New York City Impressions

from Malva: I adore historical fiction and prepared for our trip by reading the enormous tome, New York: the Novel, by Edward Rutherfurd; the story leads readers through New York’s history (and especially the area of Manhattan) from the time of native Americans, to the first settlers, through the American Revolution, and all the way up to our century and the 9-11 tragedy. Meticulous historical detailing is woven together through narratives of characters whose lives intersect through successive generations as the centuries march on. An awesome book!I also recommend, Clara and Mr. Tiffany, by Susan Vreeland, which tells the inside story of stained-glass creations generated in New York beginning in the 1890’s, with particular emphasis on the creation of Tiffany lamps. Further, I’ve recently enjoyed reading, The Swans of Fifth Avenue, by Melanie Benjamin, which focuses on NYC high society lives from approximately the 1920’s through early 60’s, and I also had fun with Leonard Bernstein’s daughter’s inside scoop in Famous Father Girl (by Jamie Bernstein).
So many books I’ve read take place in the environs of New York city, and now, as I dip into yet another NY story (Keep Me Posted, by Lisa Beazley), I delight in absorbing the author’s narrative with the fullness of having experienced, first-hand, the city’s hustle and bustle, the sights, sounds, and vibe of this amazing and often overwhelming place.

Benjamin and I spent six days in Manhattan, taking in primary tourist attractions, thrilled at how easily one gets around using just bus, metro, and walking. Whole Foods provided us with the necessary groceries (I cook all our meals when we travel). And earplugs are a “must” – there’s no escaping the street noise!
We loved the enormity of Central Park…beautifully curated gardens…unexpected lakes and boating areas…areas of natural woodsy charm and stony hills allowing imagination to fly back in time, visualizing the island of Manhattan before its settlement…All these iconic buildings, structures, places! At the Empire State Building and at the Rockefeller Center, in-depth historical displays, photos, and films greatly enriched our experience of these buildings…New York Times Square surprised me by being hardly a square at all – just a section of very broad avenue with a pedestrian area down its middle, stretching only a modest distance…The theaters of Broadway were innumerable – I’d always imagined famous “Broadway Shows” playing in repertory at a single, large playhouse…wrong again!Saks Fifth Avenue was like entering an exclusive exhibit of fashion commerce, existing since 1924, occupying an entire city block, and offering ten floors of luxury from world-renowned brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Benjamin got his first sense of real “sticker shock” when I showed him the price tags on some of these items…Walking across the street from Saks, we entered beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral, our jaws dropping at the gorgeously carved wooden housing for its organ pipes…Magic enveloped the cityscape near the meat-packing district at sunset as we explored the RH Interior Design gallery and then walked the Highline.Another evening, traversing the Brooklyn Bridge provided a view of Lady Liberty flaming in the descending sun.On a separate day, we went sailing on a clipper ship in the harbor, passing the great statue twice!The Met Museum kept us out of pouring rain with beauties and riches enough to allow for many weeks of viewing. Across the street stands Estee Lauder’s mansion, now housing a set of five stunning portraits painted by Klimt; a film called “The Woman In Gold” prompted me to seek out this gem (now named Neue Gallerie).A particular highlight for us was Puccini’s opera, “Turandot,” performed by the Met Opera at Lincoln Center. For years now, we have been attending The Met HDLive, and Turandot was broadcast the week-end before our trip. Watching this opera, having the close-up vantage point of a film audience, we were then prepared to fully soak up the world’s largest opera house’s incredible acoustics. From our farthest-back and farthest-up seating, the singers looked very small, but every note and nuance was audible – truly a magical performance!

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