I woke up yesterday morning to take the train from the Tarrytown Depot to Grand Central. The ride was pretty scenic and it the was the first time that I had been on a train. The express only made two stops; one at Union Square 14th and Grand Central Station. I saw the Hudson up close with it’s murky brown waters crashing against the dark rocks of the shore. The fall colors blending against the skyline opposite of the water. As we zipped past the train got closer to the city.
We passed through Harlem, which didn’t look nearly as intimidating as North Saint Louis, or East Saint Louis, but it was raw and urban. There were murals on the sides of buildings and looking down from the track overhead I noticed the trash that littered the city. They don’t have dumpsters in alley ways like we do so the trash is thrown upon the sidewalk in heaps. It was interesting to see. The train traveled on.
I saw a few other boroughs before we made it to Grand Central. Each possessing a unique quality and an overall artistic feel. Both pained and joy. They represent their neighborhoods and struggle to deal with the consequences of living in them. We pushed forward and I saw the underground train system. Far beneath the city it was dark, depressing, and yet fascinating.
So many people have a hustle in New York. You can see them everywhere. Makes sense when employment is down and the city is still recovering from a major hurricane. The damage is far and wide and so many places are under construction a year later.
However, when we did finally arrive at Grand Central and I stepped off of the train and into the main hall I was overwhelmed. The size of it was something to be amazed at and the fact that it is absolutely beautiful. It’s the equivalent to an ornate church. I never realized before that there were so many shops, and food places. I suppose that has never been the focus of Grand Central and I had just never assumed. I took a ton of pictures. The one thing that I couldn’t capture was the wonderful fresco on the ceiling. The lights serve as stars and the aqua green and gold painting is something to be admired.
Everywhere in New York is unique because people come from all over. You can get to New York fairly cheap from Europe because of it’s proximity. I have heard more languages spoken in one place on one day than my whole life. I used to think that Saint Louis was pretty diverse and I loved it, but I see now that there is something completely different out there and it makes Saint Louis seem small and simple. I had never understood the comparison to our city being “country” before, because it certainly isn’t, but I can see how if someone is coming from California, New York, or a few other places it can be tiny, and because no matter which way you drive you will likely be passing through a highway with farms or fields on either side. I get it now.
The funny thing is that I quickly learned to navigate the subway system and the numbered streets. I walked ahead like I had been there before and a part of me felt that I had. It was very strange because I have in fact never been to New York before. Yesterday was the first time that I had been on a train or subway, and a ferry. Anyway, so then we took the 5 to Wall St. and walked around. I saw the famous bull, but there were so many people gathered around it that I couldn’t take a picture. Sundays are both good and bad days to visit New York. It is less crowded but downtown has a lot of places that do not open on Sundays.
Walking around I found some cool restaurants, prices were very steep so there was no dining experience there, but of course there was a photo op. I took some more photos and Joefer and I went to see the statue of liberty. We took the Staten Island Ferry, which is free, but doesn’t take you as close. I was completely underwhelmed by it. It wasn’t as big as it appears to be on television or in pictures. I just had imagined something far bigger, far more majestic. It was the same as seeing Wall St. It was underwhelming.
You have to understand, too, that I was feeling a bit down at this point in the day. It could have effecting my perspective. We returned to Grand Central where we parted ways. I took the 34 back to Tarrytown while he spent the evening exploring and snapping more pictures. I needed to rest and relax. I have been completely worn out the last few days. Lack of sleep and excessive travel will do that to a person.
Now the visit to Times Square a few days ago was something different. It was busy and vibrant. The crowd of people were quite exuberant. The streets were clean and that is how it is in many places in New York, but you do get that run down, trashed, dark feel from some of the other boroughs. Either way it has been an exciting experience.