Travel There – Libraries, a Cathedral, an Architectural Tour and The Top of the Rock
There was only one thing wrong with our plan for the day and that was Deborah’s feet. Her shoes tore them up on that first afternoon, when we strolled Broadway and since then, all we’d done was walk – all over Liberty Island, Ellis Island, Lower Manhattan, Central Park and The Met, as well as a trip back up and down Broadway. Still, she is a trooper. She medicated her blisters, put on bandages, wore thick socks, pulled on shoes and kept on walking. I don’t know if I would have been so tough. I’ve had days ruined by a paper cut.
The Morgan Library
We had breakfast at the hotel since it was included, took a quick subway ride to save Deb’s feet a few steps and made our way to the Morgan Library. Our admission time was 10:30 and that’s all you get, admission. I sort of assumed someone would take us around and point out the highlights. I was wrong. They pinned a tag on each of us and set us free.
There is an audio tour available on their website and we did listen to some of that, but I like people. Yes, I know I am a dinosaur, but it is what it is. In the absence of a tour guide, it is still an amazing place. They were very serious about masks and overtly politically correct, but I can ignore almost anything.
There is the historical building from JP Morgan’s time, standing as a testimony to his taste and erudition, with a very, very modern building added as a sign they are keeping up with the times. By far, my favorite things were those in the historical part of the museum complex. Several interesting exhibitions were on view in the newer part when we visited – Hans Holbein, Gwendolyn Brooks and Woody Guthie. Of the three, I found Woody Guthrie’s the most compelling. I had known of him, but little about him until I saw this exhibit.
The New York Public Library
We started with our brown bag lunches on the patio, next to the famous lions of the Stephen A Schwartzman Building of the New York Public Library System. It was a very pleasant place to sit and watch New York go by.
Then we went inside got our tickets for the Rose Main Reading Room, which is the main attraction for tourists. We had an hour to kill, oooohing and aaaaaahing at all there was to see, while we waited to get into their very special space. It was totally worth it. Gorgeous. My photos are awful, so browse the websites I’ve linked to.
From there we checked out Grand Central Station. First, because it is a landmark everyone should see, but also we thought that’s where we’d catch the train to New Jersey for the christening, but it wasn’t.
I’d seen several hints that I should go to The Lott New York Palace which was once the Villard Mansion. It’s located right behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral, so I didn’t see any reason not to check it out. Totally worth the side trip, even if you wouldn’t have guessed it from the outside. Serious construction was going on, but inside, yes, it was worth the side trip. Several really amazing things to see, including the Gold Room, which all by itself was worth the visit. You’ve seen it in so many movies!
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Next up, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where the travel gods once again smiled on me. A wedding was going on which included an ethereal voice singing Ave Maria. It meant I could not walk up close to the famous altar and such, but it was a great trade off!
We surprised Deb’s great nephew who was working at a store across the street, which I will not mention, because he no longer works there. That’s when we decided to be spontaneous and have a little break, because resting our dogs while sipping a little wine sounded like just the thing. NYC did not cooperate.
I thought standing right next to Rockefeller’s famous rink, darling little wine bars would be all over the place, but in spite of further irritating Deb’s feet by walking all over the place, the only thing we could find was fast food. Saks had a coffee bar, but it was not an inviting place to rest, there was no alcohol and I don’t do coffee. We killed all the time we had stomping around to find a place to relax, instead of relaxing.
Architectural Tour and Top of the Rock
Having used up all our break time trying to find a place to take a break, it was time to go on the Architectural WALKING Tour of Rockefeller Center. I heartily recommend this to anyone. On the tour, we were introduced to many beautiful works of art we’d passed in oblivion in our search for a glass of wine. We learned a lot about Rockefeller himself and were pleased to learn he was a little rebel, purchasing and displaying works of art thought scandalous at the time, in part because the artists weren’t nice white people, but also because they displayed hitherto covered parts of the body.
After the walking tour we finally found an outdoor wine bar, which was exactly what we’d wanted before the tour. The area was shaded by the surrounding buildings, so it was a little chilly and the wine was downright bad, but we didn’t sweat it. We chatted with some eccentric old woman who would have us believe she was the antique maven of the entire city, and she might have been, but mostly what we liked was not walking for a while and taking an edge off the stress of walking around NYC via maps and our wits.
While it would be nice to say we could have spent more time there, the wine really was bad and it was entirely too chilly to be comfortable, so when it came time for our Top of the Rock tour, we were ready to go. We walked a couple of blocks back to the elevator, took a couple of escalators and there we were at the Top of the Rock.
Deborah told me the Top of the Rock tour had been her sons’ favorite thing about their visit to New York. I am glad I went, but I did not have that kind of enthusiasm for it. It was one of the most expensive things we did (except for the shows we went to) and I thought all of them were more my cup of tea.
I did the Hancock Building in Chicago and I have to say I thought that was a better experience. They have decals on the window to let you know what you’re looking at. There are more exhibits explaining the city and the building to you. I also felt less like a member of a cattle herd. To boot, Chicago is one beautiful city, while New York is overwhelmingly big.
But wait! The day is not over!! Come back next week and we’ll have dinner at Carmine’s a famous and much recommended Italian restaurant in Times Square.