Leaving the USS Intrepid I headed to the bus stop that could take me to Times Square using the very useful Transit app. The bus arrived right on time and I tried to pay for my ticket with a 5 dollar note; unfortunately New York buses don’t take notes, which I should have probably predicted as London buses don’t take cash at all! Thankfully the driver didn’t throw me off and allowed me to travel to Times Square (we ended up leaving enough money on the prepaid tickets we bought for the rest of the weekend to cover this journey) so all was well and I learned another new thing about New York public transport.
If you missed part 1 of our Weekend Getaway to New York City you can pop back here to catch up.
Arriving in Times Square, a short walk from the bus stop, I have to say I was underwhelmed. Maybe I need to see it in the dark, maybe I was more focused on lunch than all the signs, but it just didn’t do anything for me, so I quickly found a McDonald’s en route to my next stop and headed off to the New York Public Library. Stacey had told me this was an impressive building, so I was a little surprised when I saw this building with New York Public Library carved onto it!
New York Public Library
Thankfully the building I was really looking for is much more impressive and I headed in to take a look around. After a brief and seemingly pointless security check (if they don’t actually look in your bag then…?) I wandered around the building. Sadly a couple of reading rooms were closed, but I explored what I could of the library. My key thought would be to, as Stacey always says, look up!
The main building is named after Stephen A. Schwarzman and was opened in 1911. With a collection of around 53 million items it is the 2nd biggest library in the USA (behind the Library of Congress) and the 4th largest in the world (behind the British Library and the Library and Archives Canada.
Grand Central Terminal
Leaving the library, I headed to Grand Central Terminal where inside the main hall looking up is (again) essential as you will see a beautiful ceiling showing signs of the zodiac. Sadly the artwork was, for many years, covered in grime and dirt as Grand Central Terminal suffered through a lack of maintenance. If you want to see just how dirty the ceiling used to be, find the crab and follow the dashed line to the edge of the ceiling where you will see a small (9” x 18”) rectangle that is darker than the surrounding area. That was what the ceiling looked like before they cleaned it! It has been deliberately left as a reminder of how bad the ceiling had gotten.
Grand Central Terminal was built between 1903 and 1913. It holds the world record for the station with the most platforms, 44 on across two levels (not including the “secret” 45th platform under the Waldorf Astoria hotel) and is used by 125,000 commuters each day. Interestingly the ceiling displays the zodiac backwards; is this a mistake, or as some claim, so that only God sees it the right way round?
As I headed to my final stop in New York for the day, I came across this cute wood carving of three monkeys depicting “See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.” just along the street as I walked.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
My final stop of the day was St. Patrick’s Cathedral where, before heading in, I noticed a plaque on the wall to signify that Pope John Paul II had visited before me. So often do I see these plaques (and always it seems for Pope John Paul II) that I wonder if I am following him around, or perhaps he was Pope for so long he had just been everywhere!!
This cathedral didn’t disappoint. As is common, there were many chapels around the edge of the main cathedral dedicated to different people as well as some beautiful stained glass windows (I do love stained glass windows!). Also on display were lots of other interesting artifacts such as a beautiful mosaic of Christ and an impressive crystal cross.
And so my first day in New York was done and I headed back to Penn Station to get the train back to Linden, where New Jersey public transport had one more surprise in store.
As we approached Linden station we were told if we wanted to get off there we had to walk forward to a specific coach which made little sense as to why this would be so, but I didn’t want to miss the stop and so headed forward. When the train stopped it was one track over from the platform and we had to climb down the steps, onto the track and cross to exit the station! No explanation was given as to why we couldn’t use the track next to the platform and it wasn’t as if it could be used by another train what with us walking across it. If anyone knows why they do this, please let me know, but it was just another interesting thing to discover about public transport in New Jersey.
To read more about our New York City Weekend Getaway, please feel free to check out these posts:
Next Post: Part 3