(Not Just) Another Day in New York City
Things are really looking up.
One reason is because I somehow managed to get out of New York City just in the nick of time, before a blizzard buried the city in snow.
What follows here are a few random shots I snapped with my smartphone while walking and driving around during my final day in Manhattan.
My favorite time of the day is sundown. The colors just seem more vibrant at that hour than any other (early morning is that way too, Im told, but I never wake up that early). The lighting is perfect.
For most people during the winter months, sundown marks the crossover between the workday and leisure time. With so many great bars and happy hours to chose from, 5:30 pm in New York City is my favorite time — just as long as I’m not out on the street fighting traffic. Then, it’s the worst time of day as any experienced NYC daily commuter knows.
Here’s a quick shot of Washington Square Park, adjacent to New York University, on my way to a cool bar which featured the live music of a singer who did mostly Barry White cover songs.
Just about everyone knows the park’s famous arch which is located at Washington Square Park’s northern entrance at Waverly Place.
Later, I was surprised to learn that it was actually built in 1871, way long before the Arc De Triomphe, in Paris (1919). This design set off other copy cats in other places around the world, as well, including an even larger arch in Mexico City (opened in 1938), and the very biggest in Pyongyang, North Korea (1982).
Of course, the original design dates back to the Roman Empire. The very first such structure was the Arch of Titus. So, the Italians get the credit. The Greeks will disagree, naturally.
I love animals, especially dogs. Here’s the bark park in Washington Square Park. Pretty cool place to hang out with a furry friend, or even just to enjoy the other pampered pooches who live in the West Village.
Here’s the urban asphalt jungle where the movie “Fast Break” was shot, starring Gabe Kaplan, which is about the culture of inner city basketball. You see these playgrounds all over the city, mostly filled with pick up games. Many great and future NBA players come from these neighborhoods.
I had no idea that the sandwich shop called Pret A Manger was now in the United States.
I first saw these places over in London (they’re all over the place), which were both affordable and excellent for healthy lunch choices. Great soups, buttered croissants right out of the oven, and fresh-squeezed juices were he hallmark of any visit to Pret. I didn’t eat here (too many other good places to go). But I sure hope Pret A Manger explodes across the US. People should be eating here, not at McDonalds and Burger King. I’m a big fan of Pret.
Here’s a shot of the inside of John’s Pizza in the West Village, where Mickey Appleman, Alex Appleman, and I had lunch one afternoon. As you can see, customers are encouraged to carve their initials into the wood. Gee, I wonder what this place will look like in 100 years? Will any wood be left?
If those walls could talk, I wonder what would they say?
Probably….”ouch! Not another knife!”
After 9/11 and the fall of the World Trade Center, deciding precisely what to do with the valuable real estate after the cleanup was completed proved to be emotional, controversial and took far longer than originally anticipated.
Now 13 years later, an abomination now stands on this hallowed ground, which is called “Freedom Tower.” This ridiculous name sounds like it was plucked right out of the George W. Bush playbook. It’s reminiscent of the lie which is so often told, that out enemies “hate us for our freedom.” On top of that, we’ve lost some freedoms since 9/11, so this name comes as a real slap in the face.
This non-descript glass box will eventually come to be accepted as part of the New York skyline. I remember the WTC Towers were not particularly liked nor accepted when they were first built in the early 1970s, either.
I just think New York could have, and should have, done something better. Something more indicative of architectural superiority and innovation of design. And the name “Freedom Tower” sounds utterly ridiculous.
New York City is known for it’s fabulous bakeries and there’s none better than the traditional baked goods to be found in Little Italy.
My all-time favorite is Ferrara’s, where many times I’ve taken away an entire jam-packed box and paid no more than $20 — usually for enough pastries to normally last a week (of course, they don’t ever last that long….more like a day because they’re so tempting). One thing’s for sure: New York is a terrible place to hang out, if you’re on a diet.
I didn’t make it to Ferrara’s this time,, opting instead for Pasticceria Rocco, over in the West Village. Nothing beats Ferrara’s which is across town over on Grand Street. But this place more than passed the taste test.
There’s an ice rink right net to Grand Central at 42nd and Park Avenue. It’s lined with some nice restaurants. A great place to have a drink and people watch.
The final photo shows the East River Houses, located near the Williamsburg Bridge, which crosses over into Brooklyn. These are mostly co-ops along FDR Drive, which were built in 1941. These buildings are probably not notable to most readers for any other reason that this is where poker legend Stu Ungar lived and grew up, right off Grand Street. I snapped this photo while driving on FDR, when heading out of Manhattan.
A parting note to everyone I hung out with while in New York: Thanks for all the fun times and wonderful hospitality. I hope to add more friends to the dinner and drinks invite list the next time I visit.