The Big Apple! New York is one of the most
famous cities in the world, with so many landmarks it is instantly recognisable,
and its fame has been heightened by all the television and film based there, and the
various high profile events which have taken place throughout its history. It is
the most populous city in the United States and is divided into the five boroughs
of Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten and Manhattan. There are not many travellers
who go to the United States without going through New York, it is a magnet for
tourism with so much to do and see that nobody could possibly be disappointed
with their trip.
My own New York experience took place for a week in Easter 1992 and a couple of
days in June 2001. In '92 we stayed for a week on 9th Avenue 57th Street at the Days Inn
which was a dump, and we saw as many of the famous sights as we could, starting
at the top of the list and working our way down. In 2001 I stayed in the
Upper West Side at the American Youth
Hostel at 103rd and Amsterdam, and another hostel nearby called "Jazz On the Park".
I spent most of the time marching the canyon-like streets seeing what I could see,
and generally enjoying the atmosphere of the city. As I was skint, the only touristy
things that I did were the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center.
Unfortunately my photos from both occasions are rubbish, so please excuse the bad
Just before they docked at Ellis Island, newcomers
to the United States would sail past Lady Liberty, who back then might not have been
quite so green. The enduring symbol of New York it has appeared in many films,
my personal favourite being Ghostbusters II where she is brought to life and marches
to the mainland. The queue to get to the top is very long, so we only went up to
her feet in '92, I didn't go back in 2001 as I didn't have time. She was sculpted
by a French bloke, and in a bit of an exchange between the two cities there is a
smaller replica by the Seine in Paris, which coupled with the replica Arc D'Triomphe
in Washington Square at the bottom of Fifth Avenue, made a fair swap.
The new immigrants to NYC wouldn't have seen this
as they sailed in though, downtown New York as it looked in 1992. Most of the buildings
in this picture were built on reclaimed land, and all of the ones to the left of
the twin towers were built on earth from the excavation of the World Trade Center
basement which was dumped in the Hudson. In the right of the picture the green
steeple of 40 Wall Street can be seen.
The Empire State Building is probably New York's
most famous landmark after the Statue of Liberty. It was built in the years of
the depression following the Wall Street crash of 1929, well under budget and very
rapidly for a structure its size. The outdoor viewing platform on the 86th floor
used to be supplemented by a small circular room that was the 102nd level, but when
I visited for the second time in 2001 I was disappointed to find it had since been
closed to the public. The building was hit by a B25 bomber during the
Second World War when it was foggy outside, resulting in a number of deaths but
no danger of the building collapsing. There is an interesting story about a woman
who was in a lift at the time, the cables above snapped and the lift fell 60 storeys
before bouncing to rest on the large pile of cable that had collected under the lift
cab as it fell.
Looking North from the top of the Empire State
Building up to Central Park and the Rockefeller Center. In the upper right of the photo the white
sloped roof of the Citigroup (formerly Citicorp) building can be seen. It was the
first building to use a tuned mass damper system, effectively a great big weight
in the attic which shifted opposite to the building's movement, making it more
stable. Also, in a hush hush operation soon after it was completed emergency
reinforcements were added under cover of darkness, as someone suddenly noticed that
it could blow down if the wind came in diagonally not head on. Well spotted.
The view slightly overlaps the previous photo,
but was taken more than 9 years later. Although not distinguishable the white writing
on top of the building in the centre reads "MetLife" where previously it read "Pan
Am". After the collapse of the airline in the early 90s, largely due to the
Lockerbie bombing, the building tenant changed. The MetLife building is joined
onto Grand Central Station, and all the trains running north go right underneath it.
Also visible in to the right of the photo is the beautiful art deco spire of the
And the view south towards downtown Manhattan and
the twin towers, this one from '92. In the foreground the wedge shaped Flatiron
Building can be seen with the light hitting it, it was the first skyscraper to
be constructed in New York.
Here I am on Park Avenue, one of the more
landscaped Avenues in the city. The Metlife Building stands blotting out the sky
directly behind me, and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel can be seen on the left of the photo,
with the green pointy roof. Note also the typical New York cab heading away.
I often try to get a spot of greenery in a photo
which would otherwise be all steel and concrete, this is the view I got after getting
off the wrong subway stop for the World Trade Center in 2001. I was there for the
second time about two and a half months before the terrorist attacks of September
the 11th, and I was there for the first time 11 months before the
car bomb of '93. I thought the twin towers were more impressive than the
Empire State, because standing at the bottom you could still see the whole thing with
no obstruction of setbacks, an absolutely sheer wall of steel rising 413 metres
above my head. I sat for a while in the sun on the concourse with a diet coke gazing
up at the towers, before paying my 13 bucks and getting in the lift. The decor was
still quite Seventies inside.
Here I am in 1992 at the tender age of 9 next to
one of the 107th floor windows of the south tower, looking north up Manhattan.
The picture quality is too poor to see the Empire State in the background, but
the distinctive trapezoidal shape of the roof of 7 WTC can be seen in the foreground.
That building collapsed on the afternoon of 9/11 following hours of burning, but it
had been evacuated long before.
This is a somewhat better view of me on the roof
of the south tower in 2001, again looking north with the top of the north tower
behind me. I am standing on a raised walkway which is still a good 20 feet from the
edge, and there was an electric fence to stop people from leaping off, be it for
Base Jumping or any other purpose. The helipad in the middle of the roof was where
parts of Limp Bizkit's "Rollin" video was filmed. I stood around for a good half an
hour taking in the view from all sides and watching helicopters fly around below me,
before going down the escalator to the lifts on level 107, never to come back.