24.03.15 — Travel

New York

Feeling as I did on Saturday en route home, I assumed that this post would never see the light of day due to jet lag, but here it is, in all it’s American glory. For the less observant amongst you, I have just returned from a four day stay in the great city that is New York, and I bring back a host of anecdotes and photos for your pleasure. It’s garuanteed to be a long one, so grab some popcorn or sweets candy and have a jolly old scroll down.

Our trip started with us (myself, Luisa, Izzy and Em) landing (precariously due to some feisty turbulence) in New York JFK. Pumped up on orange juice and tea courtesy of BA, we boarded a coach and passed through Queens to land at our hotel in the centre of Manhattan – just across the road from Maddison Square Garden!

Smoke rises from a temporary chimney

New York was initially all I expected it to be – busy streets stretching traffic police to breaking point, pedestrians treading on each others’ toes and unidentified smoke billowing from every other manhole cover. Wasting no time, we dropped our bags in the hotel and headed north up 7th Street to the infamous Times Square.

Times Square in New York

Hungry and tired, we headed to Ruby Tuesday and enjoyed a delicious dinner accompanied by bottomless raspberry flat lemonade. It was heaven. Anyway, after our very filling American-sized meal, we decided to dance it off as we headed back to the hotel…

Dancing through Times Square

The next day we decided to dedicate to a whirlwind tour of all the good ol’ tourist traps, and so we headed off with a plan to visit the top of the Empire State Building, the infamous NY Apple Store, Central Park, Paul Rand’s “Everything is Design” exhibition, and even brave a ride on the city’s infamous subway system.

First up, then, we visited the 84th floor of the Empire State Building, which was located just around the back of our hotel after crossing Broadway. Here are a few photos of our journey…

A view down Broadway
The Empire State towering above the surrounding buildings
The four of us at the top of the Empire State
A view from the top

After soaking in the breathtaking views, we headed uptown along 5th Avenue and soon arrived at the corner of Central Park to see the infamous glass cube of the Apple Store. I spent a while admiring the architecture, the girls spent a while making good and proper use of the free WiFi, and then we headed on our way once more…

The NY Apple Store

Once we’d crossed to another corner of Central Park, we grabbed the northbound Subway to further north along the edge of the park. I have to admit that I felt a lot safer down in the Subway than I would have thought, however the NY Subway map ain’t got nothing on Harry Beck’s masterpiece that is the London Underground Map.

Once we’d resurfaced we headed into the depths of Central Park, where I found a strange looking seed-type thing, and Em assumed role of Statue of Liberty as we knew we’d have no time to grab a boat out to see her in person. I think she did an astounding job. Felt like the real thing. You go, Em.

Emily is the Statue of Liberty
Central Park

After a leisurely stroll through a rather barren Central Park we arrived at the other side, and wasted no time in heading into the Museum of the City of New York to see the Paul Rand (yes, the Paul Rand) “Everything is Design” exhibition. I leave you with this teaser photo, as I shall soon upload a blog post dedicated solely to the exhibitions we encountered in New York and link it back here. Watch this space…

Everything is Design
A cool light fixture inside the museum

After an inspiring few hours spent in the museum, we headed back downtown once more and then headed out for an evening meal, for which we’d decided to head to Little Italy or Chinatown. We ended up in Little Italy, where we darted into a lovely little family-run Italian with a gorgeous garden room, and nearly ended up as extras in a film which was being shot there!

The garden room in the Italian

The next day we had two design studio visits lined up, firstly Vault49 and then Exposure – however before we headed downtown for these, we headed east and climbed up onto the High Line, a once-abandoned stretch of arial train line which has been converted into a beautiful urban garden-cum-walkway which winds its way down the east side of Manhattan.

Us four on the High Line
A beautiful message as seen from the High Line

After this we headed back west and encountered another landmark, the Flatiron building, before heading up a manually operated lift to the Vault49 studio. Here was held a presentation and talk from an ex-Leeds student from our very course, who talked about Vault49’s culture and work, all of which inspired many ideas for my placement search for my Year In Industry!

After this, and a huge burrito and a play in the LEGO store, we headed further downtown and onto south Broadway to find Exposure’s studio and offices. Here we were delivered another talk and engaged in a discussion, in which the Creative Director Tom sat down with us for a while and gave us some top tips on how best to approach studios when looking for placements. It was another great visit, tainted only by the fact that Steven (an Exposure employee and ex Leeds student) supports Blackburn FC. You win some, you lose some I guess.

At this point in the day it had begun to snow quite heavily across New York, but we, undeterred, soldiered on with our plan to cross the Brooklyn Bridge and sit down for tea in Brooklyn. As we (eventually) found our way up onto the famed bridge, however, the blizzard picked up and we had to battle through one rather treacherous crossing…

A bridge into the whiteness
Izzy and Lu land in a whitewashed Brooklyn

We eventually made it in one piece, however the freezing weather and our lack of local knowledge meant that we struggled to find even a place to grab a coffee, and so we eventually had to admit defeat and took the subway back under the river and towards the centre of Manhattan. There were smiles, though!

Iz, Em and Lu brave the Brooklyn Bridge

On our final day in NYC, we headed out to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), where we saw many of the greats (to be detailed in the aforementioned and forthcoming exhibitions blog post) before spending a good long stint browsing round their two gift shops. I ended up spending $100+ on a new phone case, lunch box (a beautiful Bento Box) and a present for Danni… oops! I was, however, pleased to find that Dan Flavin had a piece in MoMA!

A Dan Flavin installation in MoMA
A Dan Flavin installation in MoMA

In the morning me and Izzy had also found a secret hidden within the floors of our hotel – two completely abandoned floors between the lobby and the working floors above! We headed down a stairway and went exploring the eerily still-lit corridors.

Izzy on one of the abandoned floors
An abandoned old locker

And then, what trip to New York would be complete without a huge-ass pastrami deli sandwich with customary huge-ass pickle?

Death by pastrami

In brief, New York for me was huge portions of food, darting between rushed pedestrians along the overcrowded footpaths sidewalks and generally wandering around and soaking up the lively atmosphere and culture. I had set off with the belief that I’d hate the place, being a bit of a country bumpkin and claustrophobe, but I found the city surprisingly fresh and pleasant.

I have many other trips lined up for this summer, including both Berlin and Barcelona (bank account permitting), but I have a feeling that me and New York will be meeting again someday…