united states of america
Taking a Big Bite of the Big Apple
Where: New York City, United States of America. North America.
When: May 2008
What: Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Central Park, Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Staten Island Ferry, Stonewall Inn - birthplace of LGBTQ rights, Greenwich Village, Yellow school bus, Flatiron Building, Macy’s Department Store.
How: Transatlantic flight, New York Subway, Taxi, Walk, Ferry, Coach.
Country counter: +1 country
Illnesses or mishaps: Trying my very best to avoid the fat and sugar-laden foods - it was virtually impossible to eat healthily.
New York is everything you expect it to be and just a little more besides. Just looking at these photographs and adding captions makes me want to go back there. For all its political and cultural faults, I couldn't help but love New York City. New York has some great sights which are almost unrivalled in city break terms. This is a city break which could easily last for up to a week and there would not be even the remotest danger of becoming jaded. Much of New York's attraction is its life: the beeping horns of taxi cabs, the yellow school buses, the city workers rushing with their coffees to work, the NYPD police cars and the signs for the subway. The entire city is a living, breathing film set which only an out-of-towner can fully appreciate. It is crammed with icons; waiting for a subway train becomes a thrilling experience because the the symbols and icons of America are all around you. Walking to a coffee shop takes you past USA mail boxes, water hydrants like those you see in the movies, iron staircases zig-zagging down the sides of apartment blocks, and cone-shaped water tanks on rooftops. Whilst there is a lot to appreciate at ground level, the next level is to look up - metaphorically and literally. Many of the photographs I took had to be taken portrait style such was the soaring nature of the buildings. New York is certainly a very vertical, and a very un-horizontal, place. The only way to see the scale of the place was to head to the top of the Empire State Building. Indeed, a visit to New York City would not be complete without doing so. The view of the city's skyscrapers, when seen from over 308 metres, take on the guise of an electronic circuit board. The height is almost enough to trigger vertigo and the wind swirls around the top of the tower tugging, as it does, at your camera.
The best part of an afternoon can be spent catching the ferry out to Staten Island to see the Statue of Liberty which graces the Hudson River. Times Square is a veritable collision of neon sights and smells - arguably the epicentre or New York City's urbanity. The curious thing about Times Square is the fact that there is no one thing there worth seeing - it's the sum of the parts which make it work. A place of pilgrimage for me personally was the innocuously-looking Stonewall Inn in Greenwich village - the place where, in 1969, a small riot developed in the bar and spilled out into the streets. Drinkers in the bar had finally had enough of being verbally and physically abused by local police. The events which transpired here at the end of the 1960s are famed for catalysing the gay liberation in the western world.
I would like to think that this is not going to be my only visit to New York, It is, without doubt. one of the most incredible cities in the world.
Afternoon sunshine reflects off the buildings surrounding Central Park.
Downtown New York as seen from Central Park.
The Statue of Liberty seen from onboard the Staten Island Ferry.
The stuff of movies: iconic US mail boxes.
Straight out of a movie set:Apartment blocks with iconic iron staircases and water drums. In the first photograph the Empire State peaks above.
travel tips, links & resources
- Queues for many of the city's most famous attractions are long and could quite easily sap your will to live. Save time - and your sanity, by booking ahead online for things like the Empire State Building.
- A visit to the Stonewall Inn is a must if you really want to connect with a part of New York's legacy of equality in the Western World.
- New York is an incredible city but, just as with many large urban centres, you'd be wise to exercise caution in certain areas, particularly at night. Some basic common sense measures should minimise the possibility of anything untoward spoiling your city break of a lifetime.
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