A More People-Friendly New York

I’m sitting at Taipei International Airport, “borrowing” Singapore Airlines’ wireless service (I’m sitting just outside their Silver Kris lounge – don’t tell them, please) after a relatively painless 16-hour flight from Newark, including a one-hour refueling and crew change in Anchorage, Alaska.  Time for another update on New York.

As part of his summer work schedule, my cousin had Friday off from his job at MTV, freeing him up to accompany us around the city.  After lunch at ‘ino in the Village, we stopped by Magnolia Bakery, a place made famous (as I understand it) in Sex and the City, ostensibly for their delicious cupcakes.  I tried them and have to say that the cake was very dry and the icing too sweet.  But then, there are few cakes that I really find all that moist.  Below, a line of Sex and the City groupies, queuing for their cupcakes.

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Biing joined us at Magnolia and then he and Tawn went for some more shopping.  I’ll tell you one of the secrets to great trips together: when you have divergent interests, sometimes it is better to spend a bit of time apart on the trip, following those interests with people who are like-minded.

As such, Brad and I headed to the southern tip of Manhattan for a ride to Staten Island.  This free ferry service, which departs half-hourly from the South Ferry subway station, is a good way to catch a view of the skyline and Statue of Liberty, without enduring the expense and crowds of a harbor tour.

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It takes about twenty minutes on the trip and as soon as you reach Staten Island, nearly everyone rushes off the lower exit and back up the stairs to board the same ferry for the return trip, such is the minimal appeal of this borough.  There’s probably enough sites to merit a little exploring, but we followed the crowd and made an immediate return, too.

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The South Ferry subway station has been completely redone, as has the ferry terminal.  It is beautiful, clean, and very tourist-friendly.  In fact, having visited New York regularly over the past twenty years, I have to say that there are a lot of recent changes that are making the city more and more people-friendly, both for residents and visitors. 

One of these changes is the recent reworking of several blocks of Broadway in Times Square, closing it to traffic and making it into a pedestrian-only area. 

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In this photo taken from our room at the Marriott Marquis (where we stayed our final night), you can see three blocks of Broadway, painted red, which is now off limit to vehicles.  Additionally, changes have been made to Seventh Avenue, creating more room pedestrians and giving over designated lanes to vehicle making left turns.

While I understand there has been some initial grumbling by those who have to drive in the city, the changes certainly make the space much more pleasant and safer for pedestrians.  No longer do you have to take a risky walk in the gutter to avoid the awed crowds; now you have much more pedestrian-friendly space in which to navigate.

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Above, a view of a piece of sculpture installed on the closed portion of Broadway in Times Square, a collection of damaged beach chairs.

Interesting thing: after alighting from the Staten Island Ferry, I saw this dragonfly perched on a piece of rebar.  I’m a bit amazed my camera could actually focus on it!

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Our flight boards in ten minutes, so I’ll add more later.

 

0 thoughts on “A More People-Friendly New York

  1. Nice photos as usual!  I love NYC!  I went two years ago with my husband and we loved it so much so I brought my family with me last October–that was before they changed Times Square to pedestrian only–what a great idea!  I haven’t ever visited a city that has done so much to improve their city to be so people friendly.  I am hoping that Vancouver will follow suit one day.

  2. Marriott Marquis I had a buffet dinner there b4 having my first Broadway Show ‘Sunset Boulevard’ in 1995, and I did have the same ferry trip too but it was DEC and freezing…..

  3. Very good advice there re spending time apart at times on holiday!!I would imagine too that the cupcakes of Magnolia aren’t too great. too much popularity from sex and the city!And it’s so good to see the pedestrianisation around Times Square. Really makes sense given its touristic value.

  4. @lil_squirrel4ever – NY is a city I would still consider moving to, especially with those types of improvements.@ElusiveWords – And it seems like, following the “opposites attract” cliche, many couples do have different interests, at least in some areas.@agmhkg – December wouldn’t be the best time to be out on the ferry, no…@Dezinerdreams – If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere…@joburgboy – Regarding the cupcakes, there seems to be a point at which fame is harmful.  A business can become too well known for its own good, especially if it results in having to grow larger than it is really ready to.

  5. Although my parents are together 95% of the time on trips, on the occasions they’re traveling with company they do exactly as you suggested — a little time apart is always nice — it makes the time together that much better!BTW, thanks for the great pics of the new Times Square! I’d been wondering what it looked like from above.

  6. @yang1815 –  My pleasure.@dynamiqvision – We were lucky that we had views both from our hotel room and also from my cousin’s office, which is in the same building that Virgin Megastore used to be in.@TheCheshireGrins –  They’ve also added a LOT of bicycle lanes and in the meatpacking district I noticed some more pedestrian plazas. Nice quality of life changes.@marshmellowTM –  I’ll tell you, even the subway stations have improved a lot since ten years ago. Lots of new artwork, re-tiling, better lighting, etc. Given their age, they aren’t too bad.@dan –  I had no idea that’ where Xanga HQ was, not that visitors were welcome. Hmmm… add that to the list for next time.

  7. Saw the lawn chair sculpture and had to laugh. If that were placed in my city’s park, the landscaping crew would have taken it apart and recycled it in 10 min flat! LOL. Nice photos and I’ll have to remember about the ferry. My husband wants to do another “East Coast” tour this coming year. Last time was over 10 yrs ago…

  8. Seems like you guys had a great honeymoon in NYC.I never have enough of the Big Apple. The last visit was in April with my partner. The weather wasn’t very good as it was wet and cold everyday, except the last day when we scheduled to leave. Times Square hasn’t had the pedestrian-only area when we were there. I think it was a fantastic idea. Sydney city has been doing a lot of changes to make the city be more tourist freindly.

  9. We had stayed at the Mariott Marquee in the late eighties and thought it was SUCH a neat palce, so close to the theaters and various eateries. I am so happy that you had a wonderful time there. Beautiful pictures as always.

  10. @murisopsis – That’s funny.  I’m sure recycling them would have been a better choice.@beautyandthebum – It is hard to get your fill of New York, isn’t it?@ZenPaper – Glad you found the tip useful…  Hope it leads to many happy journeys.@ZSA_MD – The hotel’s location is really convenient, isn’t it?  I find the crowds outside to be a bit bothersome, but the hotel itself is an oasis.@Renatojr3 – Incredibly so.

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