Started the day heading straight to Brooklyn Bridge, visiting Empire State Building that evening; my 4th day in New York City. I can’t remember my exact route. To my recollection I took the Metro from Grand Central Terminal to Lower Manhattan, don’t remember the station.
Metro’s throughout major cities have similarities, and subtle differences. In New York, they have a grungy undertone. Dependent on where in the city you are determines in large part the type of commuter. The closer you get to Lower Manhattan the fancier the clothing with a smidgen of pretentiousness. I do love public transport, it makes me laugh; you may be wearing an expensive suit…but you still have to sit with everyone else.
I like watching people, especially on metros/underground, always have. During the journey I watched as two gentlemen tried to outdo each other on their important jobs and “big deals”. Speaking two notches louder than needed considering they were standing next to each other. The metro wasn’t that full either. They didn’t seem to friends, at least I hope they weren’t. Friends don’t speak to each other like that. Each flexing their ego in the hope others would hear just how good or important they are. With no substance behind their words, each near closing a big deal whilst wearing overworn suits. Free entertainment for me as I chuckled silently to myself.
Starting on Manhattan’s side, I thought I’d walk across the bridge to Brooklyn. Others, what seemed like thousands had the same idea! Assuming it would be busy but not that busy! Nevertheless, walking across the bridge gives you a closeup view of the interesting near art-like structure that is Brooklyn Bridge.
Brooklyn and New York used to be two separate cities. Linked by a number of ferries crossing East River. A bridge had been on the cards since 1800; the main challenge was building a bridge high enough not to hinder the shipping traffic below. Brooklyn Bridge was designed by German immigrant, John Augustus Roebling in 1852. Construction began in 1870, as a 50/50 joint venture between the two cities, it would be called New York and Brooklyn Bridge. It opened in May 1883.
Brooklyn Bridge spans 483m between the towers, at a height of 38.7m above mean high water. From a distance the spiderweb of cables makes the two neo-gothic towers look like puppet masters. Up close, the suspension bridge looks like a fishing net cast by the towers, about to heave in its catch of cars and pedestrians below.
…back to the visit
Yes, the bridge was very busy, but worth the visit. Seems odd visiting a bridge. Having seen it in countless TV/films it felt familiar, like most of New York. Why go see Brooklyn Bridge? Congested traffic below. Tides of pedestrians flowing in both directions. The occasional angry cyclist shouting for people to get out of the cycling lane. Surrounded by taught splayed cables and a city of noises. Why visit? Simple, it’s pretty. I’d go again. Next time exploring Brooklyn, because I ran out of time during this visit.
Empire State Building
A major tourist attraction as you would expect. Don’t go there like I did at first expecting to get a ticket there and then….book in advance, through www.esbnyc.com. I’d highly recommend being there at sunset or sunrise. I did the former, though I’d like to do it again at sunrise. Seeing the city awaken from its mild slumber…a city like this never really sleeps. Sunset was fantastic!
The Empire State Building, a trademark of New York City. It is a beacon of the Unites States’ industrial rise in the early 20th Century. Built in New York City’s booming hey-days, taking an astonishing 2 years to build. Named after New York’s nickname “Empire State”…no delusions of grandeur there 😊.
Even today it’s one of the tallest buildings in the world, though now dwarfed by some of the new mega-tall skyscrapers. Empire State Building held the title of tallest building in the world for 40 years, from 1931-1971. Going back to 1908, New York had the tallest buildings in the world until 1973. Putting things into today’s context; Empire State Building is 381m, whereas the Burj Khalifa is 828m! I’ll leave the history and overview at that.
The pro’s and con’s of writing retrospectively, is that the memory isn’t always 100%. Memory fades, tickets, brochures and notes go missing…like the missing one-sock! Anyway, I arrived and got to the top before the sun set, staying there till after the sun had vanished past the horizon. New York is a neatly organised sprawling city. Not nearly the biggest city by area, and still the 11th most populated city, because of the sea of tall buildings. Other than parts of Barcelona I can’t recall seeing such a neatly laid-out city. Vertical and horizontal lines of roads the only sense of continuity in a sea of erratic structures.
Every shape, colour and size laid out with no sense of planning creating an consistency out of inconsistency. Like planned chaos. Walking New York’s streets, you can feel lost and insignificant amongst towering buildings. Cities like this can make people feel like a prisoner or claustrophobic. Viewing New York City from the Empire Estate Building’s vantage point somehow makes all below insignificant. Knowing what many below are going through and thinking; bills, salaries, futures, simply just trying to stay above water. From up here, all that hustle and bustle seems insignificant. Like ants marching to a tune just doing what they think they should be doing. Living, experiencing, learning has very little to do with life down below.
The following day would be my last in New York before heading back to Europe, Switzerland. A mild sense of dread that had been building up and surfacing like fresh flashes in my mind was becoming more frequent.