Thursday, May 5, 2011

Midtown

It was a big day in NY today (Thursday). Barak Obama was coming to town and we could tell something was up by the big police presence (and bag searches etc) at 42nd Street station this morning around 9.30am. At Times Square some clever tout had T-shirts to sell: Obama got Osama God bless America - but we resisted the urge to buy one.

This was the closest we got to an actual Obama sighting (picture below). As we looked down Madison Avenue we could see a crowd surge and then the NYPD cars, then the big black (CIA?) vans, then the biggest black car of all. It all happened pretty quickly, as Obama was making his way from early lunch with the firies of Engine 54 to his NY digs, the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue.

His visit to the World Trade Centre site for the wreath laying, meeting with families of victims and members of NYPD and FDNY seems to have gone over very well with the public and news commentators here. Maybe it will quell some of the more shrill demands for "pictures" (coming mainly from the media it seems).

You too could stay in the Presidential Suite at the Waldorf Astoria for $18,000 per night.

We were in Midtown for another walk with NYC by Foot, starting at Times Square. What more do we need to know about Times Square you might ask? Well at least I know now that all the 24/7 signage is powered by wind generated energy. Times Square has gone green! (Actually I didn't even know that it was named for the New York Times whose building dominates the square - so I didn't know much about Times Square at all!)

From there we walked around to my favourite block in Midtown: Bryant's Park and the New York Public Library. It is so civilised with its beautiful trees, places to sit, free magazines too, elegant cafes and grassy freshly laid lawns (a free ice rink in Winter, a picnic area in Summer to watch free evening outdoor films).

And views of gorgeous old art deco buildings above the trees (which I love).



From Bryant's Park we made our way down to W42nd Street to the entrance to the beautiful old Grand Central Station.

Joshy might remember coming here in 1994 and seeing the big Stanley Cup exhibition in one of the beautiful old marble lined halls.

Grand Central Station came close to being demolished in the mid 60s. It was only the extreme angst caused by the demolition of the even more beautiful old Penn Station that saved it - and the creation of the NY Landmark Preservation Society - whose patron in those days was Jacqueline Kennedy.

$38,000,000 was found to restore the building. Today it is an immaculate, gorgeous showcase of old New York. It positively glows, with not a speck of dirt visible despite the crowds who use it every day.

We left Grand Central through the underground plazas of the Met Life Building and walked up 5th Avenue (noting all the extra police, security and big black vans as we approached the Waldorf Astoria).

We turned into Madison Avenue (past the Advertising Walk of Fame) and then past St Patrick's Cathedral on E 50th Street, until we were at Rockefeller Plaza. By now it was bathed in sunshine and full of lunchtime crowds; Joshy will probably remember the last time we saw the plaza in January 1994; it was crowded with skaters on the ice rink then.

I enjoyed learning a bit more about 30 Rock from NYC by Foot and about how the John D Rockefeller building itself contributed to NY's recovery from the 30s depression.

After a quick lunch break we took the elevator to the 67th floor observatory (Top of the Rock) for the best view in New York! The only slight disadvantage for me was that the view of the beautiful old Chrysler building is partially obscured by the Met Life building from Top of the Rock. We met an Australian couple up on the observatory and enjoyed quite a long chat about their NY adventures. We were lucky enough that Rob, the Tasmanian, could take this great shot of us in NYC!




From the Rockefeller Centre it was only a short walk to my favourite NY Museum - the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). John D Rockefeller couldn't stand Modern Art but his wife Abby was a keen collector. Her collection has formed the basis of the Museum's big blockbuster pieces from the 20th century.

MoMA always has very contemporary exhibitions and we were not disappointed this time - an exhibition of anti-apartheid era art from Sth Africa, 1965 to the present was thought provoking as was the big multi media exhibition on the influence of hip hop music on the Arts from the 80s onwards.

But it's always fun too to take another look at the block buster pieces - Starry Night, the Frida Kahlos, all the Picassos, the Chagalls etc - WOW!

We couldn't remember seeing this very famous Dali before (except in books!): The Persistence of Memory. There are very few good Dalis in Australian galleries. We both spent ages marvelling at it.

We were stoked to see the F!nk jug included in the Museum shop display. They'd used it to exemplify elegant - as in MoMA is: inspiring, timeless, freeing, original, funny...and elegant. I hope Davey and Cath are impressed. We were surprised to see that the cost of the jug from MoMA is significantly less than what it costs in Australia (and it is made in Queanbeyan!).

1 comment:

davey said...

Very impressed Judy!! And quite right - Our jug is definitely the most elegant thing on that shelf, and now also within the flat. I have told Cath that in case of fire, Eddie and the jug should be saved first.

Sounds like you guys are having a great time. The slice of red velvet cake looked enormous! Probably quite petite by US standards. x