I felt the magic of New York City.
I now understand why so many people—people with different tastes, styles and aspirations—feel the draw of this city.
New York has the chaos that accompanies a big city: people hustling and bustling below and within shimmering skyscrapers; the electric draw of Times Square illuminating the city’s nightlife, empowering the ability to never sleep.
But New York also has a serene side, with cafés nestled between shady trees in historic brownstone townhouses of the Upper West Side. (A café where Kathleen Kelly waited reading with a rose for the man she didn’t wan’t to be Joe Fox.)
For me, the magic of New York City was experiencing the historic and touristy sites I’ve only read about and seen in movies, the vast collection of art and architecture, and the little details that captured the soul of the city.
Despite not wanting to face the crowds on Labor Day weekend, we had to visit the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge. What kind of tourists would we be if we didn’t?
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
We found out too late that you could buy tickets to go up into her crown (they were booked 3 months out), but were able to get tickets that allowed us up in her stone pedestal.
After my sister broke an ornament and deemed herself blacklisted from every gift shop in the state, we decided it was time to leave Liberty Island.
The tickets also got us access to Ellis Island, on which the main building is now a museum and research center where you can search for your ancestors that might have walked through that very building. (Turns out, we don’t know much about our German forebears.)
Empire State Building
No one met a long-lost lover, but we did spot King Kong.
Brooklyn & Manhattan Bridges
After walking the Brooklyn Bridge, we spent the day in Brooklyn visiting fleas markets and gorging ourselves on whatever struck our fancy at Smorgasburg. I especially enjoyed the pastrami.
Art and architecture
Museums and libraries
The New York Public Library and Morgan Library were ornately impressive and ostentatious (respectively). I loved everything about The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), except trying to navigate it. And I think I marveled more at the Guggenheim Museum itself than I did the art inside of it.
I was surprised to enjoy the Tenement Museum as much as I did. Themed walking tours (we did the Irish Outsiders) offered a taste of what life was like for immigrant and migrant families in New York during the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s a little something different if you’re not in the mood for Matisse or overthought modern art.
Famous structures and some random buildings that caught my eye. Grand Central Station deserved special attention—for obvious reasons.
The parks were one of my favorite things about New York City. The little pockets of escape created a brisk transition from angular (albeit beautiful) buildings to the soft greenness of nature.
Finding art installed in unexpected places always brings a little more delight to the day.
To look behind me on the street and see a cute STIK figure peeking around an old building. Colorful tiles twinkling elegantly along a grungy subway station. Turning the corner to see a happy hippo sweetly posing in her ballerina garb.
While wandering, I noticed some little details or moments (I’m a fan of little moments) that I thought captured the essence of New York City—making it that much more magical.