Driving to New York City last Friday morning felt very comfortable, not only the familiarity with the actual route, but also being in the car on a long road trip with nothing but the open road ahead of us. It was a warm and cozy feeling if you know what I mean. Plus NYC is chock full of personality so couldn’t wait to get there!
As you know I let my senses guide me with much of my exploration and if you’ve ever been to NYC you’ll understand what I mean when I say that it starts with the smells of the city.
The summer heat heightens the city’s already hot and fetid air as it sits moist and heavy close to the ground, the concrete and tarmac holding in the heat like a giant convection oven only adds to the oppressiveness, yet somewhere between the smells of rotting food or waste combined with the pungent aromas of the subway there is a familiarity that makes you feel part of something exciting and vibrant.
The city has been constantly reinventing itself for the past 250 plus years and is littered with the remnants of the various eras that have made New York what it is today. Known as a melting pot of humanity it has also served as the focal point of the jazz age, the gangster age, the war years and most recently as a flashpoint for sorrow and loss.
NYC has seen it all over the years, with my favourite era being the 40’s and 50’s when the city was at its brawling and beautiful best… typified in many a Hollywood classic
I remember as a kid watching black and white movies set in New York which made me yearn for this far away and exotic place, vowing at some point in my life that I would visit at least once. Other than Italy NYC is my most traveled city on the planet, and each time i go there is always something new to discover and explore.
This past weekend we spend a lot of time on the UWS (Upper West Side) exploring mostly near our hotel on Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway from between and around 72nd street to 85th street or so. There seemed even more action in terms of people out on the street, packing into bars, restaurants, cafes and gelato joints.
More vibrant that what I remembered it from a couple of years ago and very family oriented with lots of young kids in the neighborhood.
One of my favourite activities from this past weekend was my Sunday morning jaunt over to Brooklyn to explore the DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). This old world location is easy to get to – take the F train to York street in Brooklyn, exit onto Jay Street, once out of the station turn right and down the hill to Water street (2 blocks) and then left over to Washington…then stand back and admire the view!
Your view between the old warehouses along a cobbled street provide you with a virtual movie set encompassed by the archway of the Manhattan bridge with the Empire State building peeking between the arches in the distance. This shot was used in opening scene in the movie “Once Upon a Time in America” (definitely one worth watching!) as well as worth visiting.
This once thriving warehouse district primarily for tobacco and other perishable goods is slowly being revitalized with lots of cafes, boutiques, small luxury hotels and local stores plus a gorgeous waterfront and view of Manhattan itself.
Afterwards I decided to walk back to Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge which is adjacent to the DUMBO and very accessible as its only a 500 meter walk, just follow the signs up Washington Street until you get to stairs for the Brooklyn bridge, its well signed and a safe neighborhood.
It was a lovely walk, relatively easy and tons of places to capture a photo or ten of the the bridge, or the incredible skylines of either the Financial district and Wall Street at the tip of Manhattan or midtown and the Empire state and art deco adorned Chrysler building in the distance.
After that I skirted the edge of Little Italy and Chinatown, crossing over Canal Street before making my way to my eventual goal, and one of my favorite people watching coffee shops in all of New York – Dean & Deluca’s at 560 Broadway (at Prince). The pastries are awesome as well! 🙂
This spot also is the entry point into SoHo which is a must explore on your next visit to NYC. If nothing more than to just wander and soak up the atmosphere. Then its only a hop, skip and a jump up any of the arteries to midtown and all that lay beyond.
In fact, I walked and wove my way back all the way up to the hotel at 79th and Amsterdam, in all 23,000 steps for the day or just over 17.2 km (10.7 miles) for the day. Although a tad foot weary I loved my adventure and would highly recommend it to anyone with a penchant for walking and a dash of curiosity.
Until next time!