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New York adventures: downtown tour

July 24, 2013 - Pam Rodgers
Last week I blogged about going to Yankee Stadium. Well, that wasn’t all that I did in New York. I also took an all-day tour of the downtown area.

In 1995, we took a bus tour of the city but I don’t remember everything about it. The city has changed quite a bit in 18 years. When we were making plans to go back, I really wanted to take a tour, so I could see just how different the city is then I remember and maybe go to a few more things.

Driving in NYC is crazy, which is why an organized tour is the best way to go. I have a specific example from our bus tour.

Stuck in the Middle

The bus tour was fun. I’ll tell you all about it in a little bit.

My family and I have taken a summer vacation for as long as I can remember. We always have new experiences, even when going to the same destination multiple times. This year, we experienced getting stuck in the middle of a downtown street on a bus.

I never imagined it was possible, but I was wrong. We had just eaten in Greenwich Village. We crossed into SoHo on our way to Ground Zero and Battery Park. We were headed south on a one-way street when our bus encountered two service trucks parked on both sides of the road. They were parked at such an angle that in order to clear one truck, the bus would have to hit the other.

We were stuck and New York drivers are less than sympathetic.

Our only option was to back up and go down a different street. Well, there was a line of cars behind us. Our tour guide hopped off the bus and went to plead with the drivers to let us backup. They were very impatient. Eventually, our tour guide directed them down the bike path/sidewalk to clear enough room for us to back up.

I will give credit to our bus driver. He got us out of that mess faster than I thought possible. Also our guide was cool headed enough to deal with the cursing drivers and get out of the situation unscathed.

I’ll chalk that up as something I only want to experience once in a lifetime.

The Tour

The tour had seven stops and we drove by a lot more NYC landmarks. We couldn’t stop everywhere otherwise the tour would have lasted two days instead of one.

We started with Times Square. All of the screens and lights were on, even though it was early in the morning. The last two visits to NYC didn’t include Times Square so I was glad we finally got to go.

Next we went to Central Park. We walked just a small section of the park. We got off the bus across the street from where John Lennon was shot and killed. Because of the that, that section of the park was named Strawberry Fields. There is an “Imagine” mosaic in the sidewalk as you enter the section.

Then we got back on the bus and drove down Fifth Avenue. We drove past Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s old residence. We also saw a lot of the former factories that we converted into office space. The best part was the shopping district. Driving by those upscale stores was good enough for me though.

Our next stop was at the statue of Atlas holding up the heavens. It is right across the street from St Patrick’s Cathedral. Major renovations were happening at the cathedral but it was still great to get a glimpse of the brilliant architecture.

A short walk down the street was Rockefeller Center. By the time we arrived, they were breaking down the outside sets of the Today Show but we got to see the outside of the studio. We also got to see the golden statue of Prometheus over what would be the ice rink. During the warm months it is a restaurant. Who knew?

The next stop was Madison Square Park. The original Madison Square Garden was located there. From the park, you have great views of the Empire State Building and the Flatiron building.

We stopped in Greenwich Village on Bleeker Street for lunch. I took the opportunity to have New York style pizza from Joe’s Pizzeria, which is featured in the Tobey McGuire version of “Spiderman.”

Next we went to Ground Zero. The wait to get to the 9/11 memorial was more than two hours so our group wasn’t able to see the actual memorial. We did go to an observation deck so we could look down on the site. You can see the footprints of the twin towers and the new Freedom Tower that is being completed. When the construction is completed, the area will be an open space for people to visit. Hopefully I can go back in a few years so I can see the memorial up close.

The final stop was at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. You get a good view of the Statue of Liberty and it’s not as crowded as the New York side. Liberty Island had been closed because of Hurricane Sandy but it had just opened on July 4th so we timed our trip just right.

Other things we saw from the bus were Lincoln Tunnel, Restaurant Row, World Wide Plaza, Seinfeld’s Soup Man, Hearst Tower, Columbus Circle, Turner Warner Center, Trump International Tower, Lincoln Center, Julliard School, Ansonia, American Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Plaza Hotel, FAO Schwarz, Chrysler Building, New York Public Library, Lord and Taylor, Washington Square Arch, SoHo, Canal Street, China Town, Courts District, City Hall, Woolworth Building, Wall Street Bull and the Holland Tunnel. It was a great tour!



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