So, as I mentioned in my previous post on NYC, we didn't make it to just everywhere - in fact, we only did Brooklyn, (no Bronx, no Queens) Staten and Manhattan. Even at that, we didn't really see Staten Island, or a whole lot of Brooklyn. Most disappointingly, we were there in the wrong season to see Coney Island, so we'll just have to go back in the summer. There just wasn't time to do it all!
Anyway, of the places we did see, there were a few surprises. Like the water towers. Did you know that almost every building in New York over 5 storeys has a water tower to provide water using only gravity? No but really did you? Because I had no idea, and wasn't expecting to see them everywhere like icons of Warner Bros.
The one above is quite near the Williamsburg Bridge, where we ended up after going to see Bedford Avenue's cute little boutiques. I'd have liked to spend more time looking at places like those - we even went to Catbird NYC, a little independent jeweller where James bought my engagement ring (oh yeah! Surprise, we got engaged while we were in New York - but that is for another post). I got a "No Sleep 'Til" t-shirt from Brooklyn Industries (because why not?)
We tried to go to Barcade (does what you'd imagine) in Williamsburg, after getting a bit lost when we got off the local train in Bedford-Stuyvesant, but nothing opened until 4pm so we had to content ourselves with a hipster cafe. We later passed the Vice offices, which look as hipster as you'd imagine.
We also went exploring around Chelsea and the High Line, which is totally worth a look if you're there. It's an elevated railway line that was turned into a park after it fell into disuse, with some amazing views of the city. The reason the train line was elevated in the first place was that it used to run down Eleventh Avenue, and the trains killed so many people that it became known as Death Avenue. Scary eh?
The rest of the area (Chelsea and the Meatpacking District) have quite a seedy past - a heavily industrialised area, the docks are nearby, and to this day there is an hourly-rate hotel. The area was and is heavily popular with the LGBT crowd, though the punks probably left around the same time Guiliani gentrified the whole place in the 90s (the Meatpacking district is the trendy area Samantha moves to in SATC, for reference). I wish we'd seen Bianca Del Rio when we were there, but again, maybe next time (really queen?).
The seating on the highline is made from repurposed railway sleepers, and some of it is on wheels so can be moved along (I thought this was the coolest thing I'd ever seen).
Below is Pier 54 where the Carpathia brought back all of the Titanic's survivors to be greeted by a cheering crowd of thousands. It's hard to imagine now what that must have been like, in a similar way that it's difficult to imagine so many immigrants arriving in New York by ship - it just seems like something from a bygone era, because it is. Airports are the new docks I suppose.
The highline is also home to some cool art installations, like this pretend juice fridge - each juice lists "ingredients" pertaining to a specific type of New Yorker's lifestyle. This one listed
The amount of food on that list does sum up the NYC tourist experience nicely. They had a Goop-esque one listing kale, yoga etc and some real party ones with diet coke, cocaine, mouthwash etc - it's fun trying to find the bottle which most relates to you.
We also checked out Greenwich Village, where we got to see the Stonewall Inn (where the riots, and gay rights, started). We also got to see Cafe Wha?, where Bob Dylan played his first gig:
Sadly, we saw all these night-lifey places during the day, then having walked all day and still being mentally 5 hours ahead (cheers jetlag) we missed out on visiting them at night. Again, next time!
Below, if you'll believe it, is that flat from Friends! Isn't it crazy how much smaller it looks in real life?
I thought Washington Square Park looked exactly how I imagined classic autumnal New York to look (except it felt about a millions degrees colder than expected).
I was all obsessed with the subway trains, because to me they look like Airstream caravans - I don't know why London can't do theirs all in stainless steel too. They look great.
We went on perhaps the most miserable walking tour ever across the Brooklyn Bridge in a hail storm. I don't think I've ever been so cold and wet for such a long time (and I'm from bloody Scotland, so that's saying something).
I'd love to tell you what Dumbo (standing for District Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) was like, but since all we both wanted was a hot shower, clean dry clothes and a hot drink, we didn't really explore it. Again, maybe next time!
The third and final part of NYC coming up soon - THEN, it's the engagement post! Are you even ready for that?