Standing on the steps of the Met, after viewing a tiny portion of its incredible holdings. Dar and I had a decision to make. Like all tourists we wanted a chance to be able to see the city skyline from above.
We had two clear options available to us, The Empire State building or Rockefeller Center. Debating the merits of both over a street dog, consensus was reached, a cab hailed and we sped towards 30 Rock.
The Rockefeller Center is a tourist destination all on its own. The famous skating rink that has been a staple of holiday movies and postcards, was to my surprise open and being enjoyed in October!
Giggling in amazement at the scene below I took in the famous architecture, that I had seen on the screen so many times. Here I was, running like a school boy, clicking pictures and pointing at everything around us. The art deco designs leaped from buildings like gods from a Greek tragedy. Warning anyone who looked upon them of the hubris of man.
The clarion call of barkers, offering tickets, woke me back to reality. A deal made and tickets in hand we started our long trip to the “Top of the Rock“. Now it must be said that the staff here are experts in crowd management. People streamed in from the street eager to get to the rooftop. Hardly without effort we were sorted into our designated lines and whisked into the elevator. As we climbed a light show played on the roof of the car, but it paled in comparison to the show outside.
The City lay beneath us in 360 degree panorama, to the North Central Park, to the South The Empire State loomed above us. Below the chaos of Time Square raged. Every degree offered an unparalleled view, as we gazed from above.
After a short walk chatting about the incredible view, we came into the heart of darkness in the city, Tony Bourdain’s white whale. Times Square.
To say that Times Square is over crowded is like saying there are a few grains of sand on Copacabana Beach. To me, it seemed like every tour bus and passenger train right out of Midwestern Hell had opened up and dumped its contents willy nilly about the street. In my short time navigating the sidewalks of Manhattan I learned to get out-of-the-way when taking a picture, or speed up when in a pack of locals. Apparently the assembled hordes were not privy to the same instruction.
Specially designated police officers were tasked to keep tourists off of the street when gawking open-mouthed and drooling skywards. It seemed as if the flashing lights and cacophonous noise had sucked every piece of street sense out of 99% of the rubes gathered.
Our legs weary and stomachs growling we fought our way through the throngs and into the Hard Rock Cafe a free meal thrown in by the Radio Station, counting down the scant hours till our first concert at Madison Square Garden.