A big thank you to my folks for sending us to explore NYC for my birthday!
This wasn’t my first trip to New York City.
For I had visited once before during my freshman year of high school. My high school choir was chosen to perform at Carnegie Hall amongst many other high school choirs. All 60 (or so) of us traveled to New York City as one big mass with a team of parent chaperones. We wore matching t-shirts with all of our names on the back.
Back in 1999, we didn’t have laptops or smartphones. We actually traveled without smart phones or laptops. I took lots of photos with a disposable camera that I had to bring to a drugstore to develop. At the time, my disposable camera was high-tech because it could take panoramic photos, too. You put your eye to the camera viewfinder and pray that most of your photos would turn out well. If you wanted to appear in your own photo, you asked a friend to take it. It didn’t occur to us to turn the camera around.
Back in 1999, the World Trade Towers stood tall. You can see them in the panoramics I took from Ellis Island. In 1999, we shared a family computer that my parents closely monitored. The fastest way to get the news was via television or the AM/FM radio. The fourth season of Friends airing, Bill Clinton was President, and we could still see loved ones off at the airport gates. I loved New York City then and I love New York City now.
Our very large choir group ate group meals at very large restaurants that could accommodate picky Midwestern kids. Before the trip, our director passed around menus from which we could choose our entrees: “Hard Rock Cafe: Cheeseburger, chicken sandwich or grilled cheese.” Dining at the original Jekyll and Hyde Club was a treat. I loved all of its creepy, haunted-house/mad scientist, animatronic glory.
One of the most pivotal food memories occurred during this trip. I was too young and naive to feel hostile that we eating anything I couldn’t find in Apple Valley. One evening we could dine on our own, with the parent chaperone, of course. We wandered into a small market with hot buffet tables in the center. I was amazed at the variety of foods; I had only visited the Chinese buffet at the Burnsville Center or Old Country Buffet. I loaded a takeout container with dishes I had never seen before and giant prawns with their heads and shells and tails intact. I couldn’t believe how ordinary it was in NYC for a casual buffet to include fresh seafood like I’d never seen in the Midwest, and foods from so many cultures.
As a 14-year old, I LOVED Times Square. The crowds and tourists didn’t bother me. It as one thing to watch TRL with Carson Daly with friends after school. It was one thing to actually stand in Times Square looking up at Carson Daly and his special guest Nelly wave from the big glass windows. One group of students randomly got picked up from a representative in a limo from the Queen Latifah show who took them to the studio for live filming.
Anyway, here are some snapshots from our recent trip:
Wall Street looming.
Trinity Church. You may remember seeing the cathedral in National Treasure.
Tacuba in Hell’s Kitchen: A very lovely, delicate cheese quesadilla with squash blossoms
Wicked at the Gershwin Theater: As wonderful as everyone says. Plus, if your order a drink you get a fun cup!
John’s Pizzeria: Late night, post-Wicked pizza.
Grabbing “create your own flavor” bubbly drinks as we walked through one of a myriad of street fairs wandering back to our Times Square hotel from The Battery.
Fatbird, Meatpacking District: Skip the laminated book of Instagramable mason jar cocktails and head to Chelsea Market instead. Fried pickles were delicious. though.
The Battery, Lower Manhattan: From this park, you can see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. We bypassed the ferries. The walk from Times Square to The Battery is a little over four miles. It will take you through many neighborhoods . Some of the places we visited included cathedrals, Chelsea Market, The National September 11th Memorial & Museum, The Wall Street Charging Bull Statue, the Friends apartment building in Greenwich Village, and Her Name is Han in Koreatown.
NYC humbles me. The city’s diversity, size, energy, history, architecture, art, food. All of it. We are grateful for the opportunity to visit and explore.
Until next time. . .
2017 NYC post archive: