Farewell from New York

Monday 19 to Friday 23 June

We returned to New York from Washington DC. The first part of the journey was along the Washington-Baltimore Parkway, a wonderful leafy road devoid of trucks. After a coffee stop in Baltimore, we continued on the I-95, arguably one of USA’s busiest roads. It is divided, three lanes for motor vehicles and three for trucks in each direction – just a massive amount of concrete.

We crossed the George Washington Bridge and found our way into Harlem to Ev & Steph’s where we dropped our luggage. We then returned the rental car and took the metro back to Harlem. I could see that Bruce needed a coffee to stem the nervous excitement of navigating onto Manhattan Island, so suggested a trip to Maison Harlem, the nice little restaurant opposite Ev and Steph’s.  The rain started, so we asked Steph to join us whilst coffee turned to beer and wine. Bruce decided to ‘pop across the road’ between rain showers to the bottle shop.  Alas, the rain showers didn’t really stop and in a massive downpour we were forced to wave to Bruce across 7th Avenue (aka Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard) for about 20 minutes, while his beer got warm and we enjoyed our wine.

Steph is now at home, having finished her studies, so we had a magical few days touring New York with an excellent guide.

We visited Grand Central Station and marvelled at more of the Vanderbilt’s grandiose architecture. Then to the foyer of the Chrysler Building with its murals of planes. 

Next we visited the New York Library with its beautiful interiors and recently refurbished reading room. Steph had done her research, and took us to the Children’s Library, where we were delighted to find the original Winnie the Pooh, who clearly has taken up residence in New York. 

A must do in New York is a visit to a Yankees Ball Game. They were playing the Los Angeles Angels. While the game might have lacked excitement, it was a fun event with deep fried chicken, hot dogs and beer to add to the atmosphere.

Next day we took the metro to Cony Island – a massive Luna Park. Steph and I treated ourselves to a genuine hotdog while sitting on the boardwalk. In USA we have seen a lot of fountains especially designed for people, especially children, to run through to keep cool. Every city has one. And on the beach at Cony Island there were plastic palms that had a fine water spray, creating wet sand to play in. 

We paddled in the water, and walked along the pier, then Steph treated us to a ride on the Wonder Wheel a 45.7-metre tall eccentric Ferris wheel at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.

Now I know that eccentric wheels differ from conventional Ferris wheels in that some of the passenger cars are not fixed directly to the rim of the wheel, but instead slide on rails between the hub and the rim as the wheel rotates. Thanks Wikipedia!

Afterwards we walked through Greenwich Village and down to the Hudson River. I loved watching the children playing in the water park. 

Our last full day in USA we visited the Museum of Modern Art MoMA to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s exhibition. It was an exhibition of lots of plans, and would probably be an architect’s dream. FLW was an amazing artist as well as an architect. Many of the plans and ideas were for projects that never took off, including model farms and satellite villages. Perhaps a lot was designed during the depression when work dried up. His houses were uncluttered. Where possible furniture was built in, such as benches under windows rather than couches, integrated bookcases and work stations. Roofs were flat, ceilings were low, lights hidden in pelmets or in ceiling cavities. Car ports rather than garages were included. Interestingly, we saw very little evidence of his prairie style architecture on our recent travels. 

For our last night Steph booked us into the jazz and supper restaurant Smoke on Broadway. It was a quick turnaround – meal and show in 90 minutes, but it was a lot of fun. And of course followed by a final drink at Maison Harlem, now a regular favourite.

We have spent six weeks in the USA this time, as the world comes to terms with a new president who defies the boundaries of diplomacy and political correctness. We will watch with interest.

Next stop Berlin.