I arrived in New York City around noon on March 26, 2013, for the Drive the Redline Dodge finalist trip. After three of the five of us met in the limo on the way from the airport to the hotel, we checked our bags and went for a walk while our rooms were being readied at the FlatIron Hotel. This church is the first thing I saw walking out of the hotel onto 26th Street.
Since this was my first trip to New York City, I didn't care much that I looked like a tourist with my camera hanging around my neck and my mouth wide open as I stared up at the skyscrapers. Everyone says not to smile too much in New York City, but I was so giddy with excitement I know I was grinning ear to ear at everyone I passed.
At first I was a bit nervous walking around, even though I was with Cyndee and Ian, two of the other bloggers. I'd heard so many scary stories about New York City and so I was on full alert. After walking a bit, I realized it's just a city full of busy people, going on with their busy lives, very much like every other large city in America.
Visiting New York City is one of those things I've always wanted to do. I've always told my mom that one day I would take her there for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I didn't think I'd be there on my own for a blogger event. Dodge is looking for a blogger to write for them for a six month contract and I sure hope I'm chosen!
That's me, standing in New York City! I kept saying, "I can't believe I'm here!" People probably thought I was crazy. The city moves all the time. The streets are noisy, but not loud, until someone honks a horn. They honk their car horns a lot in NYC!
The people mill around the sidewalks like ants, lined up and marching towards wherever they are going. It's almost like synchronized swimming - everyone moves one direction when the WALK sign lights up, while those in the other direction stop, then they switch.
There are grates all over the sidewalks and I was quite startled when I heard my first subway car hurtle through the tunnel under the streets. I'd never seen a subway, so down the steps we went to see what we could see.
The tourist side is separated from the resident side by wrought iron railings, and passage is allowed with a special pass called a MetroCard. I stayed on the tourist side waiting to see a subway car. I was surprised that subway trains are as long as they are. I had a picture in my mind of those airport rails with about three cars; subway trains have lots of cars.
There were also more subway tracks than I expected to see. I remembered the pictures of the subways filled with water after Superstorm Sandy and was rather awed at the prospect of these tunnels being completely flooded. It was a fascinating trip underground.
After the subway car came and went, the three of us emerged back into the light of the streets. I was warned about the "smell" of NYC, but honestly the only thing I could smell was the conglomeration of foods cooking from every direction. I could smell hot dogs, sausages, chicken, waffles, bread, and a blend of international spices that called out to me.
Since the other bloggers and I were meeting with the Ignite Social Media reps for dinner that night, I resisted the temptation to snack from the street vendor carts. The weather was perfect for our walk, around 60 degrees F and a bit overcast. It felt more like spring in Texas than New York City.
Space is at a premium in NYC and many of the buildings on a block are built not just next to each other, but connected to each other. There are entire blocks that have no alleys between buildings at all. I imagine it must be sort of an art to figure out how to build an entire block, give it personality that works with the attached buildings, while trying to maintain some semblance of individuality for each business.
Another New York City tip I was given was to be very careful when crossing streets. The drivers in NYC consist mostly of cabs, buses, delivery trucks, and service trucks. Those drivers always have someplace to be, so they drive very fast and very close together. The way they all weave in and out without crashing is amazing.
The cultural art on the street ranges from building paintings to sculptures and one of the most incredible things we saw was a Bird Sculpture. Created from thousands of real and fabricated nails, Bird by Will Ryman is currently perched in Flatiron Plaza.
Towering above New Yorkers and tourists, Bird stood silently and proudly, his eyes seemingly drawn to the skies where he would never soar. As camera flashes went off all around the sculpture, a siren pierced the air as an ambulance screamed past us. The motion of the city never ceases.
The Empire State Building is very impressive, both up close and a few blocks away. Actually, now that I think about it, the building was also impressive as my plane descended over New York City. I slept most of the two flight(s) into NYC, but somehow woke up as we approached the Big Apple. The sight of the Statue of Liberty was breathtaking as she came into my view from the plane's window. I actually got choked up as goosebumps popped up all over my arms. I know some of my ancestors came through Ellis Island many years ago as immigrants.
These two New York City Police Officers were standing along Broadway and I stopped to get a picture of what's known as "New York's Finest." I walked up to them and said, "Okay. Now don't smile for this picture!" Of course they both immediately broke out in huge grins, but managed to stifle it a bit so I could take a stern photo of the men at work in NYC.
I can see how easily someone living in a huge city like New York City would begin to feel unimportant or insignificant. There are so many people and the city stretches on for miles and miles. I imagine that it must be difficult to find a quiet and peaceful place among all that. Standing at the foundation of a tall building, looking up into the beautiful sky, makes me wonder how many of those children have never been out of the city.
At Union Square Park, we came across a kind of street artist who was working with bags of different colors of sand. Using only his imagination, he would grab a handful of colored sand and drizzle it through his fist onto the brick of the park walkway.
The bricks in the courtyard area provided a type of grid and canvas where he could work. These type of street "performers" always have a bucket nearby for passers-by to drop in a few dollars if they appreciate what they see.
Many of the buildings are very old in NYC and I loved to see the influence of art and architecture from all over the world. There is a lot of current construction and refurbishing construction going on throughout the city too. Scaffolding often winds its way around entire buildings, hovering above the sidewalks as people pass under the wood panels that hopefully protect them from falling tools.
New York City is not the horribly dangerous and scary city I imagined. I guess I've watched so many television crime dramas about NYC that I made assumptions about what I would see and experience. Most of the people were very friendly and although I wouldn't recommend walking around alone at night there, I wouldn't recommend that anywhere.
As I stood in Union Square Park and looked at all the buildings surrounding it, I was really drawn to the city. So many times before me, there were people who stood in that very spot where I stood, staring at these same buildings or perhaps even different ones. I was a bit overwhelmed for a moment at the sheer size and magnitude of this historic city.
The parks are lined with people resting on benches, heads down as they scroll through their smartphones and tablets, totally immersed in their little slice. Seeing unusual characters walking around New York City isn't really that unusual. Style and fashion choices certainly span the entire spectrum, from the guy painted with a metallic paint from head to toe, to the young gal wearing four-inch platform heels with a fur coat, from the business man in his finely pressed suit, to the mother leading seven children behind her without even looking back to see if they followed.
In the middle of the park was an old piano. A young man sat at the bench and played a nostalgic tune, while the older man with the dog stood beside the piano singing. A lady with several grocery bags stood nearby, chiming in with the chorus at the end of each verse. The dog settled in until the song was over, then the piano player started the song again from the beginning. Maybe he only knows how to play one song.
We turned to go back towards the hotel and I was glad we decided to just go down one street without turning any corners. I'm sure I would very easily get lost in NYC! Although there are signs everywhere, it all seems very confusing to me, especially when you cannot really tell where the sun is in the sky because of all the skyscrapers.
I was sad to see the homeless in New York City. Even though it was a beautiful afternoon, I can't imagine having to sleep on the street in the bitter cold of the night. Clouds gathered in the sky and a few drops of rain fell as we walked back to the hotel. I hoped that man had a warm and dry place for the night and I sent a prayer up for him.
A commercial was being filmed in one of the courtyards along the street. Crowds circled around to see if they could figure out who was making the commercial. The actors walked among each other in a pattern, almost like the old Asteroids video game. As they moved, a large soft ball was tossed into the scene and the person the ball bounced into was then "out." I wonder if someday soon I will see that commercial on my television?
As we reached the last block before our hotel, the wafting scent of spring flowers caught my attention as we passed an outdoor flower market. The gorgeous blooms lined the half block and the contrast of concrete and nature was stark and beautiful at the same time. A young man examined several bouquets, probably looking for the perfect flowers to give to someone he loves. No matter where we happen to live, most of us just want to be loved. I think people are likely pretty much the same the world over.
I hope you've enjoyed my little walking tour through a part of New York City. Stay tuned because I have lots more to share with you. Thanks for reading! I appreciate you!