A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION IN NEW YORK FOR SUZANNE PHOENIX – PART TWO: Architecture, Sights and Souvenirs.
The rest of the day was spent trying to visit as many sights, museums and places of interest as possible.
Next on the list was the ‘Bodies’ exhibition, which was not for the squeamish. It consists of two hundred preserved Chinese human bodies, and it was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen. It is an exhibition I can recommend.
When you’re in the museum you almost forget that what you are seeing are real human body parts, as at most museums you usually just view models or photographs. As I’d never seen a human body in this way before, I stared closely at the flesh and thought just how much we look like gammon: I’m not sure how I’ll feel the next time I eat gammon.
After visiting ‘Bodies’ we spent time relaxing, drinking cocktails on the balcony of a bar at the South Pier. We enjoyed the view of Brooklyn Bridge and the boats going by on the Hudson River.
Next we headed for Wall Street where I took photos of the famous street sign and stood outside the New York Stock Exchange, thinking about the events that took place on the day of the Wall Street Crash. I paused for a while and imagined what went on that day in that particular building. I don’t understand stocks and shares and all that goes on in the world of finance but what I do know is it must have been pretty bad because eighty-eight people committed suicide that day as a result.
Near to the stock exchange is The Federal Hall, where at the top of the steps is a grand statue of President George Washington, who took his oath there. I asked my husband if he knew who the statue was, to which he replied, “I don’t know, is it James Cook?” When I laughed his response was, “Well, them statues all look like the same bloke to me.”
I spotted Tiffany and Co, again a famous attraction every tourist to New York seems to want visit. It didn’t appeal to me as everyone who returns from New York after a visit to Tiffany’s always comes back with the same bracelet. I gathered this was the cheapest item in the store and it is as if someone purposely designed this bracelet for the tourist; a little piece of Tiffany’s everyone can afford. My friend desperately wanted something from Tiffany’s so we all went into the store.
None of the pieces had a price on show. My friend wondered why, and after reminding her that she wasn’t in Market Cross Jewellers, I said that it’s because if you had to ask, you can’t afford. There were a couple of bottles of Tiffany’s fragrance on display, so Mark and I had a squirt. Just at that I heard my friend ask an assistant, “Can you show me your cheapest pair of earrings.” I cringed with embarrassment and Mark and I left the shop quickly, laughing. When my friend came out of the shop, I asked, “Did you buy anything then?” She said, “No, I can’t believe the cheapest pair of earrings is £800.” I explained that you should only expect this kind of price as it is a jeweller for the rich. I then told her that I’d left with something, which shocked her to ask what, and I replied, “Smell my neck,” at least I’d been in Tiffany’s and left with something, even if it was only a spritz of fragrance.
We then headed to Brooklyn Bridge as we wanted to walk half way over, then turn around and view the Manhattan skyline at dusk. This is a really great view of the world’s most famous skyline.
The next attraction we went to see was the Flatiron Building. It’s at the end of a long and spacious avenue which, whilst on your walk towards it, you can really appreciate the building from top to bottom. Although there is nothing actually at the Flatiron for tourists as such, I think just to view this unusual building and take photos of it is all you really need. In my opinion, the Flatiron is the most beautiful in New York: that curved, triangular shape makes it so photogenic that even the most amateur photographers can take great shots of the building. We spent quite a bit of time here just taking photos, and it just goes to show how you can create something so interesting with an odd shaped piece of scrap land that nobody wanted.
On that night we had planned to go to The Empire State Building’s observatory floor on the eighty-second floor. Although you could go higher, to the one hundred and second floor, I thought you couldn’t see any more just by being twenty floors higher. Inside the ESB is Art Deco design and there has been no expense spared. It is very grand and elegant, fitted out in marble, with chandeliers and gold fittings everywhere you turn. The details just around handrails, lift buttons, exit signs etc, have all been so carefully thought out. The building is immaculate. It was a shame not to be able to stop and look more at the design and décor, but you are kind of hurried along by staff trying to keep the flow going to the top.
Reaching the observatory floor gave me mixed feelings. I was thrilled at being there, but not being good with heights, I was nervous stepping out. You immediately feel the drop in temperature and the wind gets up. We were there at about 10pm to avoid the crowds. Our timing was spot on as Manhattan looked amazing lit up at night. It was a bit too dark to see The Statue of Liberty, but you can just see the glow from her torch, so you can spot where she is, at least.
I heard someone say, “Where’s the Flatiron Building?” with that I edged slowly to the railing to find it for myself. The view is a mass of lights and there are lots of things that are easy to spot because of their neon lighting. At first I couldn’t see the Flatiron, so after getting my bearings by spotting Times Square, I followed the lit up route as if walking to the Flatiron. Then, after my eyes adjusted, I could see a dark area not lit up, and then I realised faintly that was where the Flatiron stood. The more I stared and focused my eyes; I could now see the Flatiron easily. I was disappointed that at night this amazing looking building was not illuminated at all, it just looked like a little ghost amongst all that light.
The building was, after all, New York’s first skyscraper, yet it seemed to have been forgotten. I think it would look great if it had a neon strip light all the way around the top of the building. In a vast area of squares and rectangles, I wanted to see this unusual curved triangle lit up for everyone to see from the ESB.
The view from the ESB is unbelievable looking out across Manhattan, and you can take a 360° walk around the top. However, the view straight down was awful for someone like me; I looked down for a split second and lost my confidence. I shot back inside the building in a flash. Of course, it is impossible to fall as a discrete cage enclosed you, but I was still uncomfortable going to the edge. So many people were hanging their cameras through the bars trying to take a great shot of the ground, which made me wonder just how many cameras had been dropped over the years.
The souvenir shops at all the attractions are great. I love a souvenir from everywhere I visit and I filled my boots with what the other three describe as cheap tack. Maybe, but I love to collect things to make a memory box where I keep ticket stubs etc, anything to remind me of my visit.
(end of part two)