On a Monday morning in October, 2006, I headed for New York City, Manhattan Island to be exact, for a day doing my favorite pastime - walking around, exploring and taking pictures. "New York, New York: a city so nice they had to name it twice." I recall the lyric by Jon Hendricks on one of my favorite jazz albums by George Russell, the epitome of sophistication, especially Bill Evans' work on it. From rural upstate NJ, I headed down route 23 for the by now familiar ritual: 23 to 46 to 3 to Secaucus, parking at the North Bergen Park Ride and taking the bus through the Lincoln Tunnel to the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 8th Ave and 42nd St. This is the only way I've gone to NYC for years because 1) for a senior rate of $5.00, you get to park all day and a free bus trip to and from Manhattan, 2) you don't have to pay the toll for the Lincoln Tunnel ($6.00), and 3) you don't have to drive (let alone park) in NYC which is an excruciating experience because you have to fight off a million taxicabs and unruly pedestrians. Instead, it's a pleasure to take the subway which goes everywhere. Get yourself a subway map (free) and you've got the city in the palm of your hands. You can also get an all day "Fun Pass" for $7.00 which allows you unlimited use of the subways and busses.
I wanted to walk and take pictures so I didn't get a fun pass. I would eventually take the subway back to Port Authority after my feet were tired and so I could make my dinner date with Morty and Renee Geist. Morty was my music teacher at Wantage. My goal for the day was to cover the upper East Side documenting sites that are meaningful to me - mainly jazz or art-related, but skyscrapers as well. "It's not the beauty and the beast side, not the East Side."
But first, after hitting the street, I did a brief detour to the West Side in the Hells Kitchen area. First stop - the Ayres building at 410 W 47th St. I had just seen Bob Ayres at our class reunion the previous Saturday. Bob was a great musician who graduated from Sussex High School and Julliard, played with a number of different symphonies, and now owned or leased this 5 story building and rented out musical equipment.
My next stop was the landmark Worldwide Plaza building, 825 Eighth Ave, the most visible building on the West Side in midtown Manhattan. Built in 1989 this 50 story skyscraper is one of New York's icons. By the way there is a Starbucks on the ground level. Although my girlfriend had given me a $25.00 Starbucks card before my trip, I had already had Dunkin Donuts in Franklin, NJ (they don't have Starbucks in Sussex County) before I started my trip so I didn't overindulge by having my favorite - a grande mocha!
The building of One Worldwide Plaza was documented in a BBC/PBS mini-series and a companion book Skyscraper: The Making of a Building by Karl Sabbagh. I'd seen the documentary and wanted to verify that this was the actual building. The building is crowned by a copper roof known as "David's Diamond" after the architect, David Child. There are two smaller buildings on the site also.
From here I headed over towards Times Square and my original planned route starting at 42nd St and heading east toward Grand Central Station. Times Square is always a good place to snap a few pictures. It's the center of Manhattan, the center of all the hubbub, feverish activity and the capital of capitalism. The picture above was taken along the way. I was lucky to have such great picture taking weather - a perfect sunny day!
Bryant Park is located on 42nd St just behind the New York Public Library. By the way you can click any of these pictures to make them larger. If you click on the New York Public Library, you'll see that it actually says New York Public Library right on the building.
Continuing east on 42nd St we see the Chrysler Building looming up. It's located just past another NYC landmark, Grand Central Station, at the intersection with Lexington Ave. There was a big competition in the 20s between the skyscraper builders to see which building was going to be the tallest and which building was going to be finished first. The Chrysler Building pulled even with H. Craig Severance's 40 Wall St, and then Severance added two floors to his building to claim the title of world's tallest building. But not for long. Not to be outdone, architect William Van Alen secretly constructed the 185 foot spire inside the Chrysler Building and then hoisted it into place to present New York with a fait acccompli and the world's tallest building until the Empire State Building came along and built a humungus TV tower on top to claim the title. Both the Empire State and the Chrysler are examples of art deco architecture, and the Chrysler Building comes complete with "hood ornaments." By the way Chrysler stiffed Van Alen on his fee. Why, I don't know. I think the Chrysler Building has the better location in midtown Manhatttan close to Grand Central Station. 40 Wall St is now owned by Donald Trump.
Finally, we reach our goal on 42nd St: Grand Central Station. From here we go north on Park Avenue to our eventual destination, Carl Schurz Park on the Upper East Side. But I think I will stop here and rest for now. Here are a couple of pictures of Grand Central Station. We will continue in Part II.