I got back from a very self-indulgent trip to New York last week and considering I had not been there for over ten years, thought it would be good to show the comparisons of when I went last in 2000 and what I experienced this time round in 2012.
First, off, I am much older and a little more travel wise than I was back then – I hadn’t ever been out side of Europe! The trip was offered at a subsided rate to students studying American Studies at my university back in 2000. I could just about afford to go (using a bit of student loan) but the trip itself would have be on a very tight budget but it was possibly the most exciting place I had ever gone to!
This time around, I can say that New York City would not be the most place exciting place that I had ever been but I knew that wi-fi, taxis, shopping and good food would all be close to hand and after some of the trips that I have been on in the past few years, this would be very welcome! I could also afford to do the things that I had been unable to afford last time such as boat trips, shopping, eating out and drinking. Back then I was shy of 21 of was getting ID’d constantly so it wasn’t worth the hassle of trying to get into bars. I went to the cost-saving cinema instead.
I found some of my old pictures from the trip in 2000 and thought it would be good to compare them to the pics I took last week. I am not sure, but it seems that New York City was much friendlier and colourful this time around. Of course, it could be that the cameras are better than 12 years ago, but I remember the weather being constantly grey back then and last week we were subjected to gorgeous blue skies for most of our weekend!
You don’t really know you’re in New York until you get a view of the skyline and back in 2000, one of the first things that I did was go to the top of the Empire State Building – even though I was ready for bed because of the jetlag! It took forever to get through the queue and the picture I have from the top is pretty disappointing, so I posted this one of me at the top of the Word Trade Center instead.
2000 – World Trade Center 2012 – Empire State Building
Last week, we zoomed through the queues, having bought New York City passes back in the UK. It also meant that we saved 46% overall on the combined tickets prices of The Empire State Building Observatory, the American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art, the Top of the Rock OR Guggenheim Museum and Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island OR a Circle Line Cruise.
I didn’t do that back in 2000! I had enough cash to pay for entry to the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and The Natural History Museum. All other museums I chose to go to were free. I also had more time back in 2000 as was in New York City for 7 nights. Last week we had to try and pack all that sight-seeing into 4 days!
I must also recommend “going-up!” the Empire State Building towards sunset. What great view of the skyline and it’s painted in such gorgeous colours:
[embedplusvideo height=”300″ width=”450″ standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/HNSwhZs4CX0?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=HNSwhZs4CX0&width=450&height=300&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=0&chapters=¬es=” id=”ep3980″ /]
2000 – Central Park (facing west) 2012 – Central Park (facing south)
It was a beautiful morning the day we went to Central Park last week, although once again, back in 2000 it was great sky all the way which made things a bit cold and not too exciting to hang around in. The Park should be for jogging and lounging around in with dog walkers dotted around and the odd crack squirrel trying it on with you and the only part of the park I remember back from 2000 was the crack squirrel.
That said, I must say that I have not really been an appreciator of green spaces until the past few years. I used to live in the suburbs back when I was a student and there was green space everywhere, so I found the Park a little dull as was used to havng space around me. As an ardent central-Londoner, I can’t get enough of Hampstead Heath and Hyde Park and as such was totally enchanted with Central Park this time round. It’s also the start of the ‘fall’ season and as such, the trees looked very pretty as their colours were turning.
Finally, a comparison between my New York City experience last week can’t been done without thinking about loss of the World Trade Center. It was for me, one of the highlights of my trip back in 2000. It took so long to find as I hadn’t been to the Financial District yet that week and the roads were not as grid-like as you would find up-town. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t see the towers whilst I was looking for them! Of course, other buildings blocked it’s view, but they appeared liked a joint monolith as I rounded a corner and stretching my neck up as far as I could, I will never forgot drinking in the size and scale of both buildings.
I had never been interested in buildings at all when studying art but I think I fell in love that day with the just the sheer scale and audacity that such a big building (x2) could exist in such a cramped area.
When the towers fell over a year later on September 11th 2001, I remember in the midst of my gloom – as we were all pretty horrified and depressed for a while after such a horrific event, that it was a shame to have lost the iconic skyline. More importantly having had seen people buzz around the building, eating their lunch outside, taking pictures at the top like I was a year before, hoped that those who lost their life would be at peace as the building and it’s people were very real to me.
Twelve years later and New York has moved on so much. It has this fighting spirit that you can see on billboards throughout the city “Come on New York!” and the security is so much stricter as you go through the airport, but now the tall buildings echo this protocol as you queue up to see the views from the highest buildings. The Freedom Tower (or now 1 WTC) has been the tallest building in New York City since April 30, 2012 and symbolises a moving on from the past as well as a great addition to the skyline in my opinion.
With the beautiful sky and sunshine from last week that was in New York City, the mass of brick and steel that make up the skyline looked more sumptuous than ever and I suppose that this time around that skyline had a very deep and meaningful view to it.
I hope to post up a little more about the less-touristy aspects of our trip to New York over the next few days including information about The Highline and now-defunct skate spot Brooklyn Banks, so please subscribe to this blog, or any of my social media feeds to stay up to date. VJ