Sunday, December 8, 2013

NY City Part I: NY Public Library, walk Down 5th Ave and The EMPIRE STATE BUILDING


Wow what a Saturday. It seems when you take an entire days trip and do so many thing in that day, its hard to define where in time you are. I can't recall if my life from last weeks post to now had anything of any  importance...its such a blur. I know I got some realization about my health, saw my ninny Dr. prepped for a sleep study, worked, and went to bed extra early on Friday night...but its Saturday that was the trip day and boy was it a trip. The bus left for the big apple at 5am!
Mary and Alex all ready for the trip starting at 5 in the morning. I ended up riding next to Sue and her family. I know her from the YMCA. They all had plans to go to Ground Zero. We were headed off to The Empire State building. It was a long ride, I semi slept for most of it, as we pulled towards the Lincoln Tunnel and saw the multiple tour buses also headed our way, I should have known we were entering the TOURIST nightmare, but I kept a positive attitude. The bus pulled next to Bryant Park around 10am and we were off for our adventure. We started at the NY Public Library.
I don't remember ever being there, but of course the lion statues out front are a NY City icon, so I had to get a few shots. As festive as they were, I do wish they were un-wreathed for my visit, it so took away from my hoped view, and honestly looked like a failed attempt to bring the Holiday season to the streets.
The interior of the building, built in 1911 is nothing like the local Liverpool Public Library in town, not even close. I still don't know where the books are, but there was miles of art work, paintings and several artistic displays.
Right as you enter the front door you get a little Holiday sprit with the Christmas Tree located in Astor Hall. They also had a little of the Jewish Holiday as well, and LOOK at all the marble everywhere.
We ascended the stairs and took in the several paintings and the interior painting on the ceiling.

These photos are from the third floor hall. There were more amazing murals in the Rose Hall reading room, but photography was not permitted. I had already gotten yelled at for my flash. I have got to get a handle on that.
More searching of the halls (for bathrooms) provided some additional art work, and after a trip back down the stairs and another trip up, this time in the elevator, a bathroom break was found.  
Here was one of the featured pieces we found in route.
Just a little odd. And I found another permanent building feature in this lion head not adorned with a Holiday wreath hanging over a marble dinking fountain.  
We really didn't spend to much more time in this amazing building although I am sure someone could make it a full day experience, we just didn't have the time. I still never did see any books, but I am sure they have to be there somewhere. I imagined all the times I used to go to the public library in Downtown Syracuse, or the Syracuse University Library and being overwhelmed in looking for a book, this place would surely take a toll in that department.  
Next up was a stroll down 5th Ave towards the Empire State Building. We walked 5th Ave a few times so I will give more of that later, this was just our first walk on our way to the INFAMOUS TALLEST BUILDING.
Alex so wanted to see the Statue of Liberty, so here she is. Will that work?
I got a few window displays at A&S, but they were on the outside of a roped off line, on the fly and with the glass reflection didn't turn out to good, but here they are.
They looked pretty cool, but we had a mission to get to the Empire State Building.
What does that sign say? Yep were almost there. Now if you read some of my earlier posts. The Empire State Building was NOT first on my list of things to do. I had heard about the LONG LINES, and I had a difficult time swallowing the $27-$29 price tag, just to go to the top of a building, and I had been there before. However, Mary really wanted to have Alex get the views, (and once we got there it was ALL worth it), but had I known going in what kind of a wait we truly would have had I might have thought just a little differently. All I can say is Thank You Mary for getting tickets on-line it may have saved us about a 15-20 knock off in our wait.
 Ushered to the back of the line that formed around the outside of the building we began our wait. Look up, this is the building from below. Really not such an impressive structure from down here.
Its actually rather plain in comparison to some of the other buildings located in the city's mid-town.
About 10 minutes into our outside wait we were told the time to get to the observation tower would be about 90 minutes. WOW! I highlighted areas of suggestion for future travels to this destination.
Well, what else are we going to do but wait. So we started our WAIT.
Finally in the actual building itself we walk into the main hall and are blessed with the views often seen in the movies (in fact we saw it in the movie Elf as we were on the bus ride home), complete with the adorning Christmas Trees.  You can get a glimpse of the crowds in this picture too.
The whole crowd control was so deceiving. Once you thought you were moving on you would be hit with yet another stop and ahead of you spanned yet another crowd of people and a mile long line.
At this first stop, we meet a family from visiting from Huston TX. We shared stories and they explained struggling with the cold. Both Mary and I reported that it was actually warm today. 45 degrees for us NYers and especially Central NYers is considered a warmer day for December. The discussion in line made the time pass faster and we all got excited as we were usher onto an escalator. Yeah were moving. NOT so fast. BAM! We walk into a large room roped off in true amusement line zigzag. And no kiosk to tell us from this point you have this amount of wait. It was a long time if your wondering.  So we WAIT.
From that point we made our way to security. (According to the travel books I read, pre-ordering your tickets meant you went right to security. Apparently NOT the case). Surprise, Security went rather quickly, up  next was the ticket counter, but we followed the suggested route and crowd in front of us. We lost our Huston family, and several others who seemed to have been surrounding us in the earlier line, and I started to ask questions. WOW!!! good thing I did, we were waiting in the ticket purchase line. Although Mary says 10 minutes, I swear it was closer to 20. Mistake made we did take a quick leapfrog over about 40 people BUT possibly behind another 80 whom we were once ahead of. Oh well damage done. (So HERE is where pre-ordered tickets pays off. ) Once you get past security and you have tickets, be smart and make sure that you DO NOT wait in a line that looks clearly like a ticket booth, because you do get to skip that line...would make sense wouldn't it.
After complaining about this incident we found ourselves in more lines. At least this area had a little bit more interest each room shaded with lights and an informative blurb about how the Empire State Building is saving energy and blah blah blah. At this point I was getting a good case of the THIS SUCKS and the sarcasm started.
DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU PERFER NOT TO READ MY ONE AND ONLY, (OKAY ONLY ONE ON THIS BLOG POST) RANT!  Lets take the above reports 32 thousand people every day. At $27- dollars per person on average. Add in the fast pass or VIP's who pay $50- fee and there does have to be some of those people. I know I as wishing I had several times as we waited in LINE forever. Now add in the people who decide to take on the additional tourist adventure of the Empire State building simulated ride at another $30- per person. It gets better. Once you get past this dreadful part of the line, you are in a line that offers a paid narrated tour for another additional price. Past that you are ushered into another time consuming line where they take your picture. I have no idea how much that costs and of course when you finally exit all visitors are exited through the Empire State Buildings Gift store.  Its got to be a Multi Billion dollar maker. Not only does the building get it's tourist funds, but there are actually business's that pay for space in the building. Add that to the money going in, and keeping those pretty lights running on the buildings top spire costs pennies. WOW its so amazing. I'd like to be the guy/gal who has ownership of the property. Or is it the city? CRAZY...okay I'm Done, thanks.

We keep creeping along. Each section promising to be the next end to the LONG lines. We enter yet another sea of lines, which was actually moving where we are offered narrated tours. Thanks we'll pass. Next we also pass on offers to enter the Simulated ride of NY City, and here we are at the ELEVATORS! YEAH! So we get on, and so does a security guard. She is talking into her walkie Talkie...she blurts out something about the South side, the FBI and contacting Homeland Security. WHAT???? I looked at Mary. My first thought was...... I swear to God if we have to evacuate the building I am NOT going....we are almost to the top. Second thought is OH NO!!! What if this is a terrorist attack. It was more like a Tourist Attack. If there was an attack, we never heard anything about it and in about one minute we were up some 80 floors. WHOOSE!! Now for those views. NOPE, not yet. one more room, which had no lines, but provided a nice area to explore information about the building.

 For Mary no lines was lets go fast. I wished this was available a few lines back. We could have enjoyed the information. Instead we breezed by and around the corner was the LAST elevator. SCREECH!!!! 20 minute wait from here as the lady points to the line by the elevator or 5 minutes up the 6 or maybe 7 levels of stairs.(For future visits take the stairs and skip the last elevator up) Stairs thank you! The steps hurt like hell and with a bunch of other people right behind you, you have to move fast, but finally and yes this was the last part we were at the Empire State Building Observation Deck.

I do not have the words to describe, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
This is the south end or Lower Manhattan. Once you could have seen the Twins from this view point and out there in the Atlantic ocean to the right is an ity bity lady Liberty, Ellis Island and Staten Island.
 Buildings everywhere.

Let me just say AMAZING. Just look at Alex's face. Even he said the wait was worth it.
We made it.

At first we couldn't get close to the fence there were so many people, but once we did we had all those views.

 The Hudson River or maybe its the East River. Perhaps we should have purchased the narrated guide.
If I could tell my North from South, I think this would be
Couldn't get this one wrong. Here is Macy's along 6th or is that Broadway?
Here are some easy ones The Chrysler building and I know this is the East River. I believe that is Queens over on the other side, but I honestly cannot say what bridge that is.

 Miles and Miles and Miles of buildings.

Looking up at the spire.

 look at the green area on top of the roof.

We looked for landmarks and found what we could and stayed in awe of the amazing views. This last one was taken seven floors down from the window. I love the clouds. Most certainly many of the most recognizable landscapes ever is the Manhattan Skyline and we got to see it from the tippy top of the Empire State building.
going down.

Now to descend. Certainly not as slow as getting up, but it still was a long ways down and yep you guessed it, more lines.

I do not know a lot about the building itself, but I would guess and say it was art deco. Check out this light fixture. My last picture of the Empire State building on our way out. Wow what an amazing place to visit. I know I complained about the long lines and yes, I would not go again, anytime soon simply because of those pesky lines, but as the day progressed it became very clear that this weekend was perhaps one of the cities worst weekends for visitors. It has to do with spending Christmas in NY and as they had lite the Holiday Tree in Rockefeller Center was lit this past weekend and many people come out to start their Holiday shopping. I don't recall what time of the year I went to the top the last time, and this was well over 12 plus years ago with my Grandmother, Aunt and Mom, I am guessing sometime in the late 1990's. Well before 9/11 and I am positive it was not a special weekend. It might have even been a weekday. I do remember that it was not nearly as crowded and I do not remember security at all. With that being said, my reference can only be what I most recently experienced and I would not like to do the crowds again. I would say it was well worth it despite the crowds, but would plan a better weekend if I went again. Truth is everyone should go at least once, even if it is to say you went to the top of the Empire State building. It really was incredible. Our NY adventures didn't stop there. Come back (hopefully) for Part II tomorrow.