It was time to pack our belongings after breakfast and after leaving them at the Club Quarters hotel to collect later, it was off for our final day of sightseeing. We started off by walking along the waterfront in Battery Park for one last time then at 10.00 am as the Museum of American Indians opened its doors in the nearby Bowling Green Park, we took a look inside.
It’s free to enter and is part of the Smithsonian Institution, has three interesting galleries but what we liked most though was the actual building. It’s the former Customs House where ship captains had to come and pay their landing dues on arrival in port. The opulent circular entrance hall with its marble pillars retains its huge mahogany counter and domed ceiling.
From there we took the subway over to Brooklyn. A week ago when we first started using the subway I found the stations to be utilitarian, functional spaces with tiling and metal girders but as the week progressed my views changed, looking closely each station has its own individuality. Mosaic tiles are embedded into the walls in the design of station names, murals, animals etc. and it’s fun to spot this subway art passing between platforms and exits.
As we’ve so enjoyed riding the New York subway we thought it was only fitting to end the week with a visit to the New York Transit Museum based in the disused Court Street subway station in Brooklyn.
It costs $7 to enter and is worth every cent, what fun we had! Located on two floors, the upper level contains a section on how the New York subway system was constructed with some interactive displays. Then there are turnstiles from the opening of the subway in 1904 to those in use today which can be walked through, plus fare collection systems from cash, tokens and vending machines whilst art nouveau transit posters line the walls.
‘Bringing back the city’ an exhibition detailing how the New York transit copes in times of crisis was extremely interesting. One section related to weather, in particular the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and another on the terrorist attacks of 9/11 demonstrating the resourcefulness, resilience and heroics of transit workers and how quickly they were able to get the public transport running and the city back to normal again. The lower platform level contains a selection of subway engines and carriages from 1904 to those in use today and we enjoyed climbing on board and exploring the modifications over time. There is also a fully functioning signal box/ control room which was used when this was a functioning station.
Leaving there, we headed to the nearby active subway station and sped along to Central Park for our third and final visit of the week. Today’s visit was to take a look at the ice rink as we hadn’t seen this until now. It was lovely to stand on the bridge and watch the skaters with the backdrop of skyscrapers, we were even tempted to take to the ice ourselves, but we didn’t really have enough time.
Next followed dinner at Denny’s on Nassau Street just a short walk from our hotel where we returned for a coffee and to collect our luggage before heading back to Newark Liberty airport for our 10.30 pm flight back to London Heathrow.
After a meal on board the aircraft and a couple of glasses of wine we were soon asleep almost until our arrival at Heathrow the next morning.
Our week long New York adventure had come to an end and we returned home with so many happy memories having loved every minute of the trip. Our hotel Club Quarters just steps away from the New York Stock Exchange was extremely good and we would certainly consider staying there again on a future visit. Visiting in early January meant that we had the city mostly to ourselves, the weather was cold yet bright and sunny apart from heavy downpours on the first morning.
Just to dispel a few myths:
- New York is a perfectly safe city to wander around in, both day and late evening, probably more so than some European cities we have visited
- Riding the subway is also safe, we used it widely, both at rush hour and at quieter times and we felt completely at ease
- New Yorkers are helpful and courteous. Travelling independently, we spoke mostly with locals rather than tourists and we never came across one arrogant or rude person.
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