Tales of the City . . . NYC!

Over the years, I've had various kinds of experiences in New York City, such as:
  • During the summer when I was 12, my brother and I rode the Silver Meteor from Raleigh to New York City's Penn station, where my aunt and uncle met us. It was mid-morning and they had a fun day planned for us.  First, a boat ride around the entire island of Manhattan.  I only remember seeing one building and that was the United Nations.  
    Why, you ask?  Well, we left Raleigh the evening before, and rode the train all night arriving in the city the next morning.  It was our first time on a train and that was so exciting, that we stayed up all night.  Therefore, the boat ride put me to sleep, and I slept all the way around Manhattan.
  • Several years ago, I was consulting out in the Hamptons on the eastern end of Long Island just before Christmas.  I had a flight out of La Guardia and was coming in on the Long Island Expressway.  Saw a big sign for the exit to JFK airport, but NO sign for La Guardia!  Suddenly, I was at the toll plaza for the midtown tunnel into Manhattan.  At that point, I knew I had gone too far and missed my exit!  I did not have a lot of time to spare before catching my flight, and still had to turn in the rental car.
     So, I pulled into the "manned" toll both on the far right side, and explained my situation.  He said indeed, that I had missed my exit -- two exits back.  So what did he do?  He STOPPED all the toll lanes heading into the city (about six lanes) and led me to the other side to an outbound lane, said that there would be no toll, told me to go to the second exit for La Guardia, and MERRY CHRISTMAS!  I made my flight home with just minutes to spare!
  • In September, 1982, Amtrak had a special deal in which you could travel a section of the country for $75 and the country was divided into 3 sections, which meant I could travel the whole country for $225.  Living in Miami at the time, I decided to do this. (Perhaps a whole blog post later on this fantastic trip.) But this is only about NYC, so I came in from the north into Grand Central Station.  Now since this was a travel the whole USA by train, I did not want to take a taxi to Penn Station, where my next train departed.  So I decided that connecting by subway would be a legitimate "train" connection!  
    The entry from my diary: "The train came to a stop in Grand Central Station and the fumes were noxious as the diesel exhaust from our engine was trapped in the underground cavern.  Above it was easy to get directions for the subway connection. Passing through the turnstile with my token which had cost 75 cents, I boarded the crosstown shuttle which only went one station to Times Square. There I was told to board any downtown train and go only one station stop to 34th street which was Penn Station.  It was very simple and had taken me ten minutes."
  • Before leaving home for a consulting trip to NYC in 1998, I stopped at the ATM to get some cash which was issued to me in the form of brand new twenty dollar bills.  These were the first ones with the portrait off center, but not yet colored.
On this trip I was consulting at St. Lukes Roosevelt Hospital on Amsterdam Avenue at 114th Street.  At lunchtime, I went to a deli on the corner and ordered a sandwich, which I paid for with one of the new twenty dollar bills.  The old man took it and swiped a red marker pen across the face of the bill.  Later, I learned that this was a counterfeit detection measure.  Apparently my bill passed the test.  Later that afternoon, I toured  St. John the Divine Cathedral beside the hospital, the largest gothic cathedral in the U.S. which was begun in 1892 and is often called St. John the Unfinished!  Luckily, I was there before the fire in 2001. ~~ Well, not exactly the story of Jesus and the moneychangers in the church.
  • On another consulting trip, this time to Mt. Sinai Hospital Sleep Lab in the basement of the Guggenheim Pavilion.  The main entrance is on Fifth Avenue across from Central Park up near Harlem.  This training began around 7:00pm and generally when everything was going well, I would leave around 3:00am.  Well, understandably, I was very nervous about leaving the hospital at that hour, especially considering where it was located.  
    I was told that all that I had to do was just go outside the main entrance across from Central Park and there would be a yellow taxi coming along any minute.  Yea, right at 3:00am?  Not only that, but the hospital was locked down at night.  You could exit through the doors, but you could not re-enter.  So being pretty scared, I exited the hospital and about two minutes later -- sure enough, a yellow taxi came by that I waved down!  What a relief!
  • On this particular consulting trip, all of my work was during the daytime which meant that I would have my evenings free (very unusual when teaching sleep disorders), and I was going to be there almost a week.  What a perfect time to catch a couple of Broadway plays and high on my list were Phantom of the Opera and Cats.
On this particular evening, I had finished my work for the day, gone back to the Roosevelt Hotel and changed into an old sweatshirt and jeans to get comfortable, and then wandered out to get some dinner, which I did in a little deli. Already, I had purchased my ticket for Phantom of the Opera, but I still needed a ticket for Cats.  So, I walked around to the Winter Garden Theater to purchase it.  I had only one night left that was available, so I told the lady in the ticket office that I would like a ticket.  She told me that the theater would be "dark" the evening that I requested, but she had a cancellation in row 5 for tonight's performance if I would like it!  So this was going to be my only chance to see Cats --right now looking awful in old comfy clothes.  It was right at 8:00pm and about time for the performance to begin and they were already beginning to lower the lights.  So sheepishly, I found my seat and to my surprise, there was a wide aisle in front of the seats, which looked great to me since I have long legs, and am usually uncomfortable  with my knees in the seat in front of me.  The show started, and cats began running all over the theater auditorium including in the open space in front of me, so I quickly retracted my legs!  
Just a few minutes into the performance, one of the gorgeous male cats came and stood beside me where there was an empty seat and sang "The Naming of the Cats"!  He was only a foot away from me while he sang!  That was the best, most perfect, performance of Cats that I could not even have designed, if I had tried!

  • One final touristy story.  One evening after consulting all day, I walked over to the Empire State Building which was not very far from my hotel.  It was getting late, but I had always wanted to go to the top observation deck.  So I went in and got my ticket for the elevator ride to the top.  It was just before sunset, so the pictures below all reflect that!  Obviously, it was also before 9-11-2001.


anne marie in philly said...

I have never been on the "silver meteor"; you took this train in the days before amtrak I am guessing.

my 8th grade class trip was to visit NYC: empire state building, 30rock, statue of liberty, st. pat's, UN. in college, my english prof and several of us students saw fantabulous plays - "good evening", "grease", "pippin", "cats". spouse and I saw "the producers" in 2003.

but I don't stay in NYC for too long; it's too overwhelming for me.

I vote YES for the train trip post! I remember when amtrak had that offer. wish they still did.

Anonymous said...

Really a cool post! I love travel, any way possible. I've only been to NYC for two 1-day trips. I want to go back for a week at least.

Nifty!! Thanks!
Peace <3

Ur-spo said...

I used to go every autumn with my family to NYC and see all the sights and a show or two. Marvelous town/marvelous memories.

David Jeffreys said...

You are right, Anne Marie. I am so old that I predate Amtrak and that trip in 1955 when I was 12 years old was on the Seaboard Air Line. The SAL had not yet merged with the Atlantic Coast Line.

Yes, NYC is overwhelming, and I would not want to live there, but I have always liked visiting. Barry lived there for about 40 years; he did not learn to drive until he retired about 10 years ago, when he bought his first car.


David Jeffreys said...

I have always thought it would be neat to live within commuting distance of NYC. I have a cousin who used to live in Poughkeepsie. It was nothing for them to take the train down to the city to catch an opera at the Met, see a play, or visit a museum.

David Jeffreys said...

Thanks, Jay. Perhaps the reason I like to travel so much is that I am a Sagittarius. I have been to all US states except Alaska and New Mexico! (+Canada and Mexico) Plus I've had great trips to Europe and Asia.