Weekend Explorations in NYC

Friday I stayed at home all day, but now I’m regretting it after seeing some other people’s photos of the dense fog that evening. It would have been interesting to head out to Broadway Junction, or perhaps take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

I did discover, however, that there’s a rather loud foghorn located somewhere near my neighborhood. Guess that’s what I get for living three blocks from the harbor. It adds a nice sense of atmosphere and isn’t particularly loud inside my apartment, but the frequency is so low it can be heard just about everywhere. I guess that’s the idea… If it couldn’t be heard over long distances, it wouldn’t be much of a foghorn. Just out of curiousity, does anybody know exactly where this thing is located?

Saturday, I took the subway into the city and did some walking around. On the (N) express from 59th Street, we passed a major construction site in the tunnel just north of 36th Street. Looks like the entire track and trackbed is being dug up and replaced, and there’s a couple work trains parked on the track north and south of the site, and some debris and equipment piled up on the north end of the platform at 36th. Anybody know exactly what all is being done here, and how long it’s supposed to last? Needless to say, all southbound (N) trains are running on the local track along the 4th Avenue line while this is going on. Also, northbound express trains are running very slow while passing the site; The (R) local actually passed us and got to Pacific Street before us. For any of those who like to check out work trains and equipment, though, I highly reccomend a trip to 36th Street.

I got off at Union Square, walked around a bit, and headed up towards Herald Square. Along the way I stopped to explore the ABC store just north of Union Square, which is an incredible place. Six floors of interesting and overpriced furniture and light fixtures. I especially liked the funky 1970’s stuff on the second floor. Once up at Herald Square, I spent some time wandering around Macy’s and riding the ancient wooden escalators.

From there, I took an (F) train to Roosevelt Island and rode the Tram back into Manhattan. The Roosevelt Island subway station was impressively deep, although I was somewhat disappointed to see that the escalators had been broken into two seperate runs with a landing in the middle. It would have been much more cool to have a single bank of incredibly long escalators, but I can understand the pragmatic reasons for having a landing.

I took advantage of my newfound ability to use my unlimited-ride Metrocard on the Tram, and it was very cool. Incredible views of the city and of the Queensboro Bridge, although the Tram seems to have been made redundant by the subway station.

From the Manhattan end of the Tram, I walked over to Times Square via Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center, and then took the subway home.

On Sunday (yesterday), I went to mass up at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and went out to brunch with some friends from the congregation afterwards. After that, I decided to walk up to the northern tip of Manhattan Island. I’ve previously walked from the Cathedral all the way down to Battery Park, so now I can say I’ve covered the entire length of Manhattan on foot.

I pretty much stayed on Broadway with only a couple exceptions. Around 125th Street I took a short detour to check out the Fairway store under the Hudson Parkway viaduct. What an incredible cornucopia for the senses! I also love their store on the Upper West Side (and Zabar’s. *drool*…) One day soon I hope to return with some money in my wallet. I remember readong somewhere that Fairway is also getting ready to open a third store in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn. Anybody know if there’s any truth to that, and when it’s supposed to happen?

I was also very impressed by the 12th Avenue viaduct in that area… Pretty incredible hunk of steelwork. I’ll have to return with my camera at some point.

Back on Broadway, I continued northward up to the Washington Heights area. The topography begins to get very interesting north of the George Washington Bridge, and I made my second detour a few blocks north of there. I noticed that Broadway was becoming rather dull while the row of apartment buildings at the top of the ridge along Ft. Washington Avenue looked far more interesting, so around 187th Street I headed up a very steep hill in that direction. It was interesting to see the backs of these buildings, with the “ground” floor actually a good 5-6 floors above the street behind them. I glimpsed an interesting subway entrance for the 181st Street station on the IND, and climbed a massive flight of stairs to get up to Ft. Washington Avenue (pant, pant). Once up there, I was treated to some incredible views. Again, I’ll need to return with my camera.

The neighborhood itself also seemed very cool… I love the Art Deco apartment buildings, and I’ve seen a lot of rentals advertized up there that are actually reasonably priced. I may look at the possibility of getting my own apartment within the next year or two, once I have a job and get some money saved up. (My current place isn’t bad for now, but my roommate is an annoying “daddy’s little princess” type from the suburbs and a total slob, and her boyfriend has slept over every night for the past two weeks. Don’t get me started.)

I continued walking north along Ft. Washington Avenue and found myself at the entrance to Ft. Tryon Park, along with another interesting IND subway entrance. The park itself was very nice, and I love the network of roadways connecting to/from Henry Hudson Parkway. I had to stand on a good vantage point for a bit and figure out where each roadway was coming and going. I also walked past the Cloisters (but didn’t go inside), and then climbed the steep trail back down into the neighborhood below. I found myself in Inwood and back on Broadway, and before long, walking across the Broadway Bridge into the Bronx. Nice view of the Harlem River and the tall bridge that carries Henry Hudson Parkway, and it was like a little taste of Chicago listening to the IRT subway cross the drawbridge on the tracks above me.

Now with very sore feet, I climbed the stairs at the 225th Street station and boarded the (1) train. I made it back to the Cathedral just in time for Evensong at 6:00, and came staright home from there.

I had another good walk last weekend, going from the Cathedral down to Union Square. I’ve walked that distance before down Broadway, but this time, due to the beautiful spring-like weather, I went all the way through Central Park from the northwest corner at 110th and CPW to the southeast corner at 59th and Fifth Ave. That is one huge park, and the crowds were out in full force… Great for people-watching.

By the way, I had a job interview on Thursday that went pretty well, and the guy has e-mailed me back asking for references. I’ll interpret that as a good sign. The office is in the Chelsea area, just off the 8th Avenue IND line (making Washington Heights even more attractive if I get this job). Wish me luck.

(originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org)

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