Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manhattan transfers

Looking out of our window, it looks like the Chrysler Building is just down the road. And indeed it is. What isn't obvious is that it's actually a couple of blocks along and a couple down, and once you've got there you can just walk straight past it without realising because from the ground, all skyscrapers look pretty much alike.

This fact makes New York a difficult city to sight-see in. All you can really hope to do is get a good long distance look at something, because close up you're just too close up. There is no in-between.

Which is one reason that tomorrow we're taking a helicopter ride round the island ...

The Chrysler Building is my favourite skyscraper for two reasons. (1) It looks like a jukebox; it is art deco personified. (2) It was briefly the tallest building in the world and Walter P. Chrysler made sure that the very highest room in the building was his own personal toilet; so, when he went, he went on top of everyone.

I wonder if a descendant of the architect designed our hotel, and is the guy who decided that what the old place really needs more than anything else - plugs in the basin that work, for instance - is a wall to wall, floor to ceiling mirror right next to the toilet. It shows a side of me that I rarely see and it isn't pretty.

Anyway, a reasonably full Day 1, with lots of pictures taken but all on my camera, not my phone. That makes them too big to be uploaded easily, so you'll have to take my word for it, and wait for me to get back home to a computer with image processing software. A guided tour of the UN, in which I discovered the existence of a Council I had never heard of. (The Economic & Social Council, which meets a in room with furnishings donated by Sweden.) Then up the Empire State Building to gaze in awe at the haze hiding all the landmarks from sight. And finally an open top bus tour of uptown around Central Park and Harlem. We have seen the spot where John Lennon was gunned down. Life is complete.

Oh, and Grand Central, which is just beautiful and the reason so many Golden Age science fiction writers come from New York. It's timeless; it dates from the nineteenth century yet could be in Diaspar millions of years from now. (I know, Arthur C. Clarke wasn't from New York.) And it has the Dining Concourse, a space below the Main Concourse which is full of eating stalls. A whole level, given to food. What does Paddington have? That little glass enclosed space with the sushi bar. Not the same.

And on that theme, so to dinner ...

1 comment:

  1. I'm afraid New York reminds me of the video game of Spider-Man 2. You get to swing about the whole city as you please, going wherever you like. That's where I recognise the Chrysler building from.

    Don't give me that look, you haven't swung through New York, you don't know how fun it is!
    The Empire State Building's great for jumping off.


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