Friday, October 5, 2012

On the Waterfront

By Claire

Today was a day I had been waiting for.  Some time back, Chuck emailed me an article he had read in the New York Times about an architectural boat tour around Manhattan Island.  I read the article and immediately signed us up.  Well, almost immediately.  I consulted with Chuck, suggesting that we do it the afternoon of our first day in New York.  He was afraid it would be too much; besides, we didn't know how long it would take us to get here.  So, I went along with it and reserved two tickets on the 2 pm cruise the day after our arrival.  What luck!  Yesterday--the day we would have been doing it had I had my way--was foggy, drizzly and extremely humid.  Today?  Picture perfect, around 75° and no humidity. 

We decided to take it easy this morning and just wander through some neighborhoods we are interested in.  But first, I had to take a picture of the view out our window.  We are loving where we are staying, The Best Western Plaza Hotel in Long Island City.  Our subway station is out the door and to the right, one block.  We have free parking and even a free breakfast.  And, we get to hear a veritable Babel of languages all around us--in the hotel and out on the street all over the city. Getting into Manhattan is nothing. a breeze.

Room with a view

Our first stop was to see the Flatiron building.  It is located on 5th Avenue and was considered to be a groundbreaking skyscraper when it was completed in 1902.  At the time, it was one of the tallest buildings in New York. As with numerous other wedge-shaped buildings, the name "Flatiron" derives from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron.  I guess I'm too young to know what that is.  The configuration of the land parcel determined the shape of the building.

 Relaxing while checking out the Flatiron Building

Strolling through Union Square Park and Market

Window washer. Look Ma, no net

Waiting for a light to change, Chuck spotted a diner I had mentioned I wanted to try, Eisenberg's.  It was before noon, so the timing was perfect.  No crowds and we sat at the counter and ordered coffee ($1 each).  Their T-shirt motto is "Raising New York's Cholesterol Since 1929."

We were making our way towards the Chelsea Piers where we would catch our cruise.  Naturally, we had to stop by the Hotel Chelsea.  The hotel is an historic New York City hotel and landmark, known primarily for its history of notable residents.  The 250-unit hotel has been the home of numerous writers, musicians, artists, and actors including Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Robert Maplethorpe and Sam Shepard.  Read Just Kids, by Patti Smith to find out all about it.  All I can say is, it was a thrill to see it.

Still in the neighborhood of Chelsea, I enjoyed just strolling along and taking in the sights.

We arrived at the Chelsea Piers in plenty of time to relax and just people watch.  Chuck took a nap.

Our yacht

Every Around Manhattan boat tour identifies individual landmarks and discusses distinct periods of New York’s development, including the City Beautiful era’s Beaux-Arts monuments, Art Deco spires, elegant residential enclaves, Urban Renewal superblocks and recent “starchitecture” towers. The 2.75-hour cruise, completely circumnavigates the island of Manhattan (passing under all 18 bridges) while taking in the sites; it is an architectural tour designed by AIANY (American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter).

Starting with a glass of champagne

Famous building

Frank Gehry building


Ellis Island

 Famous lady

Southern Tip of Manhattan

 Another Frank Gehry, Beekman Tower

Brooklyn Bridge. I can get it for you wholesale

The included spread

Former smallpox hospital from the late 1800's, on Roosevelt Island. To be preserved as a landmark

 Tram to Roosevelt Island

 Roosevelt Island

More bridges


The Cloisters

Site of former castle (note the wall)--the owner tore it down and put up these apartment buildings, called Castle Village

I love the water towers on top of all the buildings

This looks like an Erector Set or Lego structure to me

We felt relaxed and very satisfied with our first-class architectural tour.  Our docent was knowledgeable and a great speaker.  I will never forget it.  Since we were on 23rd St., we decided to check out The High Line, a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of The High Line. Founded in 1999 by community residents, they fought for its preservation and transformation at a time when the historic structure was under the threat of demolition. It is now a non-profit conservancy working with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to make sure it is maintained as an extraordinary public space for all visitors to enjoy.

You can see part of it just above the white truck.  I love the building next to it!


We joined the strolling groups, out on this lovely Friday evening

This seating area is framed like a large window with the top half open.  The bench seats reclined slightly.  It was hard to leave.

We had a dinner date with Chuck's daughter, Natasha, and her partner, Adom.  Expert subway users now, and with her excellent directions in hand, we met up with them at Nizza in Hell's Kitchen.  I ordered the veggie Socca, basically a pizza made with a chickpea flour crust.  Chuck ordered Chicken Saltimboca and we split them.

Natasha and Dad

 Walking home in the balmy night

 And who did we meet up with?

The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.  ~ John Updike