Cities, Photography, Travel

New York City – Part Two

Okay, so we already covered the south of Manhattan in Part One. Let’s take a look at the rest.

One of the differences on this particular trip from previous ones is that most of our travelling within Manhattan was done by foot (apart from the occasional taxi ride). The good thing (for the most part) is that it’s flat. So long as you have a sensible pair of shoes then walking isn’t really too taxing. Well, not until you get past the 10 mile mark on a particular day anyway!

From our base in Tribeca, our first full day involved a ‘gentle’ stroll north. My lovely friend had booked afternoon tea at the Mandarin Oriental as a birthday treat. This hotel is located just outside Central Park’s south-western corner, so we allowed plenty of time for our journey on foot.

Another good thing about walking up through Manhattan, is that you get to see most of the tourist sights along the way without really having to venture off your chosen (and fairly direct) route. As everyone in our group had already visited NYC, we were not desperate to squeeze in all the tourist destinations on this  trip so were free to take a casual approach to it.

So, we headed north.

The first stop after walking up through Soho and the villages was Washington Square Park, a lovely open space which seemed to be a haven for doggy day care groups, and a man playing a grand piano.

Piano Man
Piano Player in Washington Square Park

From here, via a slight detour to Union Square we then arrived at the iconic Flatiron building on the intersection of 5th Avenue and Broadway.

Flatiron
Flatiron Building

Continuing on and heading up 5th Avenue we headed towards arguably the most iconic building of New York City, the Empire State Building. We decided not to visit the observatory during this visit, opting for the Top of the Rock instead, but more about that later. Once at intersection of 42nd Street, a left hand turn takes you into Bryant Park, a lovely spot to pass some time, which had a Christmas market in December but also a beautiful spot to relax in the summer too. The low winter sun created some beautiful light passing through the trees and reflecting off the tall midtown skyscrapers.

A visit to New York isn’t complete without stopping in to Grand Central Terminal for a look around. The interior is one of my favourite architectural sights in NYC. Such a beautiful building.

Grand Central
Grand Central Terminal

Another seventeen blocks from Grand Central Terminal past many of the window displays of 5th Avenue bought us to the southern perimeter of Central Park.

You could spend all day (and probably more) wandering around the park. The scenery is fantastic. It’s a lovely contrast to the hustle and bustle of midtown. The meadows with the backdrop of the city’s skyscrapers. The ice skating rink in winter. The lakes, ponds and bridges. Bethesda Fountain, my favourite spot in the park is a delight.

If you were wondering, the Afternoon Tea at the Mandarin Oriental was lovely. The setting was fabulous – The Lobby Lounge on the 35th floor of the building with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Central Park and Columbus Circle. A lovely birthday treat.

Park Views
Mandarin Oriental – Lobby Lounge View

The High Line

What else can do you on a (mostly) walking trip of NYC, I hear you ask? Well, if I were you, I would definitely take a stroll along The High Line.

The High Line is a public park and a redeveloped section of disused elevated railway line. Beginning at Gansevoort Street (in the very cool Meatpacking district) and heading up to W. 34th Street in Midtown, this is a lovely 1.5 mile walk above the streets of the city, taking in some fantastic and unusual views.

There is still some railway track to see here and there, but mostly the park has been regenerated with some beautiful planting and art installations. It was so green, even in December. The High Line also passes through some buildings along the way, again giving a really interesting look at some of the architecture of the city.

High Line 6

High Line 2

High Line 9

We walked the High Line in the morning after a great breakfast at The Standard Grill located within The Standard – a hotel that the High Line passes through. Definitely worth stopping in.

Top of the Rock

As mentioned earlier, we chose to skip the Empire State Building observatory on this trip and go to the Top of the Rock observation deck instead. Why? Well, from a photography point of view the TOTR observatory offers a far better view, which INCLUDES the Empire State Building. Makes perfect sense right!

In case you hadn’t worked it out, the open air observation deck is on the 70th floor of the Rockefeller Center in midtown.

We also made the educated decision to choose a timed ticket later in the day, as dusk was setting in. When we reached the top the view did not disappoint. Gorgeous orange skies above the brightly lit city – it was actually quite breathtaking.

Rockerfeller Views 1
Top of the Rock
Rockerfeller Views 2
Top of the Rock
Rockerfeller Views 4
Top of the Rock
Rockerfeller Views 3
Top of the Rock

When you are visiting New York in winter (regardless of the freakishly warm weather) you have to take in and embrace the spectacle of the holiday season – the Christmas window displays in the large stores on 5th Avenue, the giant Christmas tree and ice rink at the Rockefeller Center. It makes you feel like a big kid again, and that is a GOOD thing.

Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Plaza

So here end my stories and photos from New York City. I am sure I will be visiting again at some point, and I am sure I will find some different photography angles and stories to tell about this fantastic city.

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