NYC Part 3: Midtown

In the centre of midtown Manhattan there is a jackpot of sights, offering visitors a multitude of options. You can simply walk around and take in the sights for free (such as I did), or you can partake in the attractions and take building tours, or say, go up the Empire State Building.

I ended up in this area on both of my days in the city, somehow finding myself there on three separate occasions. Midtown, and particularly this area it seems, is like an eddy in the water, with all the waves of traffic and people following the current to the centre.

My first time here followed my trek down from the Upper East Side. I was coming down Lexington Avenue and stumbled across the very iconic Bloomingdale’s, located on Lex between E 59th and E 60th Streets.

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I was tempted to go inside, but frankly, the Louis Vuitton enrobed storefront scared me. Why tease yourself when you don’t have any money to spend? Or better yet, why look at overpriced items that I’d never buy, despite how rich I may become (ha! fingers crossed!), such as purses that cost the same amount as a round-the-world plane ticket? I’d much rather travel than carry around an alligator-skin purse on my arm. Besides, that’s inhumane and just creepy…

I still had to take a shot of the building, mind you. It is Bloomingdale’s, after all, and you have to give the department store credit for being around since 1872.

After this first trip to Midtown, I jumped on the 4 train and headed south to the Lower East Side (which I’ll showcase in another post). Later that same day, after I covered most of downtown and returned to my hostel to check-in and shower, I headed back to the area to see Radio City Music Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center, which are all located on W 50th between 6th and Madison Avenues.

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I regrettably don’t have any photos to share of St. Patrick’s as it was covered in scaffolding due to restoration work being done on its facade (I discovered on my second day in the city that this was a trend fro all but one of the churches I visited).

After St. Patrick’s, I walked over to Grand Central Station. I came across this statue on the way:

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After I took the photo I also took a moment to send some loving out to the universe in honour of the heroes of 9/11.

Within just a few minutes I arrived at Grand Central. I absolutely love being in this building. There’s a certain frenetic energy living in the main hall, that then snakes and winds its way through the many corridors of the building. I have a thing for large train stations. I could just sit by the sidelines and people watch for hours. I’ve been tempted to do just this in Toronto’s Union Station, and would have gladly done so in Grand Central if I had the time. The energy, the ambiance, the architecture, the celestial paintings on the ceiling…sigh…

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From the train station I then walked a few blocks south to W 34th and 5th Avenue. My destination: the Empire State Building.

On the walk over I was having an internal debate on whether or not I should spend the $25-$40 to visit its observation deck. It’s always been on my list of things I’d like to do in NYC, yet I still haven’t done it on any of my previous trips. On one hand, there was the cost of admittance. On the other hand, I know that being on the deck would provide me with one of those life moments I’d never forget, like going up the Eiffel.

In the end, my physical exhaustion (and the grumpiness that was creeping up on me) made the final decision. By this point in the day I was mentally and physically tired, my feet were starting to boycott walking any further, and I was ready to call it a night as I had been up since 5am that morning. So, I simply just walked by it and took in the view.

My exhaustion also led me to not take any pictures (why I just didn’t pull out my camera, I don’t know, I’m kicking myself now). Instead, I took a mental picture, which doesn’t make any sense as I can’t share that picture with you (exhaustion can make you do silly things!) In lieu of my own photo, here’s what the view would have looked like had I paid the money to visit its observation deck:

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View from the Empire, with the Chrysler Building, Roosevelt Island and the 59th Street Bridge in the background. Photo borrowed from flickr.

From the Empire, I then walked along W 34th to 7th Avenue so I could catch the 1 train back up to my hostel. It was still rather early compared to my usual bedtime, but I simply could not walk anymore. I snuggled up in my lower bunk, did some writing and read a few chapters of a book I picked up at Grand Central.I had a second day of meandering set out for the following day, including another visit to Midtown, but first I had to tackle the beast that is Central Park in the morning. A good night’s sleep was a necessity if I were to survive day two in the city.

As I slowly fell asleep, I was thinking of everything I covered in that first day. I was pleased and proud of myself for doing it all alone (and not getting lost).

I slept like a baby that night. Hopefully I didn’t test out the acoustics in my dorm with my snoring (an occurance that only happens when I’m absolutely, utterly exhausted). I guess I’ll never know as my dorm mates didn’t say anything the next day. Oh well! It all comes with hostel life I suppose.

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