Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas in New York City

Magic on Every Corner

Anyone I have ever known that has been to New York at Christmas seems to get glassy-eyed when they recall it.

Over the years I've experienced Rome, London, Chicago, Washington DC, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, even Honolulu (Mele Kalikimaka!) over the holidays, but, until this year, I had never experienced the Big Apple draped in tinsel.

OK WOW! Now I get it. New York City, although special any time of the year, is indeed something even more special at Christmas. People move with the same haste, taxi's still honk, but there is a tangible feeling of the holidays everywhere.

Its like we all know that we are sharing something wonderful.

Subway riders all carry a bag from Macy's and everyone dresses a bit more colorfully than usual.

I was in town on business, but was able to have Miss "M" join me mid week. Evenings were free, so we went to three shows, and we ate wonderfully.

When Saturday came we just walked. We walked a lot. Walking is probably my favorite thing to do in a city like New York. There is something on every corner and down every alley that draws the attention of an architect (much to the consternation of those we love).

Anyway, here are some images to help tell the story why I think New York is indeed such a special place over the holidays. Conspicuously missing are shots from the famous Christmas tree and ice rink at Rockefeller Center. The day we tried to see them, the place was so overrun with people that the NYPD had to close the sidewalks and streets for a block around it. We got close, but then gave up.

First Up: Store Windows!
It is pretty clear that the department stores keep artists working all year preparing the decorations of their stores and windows. Macy's theme was "Believe" and they featured scenes from The Miracle on 34th Street.

Bergdorf Goodman's windows were totally over-the-top with a theme somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and psychotropic medication.

All the photo's are embedded at high resolution, go ahead and click them to see detail!

Macy's Herald Square - A Classic Window

The Shimmer of Bergdorf Goodman 
(Sorry about the Glare!)

Bergdorf Goodman

Homage to Wonderland

Dreamlike Images

Painstaking Detail in Each Window

Next Up: The Shows!
We saw three shows. The first was a seasonal Cirque Du Soleil production called WIn Tuk. I believe it is performed only in New York and only for the holidays. As always the performers effortlessly displayed astonishing feats of balance and beauty on beams (without safety nets), inside giant brass wheels, on bicycles, and on skateboards while we sat in awe. The whole show finished up with a blast of a bazillion paper snowflakes.

The second show was The Phantom at the Majestic Theater. Miss "M" and I must be the last two people on planet earth who had not yet seen it somewhere. What the show delivered in beautiful music and breathtaking spectacle, it lacked in heart or soul. No enthusiastic curtain calls here.

The third show was Dreamgirls performed at the Apollo in Harlem. For me it was everything a Broadway show should be. The music was crisp. The vocals were surreal. The staging was first rate. The story line was compelling.

While the ushers at the Majestic could (and I'm being kind here) only be described as surly, the staff at the Apollo understood that they were helping guests experience a national treasure.

Dreamgirls was a great show. And a great show coupled with the smiles and warmth from the Apollo staff (right down to the doorman who bade us all a "Good Night Everyone" as we ventured back into a freezing New York City night), made the experience special. Sadly it was closing the next night!

This show deserved its standing ovations and curtain calls.

Harlem's Treasure

The Stage From the Nosebleed Section

The Food!
We ate wonderful sandwiches at a variety of deli's. I had sushi one day and roast lamb the next at the Amish Market's noontime buffet.

We enjoyed a pile of tasty soy garlic chicken and an amazing Philadelphia Roll at Mad For Chicken. This bizarrely named, and almost hidden, restaurant features a "Korean meets Colonel Sanders with a little Tokyo thrown in for good measure" fusion cuisine. To find it you have to be on your toes as it is located on the second floor of an obscure office building on 5th Ave.

We finished up the week with tasty little soup dumplings (Tiny Buns) at the Shanghai Cafe on Mott Street in Chinatown. When you bite into these little steamed gems your reward is the soup and meat  filling that is neatly contained in each dumpling!

Of course between the above was the usual gyros and pizza.

The Park
After walking through about 25% of Central Park, we can confirm it is truly New York City's crown jewel. We strolled down The Mall (I stopped to adore the angel fountain - the one from Angels in America). We climbed the towers of the Belvedere Castle, jumped over ice, and found Balto's little sculpture (every present and former Alaskan looks for Balto).

The Bethesda Fountain
The Blessing of The Waters 

Miss "M" in New York's Best Place - Central Park


The Surprise
The Irish Hunger Memorial in lower Manhattan was a complete surprise. I had seen it from my hotel and wondered what the upended bit of earth was. The memorial is accessed by a discrete passage in the back. As you enter you walk through an almost eery tunnel filled with the voices of famine survivors. You then exit the tunnel and enter a crumbling Irish farmhouse (moved from Ireland stone by stone). When you exit the farmhouse you walk through barren fields and eventually wind up at an elevated platform. From the platform you see the view that arriving Irish immigrants first experienced of America's shores - Lady Liberty and Ellis Island.

The Irish Hunger Memorial - The Patch of Green Below

To finish up this posting I include an image of The Atlas at Rockefeller Center. After many years working with a cherished business partner he confided that The Atlas (along with too many other sculptural treasures to list) was the work of his grandfather. An interesting note about the sculpture. Mr. Rockefeller told Lee Lawrie (the sculptor) that whatever sculpture he created needed to be designed in a way that it would not impede the view from his office to the street / sidewalk below. Hence the open globe of the world balanced on those massive shoulders.

Atlas is a perfect and timeless creation set solidly into the spine of this vibrant City.

The Atlas

Christmas in New York?

It is simply amazing!

Roadboy's Travels © 2009

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Thanks for sharing! Glad it was so great for you!