I Left My Heart in New York City


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Today was my last day in NYC… Five days in NYC; I think I did well to cram in a lot of the main attractions in such a short space of time. These shoes were not made for walking but with a late afternoon flight back to London, I had a few hours to kill…

Today’s challenge was to spend as little money as possible, given last night’s treat at Macy’s (even with the sales), and later dinner and drinks with my friend Sarah in midtown Manhattan.

This was a surprisingly easy challenge. A late breakfast of wonton noodle soup was devoured in Chinatown for under $5, followed by a leisurely stroll through the upmarket SoHo and on to the world’s only elevated park – The High Line.

The High Line is the only park built on an archaic elevated rail line. It’s located above the streets on the west side of Manhattan, roughly 1.5 miles long. The park itself is a minimalist piece of landscape art at its best; a display of broken rusty pieces of rail track mingled with concrete street furniture and wild, weedy looking shrubbery.

Sounds unimpressive and hardly beautiful I know, but this is ‘urban renewal’ at its best. The views of New York from a different perspective is worth the trip alone; glimpses of New York’s skyscrapers, like the Chrysler Building and the Empire State building peek at you from one side of the track, the Hudson River from the other.

There are plenty of places to sit and contemplate or watch the world go by. I’m told by Sarah, that in the summer there are plenty of street performers to give the park a bit of life. On this cold, wintry day, I had the honour of walking the strip virtually on my own lonesome.

A quick late lunch from a hot dog vendor for $3.50 and then on to another freebie… Can’t believe I’ve left this treasured landmark to the last day! This is something I have wanted to do for a long time… to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the States and one of the world’s most loved bridges that is featured on one of the many fridge magnets and postcards that adorn the tourist stalls.

A few facts –
– The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge started in 1869 and took 14 years to complete.
– The engineer behind the project, John Roebling… a German immigrant. He launched the idea of building a bridge across the East River after he had taken a ferry across the river that ended up stuck in the ice.
– John Roebling would never get to see the bridge he had designed: crushing his foot in an accident, he died from blood poisoning. He wasn’t the only one to lose his life during the construction: 20 of the in total 600 workers died while working on the bridge
– Unconvinced the bridge was safe, P.T. Barnum led a caravan of circus animals – including a herd of 21 elephants across the bridge in 1884.
– Brooklyn Bridge spans the East river between Brooklyn and Manhattan and stretches for a length of 5989 ft, about 1.8 km.

Camera at the ready, I made my way across the bridge towards Brooklyn with the hundreds of other tourists. If the bridge could take a herd of 21 elephants, I’m pretty sure it could take the weight of a few hundred humans.

Every now and again a runner or cyclist whizzed past me as I snapped hungrily away through the view finder of my camera. ‘Pardon me!’, ‘Excuse me!’, ‘Sorry ma’am!’ I love Americans. What a polite lot. Obviously more well brought up than my London counterparts. Sorry London but you see, I’ve fallen in love with New York.

It was a crying shame there was temporary hoarding flanking both sides of the pedestrian walkway for half of it; apparently part of the rehabilitation project that will not be completed until 2014. Still, the views of the Manhattan skyscrapers behind the weblike pattern of cables make for some terrific photography.

To my right was the Statue of Liberty. Beyond to my left, Manhattan Bridge… past this, the Empire State Building… further even still, the Chrysler Building could be seen in the distance. It was breathtaking. Overwhelming.

Here I was. In New York City. A place I’ve been longing to visit for such a long time. It wasn’t the romantic trip I always thought I would make. But that doesn’t matter. I don’t care. As I looked at the skyscrapers, the monuments, the landmarks, the bridges, it was a reminder that anything is possible.

So as I leave New York and back to ‘reality’ with a sense of hope this time, I’ll close this particular chapter of my American adventure with a quote from an American poet, Dorothy Parker. ‘London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it.’

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