New York: The Brooklyn Bridge

I think there are about four major bridges that connects Manhattan to its neighboring boroughs. The most famous of the bridges is undoubtedly the Brooklyn Bridge. Believe it or not. when it was built 120 years ago, it held many world records.

At over 1 mile long, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world and was also the bridge ever built with steel wire. The most common measure of suspension bridges is the length of the main span. The main span of the Brooklyn Bridge is just 500m … that is just a quarter of the main span of the longest suspension bridge today.

Another record that the Manhattan Bridge held then was that it was the tallest structure in the US.

IMG_0950_48_49_tonemapped

Today, the Brooklyn Bridge is a national historic landmark. I decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge in the late afternoon so that I could get across to Brooklyn just before sunset. I had wanted to take shots of this famous bridge from Brooklyn with the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan as its backdrop.

I did not realize how popular the Brooklyn Bridge was. There were a lot of people, and a lot of tourists too, on the bridge. It was here that I took a lot of time taking pictures with my newly acquired lens.

IMG_0913_edited-1

The Brooklyn Bridge is basically a six lane bridge with an elevated center walkway for pedestrian and cyclists.

IMG_0906_edited-1

It was really bright that afternoon and the lighting was perfect (more…)

Continue Reading New York: The Brooklyn Bridge

New York: Katz’s Delicatessen

Katz’s Delicatessen had always been high on my list as a place I must visit. Katz’s Deli has always been considered NYC’s best’est deli. It is a Jewish kosher style deli and lies smack in the middle of the Lower East Side (which had been considered as the center of the Jewish culture in NYC). It’s amazing knowing Katz’s had been here for the last 120 years!

IMG_0873

Katz’s Deli has a really strange way of operating their deli. Everyone who goes into Katz’s are given this small stub of paper. Be warned … don’t lose it or they will charge you something like $50 or something like that if you leave without one!

You see they mark what you have purchased on this stub and then you pay with this stub when you leave the deli.

IMG_0866

It took me a while to get used to the system. First, you have a choice of waited on the table or you line up to get your sandwich from the cutter. Only the table by the wall are waited on while the rest of the tables are self served … weird. I can’t figure why the difference.

The entire deli is so busy and unbelievably noisy.

IMG_0853

When you think of Katz’s Deli, many of you will probably remember the Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan movie called “When Harry Met Sally”. It is one of the most funniest movies of all time. It is in Katz’s that they have the infamous scene where Meg Ryan faked “it”. Check this youtube out: (more…)

Continue Reading New York: Katz’s Delicatessen

New York: Circle Line Cruise

The morning is dominated by this cruise. For once, I so look forward to a few hours of sitting and enjoying the sights. The CityPass I had, included a 2 hr Manhattan Island Cruise.

IMG_0682

So, I got there at shortly before 10AM. It was later I found out that the next 2 hr cruise will start only at 11AM. That is an hour wait and where the jetty is, there is nothing around interesting to burn the hour. So, I paid $4.50 and upgraded to a 3 hr cruise which leaves immediately.

IMG_0683

The cruise goes around the Manhattan Island counter clock wise starting from the 42nd Street pier. Here are some of the more interesting pictures I took during the cruise. First there is a four level golf driving range, I had seen this in TV or movies before but not in real life. I find it kind of strange that New Yorkers would take up golf since I don’t think there are any golf courses nearby … certainly not on Manhattan.

IMG_0703

On the cruise, there are live narations. I am amazed at this guy who kept on talking for 3 straight hours. Anyway, when we came to this pier, he did mention something about Titanic berthed here. I must have heard it wrongly because as far as I know the Titanic’s maiden voyage is from Europe (England?) to new York. The Titanic never made it to the US. You know what this pier is about? New Yorkers?

IMG_0705

Some of the best thing in New York are free. (more…)

Continue Reading New York: Circle Line Cruise

New York: Breakfast at the Empire Diner

Just a couple of days left in my trip. If there is a theme to the day, it would perhaps be “water” — have planned for a cruise around Manhattan and then a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. This will be a welcome change of pace for me because there will be less walking!

As usual, I started off the day early. Breakfast is at the Empire Diner which, again, was featured in my guidebook as a great place for breakfast. This place is opened 24 hrs and is located in 210 10th Ave. This location works great too as it is just blocks away from the place where I am going to that cruise.

IMG_0680

This place is unique in that it is an art deco beauty faithfully refurbished as a classic 1920s American Diner. They have won several awards, including Best Diner in 2006.

I guess it must have been way too early for people to be here. There are only two other tables taken up — both are tourists. I think that this is very much a touristy place since it is featured in travel books and that there are not many offices around the area.

IMG_0674

Started off with coffee. It was great. They provided frothed and hot milk on a separate metal mug — never seen people doing that before. I think it is a great idea.

IMG_0673 (more…)

Continue Reading New York: Breakfast at the Empire Diner

New York: Silvia’s in Harlem

My guidebook so recommend Silvia’s that they actually have two pictures of Silvia’s in the book. The guidebook said that Silvia’s is a very well known soul food restaurant and is perhaps the best there is in New York. Among their customers include Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Magic Johnson … so this place gotta to be good.

The only problem to me is that it is located in Harlem. I have always heard that a visitor to New York should not venture to Harlem especially at night. But being a risk taker that I am, I went anyway … at night, for dinner. OK, New Yorkers … tell me … was I foolhardy to go to Harlem at night or is it all in my mind.

Getting off the 125th Street subway station, I could immediately see that I am in a part of NYC that is so different from Manhattan. Here I am a very visible Asian guy right smack in the middle of the black community. I sure stuck out like a sire thumb. 🙂

I knew already where I was going. Silvia’s is just 1 block north of the subway station. I got to the street level, got my bearings and just walk as fast as I can. Finding Silvia’s is easy because they are the brightest along quite a dark stretch of street. In case you want to know the address, it is on 328 Lenox Ave.

IMG_0662001

Going into the restaurant, it was no different. I am the only non-black in the restaurant. But the service was excellent and very very courteous. I am beginning to enjoy myself in this unique place. I remembered that the place was noisy … loud talking, laughing and very very loud music … basically, people here are all having a great time.

IMG_0650001

I asked for some real authentic beer of theirs … some really New Yorky type. They recommended the Sugar Hill Brown Ale and is brewed by the Harlem Brewing Company. Well, I figure that for a beer named after a neighborhood in Harlem (Sugar Hill), I can’t get more authentic than that. I like the slight balanced sweetness and aroma.

IMG_0654001

They have a small menu — very simple choices. (more…)

Continue Reading New York: Silvia’s in Harlem

New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Museum of Natural History

It rained cats and dogs the entire day that one Saturday. So, I had a quick change of plans and decided that it’s a day to be spent indoors … at the museums. For the entire day, it was spent at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History.

Many of the museums in New York are located along what is known as the Museum Mile which runs along 5th Ave by Central Park. Along this stretch are ten museums .

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as the “Mets” is not the same as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The Mets is actually one of the most influential art museum in the world along with the ranks of the Lovre in Paris. It is the home of numerous important art pieces too.

IMG_0629001

Being a Saturday, it was very crowded. Looks like a lot of people had the same plan as I did too … spending the day at the museums. I first headed off to the cloak room. There was a long line which took me about 10 minutes before I could hand off my bag and jacket to them. All I needed for the day was my camera.

IMG_0610001

Got myself the all important audio guide, a map of the museum and I am all set. Checking the floor plan, it appears that there is no way I could cover everything as I also wanted to visit the other museum too in the afternoon. They have an extensive collection and are located on two floors. I decided to cover the several Asian Art sections and European Paintings, and leave what ever time I had roaming the place until it’s time head off to the Natural History Museum.

IMG_0588001

After my visit to Europe earlier this year when I had a chance to visit the Lovre and the Rijksmuseum, I had gathered quite a bit of knowledge about European Art. There was quite an extensive collection of Rembrandts here.

IMG_0608001

The painting below by van Gogh is called Mother Roulin And Her Baby. (more…)

Continue Reading New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Museum of Natural History

New York: The NYSE and Federal House

After the visit to the WTC, I headed next to the direction of the NYSE. Lower Manhattan is really small and compact. Seems to me like everything is about 5 minutes walk from one place to another.

I wanted to check out the Federal Reserve Bank. It is here that a quarter of the world’s known gold bullion is stored deep inside this building. There are 10s of billions of dollars worth of gold bar stored 5 stories underground. The gold here are mostly owned by governments and international organizations around the world. As countries made payments to each other, gold bars could simply be wheeled from one country’s vault to the next. This is not the only Reserve Banks in the US … this is one of twelve but this is the biggest of all.

My guide book says that there is a exhibition of “The History of Money” and is opened for visitors but I just could not find the entrance. Every door seems to be heavily locked … no opened welcoming doors. I am guessing that they do not open for visitors anymore after 9-11. Anyone could confirm this?

IMG_0539

Security around the New York Stock Exchange is really tight. All around the block, there are barricades designed in the form of street art. Also, there are not only policemen but there are heavily armed SWAT team patrolling the place. They are armed to their teeth. I wanted to take a picture of them but had second thoughts!

IMG_0543

Right in front NYSE is the Federal House, where the bronze statue of George Washington looks on down Wall Street.

IMG_0547_edited-1

It is on these steps of the Federal House that George Washington took his oath as the first President of the United States in 1789. (more…)

Continue Reading New York: The NYSE and Federal House

New York: The World Trade Center

So … where were you on 9-11 when the World Trade Center was attacked?

For me I remember that morning well. When I switched on the TV in the morning, the first plane had just hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. It was all surreal. At the time, all the report was saying is that a small plane hit the tower … and then everyone saw it … a second plane coming in from the south and hit the other building. I still went to work that morning, I thought I had to because my company was only days from cutting over to production a $30 million project. Before I left home, one tower came down. Driving to work, I heard on the radio that the second tower came down too. Nothing much happened at work that day even though we’re in a different country and thousands of miles away. It’s the day the world stopped. This is just my little account of the event.

In New York, there are over 8 million people. I know everyone of them has something to share of that day when it happened, if you ask them. It happened to them and their city. The 9-11 event will stay with them for the rest of their life.

The first plane screamed just over the light brown building below before crashing into the North Tower. Everyone knows that both 1 WTC and 2 WTC collapsed but seven hours later 7 WTC (48 stories high) too collapsed from the damage and fire. When I was in NYC, they had completely rebuilt the 7 WTC building (the glass tower on the right).

IMG_0500

I went very early to the Tribute WTC Visitor Center. If there is one thing I wanted to do for the day, I wanted to visit the WTC site. I was determined to get myself signed up for the walking tour around the perimeter of the site of the Freedom Tower. It costs $10 for the entrance to the exhibits and another $10 for the walking tour. I believe that the CityPass covers entrance to the Visitor Center because I was only charged $10 when they found that I had a CityPass with me.

IMG_0501

The visitor center was well organized into several galleries. The first gallery started off with showing us how life had been in the Twin Towers back then. How it was a little city on its own … how people’s life centered around the towers. It was not just a complex of office buildings but a real community just like your own neighborhood.

IMG_0502

The next gallery shows the entire event on that day it happened. (more…)

Continue Reading New York: The World Trade Center

New York: NY Bagels in Rockefeller Center

Since Rockefeller Center was so famous, I made it a point to visit the place one morning. Actually, there were hardly anything to see or do. It’s just a massive complex of buildings. As a matter of fact, it is considered as the largest privately held building complex in the world.

I can’t recall any more what the name of this church … maybe it’s St Patrick’s. It’s supposed to be one of the biggest in NYC. Since I was there early … at 8AM, it was still closed.

IMG_0481

I had a view of 5th Ave. It was not really my cup of tea … I don’t care for all the fancy expensive fashion outlets. 5th Ave is perhaps the most expensive real estate in New York.

IMG_0482

I have heard of Radio City. I think it is the headquarters of NBC. Nothing happening here too early in the morning.

IMG_0486

If there is only one thing I wanted to see, I wanted to visit the sunken plaza in the Rockefeller Center and see Prometheus, the Greek mythology Titan who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mankind. But the sunken plaza was closed for the day. They had taken over the place and put in a curling rink with broadcast equipments. (more…)

Continue Reading New York: NY Bagels in Rockefeller Center