Last weekend was one of those perfect New York weekends that reminds me just how much I will miss living here after graduation. On Saturday morning, I woke up early to go bridesmaid dress shopping for my sister’s wedding in August (which I’m so excited for!) Spring has finally arrived in the city and even though I had plenty of work to do I just couldn’t bring myself to go home and miss out on the perfect weather. I walked to the Chelsea Hotel to see how renovations were progressing (because that’s the kind of thing historic preservationists like to do) then back down Broadway to Union Square. After a visit to the farmers’ market, where I bought some fresh bread, I headed home to get some work done.
The rest of the day included dinner with Lyle in the West Village followed by a lovely walk along the Hudson all the way down to the World Trade Center. On Sunday, we walked all over the East Village taking photographs for one of my work projects and dined al fresco in the beautiful spring weather.
This picture-perfect New York weekend gave me the idea to put together a list of my favorite places in the city. These might not be very surprising “New York favorites”. Most of them could be found on many must-see lists, but all of these things mean something very special and personal to me.
So, here is the first of a two-part post about my favorite places in New York City:
Cathedral of St. John the Divine: The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is a beautiful cathedral located in upper Manhattan in the neighborhood of Morningside Heights. Construction began in 1892 and it is still, technically, unfinished. It is one of the largest Christian churches in the world and in February of this year it was designated a New York City landmark. When I first visited New York City in 2005, this was one of the things I wanted to see most. In 2005, Morningside Heights was not quite as welcoming as it is today, and although we made it up to the subway stop at Cathedral Parkway, we quickly abandoned the plan and headed back downtown. Which was for the best, as I would learn later that a fire closed the church to the public from 2001 until 2008. Fast forward to 2013. I visited the city with a friend and we made our way uptown to see the cathedral and to eat at Tom’s Restaurant (the Seinfeld restaurant). It was well worth the wait. Now that I live here, this is still one of the places I visit frequently. Morningside Heights is a lovely, quiet (by New York City standards) neighborhood and I love to go up there to “get away”, walk the grounds of the church, and sit in the nave and marvel at the beautiful architecture.
Top of the Rock: In 2014, I visited the city on a solo trip. It was early March and it was frigid. That was the year all the meteorologists were throwing around the phrase “polar vortex”. That didn’t deter me, however, and I covered some serious ground in the 5 days I was here. I had been to the top of the Empire State Building, but not the Top of the Rock. Somewhat impulsively, I headed to Rockefeller Center after dinner one night and bought my ticket. Maybe it was the 15-degree temperature or the fact that it was nearly midnight, but there were no lines, and I didn’t even have to share the elevator with anyone. The view from the top of Rockefeller Center is, in my opinion, the best in the city. Sure, the view from the Empire State Building is incredible, but from here, you can see the ESB. Having the view (almost) to myself made it even more incredible, and amazingly peaceful. Despite the cold, I stayed up there for a long time, just watching the city below. It was during this trip to New York that I made a promise to myself that I would move here, and soon. In fact, I think I made that promise up there, high above the city I would one day call home.
The Met: I can’t talk about my favorite places in New York City without talking about the Met. Another of the places I visited on my first trip here, I’ve now probably been more than 20 times. And even after that many visits, I will never get over how special it is to be able to spontaneously say, “I think I’ll go to the Met today”. I love taking people there, especially if it’s their first time. And with each visit I manage to see something new. There are so many amazing museums in this city, part of me hates to pick such an obvious favorite. It’s like the most popular girl in school getting prom queen. But the Met is simply irresistible. New York wouldn’t be New York without it.
Brooklyn Bridge: The Brooklyn Bridge was another of those New York City icons that completely captured my imagination before I ever even set foot on it. During my first trip to the city, it was probably the thing that excited me most (well, except maybe for staying at the Chelsea). I read about it, watched documentaries, and even now, after walking across it more times than I can count, it still fills me with a certain sense of wonder every time I see it or when I walk beneath its grand Gothic arches. It may be dwarfed by the steel skyscrapers of lower Manhattan now, but 134 years ago, it was the tallest structure in the city. I like to think about when it first opened in 1883, how it seemed impossible to so many, and how it proved so many wrong.
Part Two coming soon! (after I work on my thesis a little more…)