Through the winter we corresponded with Crystal's sister Yvonne and her husband Brian, via e-mail, relative to their visiting us from their home in Oxford, England. On June 5, 2003 we flew to New York City to meet them and tour the city for a week before continuing on to our home in Saginaw, Michigan.
This page is a bit of a travelogue of our trips together while in New York City although in not the order that we actually traversed the city.
I think Central Park is one of the prime features that Brian wanted to see. (He is the man wearing the blue jacket with the tan pants.) The park is more than five miles long and about a mile wide. Walkers and cyclists are free to roam about with few restricted areas. It is the only "wildlife reserve" in the area and supports over 200 species of birds.
As we turned the corner onto Pennsylvania Avenue we could see the Empire State Building penetrating the haze that covered the city on this morning. By the time we got to the top of the building (about an hour later) the haze had almost lifted and the view was spectacular. From atop the building we could see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in the distance.
The building in the center of the photo is Macy's Department Store. From our vantage point we could see how prevalent the taxis were on the street below. As a point of interest; the licenses that each taxi must have to operate in the city costs $60,000.
We were surprised to see so many rooftop gardens. As we made our various tours of the city later we would notice the shrubbery peeking out from the rooftops.
On the day we visited Ellis Island the weather was a bit cloudy with rain at times. In the title photo above you can see a tour boat crossing our path on our way to the island.
As we approach the island we sail past the Statue of Liberty.
Notice the flame on the torch she is holding. It is gold leaf. In the photo above (right) Yvonne, Brian and Crystal pose for a picture in front of the Ellis Island Immigration Building.
There were a number of photos of immigrants arriving with all of their earthly possessions at their side. The luggage and baggage containers are from the era when Ellis Island was opened.
Another interesting photo collage was the American Flag. Depending on where you stood it attained a different appearance. From one point it is a red, white and blue flag. Move a bit and people begin to peek at you from within the flag.
The illusion is accomplished by tilting the faces into diamond patterns. One side of the diamond is solid colored. Joining it at an angle is the photo. Above we are standing so that only the photos show.
There are many building on the island that have been closed and are in a state of disrepair. One is the hospital. No one is allowed to enter it, not even employees.
On our way back to the city we tried to determine where the twin towers once stood. If you look at the photo of the city above notice two narrow black lines at the left side of the photo. That is where the towers once stood.
The lines are drawn on to the photo and represent the height that the buildings once were.
When they were standing one couldn't see the two buildings with green roofs from this vantage point as they would have been behind the twin towers.
When we arrived ashore we found ourselves in a small park. The statue of the eagle impressed us.
From here we hopped on the subway and made our way to where the Twin Towers once stood. We found the subway to be an efficient mode of travel to distant parts of the town. When we took the bus tours of parts of the city they had an advantage wherein one could get off the bus, look around a bit, and then get on another bus to continue with the tour. We will cover those tours a bit later. For now, lets go to the Twin Tower site.
There is nothing but a hole in the ground. In the distance one can see the tunnel where the subway used to run. There was work going on with building a concrete deck over the site for some future development. We couldn't get to close because of the fences that had been erected to keep the public at bay. The chap in the last picture would take our camera for a shot over the edge. He did it for about 10 minutes until he was spotted by his boss and was told to move on.
Near our hotel we spotted this recently erected statue of a fireman with a plaque of a Fireman's Prayer.
The prices at the restaurants were quite expensive. We spotted this group going around the town advertising their place. By the looks of the people it doesn't look like one gets much to eat at the establishment.
The one with the bride was quite funny. The photographer was taking pictures of the bride and groom on Times Square. When the photo shoot was done she hiked up her dress to walk away. We got a kick out of the clog sandals she was wearing. I guess anything goes in New York.
New York City is laid out in a grid and it is easy to find your way around. The progression of building began at the south end and continues to progress toward the north. The north end is Harlem. We had always thought of it as being in the poor section of town but that is false. It is now considered to be the most modern and elite. The photo with the banners is the entertainment center.
As we traveled along we were inundated with old style architecture reminding us of our ventures around England and France.
When we got to the area where walk up flats and apartment were prevalent I couldn't but help but think of Archie Bunker.
We passed this old church. Its style and design reminds us of those we see while traveling in England and France and largely built in the 1100 - 1200's. The difference is that in England and France the roofs are made of stone. These were of shingled and tiles materials.
It was nice to see small parks and green belts within the city.
One of the things that was pointed out to us was the water towers on top of each building. They are made of wood so as to not cause a bad taste to the drinking water. Their secondary function is that of fire protection. Because the buildings are so high it is difficult to maintain a high degree of water pressure. In the event of fire the fire sprinklers are tied into the retained water giving the fireman a window of opportunity to arrive on time to put the flames out. While there we watched many fire trucks stopped because of traffic on their way to an alarm.
Along the way, during the tour, we came upon a closed street. The Puerto Rican Day parade was about to begin.
We got off the bus and watched the parade for about an hour. Lynn asked someone standing nearby if they had any idea how long the parade was to last. They said, "Oh, about 8 - 10 hours." I guess New York doesn't do anything in a small way.
The next day we took the subway to the end of the island and boarded the Staten Island Ferry and rode across the harbor and back. An interesting thing was to learn how they keep the wood pilings at the peers from rotting. Each has a rubber cap on top of it.
There are a number of tours available and we took them all. They are conducted on double decked busses with running commentary along the way. The photo of the man sitting with the upside down buckets is a street musician. He drew quite a crowd, and got donations also. The instruments he used to play on were different sized plastic buckets and a couple of metal dog dishes. He was quite good.
When we made the loop into Chinatown we saw more street side food vendors. As night falls it seems that more street vendors set up shop. When nightfall came, the city came alive with lights.
Crystal and Yvonne found Mr. Ed and they had quite a conversation between them.
Yvonne said, "Where does he think he is going?" So Crystal gets into her backseat driving mode and tells Mr. Ed, "You see that Times Square sign down there. When you get to it, turn left." Mr. Ed nods and walks away following the instructions he had been told..
Sure enough, there is the sign. Mr. Ed turns left. Suddenly, behind him Mr. Ed hears, "This is the fast lane. Where the hell did the horse come from?"
Street vendors come in all sizes. We came upon this man who looked like a metal statue. He remained motionless until someone dropped some coins into his bucket before moving to change body position.
In the photo to the right we are looking at the Flatiron Building. It is in the heart of Times Square, earns the most rental monies of any building in the city and has no offices or tenants. It is completely covered with advertising that is in a constant mode of change.
It looks like Mr. Ed might be around. Check out the stretch limo.
Early one morning we walked 12 blocks to the plaza where the Today Show is produced each morning. We were amazed at the crowds. It was difficult to take a picture because of the people who kept shoving their signs in the air in front of us.
While on one of the tours we passed a Naval / Aircraft museum. One afternoon Brian and Lynn caught a taxi and visited it.
We are standing on the deck of the aircraft carrier.
On the port side of the carrier was a destroyer and a submarine. We went through them both. I never realized how crowded a submarine was.
Below the flight deck of the carrier is another part of the museum that houses a number of different aircraft, helicopters and the like. The photo on the right was taken aboard the destroyer in the mess room.
Above are photos taken in the control room of the destroyer. It looks a whole lot different than the control rooms we are used seeing on the cruise ships we travel on. On the last three ships there was no wheel. They used a joystick.
As we left the museum area and walked past the carrier we came to realize how big the ship really is.
When didn't take the tour to visit the Statue of Liberty. We had wanted to enter the building and climb up the inside of the statue. However, we learned that the closest we could get to the statue was the sidewalk around the edge of the island. It would have meant--Ride to the island, get off the boat, get in line to wait for the next boat that would be there in about an hour, get aboard the boat and return to the city. This all came about because of 9-11.
After a week it was time for us to return home. We had made flight arrangements to be on the same plane as Brian and Yvonne continued with their journey to our home.
We stayed home for four days and then drove almost 600 miles to visit the Thousand Island's in Kingston, Ontario, Canada for an all day tour. On our return from Thousand Island we stopped at the African Lion Safari located north of Toronto.
Visit Thousand Island Tour
Visit African Lion Safari
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