TRAVEL GUIDE: MIDTOWN, EMPIRE STATE BUILDING, NYC, USA
Day 4 had arrived and we had finally reached the most famous area of NYC – Midtown. Midtown is home to the mega-icons that we associate with New York, such as Grand Central, Times Square, Macy’s and the Empire State Building; just to name a few. As always, we wanted to see as much as possible so we set off early and made our way to our first destination - Macy’s on Broadway.
Macy’s is a magical place, and the store at Herald Square is the flagship, which makes it even more special. As you enter through the main doors on Herald Square, you are immediately overwhelmed by the sheer size of the place. In addition, they usually have a special display linked to a theme at the entrance and at various points throughout the store and these are spectacular. We weren’t looking for anything in particular so after we’d made our way around the store, we left and headed towards the Flatiron Building, also on Broadway at 23rd street.
The Flatiron Building is an iconic landmark in New York which also serves to represent the architectural achievements of the city. The building was erected in 1902 and was the second sky scraper to be built in the city. The Flatiron building is simply a must see location and when you are standing in front of it looking towards the front edge of the building, it really is a fantastic view.
From the Flatiron Building, we made our way up 5th Avenue and headed towards New York Public Library. The building itself is beautiful and is set in Bryant Park, which is a serene location amongst the busy streets of Midtown. As you walk through the park you see just how enormous the building is and when you enter, you are met by large hallways with high ceilings and intricate artworks and murals on the walls. It feels more like a museum than a library and is a fantastic place to visit if you’re in the area.
We made the short walk along 42nd Street to Grand Central Terminal, popularly known as Grand Central Station, another must see location for anyone visiting New York! As you can see, today is really full of fantastic locations. A lot of people say that the best thing to do in Grand Central is to simply stand in the middle of the terminal and watch the people as they come and go, and to try and imagine the relevance this place has had throughout history. The atmosphere in the terminal is extremely special and the feeling of old meets new is present everywhere.
After spending some time enjoying Grand Central, we walked further east along 42nd street to get a glimpse of the infamous Chrysler Building, another iconic piece of architecture NYC has to offer. But actually, from the street below you cannot see that much of the building and the view is definitely better from other viewpoints around the city, like the Empire State Building. So we carried on walking east along 42nd Street towards the United Nations building. Now the United Nations building itself is not that special, however the significance of what happens inside the rooms in that buildings affects all of us, so we wanted to at least walk by.
Following the UN we made our way up 1st Avenue and headed towards Trump Tower on 5th Avenue. This was the furthest north that we had been in NYC and was not far from the south east corner of Central Park. Now don’t get us wrong, we are by no means fans of the Donald, but we thought it was worth a few minutes of our time. We entered the building and the interior is extremely extravagant and is unlike most building you will visit in the city, although of course it is very 80s!
After that we headed towards the Seagram Building on Park Avenue, which is just a very short walk away. The Seagram Building is another architectural landmark in Midtown.
From there we headed to St. Patricks Cathedral location on 5th Avenue. The cathedral in its neo-gothic style stands out amongst the modern high rise buildings in this part of New York and adds some charm to the area.
From here we walked south on 5th Avenue towards our big visit of the day: The Empire State Building. The Empire State Building may just be THE must see attraction in New York, so there was no way were going to miss it even though we had already been up the Rockefeller Center. We were armed with our Explorer Passes, so when we entered the building we were able to skip the queue. Unlike the Rockefeller Center the ESB does not require you to reserve a time slot. As long as there is still capacity on the decks and the weather is acceptable, you can go up at any time. After we’d followed the queueing maze to the security check, we made our way to the elevators and the rapidly made our way to the 1st viewing platform. As we walked out of the door, we already felt a gust of wind push against us, however the building was sheltering us from the worst of it. The view from the top is amazing, and you have a fantastic 360 degree view of the whole city, with the River Hudson also in clear view. However, there were a great deal of people up there with us, so it wasn’t always possible to get the best view or take good photos. As we made our way to the other side of the building, we were really battered by the wind. There is a top viewing platform, however, unlike the Rockefeller Center, you are required to pay an extra fee to go up there, so we decided not to. We spent a total of around 1 – 1.5 hours up there and then felt quite tired from the strong winds to we decided to go down. Nonetheless, we were really happy with our visit and were ready for the next stop.
We continued north and made our way up the Avenue of the Americas towards the MoMa. On route we passed Radio City Music Hall, which is a famous concert hall in New York. Just around the corner from there you will find the MoMa. This was one of the only locations that wasn’t part of the Explorer Pass, so we paid on entry. It costs around $26 for adults and around 50% discount is given to students. The MoMa was the perfect destination for us as we are both really fascinated by modern art from all over the world. You will see extremely well known works that you will have probably seen in magazines or on TV as you were growing up, and this is one of the best parts of the whole experience as that art often has a personal meaning for you. We spend 2 or 3 hours exploring the whole museum and then we made our way to the next stop, the Times Warner Center.
The Times Warner Center is multi-purpose complex located on the west corner of Central Park. We wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s a must see location, but if you have time and are in the area, then why not. Then we walked south down Broadway through the Theatre District which is an area where most of the famous Broadway theatres are located.
The Theatre District leads directly to Times Square, which was our final stop for the day. As soon as you arrive at Times Square the amazement sets in. If you are not from New York, and have not visited many of the world’s mega-cities, then Times Square really is a work of wonder when you see it for the first time. It’s an explosion for the senses, you don’t know where to look with all the LED banners covering the whole area and the tone of Times Square isn’t much different. We walked through the area and made our way to the centre of Times Square and sat on the elevated seating to watch the sunset. This is a ritual practiced by New Yorkers and tourists alike and as day switches to night, Times Square takes on different personality.
After we’d enjoyed the sunset we made our way back to the hotel and after reading this I am sure you will agree that we’d earnt a good night’s sleep!