Friday, June 11, 2010

Trip to New York - part 5

On May 3rd, hubby, his cousin, and I left Marrakech Hotel located in Upper West Side of New York City at about 9.15 am, and went to MoMa Design Store in SoHo where hubby’s cousin wished to do some shopping. We took No. 1 subway train at 103rd Street Station and went up to 96th Street Station, where we changed train to No. 2 subway and reached Times Square - 42nd Street Station. Here, we again changed train to subway R and arrived at Prince Street Station. MoMa Design Store is located about three minutes walk away from this subway station. We reached the store at about 9.45 am. Since MoMa store opens at 10 am, we went to a Starbucks Coffee shop located just across the street from MoMa store, and had breakfast. At 10 am, hubby’s cousin went to do shopping at MoMa Design store, which has a collection of beautiful design objects, paper products, gift items, jewelry, personal accessories, furniture, lighting, kitchen gadgets, and many more things at surprisingly affordable prices. Since hubby and I are not much into shopping, we relaxed at Starbucks Coffee shop. After about 45 minutes, hubby’s cousin returned back to the coffee shop with a lot of cute little accessories and gifts for friends and relatives in Japan. Next, we went to see the former World Trade Center site.
Breakfast at Starbucks Coffee shop

We left Starbucks Coffee shop and walked back to Prince Street station. Here we took subway W and arrived at Rector Street station after about 8 minutes of train ride. We started walking on a street named Trinity Place, where we came across beautiful building complex of Trinity Church Parish Offices and Information. The present building of Trinity church was built in 1846 and has a Neo-Gothic architectural style. We appreciated the wonderful architectural design of the building complex but did not enter inside.
Hubby’s cousin and I in front of Trinity Church Parish Offices and Information

While walking further, we came across American Stock Exchange (AMEX) building. It was a mutual organization formed in 1842 and owned by its members, but in October 2008 NYSE Euronext acquired AMEX, and the name AMEX was changed to NYSE Amex Equities. The building has a handsome Art Deco architectural style, which was built in 1921 and expanded in 1931. The building is 66.45 meters high. We liked the architectural style of the building.
American Stock Exchange building

Hubby’s cousin and I in front of AMEX building

National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The World Trade Center (WTC) was a complex of seven buildings in Lower Manhattan that were destroyed by terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The site, also referred to as Ground Zero, is currently being rebuilt with six new skyscrapers (one already completed) and a memorial to the casualties of the attacks.

A memorial was planned immediately after the attacks and destruction of WTC to remember both the victims as well as those involved in rescue. National September 11 Memorial & Museum at WTC is a non-profit corporation with the mission to raise funds, finalize the design, program, own, and operate the Memorial & Museum planned by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC). The memorial will be located at the WTC site, on the former location of the two towers destroyed by the attacks. In January 2004, the design, ‘Reflecting Absence’, by architect Michael Arad and landscape architect Peter Walker was selected as the winner of the LMDC's design competition. The memorial consists of a park at street level with two recessed square pools located 9 meters below street level, with the largest manmade waterfalls in the United States cascading down their sides. Each pool will be 4000 square meters in area. Construction of the museum started in March 2006 and is expected to be completed by September 2011. The museum will be located 21 meters below ground and will feature exhibits and artifacts about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. The museum will have an exposed slurry wall as an asset, which is the wall that held back the Hudson River and remained standing after the attacks.

One World Trade Center is the main building of the new WTC under construction, whose groundbreaking was done in April 2006 and is expected to be completed in April 2013. The tower will be located in the northwest corner of WTC site. The tower is supposed to be 417 meters to the roof of the building and 541.3 meters tall to the tip.

From Rector Street railway Station, we walked northeast on Trinity Place for about six minutes and continued walking onto Church Street for another two minutes, and then turned left at Vesey Street and walked for one minute to reach the site of former WTC. Heavy construction of National September 11 Memorial & Museum now dominates the site. A fenced walkway around the perimeter allowed us to safely observe the ongoing construction work at the site. We paid our respects to those killed in the terrorist incident. Although we knew most of the information about the terrorist attacks at the former WTC but seeing the site with our own eyes helped us to comprehend the enormity of the devastation. We became very emotional and felt a strong sense of loss.
Ongoing construction of memorial and museum at former WTC site

Hubby near the construction site

Ongoing construction at former WTC site

At Vesey Street, we saw a fire station named Ladder Company 10 and Engine Company 10 of New York City Fire Department. This fire station is nearest the location of the former WTC site. They were the first responders on the scene of the terrorist attacks, and a large number of the heroes stationed in this location gave the ultimate sacrifice as they tried to save those around them. A memorial is displayed outside the fire station for the fallen heroes lost on September 11. We paid our respects and there was a solemn atmosphere all around us. There were tears in hubby’s eyes and he was very quite afterwards for a long time. Hubby made a video of the former WTC site and the ongoing construction.
Ladder 10 and Engine 10 fire station

Inside Ladder 10 and Engine 10 fire station

Memorial outside the fire station for the fallen heroes of September 11 attacks

Memorial plaque outside the fire station for the fallen heroes

Video of the former WTC site and the ongoing construction

Next, we walked up to Tribute WTC Visitor Center located at 120 Liberty Street, which is directly across the former WTC site. The place is just 0.5 km away from the fire station and it took us about 7 minutes to reach there. The place offers visitors to the WTC site a place where they can connect with people from the September 11th community. The place is very elegant with lots of exhibits and educational programs of September 11 attacks. From this building, we got a very clear view of the ongoing heavy constructions of the memorial, museum, and the new skyscrapers at the former WTC site. Seeing so much construction at the site gave us a positive feeling and hope for world peace and love.
Inside Tribute WTC Visitor Center

Ongoing construction of new one WTC at Ground Zero as viewed from Visitor Center

Ongoing construction of new skyscrapers, memorial, and museum at Ground Zero

Ongoing construction at Ground Zero as viewed from another point inside Tribute WTC Visitor Center (click on the photo for larger image)

Heavy construction in progress (click on the photo for larger image)

Skyscrapers around the former WTC site (click on the photo for larger image)

We left Tribute WTC Visitor Center at about 12.45 pm. We all were very hungry, and so after consulting our guidebook, we decided to have lunch at a Japanese restaurant named Geisha.

Lunch at Restaurant Geisha
From Tribute WTC Visitor Center, we walked for about 5 minutes and reached Fulton Street railway station. From there we took No. 4 subway and after about 12 minute of train ride, we reached 59th Street - Lexington Avenue Station. Then, after walking for about five minutes, we reached the Japanese Restaurant Geisha located at 33 East 61st Street.
Restaurant Geisha

Geisha is a plush Japanese-inspired Upper East Side restaurant, which uses Japanese costumes, flowers, and origami to create an interior that is delicate, beautiful, and mysterious. Dark Maplewood paneling with cherry blossom stenciled on it and wall surfaces of gold leafs and silver beads look exceptional. We had pre-fixe lunch that cost 29 dollars per person, which seemed to be a good deal. We could choose an appetizer from several options. Hubby had fried oyster, his cousin had spicy tuna roll, and I had miso consomme soup. Everything tasted heavenly. There were several choices for the main course also. Hubby and his cousin had chicken breast teriyaki and I had miso-glazed salmon. Main course was also delicious and perfect. Finally, for dessert also we had a few options. Hubby and his cousin had litchis and I had coconut blanc-manger. Blanc-manger is creamy coconut with a touch of dark chocolate, which was cool and refreshing. Litchis had sweet gel with a lot of litchi fruit. It tasted superb. The food at restaurant Geisha was refined, exotic, and excellent, which lifted our spirits up.
Fried oyster

Spicy tuna roll

Miso consomme soup

Chicken breast teriyaki


We having lunch

Hubby enjoying chicken teriyaki


Coconut blanc-manger

Hubby’s cousin having dessert

Central Park
After lunch, we went to Central Park. The park is located very near to Geisha restaurant. From the restaurant, we walked northwest on E 61st Street for about 2 minutes, then turned left at 5th Avenue and walked for another 2 minutes, and again turned right at W 59th Street and after about a minute or so, we reached Grand Army Plaza. This plaza is at the intersection of 59th Street and 5th Avenue, which is opposite the southeastern corner of Central Park.

Central Park is a public urban park located in the center of Manhattan. It is one of the most frequently visited parks in America and hosts over 25 million visitors each year. The park was opened in 1859, completed in 1873, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963. The park covers an area of 3.41 square kilometers. It is 4 kilometers long between 59th Street (Central Park South) and 110th Street (Central Park North), and 0.8 km wide between Fifth (eastern border) and Eighth Avenue (Central Park West). The park was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and architect Calvert Vaux. Presently the park is maintained by Central Park Conservancy, which provides about eighty-five percent of the park’ operating budgets. The park has several attractions and recreational facilities. It has several lakes and ponds, bridle paths, walking tracks, ice-skating rinks, the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, a wildlife sanctuary, a 106-acre billion gallon reservoir, an outdoor amphitheater, indoor theaters, the Carousel, fountains, tennis courts, baseball fields, many playgrounds, grassy fields, and many other facilities.

On reaching Grand Army Plaza, we saw a beautiful hotel named The Plaza Hotel which has been a scene of countless movies. Main entrance of the hotel faces the southern portion of Grand Army Plaza. The hotel was built on 1907 and has wonderful late 19th and 20th century revivals architectural style. It is 76 meters high 20-storied luxury hotel.
Plaza Hotel to the right

The north side of Grand Army Plaza, which is a corner cut out from Central Park, features the part-gilded bronze sculpture of General William Tecumseh Sherman astride his horse. The statue of General Sherman is sculpted by the famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. In 1892 Saint-Gaudens modeled a bust of the general who lived in New York after the Civil War. He then created the equestrian sculpture in Paris, and completed it in 1903. We took a few photos at Grand Army Plaza along with the statue of General Sherman.
Hubby standing at Grand Army Plaza

Statue of General Sherman astride his horse at Grand Army Plaza

Hubby’s cousin and I in front of the statue of General Sherman

We saw many horse drawn carriages lined up along Central Park South between 5th and 6th Avenues. New York City has had carriage horses since 1935, and they have become a symbol of the city. These carriages are very famous amongst visitors as they provide a wonderful opportunity to go back in time to the old days and experience the beauty of Central Park. We also availed the horse drawn carriage ride, which was really fun and exciting. We paid 80 dollars to the carriage driver for a 30 minutes ride. We loved the carriage ride and felt transported back into time. We sat back in the carriage and enjoyed the views passing by. During the ride, we saw Wollman Skate Rink, Pond, Zoo, Sheep Meadow, Dairy, the Carousel, and several more attractions. The rhythmic beating of the horse’s hoofs on the pavement was very soft and musical, which was very enchanting and reminded me of Bollywood music of 1950s and 1960s. The wonderful horse drawn carriage ride ended after about 30 minutes at the same place where we started, which was between 5th and 6th Avenue. We took a few photos of us in the carriage and a photo with the carriage driver for the sake of memory. Hubby took a video of our carriage ride and I compiled it based on Bollywood music of 1960s.
Horse drawn carriage

Hubby standing next to a horse drawn carriage

We all sitting in the horse drawn carriage that we rode

Hubby’s cousin and I along with the carriage driver

View from the horse drawn carriage that we rode

Hubby’s cousin and I enjoying the carriage ride

Hubby enjoying the carriage ride

A compiled video of our carriage ride

After the carriage ride, we again entered Central Park and leisurely walked in the southern area of the park. After about 25 minutes of walking, we reached Heckscher Playground, which is a playground suited for people of all ages. It is the largest playground in the park and the only one located in the southern area of the park. It was a rainy day and by the time we reached the playground, it started raining heavily. So we waited inside a building in the playground premises until the rain subsided. While waiting, we and took a few photos of the beautiful sceneries and greenery all around us. After about half an hour, the rain stopped for a few moments and we walked up to a huge rock that dominates one side of the play area. We climbed the rocks and took a few photos of us here.
Greenery near Heckscher Playground

Greenery near Heckscher Playground

Amazing view inside Central Park

Hubby’s cousin and I on the rock that dominates one side of Heckscher Playground

Hubby and I sitting on completely wet rock at the playground

There were several people enjoying the beautiful views even in the rain

We wanted to visit a few more attractions in the park. In fact, hubby and I wished to do boating at Central Park’s Lake. But it continued raining intermittently, though heavily, the entire afternoon and evening. So we cancelled all the plans of the park, and started walking back towards the exit near Central Park South. Just after leaving Heckscher Playground, we could see the Wollman Skate Rink though it was not under use at that time. While walking further, we came across beautiful rocks and birds around us. It was so peaceful.
Wollman Skate Rink

Hubby’s cousin and I near a rock with beautiful birds

After about 25 minutes of walking we were out of the Central Park complex. We walked up to 5th Avenue Station and took a subway to 49th Street Station. After about 4 minutes of train ride, we reached the station. Then we walked up to Times Square. It was just 5 pm. The weather had improved and fortunately the rain had stopped completely. So we decided to do hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour of New York City downtown loop. The tour was for about 2 hours and the bus returned back to Times Square. Later we did sightseeing of Times Square in the night time. I will write about these in details in the next post.

Hubby walking at Times Square and comparing his height with the two people walking next to him

Hubby’s cousin and I at Times Square

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