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Report 1704: News Flash!!! Four Canadian Tourists Visit New York City

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Summer 2009

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Page 2 of 6: Zero Visibility from the Empire State Building; Rockefeller Center and MoMA

photo by Doug Phillips

The stunning Art Deco lobby at the Empire State Building

Thanks to popular culture, New York City forms a significant part of our collective memory without requiring any time invested in an actual visit. A real benefit of our time in the city was being able to place these cultural references in their geographical settings - along with a mild surprise at the close proximity of many sights to each other.

On each of our four mornings in the city, we took a short walk from our hotel over to and across Times Square and had a light breakfast at a europa café location (1412 Broadway, between 39th and 40th St). A good choice. There are several locations throughout the city.

For our first full day in the city, the weather was not very promising - warm, but an umbrella would have been a good idea. However, we decided to do some walking and place some of our collective memories in their physical settings. Over to 5th Avenue along West 40th Street and a walk through the most attractive Bryant Park and around the block to the front of the New York Public Library. A modest start to our day as only one of the famous lions at the foot of the stairs was visible. Some work was in progress on part of the exterior and much of the entrance was boarded up. Then down 5th Avenue to the iconic Empire State Building, even though we were almost certain that a trip to the top would not be a good idea. There was actually an employee at the entrance into the building announcing that there was zero visibility from the top. But the stunning Art Deco foyer was enough of a reward for our walk.

Back up 5th Avenue with the intention of spending a few hours out of the rain at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Eventually we got there, with a few diversions along the way. Our first detour was at 43rd Street where we saw Grand Central Terminal a couple of blocks to the east. Since it was a Sunday there was no commuter morning rush and we had a good view of the impressive interior and main concourse. Back over to 5th Avenue and a walk of only a couple of blocks when we came to the Fred F French Building at 551 at 45th. The lobby is another Art Deco dazzler, perhaps even more impressive than the Empire State Building and on a smaller scale.

Crossing over to the west side of 5th Avenue we walked only a few more blocks north when we came upon Rockefeller Center, decided to take a break from the rain, and walked in the entrance on 48th Street. Another well-preserved Art Deco interior, although this one is more functional. While we had no plans of a lengthy visit, we eventually signed up for a studio tour and, guided by two NBC pages, visited the sets of several NBC shows including Saturday Night Live. An enjoyable way to spend over an hour on a rainy Sunday.

Then on to MoMA, a good lunch at the café on the 2nd floor, followed by a few hours on the fourth and fifth floors, taking in the stars of the collection - including Picasso, Miro, Matisse, Warhol, Pollock, Cezanne, Frida Kahlo. I got to see Starry Night and other works by Van Gogh. I was quite unexpectedly impressed and drawn into Flag by Jasper Johns. And the museum show Waste Not by Chinese artist Song Dong, stretching over a large area on the second floor, was a big hit.

A walk back to Times Square and a decision to get tickets for a show at the TKTS location at Duffy Square. We got tickets for a murder mystery play off-Broadway .... It wasn't very good.

Next: Brooklyn Bridge to Greenwich Village, Central Park and a taste of Provence

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