I then headed over to the Empire State Building which felt like a very long way away in the heat! I only saw it from the outside but in all honesty, for me it was one of those things where I simply wanted to be able to say that I had seen it. Sadly there were no gigantic gorillas climbing it, but it was still incredibly impressive! Standing on the street looking up at its 102 stories, it’s not difficult to believe that it was the tallest building in the world for nearly 40 years!
From there I headed over to Grand Central Station, another site which I wanted to tick off my New York bucket list. Built over 100 years ago in 1913 I have to say that I thought the building was quite attractive. With high ceilings and chandeliers it’s easy to imagine it in the days when rail-travel was the height of fashion. I was quite surprised by the decorative ceiling, which shows an intricate map of the stars. The view is referred to as a ‘god’s-eye view’ which means the image is seen from the point of view of a deity – if the artist assumes they have the knowledge only god would have. Sadly my photos of the ceiling didn’t come out very well, but even if they had I definitely think that’s it’s something that everyone should go and see for themselves.
Next stop? New York Public Library! I have to admit that I love libraries. I was that child that would get the maximum number of books out on the first day of the summer holiday, and then would try and read as many as I possibly could over the next couple of months. My love of reading hasn’t faded, although perhaps the quantity i’m able to get through has! The New York Public Library was founded in 1895 and is the largest public library system in the entire country. It’s a beautiful building, although perhaps its best known attraction for tourists are the two marble lions which guard its entrance. The lions have had a number of nick-names over the years, but are best known as ‘Patience’ and ‘Fortitude’. The names were given to them in the 1930s by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, after the qualities he believed the citizens of New York needed to be able to survive the economic depression.
My day of walking finished with a visit to the Rockefeller Centre. Built during the Great Depression in the 1930s it was the first project that combined offices with areas for entertainment and retail. It’s also famous for the 360-degree view which can be seen from the tri-level observation deck of the ‘Top of the Rock’. The views from up there are meant to be absolutely stunning and it is definitely somewhere I want to do another time I’m in New York!
Outside the Rockefeller centre there are around 200 flags arranged around a square. These represent the countries which belong to the United Nations. Being the geek that I am I have to admit that I had a walk around and tried to identify as many flags as I could (the number was sadly very small). I have to admit that whilst of course it does have an important reason behind it, I also felt that this display brought a nice bit of colour to the area.
My last confession for this post is the fact that one of my favourite parts of the day was as I was walking back to my hotel. I stumbled across a jazz group playing on a street corner and stayed there listening to them for a while. Without sounding too soppy or corny, I felt like they sort of symbolised New York for me. Most of the time I have no idea where I am or where i’m going, but suddenly without realising it, in the middle of all this noise and chaos I stumble across something truly incredible!
‘One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.’ Henry Miller