Whirlwind New York City Experience

6:00:00 AM

 Hello my friends! Today’s post is a little bit different than my usual crafts/DIY/home/recipe type post. I wanted to share some pictures of something that’s near and dear to my heart: architecture. Recently, for an early birthday/anniversary present, my husband took me up to New York City for a weekend. I had never been there before! I loved it, and I wanted to share an architect’s perspective of a whirlwind visit to Manhattan.


If you’re a regular reader of this little blog, you know that my “day job” is architecture. I design buildings for a living. But what you may not know is when I was in college, I worked for 2 years as a teacher’s assistant for the main history professor in the architecture school at the time. He taught a class for non-majors – American Architecture, and he taught  a series of 2 semesters of architectural history that are required for all architecture majors. This professor was also writing a book about elevators and taught the occasional elective seminar as well. I tell you this because between my duties as a TA and the requirements of my major, I attended classes (as a student or TA) that discussed the American skyscraper in 5 different classes and did many hours of research on them for my papers and his book. By the time my last semester rolled around, when we got to the introduction to the skyscraper in the survey class, my boss at the time joked that I should be giving the lecture. So to visit New York, which is arguably one of the birthplaces of the skyscraper, I was more like a kid in a candy shop that is completely normal for a tourist.

Let me tell you right now, I’m going to tell you about a bunch of attractions and services. None of these are sponsored by anyone; these are just who we used and where we went. Because of our schedule, we really only had one day to explore the city, so we took advantage of the New York Pass. This is a card like a credit card that you buy and then you get access to all kinds of tourist locations just by showing your card. Many places have an “express line” for card holders. This saved us a bunch of money; a 1 day pass is around $100; and my estimate is that between my husband and I we saved over $125 with all of the attractions.

We flew in and out of La Guardia. The thing to remember with this airport is that you will either need to take a shuttle bus or a taxi to get to Manhattan. You should expect a rather steep take off and landing because the runways are short. You take off and land over water which can be scary. I knew this, but I did hear someone comment to the pilot about the landing and he explained it to them. However, the advantage to arriving at this airport is that if you are approaching from the south, which we did, you fly right by Manhattan and when it’s clear it gives you an amazing view of the skyline.

All of these pictures were taken with my iphone. If you want to see more, you should check out my instagram account.

We stayed at the Empire Hotel. I loved the location – only a couple of blocks from Central Park and right across the street from the Lincoln Center. The hotel was nice and has a pool deck on the roof with a spectacular view. It’s about a block from a subway stop, too.

We started our day with a quick subway ride to Times Square. This area was the most tourist-driven area in the whole city. We quickly used our passes to get double decker hop-on/hop-off tickets and then moved on to the Rockefeller Center.

Keep in mind that there are several TV stations in this area, which can get a little crazy dealing with lines when you’re just going from point A to point B.

Top of the Rock early in the morning is great. (We accessed it with our New York Pass.) It wasn’t busy and we were able to get some amazing views. If you want to photograph the Empire State Building, this is a great perspective.

We then walked past the Public Library and Bryant Park, taking some pictures of the lions for one of my girls who adores them.

Then we went to the Empire State Building. (We accessed it with our New York Pass.) We got there mid-morning, and it was already very busy and crowded. Be prepared. It was pretty amazing, though. We went to the first observation deck; I’m sure the higher one is less crowded since it’s almost twice the price. I finally got a good view of the Chrystler building there.

We then used the double decker tour bus to get down town. I was happy to get an amazing shot of the flatiron building, as well as see some of the more historic buildings in downtown. For all you history buffs out there, New York City basically grew from the southern tip of Manhattan northward.

We got off at Battery Park. We wanted to tour the harbor, and since we had the New York Passes, we did a tour with Circle Line. If you aren’t using passes, you can take the Staten Island Ferry, which is free and goes right by the Statue of Liberty. Our tour took us under the Brooklyn Bridge, along the downtown coast to view the skyline, and then out past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

We then took the subway back up to Central Park. Be sure you are aware of closings and maintenance on the subway; while we were there, the line that we would have taken from downtown was closed. Luckily, we knew about this and found a different route.

We bought hot dogs from a stand and ate them on a bench in Central Park. Then, after freshening up in the hotel, we took a cab to the Natural History Museum. We could have walked there, but our legs were needing a rest at that point. This museum was fun, but it was very, very crowded on a Saturday afternoon.

After that, we cut through Central Park. Central Park reminds me a lot of the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, which makes a lot of sense: the same person designed both! We truly loved the Castle in the middle of the park.

Then we went to the Met. My husband wasn’t thrilled by the idea of going to an art museum, but then he changed his mind when he realized that they have an extensive exhibit of weapons and armor. I eventually pried him away from that and the Egypt and Greco-Roman exhibits to go upstairs to the impressionist painters. You can also enjoy many Tiffany stained glass installations along the way.

By the time we finished our whirlwind tour, we were exhausted. Luckily, there are restaurants everywhere and we went to one that was right across the street from our hotel.

Architecture of a Mom Signature

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  1. Rachel,

    I love NYC. I've only been there a couple of times, but I would move there in a heartbeat. :)

    Happy, happy day to you rock star!