ONCE A MANHATTANITE…
Once a Manhattanite, always a Manhattanite. Isn’t it true! If you visit it once, probably you will wish to visit it again and again. Manhattan is the biggest of the five New York City (NYC) boroughs in population, and the smallest in area. It is an island. One can walk along Broadway forever, veering off into side-streets which go East or West. Naturally there are buses, as well as the subway. But in any weather, be it day or night, there seem to be millions of people streaming along in all directions. On Fifth Avenue, people stop and stare at shop windows, admire the famous toy store FAO Schwartz, marvel at the Plaza Hotel. Central Park begins at 59th Street, that’s where one can see the horse-drawn carriages with drivers dressed up in the tradition of the bygone era. It is possible to walk across and along the park, look at the Reservoir, make a stop at the Zoo, study wonderful statues, relax on a lawn, and feel like a movie star when taking pictures with the city panorama familiar from many TV shows and movies. In season, that is when spring starts in April, and until November, there are plenty of shows and events in the park. Many of the theater performances for children are free. One gets out from the park at 110th Street and Broadway, quite close to Columbia University, one of the Ivy League Schools. It was founded by the grant from the British King George II in 1754. Its huge campus with its gorgeous buildings, serious-looking statues, manicured lawns and lovely trees, featured in many movies, notably in Barbra Streisand’s “The Mirror Has Two Faces”. Between 116th and 125th streets, parallel to Broadway, is Claremont Avenue, with several pretty houses, some tall office and school buildings, and the interdenominational Riverside Church. Riverside Drive is a long street winding along the Hudson River, with lots of beautiful parks. Harlem begins at 125th Street and Broadway.
We walked all along Broadway looking for a place to sit down at and have some lunch. Thai, Indian, African, Chinese cuisines prevail. After a long trek, we finally found a restaurant called “Manhattan Diner”. It had a typical American menu, not too spicy or exotic, so we had a nice meal. When we paid, we discovered that the owners were Russian.
When New York or Manhattan is mentioned, the first image that comes to mind is that famous skyline with towering skyscrapers, and the Statue of Liberty. But NYC is not only that. In April, all the trees and flowers bloom, and Manhattan looks like a tapestry of wild colors. Every little nook and cranny is lovingly tended; even if a flower-bed is about one foot square, it’s still a pretty flower-bed. Beautiful tulip-poplars are everywhere. These trees go into bloom first, and then green leaves appear. There are rhododendrons, chestnuts, dogwoods, mimosas, apple-trees, as well as narcissi, tulips, roses, crocuses and many other flowers whose names we don’t even know. In Central Park, one can meet geese and ducks waddling around in the grass, while in the ponds, there are tiny fish and even craw-fish. Storks like those ponds. If you visit NYC in the fall, you will see all the autumn hues – the leaves turn red, gold and brown. Several peacocks were brought to live in one of the smaller parks a few years ago. The whole city came to see them. During some weekends in spring and summer, parts of Broadway are closed for traffic. Various animals are brought from the country, and city kids can enjoy a pony or horse ride, stroke goats and sheep, see nature as it is. In the fall, various animals are brought to town to be blessed in one of the churches. With luck, one can see elephants, lamas, snakes, and naturally various pets.
Many theaters are situated on Broadway. One can also go to Radio City Music Hall, and to Madison Square Garden, where all sorts of performances are held. There are plenty of museums on Manhattan. Depending on your tastes and interests, you can spend an enjoyable time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art looking at masterpieces of painting, or go to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs. In winter, one must see the huge Christmas Tree, and have fun at the skating rink at Rockefeller Plaza.
If you are traveling with children, you may wish to visit Six Flags Great Adventure, a well-known amusement park not far from NYC. Besides the usual rides and attractions for all ages, a large part of the park is devoted to the safari. One can ride around slowly, looking at bears, tigers, giraffes, elephants, ostriches, monkeys… One has to be careful, so as not to bump into a giraffe stalking across the road!
New York is lovely in any season.