Allegiant’s low priced, direct flights to New York City from Knoxville make a getaway to the city easy enough. The complication is that the flights only depart and arrive on Sunday and Thursday. We took the Sunday flight up and the Thursday flight back. Arrival on Sunday is early enough that most of the afternoon remains after check in at the hotel. Yesterday we covered our first two days – Sunday and Monday.
We didn’t attempt to make a Broadway show on Sunday and they aren’t produced on Monday nights. We also had rain on Monday, so that shifted those plans around a bit. By Tuesday we were ready to check off some of our must-do stops. Oddly enough, at the top of Urban Girl’s list was Chinatown. I never did figure out why. I wanted to get her to the top of the Empire State Building, we wanted to take a bus tour and we had tickets to Wicked to end the day.
Before I wrote this blog, I didn’t know what a “setback” meant in architectural terms. It means a building retreats from its largest, ground level footprint as it rises. Originally done for structural reasons – we didn’t have steel beams allowing us to build straight up past a certain point – it also producing a pleasing aesthetic appearance. In the latter portion of the 1800s when the steel beam arrived on the scene, buildings could be built much higher and straight up.
On this trip to NYC, I learned that in 1915, the construction of the 38 story Equitable Building produced such a shadow that it removed sunlight for a four block area, resulting in the 1916 code to require setbacks. Without them, cities are darker and the air quality on the ground is further degraded. It’s also results in more interesting structures.
We made it to the Empire State Building – I recommend the fast pass if you can swing the extra $. It allows the holder to bypass virtually all lines which can be important if the lines are long. Urban Girl loved the views and we enjoyed them, as well, even though we’d gone to the observation deck before. It was as close as we’d get to the statue of liberty which was barely visible to the south.
We had a sort of fiasco related to the double decker bus tour, but I’ll spare you the saga. We eventually made it to Chinatown and I’m not sure what Urban Girl expected, but she seemed to enjoy it – even the “stinky” open-air fish markets. We had a good Chinese meal and she got to display her chopstick skills. The highlight of Chinatown in memories, however will be the attack of the blue crab. As we passed by a bucket filled with live crabs, she was appalled at the site (sheltered girl) and just as she passed, one escaped and chased her down the sidewalk. Much screaming and laughter ensued.
We scurried back to the hotel to clean up and walk to Urban Girl’s first Broadway play: “Wicked.” Stunningly good production and music with a great alternative story, I must say. We had a lot to talk about after that one. We had a late night meal in a small Italian bistro with Urban Girl celebrating her rare late-night outing by fading halfway through the meal. It was a big day.
I walked into Times Square just before midnight for a production I’d read about. At 11:57, a three minute installation takes a number of the massive screens in the area. The event is called the Midnight Moment and for October that moment was Sophie Calle’s, Voir la mer, which is her footage of people from Istanbul, Turkey, a city surrounded by water. Calle discovered that many people in the city had never seen the ocean surrounding their city. She took them, blindfolded to the sea, dropped the blindfold, had them look at the water and turn immediately to the camera to capture their eyes in the moment. It was powerful.
Before the ladies were ready on Wednesday, I slipped out, once more to the public library. We’d not been able to get inside when we stopped in the first time and I really wanted to check it out. It was as beautiful as I’d heard. I also got to see the original toys that gave rise to the Winnie the Pooh stories, which gave me a bit of a thrill. I left a bit sad because the library seemed, at least when I was there, to have become as much a museum as anything. People opened books to pose for pictures which somehow made me a bit sad.
With one full day remaining, we gave Urban Girl control of the agenda. We started on the upper east side which we liked almost as much as the west. We walked to Central Park and enjoyed much of our day there. I’d only stopped in at Strawberry Fields, so it was a new experience for all of us.
We visited the Central Park Zoo and the petting zoo. In other circumstances I would have felt the time could have been better utilized – zoos are found everywhere – but the focus of this particular trip was to have an eight-year-old fall in love with the city and want to return. Her favorite part of the morning was watching the sea lions play. They were pretty entertaining for all of us.
We walked through the park climbing rocks and meandering our way through to the carousel which she and Urban Woman road. We got an ice cream from a truck and walked back into the upper east side streets, stumbling onto one of the locations of Alice’s Tea Cup where we had lunch and tea. We made our way to Dylan’s Candy Bar and then to Serendipity 3 for frozen hot chocolate. (Thanks to Angela for the recommendations!)
It was time to catch the subway back to the hotel to get ready for our second, and final, Broadway production. The Lion King was as spectacular as anything you’ve heard. Urban Girl was on the edge of her seat spontaneously laughing and clapping in delight all night. I have to say I think I enjoyed it as much as she did. I still can’t imagine how those puppets could have been imagined and how they were executed so perfectly. The music was, of course, equally as amazing.
That left only one thing – the return home. I’ve told her before that going home from a trip should give you mixed feelings and leave you wanting more and that’s the way we left New York City. We had a final breakfast at Pret a Manger, walked to Penn Station, took the train and missed our stop at the airport, giving us a small New Jersey excursion, but made it successfully to the gate to catch our plane.
I asked Urban Girl if I could spring her from school the next week would she go back with me and she didn’t have to think long before smiling and saying, “yes!” I think the mission was accomplished and we all had a great time. While it was good to be home again, Knoxville felt very small and required a bit of an adjustment. I’m making plans to return for a week in the spring with Urban Brother for a very different kind of trip. Pictures in a few months!
Editor’s Note: I hope to see you at all the holiday kickoff activities. Remember to shop local as you begin your Christmas purchases. If not before, I’ll see you on Sunday for the Ten Day Planner.