Just thought I’d chime in with my own rundown of my Sunday in New York City…
I left Collingswood, NJ at about 8:30 AM in order to attend the 11:00 AM Eucharist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights. My original plan was to park at Pavonia/Newport on the PATH line and then take PATH and the subway to the cathedral, but since I was running a bit late, I decided to take my chances and drive all the way into Manhattan via the George Washington Bridge. Amazingly enough, I found plenty of street parking on Amsterdam Avenue just a few blocks north of the cathedral. Being a Sunday, I didn’t even have to feed the meter. Certainly something to keep in mind for future visits.
This is going a bit off-topic, but the worship service at the Cathedral was incredible. That’s two worship services I’ve attended there so far, and both of them were incredibly beautiful and sprit-filled. I’m not sure if it’s the building or the music or whatever, but the only other place I’ve felt the same “vibe” was at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. For you Episcopalians out there — or anybody else from any other faith tradition — I highly recommend it. The Cathedral takes very seriously its charter of being a “house of prayer for all people”… The liturgy included a passage in Hebrew — “Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai echad” (“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord”) — and there’s a large Menorah on either side of the High Altar… Unusual for a Christian church, and very nice touches. If I lived just a little bit closer to NYC, I’d be at the Cathedral every Sunday morning in a heartbeat. (I’ve actually become somewhat involved with the Canterbury Club, the Episcopal student organization at UPenn, which meets at St. Mary’s Church on the UPenn campus.)
Anyway, back to my trip… After the service, I got back in my car, and attempted to find my was to the Holland Tunnel. I got over to Riverside Drive without any trouble, but I attempted to get onto Henry Hudson Parkway with no success. I actually found my on once, but I was going in the northbound direction. Not good. So I eventually circled around and simply took 11th Avenue all the way down to the tunnel. I had to stop for gas along the way, as running out of gas in the Holland Tunnel would have ruined my day very quickly. Full-service gasoline in Manhattan is almost as expensive as self-serve in Chicago.
I finally made my way to the Holland Tunnel, and it was stop-and-go traffic all the way to the New Jersey side. However, while in the tunnel, I saw something very interesting: There’s a little tram that goes along the left-hand side of the tunnel, presumably to transport PA employees from one end to the other. It actually runs on rails, and is just big enough for one person. I saw a guy using it to head back to NY as I was sitting in traffic. Very cool! Do any of the other NYC-area tunnels have similar features?
Once in New Jersey, I found the Pavonia/Newport PATH station without too much trouble, and parked my car in a nearby garage. This was the first time I’ve ever ridden PATH. My impressions? The stations were incredibly cramped and claustrophobic, and the trains were unremarkable. Not surprisingly, they’re very similar to the Orange Line and Blue Line trains on the MBTA. As has been mentioned elsewhere here, the side platform at Pavonia/Newport was off-limits due to construction.
Emerging at Hoboken Terminal, I soon found Doug “BMT Man” and Pelham Bay Dave, and hung out with them most of the rest of the day. We checked out the new ALP locomotive on display, as well as the new Comet coach before hitting the new segment of the HBLR line. The ALP locomotive was very sharp-looking, and the Comet coach looked pretty much like your standard-issue NJT coach with a few modern touches.
On to my first-ever ride on the HBLR. Not bad for me to explore two new transit systems in one day. My impressions: A very nice, clean system with very cool LRV railcars. My only complaint is that it seemed exceptionally slow in many areas. But then, I’m more used to rapid transit. As others have mentioned here, the new extension offers and incredible view of the NYC skyline and the rail yards leading into Hoboken Terminal. This was the first time I had gotten a real good view of the lower Manhattan skyline since 9/11, and it just doesn’t look right. Without the WTC, it actually doesn’t look much different than the bland Jersey City skyline. What a shame… How many more words can be said about that day?
Dave got off at Exchange Place, while Doug and I got off at Liberty State Park and transferred to another train and got off at MLK Drive. Doug showed me around a bit before we grabbed the next train back to Hoboken. Once back in Hoboken, we headed down to the PATH station. Being unfamiliar with PATH, I naturally followed Dough into the next outbound train, which happened to be going to 33rd Street. For some reason the distance between stops seemed much longer than it had been on the way in. I finally realized my mistake at Christopher Street, and got off there for a train bound for Journal Square. I finally got off at Pavonia/Newport, and jumped back onto the New Jersey Turnpike for an uneventful drive home.
It was nice meeting up with Doug and Dave, and I’m sorry I missed the rest of you who were there. Hopefully I’ll see you all up at Branford on October 13th.
(originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org)