17 October, 2014
The impressive Memorial to those who lost their lives in the American Civil War 1861-1865
No need to get up too early today, as we have planned a relaxed day of sightseeing on the Hop On Hop Off bus. We had a light breakfast at Tick Tock, the diner in the hotel, but chose to have our coffee from Starbucks (the only decent coffee in the USA, which is not much of an achievement!). It was necessary for us to walk a reasonable distance up Eighth Avenuet to the main office of the bus company, to exchange our vouchers for 48 hour passes to last us over the next few days. We chose some routes away from where we had been sightseeing previously, and firstly caught the Green Bus to Lower Manhattan, with the intention of changing to the Red Bus and exploring Brooklyn. On the Green Bus we passed some familiar sights such as 5th Avenue, Times Square and the familiar Empire State Building and proceeding on to the Flatiron District and the famous Flatiron apartment building. Almost impossible to take a photo of this interesting building due to its height and the location of my seat on the bus, however I was able to take a photo from, one side so you can see the unusual shape. If you have a touch screen you can enlarge the image to see the beautiful decorative panels on the building.
The distinctive triangular shape of the Flatiron Building (left), designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham and built in 1902, allowed it to fill the wedge-shaped property located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway. The building was intended to serve as offices for the George A. Fuller Company, a major Chicago contracting firm. At 22 stories and 307 feet, the Flatiron was never the city’s tallest building, but always one of its most dramatic-looking, and its popularity with photographers and artists has made it an enduring symbol of New York for more than a century. This characteristic of the Flatiron Building’s design–its look of a freestanding tower–initially inspired widespread skepticism about whether it would actually be stable enough to survive. Some early critics referred to “Burnham’s Folly,” claiming that the combination of triangular shape and height would cause the building to fall down. Newspaper reports at the time of the building’s completion focused on the potentially dangerous wind-tunnel effect created by the triangular building at the intersection of two big streets.
Proceeding on past Union Square, Greenwich Village and Soho, we eventually arrived Canal Street’s lovely park, where we were to change to the Red bus. We wandered in the sunshine through the park and on to the edge of Little Italy, and decided to stop for lunch at an Italian Pizza restaurant, before returning to the park to wait for our next bus to cross over into Brooklyn.
The beautiful fountain in Columbus Park near where we stopped for lunch
Changing to the Brooklyn bus we had a real “wag” as a tour guide, born and bred in Brooklyn with lots of stories to tell. Commercial vehicles are not permitted on the Brooklyn Bridge so we had to cross over the East River via the Manhattan Bridge, but did a detour which took us to a great spot to photograph the NY skyline from Brooklyn.
The magnificent view of part of the New York skyline from Brooklyn across the East River
The massive entry to the Brooklyn Bridge (left) and our lunch venue in Little Italy
The Brooklyn Bridge was initially designed by German immigrant John Augustus Roebling who had previously designed and bridges constructed shorter suspension bridges. The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed suspension bridge and is one of the oldest bridges of either type in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. It has a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 m), and was the first steel-wire suspension bridge constructed. It was originally referred to as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge and as the East River Bridge, but it was later dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge, a name coming from an earlier January 25, 1867, letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, and formally so named by the city government in 1915. Since its opening, it has become an icon of New York City, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972. We would have enjoyed a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, but unfortunately ran out of time for that adventure.
The historic landmark Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan
Two other landmarks in Brooklyn were the Grand Army Plaza memorial to those who died in the Civil War, and the impressive Brooklyn Library.
Brooklyn Public Library (left) and the Manhattan Courthouse
After a busy day we headed back to the hotel, because tonight we see “The Jersey Boys” at the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway – we loved every minute of it and found ourselves foot-tapping and clapping in time to the music, a great evening. On the way back to the hotel we had a very late dinner at The Stage Door restaurant only a block from our hotel.
More bus hopping tomorrow, before we start our two day tour to Philadelphia and Washington.