing to admit, but one of the very first cds I ever owned was Paul Shaffer's Coast to Coast.)

Rupert's Deli: 


Sherry bought a pack of gum or something so then we felt okay to ask for a picture: 


He really didn't seem bothered, I just don't think he's much of a smiler. . . 


By the time we made it back to Rockefeller Center, we were starving. We went to Bouchon Bakery, a Thomas Keller Restaurant. Steve and I love the food at Bouchon in Las Vegas. This bakery in Rockefeller Center is set up a quick-serve restaurant. It wasn't fantastic.

I had the Smoked Salmon on Brioche:


Butternut Squash Soup:


And the best part of my dinner, a Lemon Tart:


Heidi was giddy about the macaroons. My pictures are horrible. They really were beautiful.


We sat outside on the patio and had an incredible view of the Rockefeller Center tree. It was perfect. 

One of the very few disappointments on our trip is that we didn't get to see Jimmy Fallon. It was actually my only request, back when we started planning out our trip. I thoroughly researched all of the instructions and tips on how to get standby tickets to the show. But as luck would have it, there was no filming of the Jimmy Fallon Show during our trip. 


So we did the next best thing, we went on the NBC Studio Tour

This picture was taken from inside of Rockefeller Center, while we were waiting for the tour to begin. 


Unfortunately, I don't have lots of cool pictures of the tour because there was a very strict no cameras rule on our tour. We were a little rebellious in the elevator: 


If you look online, reviews for the tour are mostly negative. But I think those people must have had unrealistic expectations. Definitely worth our time (1.5 hours) and money ($24) but it's only the sort of thing you need to go to once. I read one review that said, "People that go on this tour and don't watch TV are like people that don't eat chocolate but tour the Willy Wonka Factory." There are parts of the tour that are cheesy, and it was obvious that the pages had told their well-rehearsed jokes over and over again. And I probably could have skipped the mock newscast at the end. But it was still cool to be inside of Rockefeller Center, right there where the shows are recorded. I think that means that we should be categorized with the "awestruck small-town people that seemed overly thrilled just to be in the building"that another reviewer described. 

The first studio we went to was The Dr. Oz Show (Conan O'Brien's old set). It was funny when our page asked how many people were Dr. Oz fans. I think there was one. . . The studios are much smaller than they seem on television. The pages told us how the cameras trick you into thinking the studios are larger (they also make the people appear smaller). The ceilings were covered with hundreds and hundreds of lights. I can imagine feeling really claustrophobic with lots of people in there. 

We got to see the control room and stage for Saturday Night Live. Whether you get to go down on the set and sit in the seats or have to look at the studio through plexiglass depends on whether they are set up for filming. . . we had to view it through the plexiglass, which was fine. Again, it was surprising to see how small the set was. There are only three different stages that are used to do all of the sketches. 

The highlight of the tour for me and Sherry was going to Studio 6B to see the set for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. (Heidi didn't know who this Jimmy Fallon fellow was.) Jimmy Fallon is probably my favorite television personality. His late-night talk show is always funny (and usually clean too). I love his Thank You Notes. And I think this holiday paraody with Rashida Jones was absolutely brilliant. We walked on the small shamrock painted on the stage where he stands to deliver his monologue at the beginning of the show. And we eyed the seats in the audience that we had hoped to sit in. Next time. . . 

As we walked down the hall, the page was spouting out more NBC history, and I saw the door to The Roots was open. I peered closely and was told that I could come in and check it out. Pretty neat. And nice of him too. . . I'm sure they get tired of people gawking over everything. 


But we didn't get to see anything from the set of the Today show or Brian Williams' studio. I'm not a huge Brian Williams fan anymore, so that was okay. (I wasn't impressed with his coverage of "Mormons in America".)

There did seem to be a ridiculous number of security guards, and we were constantly being counted to make sure nobody from our group had "escaped". But I guess those shows are big business, and they can't risk anyone wandering off an breaking a camera or hiding inside the theater. 

We had a hard time trying to decide what to do with our last few hours. There were still quite a few things left on our list: Bloomingdale's, the Meatball Shop, Caracas Arepa Bar, MoMa, Museum of Natural History, Macy's, Canal Street, China Town, and Little Italy. 

While we were trying to decide what to do, we walked right by Magnolia Bakery, which was the real reason we wanted to go to Bloomingdale's anyway. Perfect. 


Mmmmm.


It was such a tragedy when we got to the airport to fly home and Sherry realized that she left her boxed cupcake on the kitchen counter in our hotel room. 


It was decided that we couldn't take a trip to New York City without going to Canal Street. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures. I wasn't sure that we were perfectly safe, so I kept my camera in my bag to prevent us from becoming any more of a target than we already were. It was late, and the dark streets were mostly empty. I understand that we didn't get the full effect of Canal Street, but we had quite a fun time bargaining for deals and buying souvenirs from the shops that eagerly lobbied for our business. (Sherry was the best bargainer out of the three of us, in case you are wondering.) It should be noted that all three of us regretted not buying more souvenirs for our families. The I heart NY shirts and the cheap rubber iPod cases were the biggest hits with the kids.

We saw China Town and then walked through Little Italy. We weren't necessarily hungry, but as soon as Sherry told us that she hadn't ever had Tiramisu, we decided that was top priority.

When I was in college, I worked as a server at The Skyroom. I spent the semester gorging myself on Chocolate Suicide Cake, Caramel Apple Pie, Irish Cream Pie, and Aggie Nut Rolls. (Most of the other servers were on diets, so me an my cousin, Maggie, went ahead and ate extra desserts for them.) I stayed away from the Tiramisu until the day my boss, Lynn Kirby, a extremely respectable man who was also a stake president at the time, told us naive Mormon girls that it wasn't against the Word of Wisdom and we were just fine to eat Tiramisu. I've been a fan ever since.

By the way, The Pioneer Woman's recipe calls for 1.5 cups of espresso or strong coffee. The recipe says it yields eight servings of Tiramisu (they must be ridiculously huge), but even so, the amount of coffee you would be consuming would be less than fifth of a cup.

Anyhow, back to Little Italy. . . We walked down the street past swooning Italian men, who were all trying to muster up business. They offered us free glasses of wine, so it was easy to turn down their pleas by telling them that we didn't drink. (They clearly don't get that response very often because they didn't know what to say after that.) We kept going until we came across this guy:


It's too bad that he forgot to smile, but I really just wanted a picture of his coat anyway. When we told him we didn't drink, he hollered back, "What!?! Where are you ladies from?" In his strong Italian accent, of course. When we told him we were from Utah, he exuberantly replied, "Donny and Marie!" I can't remember everything else he said, but he eventually won us over by offering us free desserts.

I can't recall the name of the restaurant. But that's okay, it wasn't really worth remembering. We ordered Caprese Salad, Pasta Alla Vodka (we were living on the edge), Meatballs, and Tiramisu. Sadly, nothing was very good. The Tiramisu was pathetic. It wasn't even made correctly. . . it had cinnamon instead of cocoa powder. (I definitely need to take Sherry to Le Nonne in Logan for a taste of some good Tiramisu.) There were only two other tables seated in the restaurant. There were a couple of guys walking around serenading people, but they must have sensed that we were out of cash and didn't come over to our table. Everyone seemed to be plenty drunk and having a great time.

Even though the food was terrible, none of us really seemed to mind. We fully enjoyed sitting down for a while and reflecting on our incredible trip.

We had a long walk back to the subway. Took the subway to the Vernon-Jackson stop. Waited for the Box House Hotel taxi to pick us up. And then we rode back to the hotel. We gave our taxi driver our MetroCards and our very last pass-along card. And then I crashed. Sherry stayed up and packed, but all I wanted to do was get into bed and fall asleep. . . this leads into how Day 5 began, so I'll try to get to that soon.

1 comment:

i'm h.mac said...

i also need to leave a bit about how incredibly short i am and how the scarf did me no justice. i look like franklin the turtle....