Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sky Gardens

The buildings in NYC reach for the sky and so do the gardens. 

The High Line
Built in the 1930s to lift freight trains 30 feet into the air to make the streets safer, the High Line fell into disarray.  However, in the summer of 2009, it opened after undergoing a multi-million dollar reconstruction, bringing a new luster to the Meatpacking district.  Strolling along this former track gives you a unique vantage point to the city as you are no longer on the ground, but not too high up to be disconnected from the world beneath you. (Entrance at Gansevoort & Washington Street Map)


Rockefeller Center
Best known for its Christmas tree, ice staking rink, The Today Show and high-end shops, Rockefeller Center is also home to an impressive collection of sky gardens.  Perched 140 feet up in the air, The Sky Gardens of Rockefeller Center were constructed with two thousand species of plants, three thousand tons of soil and pipes and pumps to circulate ninety-six thousand gallons of water for the streams and fountains ("Great Fortune," Daniel Orkent). While seldom open to the public, visitors can see the gardens from Rockefeller Center's observation deck, Top of the Rock.  The gardens below are on 5th Avenue between 49th & 50th street on top of the buildings.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Supersized NYC

NYC is so large and there are so many visitors that some of its stores, office buildings, churches and museums are supersized.

Macy's Herald Square
Macy's flagship store is so huge it has food/snack options on six floors. Spread over a full city block, Macy's Herald square is 2.2 million square feet (204,386 square meters), hosts an average of 40,000 shoppers each day and keeps 4 million items in stock. While the sign outside says its the world's largest store, it was overtaken in June 2009, when it became the second largest after Shinsegae Centum City in Busan, South Korea. (34th Street between 7th Avenue and Broadway, Map)

The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is the tallest building in New York and the second tallest building in the United States. The building is 85 floors and has 2,158,000 square feet (200,484 square meters) of commercial and office space. With more than 1,000 business and 20,000 plus employees the Empire State Building is the country's largest private office complex. The building's Observatory located on the 86th floor offers panoramic views and hosts over 3.5 million visitors each year. Since opening to the public almost 110 million people have visited this landmark observation deck. (350 5th Avenue, between 33rd and 34th St., Map)

Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Upon entering the massive St. John Divine you will be lost in its splendor. As you further explore the Cathedral including its chapels, you will feel as if you have been transported to Europe. St. John the Divine is the largest Cathedral in the world and the fourth largest Christian church in the world. On the floor of the church you will see markers indicating the size of other world churches. St. John the Divine has daily tours, and its services are open to the public - visit the website for more information. The cathedral is also conveniently located near The Hungarian Pastry Shop, Columbia University and three parks - Riverside, Morningside and Central Park. (1047 Amsterdam Ave at 112th St., Map)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met is one of the largest and most famous museums in the world. "Its collections include more than two million works of art spanning 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe." The building is two million square feet (200,000+ square meters) and hosts over 5 million visitors each year. The Egyptian collection alone has 36,000 objects on display and there are more than 2,500 European paintings. While some may try to see the whole museum in one trip its nearly impossible. Best to pick what you are most interested in and see it in greater depth. (1000 5th Avenue, at 82nd street Map)


Hidden Rooms

While none of these rooms are really that hidden you might feel like you are finding a hidden gem.

The Campbell Apartment
Hidden inside Grand Central Terminal it's easy to miss the Campbell Apartment, which is actually a bar and lounge. Once the luxurious office and salon of 1920's mogul John Campbell, the current space maintains the original interior including extensive woodwork, decorative beamed ceiling and an immense glass window. During rush hour the Campbell Apartment is more crowded with commuters or the after work crowd, so late night and weekends are probably a better time to visit and have one of their signature drinks such as the "Prohibition Punch" or "Terrace Punch." Proper attire is required - no sneakers, t-shirts, shorts or other less formal clothing. (15 Vanderbilt Ave, between 42nd & 43rd St., Map)

Aye Simon Reading Room
The Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is an architectural masterpiece. Between admiring the exhibits and enjoying the museum's vertigo inducing gallery it is easy to miss the small reading room located on the second ramp. The reading room contains books on the current and past exhibits and about the museum itself. It's a nice little oasis among the usually crowded museum. What is also interesting is that this room was designed by the famous architect Richard Meier, best known for designing museums and houses. (1071 Fifth Avenue, between 88th & 89th St., Map)

Inside a small store in SoHo, past an incredible (and tempting) chocolate selection is a Cacao Bar and Tea Salon. This small dining area offers an Old World experience in the New World. You'll think you are sipping hot chocolate in Paris or Vienna. Visit our Chocolate Tour section for more chocolate suggestions. (484 Broome Street, between West Broadway and Wooster St., Map)


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ice Age

Every winter small parts of New York become covered in a sheet of ice providing enjoyment to both locals and tourists.

Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center
This ice skating rink is one of the most famous rinks in the world and a very popular NYC attraction.  Depending when you go you can expect crowds as well as many on-lookers.  You have a pretty good chance of skating here if you want as the rink is usually open from October through April. (601 5th Avenue, between 49th & 50th St., Map)
The Pond at Bryant Park
Ever winter for the last few years Bryant Park, home to Fashion Week, is transformed into a winter wonderland with an ice skating rink and holiday shops.  Admission to the Pond is free, but you still have to pay to rent skates.  (40th-42nd Street & 6th Avenue, Map)

Wollman Rink
Located inside Central Park the Wollman Rink has a picturesque background while skating.  First built in 1949 and later upgraded and managed by Donald Trump the Wollman Rink is typically open from November through April. (Map)


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