New York City in the early morning is abnormally quiet and relaxed. My friends and I arrived in the city just a little after sunrise, having bused all night to get there. We hadn’t slept or eaten breakfast yet and our hotel room wasn’t ready so we had no choice but to go forth into the city. Since our hotel was located in Koreatown we were in the perfect spot to start exploring. The Empire State Building was only three blocks away from us so we headed straight for it.
At eight in the morning there were no line-ups to visit the top of the Empire State Building. The elevator took us up to the 86th floor where the observation deck is located. The view was spectacular even despite the cold bracing winds of early March. The sun glistened off the water and you could even make out the Statue of Liberty in the far off morning haze. The observation deck of the Empire State Building is a good place to begin when discovering the city. You can see everything without moving more than a step in any direction.
Afterwards we decided to walk along the famous Fifth Avenue, if only for the window shopping. This entire street is overflowing with expensive stores and hotels set in beautiful art deco buildings. Everything from Louis Vitton to Prada can be spotted along this pricey avenue.
As we walked through downtown we kept seeing people with black smudges on their foreheads. At first it was only one or two but then they seemed to be everywhere we looked. It wasn’t until we stepped into St.Patrick’s Cathedral that we realized that it was Ash Wednesday and people were getting crosses marked onto their foreheads. Located in the heart of the city, St.Patrick’s Cathedral is a beautiful marvel of neo-Gothic architecture founded over 130 years ago. Everything inside the cathedral seems to yearn upwards towards the beautiful arched domes and the rose stain glass windows.
Although Fifth Avenue is wonderful for sightseeing it isn’t the best place for lunch. We headed over to Grand Central Station for a bite to eat. Once inside we just stood there admiring the building. The ceiling of the old train station is decorated with constellations which add to the grandeur of the main hall. The food court is located a few levels down and if you’re lucky enough to grab a spot during the lunch rush there are a few restaurants that are definitely worth a taste.
Once we got our second wind, we headed over to the Public Library. This silent building is very imposing with its high vaulted ceilings and tall roman columns. The main reading room is approximately the length of two city blocks and has 18 chandeliers. Its ceiling is covered in frescoes depicting clouds and the entire hall is brightly lit by the light streaming through the tall arched windows. We decided to rest our feet here and appreciate the solemn quiet by playing hangman on the back of our lunch receipt.
As the evening drew close we headed over to Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge has a pedestrian walkway elevated above the traffic and the views from it are stunning. The dark metal wires and beams of the bridge hum from the speeding cars below and the Manhattan skyline stretches out like a string of lights. Although the bridge is well known as a popular tourist attraction the walkway is strangely peaceful and quiet.
After we reached the other side we were at a loss as to what to do. We lingered along Brooklyn’s harbor admiring the view and just as we were considering taking the subway back a boat pulled up beside us. Without really thinking it through, or even asking where it was going, we jumped on. It was called the Riverside ferry and luckily for us the last stop was in fact on the Manhattan side. Exhausted from a full day of wandering around New York we finally made it back to the hotel already planning on what to see the next day.