NYC birthday


  My wife planned a trip to NYC for my birthday! Our train left the Pittsburgh station at 7:29….one minute ahead of schedule. We enjoy seeing the morning sun fall on old houses and factories as we pass through several small towns. Our seating area on this train is quite roomy with plenty of leg room. Much more space than either the plane or Megabus, which we used on our last NYC venture.

We made about a five minute stop at Greensburg, PA. From our window, the beautiful Greensburg station gives you a feeling that you are in the late 19th century. Chris noticed the Westmoreland Museum of Art not far away.

Two hours into our trip I see an older Ford automobile dealership. On the front of the building is the familiar Ford oval sign, underneath that reads Impala Motors. I find that funny in my own quirky way. If I keep looking I may spot a Chevrolet dealership with the name Fairlane Motors.

We make a five minute stopover in Altoona, PA. I can see a photographer on a bridge above us. Using a tripod (this lets me know he is serious), he photographs our train. Several more photographers line the track as we leave Altoona. I am totally relaxed, and it feels good. It’s kind of like that miniature train ride at Kennywood Park. Only longer.

We arrived at bustling Penn Station a little after four pm and then on the subway. Took the Blue Line down to Washington Square and transferred to the F train. We checked into the Blue Moon Hotel, then did a quick on-line search for restaurants. We had dinner at an all-vegan Thai restaurant called Pukk, and dinner was excellent! We spent the remainder of the evening strolling our Lower East Side neighborhood.



Thursday morning we headed to the Highline Park beginning at 14th Street. It was already 84 degrees by 10 am, and the Highline was the busiest I have ever seen. From here we walked to several Chelsea galleries and saw well over a dozen exhibitions. Among our favorites on this day was Nicola Lopez at Pace Prints; Polixeni Papapetrou at Jenkins Johnson Gallery (especially the animal head pieces); Nobu Fukui at Stephen Haller Gallery; Judith Schaechter at Claire Oliver Gallery; Bennett Vadnais at George Billis Gallery; and Yoshitomo Nara at Pace Gallery.

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A little after 2 pm we stopped at Artichokes for pizza and beer, followed by a walk through of the Chelsea Market. We took a break at the hotel, followed by a film (“Sightseers”), and then took the subway to Strand Books.

Friday morning we visited the Tennement Museum, which included a guided tour of early shop life in the Lower East Side. We then headed to Little Muenster, a cafe specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches, for my birthday dinner. Grilled cheese, tomato soup, and a glass of crisp Pino. Excellent! We met a group in the cafe who were there from Liverpool, England as part of an urban food tour.

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We took the subway to 57th Street and walked throug Central Park up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The weather was HOT and humid! We caught the Civil War painting show and the exhibition on The Punk movement. We wrapped up our visit to the contenporary galleries.P1070500

Our next stop was the Westside Theatre to see “Old Jews Telling Jokes”. Our subway train was 18 minutes late due to an electrical outage, and we had to walk the last seven l-o-n-g blocks as fast as we could. We arrived at the theatre, two exhausted sweat balls, just seven minutes before curtain time. We were able to unwind and laugh with this light hearted show.


    Saturday morning we headed to Dumbo. As we stepped out of the subway we took a moment to get our bearings. A man walking by noticed our puzzled faces and asked where we were headed. We told him we were going to Jauque Torres for a mocha. The man, who eventually introduced himself as Mark, said, “I am heading that way and I will show you something you have never seen before.” I could tell Chris was uneasy about this.

As we were walking through the tree lined neighborhood, Mark pointed out a group of homes. “That is the last stand of wood frame houses around Dumbo. Because of so many fires, Brooklyn outlawed wood frame houses in 1852.”


That “something” that Mark had mentioned ended up being a new pedestrian bridge that had just opened two months previously. The Sqibb Bridge is a 450 foot wooden span that takes you into the park from the Heights. The bridge cables and supports are situated underneath the walking surface. It has a wonderful bouncy feel to it, and signs at either end of the structure explain that this springiness is perfectly normal.

Mark walked with us to Janes’s Carousel, where we thanked Mark orthe mini-tour and parted company. Chris and I took a ride on the carousel, which I rode as a kid when it was situated at Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio. The carousel was built in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. I had last ridden it in the summer of 1968, just before leaving for basic training.


Chris and I spent the morning and early-afternoon checking out Smack Mellon galleries on Front Street. We sopped to browse books at Powerhouse Arena and a wonderful lunch at Re-Bar.

After lunch we visited a few more shops and at the spur of the moment decided to laugh at the near 90 degree temperatures and oof it across the Brooklyn Bridge. The walk was toasty, but enjoyable as we strolled through a sea of diversity that is NYC.


    As we entered Manhattan, we spent a few moments watching street performers in a nearby park. Afterwards, we caught a subway and back to our hotel. We rested for half an hour, and then it was back to the streets for dinner. We were walking to a veggie restaurant we know called Quantam Leap. We were crossing through Little Italy and I sobered a street fair in progress. We decided to change our plans, and have dinner here t one of the outdoor cages. Our dinner and wine were excellent, and we enjoyed watching the pocession fo St. Anthony that came past our table, complete with band.


Our bellies full of pasta and wine, we walked back to our hotel. Twice we missed the street of our hotel and had to turn around. Our bed welcomed us with open sheets and we rested for our return trip home to WV the next morning.

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