9th October 2014
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Walking casually along 34th Street I suddenly realised I was looking at the Empire State Building, rising above the other skyscrapers in the area. It is a very elegant looking structure, and one could easily suffer a crick in the neck trying to see the top of the building! The edifice is a 103-story skyscraper located in Midtown Manhatten, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. It has a roof height of 1,250 feet (380 m), and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454 feet (443 m) high. Its name is derived from the nickname for New York, the Empire State. It stood as the world’s tallest building for nearly 40 years, from its completion in early 1931 until the topping out of the original World Trade Centre’s North Tower in late 1970.
Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Empire State Building was again the tallest building in New York (although it was no longer the tallest in the US or the world), until One World Trade Centre reached a greater height on April 30, 2012. The Empire State Building is currently the fourth tallest completed skyscraper in the United States (after the One World Trade Centre, the Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel and Tower, both in Chicago), and the 23rd tallest in the world (the tallest now is Buri Khalifa, located in Dubai). It is also the fifth tallest freestanding structure in the Americas.
Moving along to 5th Avenue, we passed by some of the classy shops that we probably could not afford to go into, such as Saks of 5th Avenue, Jewelers on Fifth, Guess, Michael Kors and Armani.
The iconic and expensive Saks Fifth Avenue, New York
Shuffling along with the large crowd we reached St Patrick’s Church, which is undergoing massive restorations, although we were able to enter the church. A local New Yorker, when asked if there is always so much construction going on, replied that there is always construction all over the city, I think they get used to walking around the scaffolding and road blocks that seem a constant in this city.
The beautiful stained glass windows in St Patrick’s Church
The Rockefeller Centre was our next discovery – a complex of 19 commercial buildings covering 22 acres (89,000 m2) between 48th and 51st streets. Built by the Rockefeller family, it is located in the center of Midtown Manhatten , spanning the area between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
Rockefeller Center was named after John D Rockefeller Jnr, who leased the space from Columbia University in 1928 and developed it, beginning in 1930. Rockefeller initially planned a syndicate to build an opera house for the Metropolitan Opera on the site, but changed plans after the stock market crash of 1929 and the Metropolitan’s continual delays to hold out for a more favorable lease, causing Rockefeller to move forward without them. It was the largest private building project ever undertaken in modern times. Construction of the 14 buildings in the Art Deco style (without the original opera house proposal) began on May 17, 1930, and completed in 1939.
Walking through the Rockefeller Square on a very warm day we could only marvel at the extent of the Centre and the number of people who obviously enjoy the markets, cafes and restaurants and beautiful open spaces.
Some of the buildings comprising the 14 in the Rockefeller Centre, and surrounding Rockefeller Square
Crowds enjoying the markets (left) and the open spaces (right) in Rockefeller Square
Times Square, our next stop, was a real eye-opener! There were throngs of people everywhere, yellow taxis tooting horns impatiently as they attempted to move through the traffic, which was almost at a standstill (patience is a virtue essential to have in NY). The billboards, gigantic neon signs, road stalls and street buskers made it a noisy and fun place to be, although it was difficult to even walk through the crowd. By this time we were looking for a place for a coffee, but we had to move on to find a quieter spot!
The nightmare traffic congestion faced daily by New York yellow cab drivers – no wonder they are cranky!
Neon signs and billboards screaming out their message in noisy Times Square
Time to make our weary way back to the New Yorker, find a cafe for a well earned coffee, and take a breather, after walking for miles around this interesting city. Tonight we saw our second Broadway show, “Les Miserables”. It was a fantastic production, we all loved it, and again there was a standing ovation for the cast the end of the show.
Tomorrow more exploring around New York and surrounds.
New York street scenes
You never know who you’ll meet in Times Square (above) and (below) some well known street signs