Coney island

Our next iconic trip is to the home of cheesy Americana nostalgia – Coney Island!!

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I’ve grown up on US TV shows and films that reference this mythical seaside hot spot and it represents to me the golden heyday of technicolor America – and I am not disappointed!

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Coney Island is actually a series of amusement parks,the largest of which is Luna Park above.

It’s also home of the cyclone – a historic wooden roller coaster that opened in 1927!

The coaster was declared a New York City landmark on July 12, 1988, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 26, 1991.

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There’s even a real life freak show – albeit renamed and re-badged as a circus side show But it has all the traditional characters advertised in garish, cartoon style.

It’s not open when we arrive so we have to be content to peer through the shutters.

Coney Island is home to the International Hot Dog Eating Contest on the 4th July. A event that combines American’s twin loves of competition and eating fast food!

I am giddy with all the over the top garish advertisements for all manner of seaside treats.

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Hot dogs, candy floss, buttered corn on the cob. It’s all there for the hungry tourists. Although they manage to take something relatively healthy – the apple- and make it super bad!

Everywhere is a rainbow of signage and consumerism. All shimmering in the June sunshine as the temperature gauge kept on rising.

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Oversized donuts, bumper cars and the famous mermaid parade all combine to the heady atmosphere of Coney Island.

The area started to sink into decline after the second world war with all the original amusement parks being demolished and plans for a casino and luxury apartments all being punted as ideas for the old tourist haunts.

Many of the old rides and attractions have gone for good and many vacant lots still exist, Coney Island is a long way from its hey day but in August 2018 it was announced that a boutique hotel was to built and the amusement areas extended, so there may still be life in the old dog yet!

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The Coney Island Art Walls are just one of the attractions hoping to bring back the visitors of old.

The walls feature artwork from renowned local and international artists in many different styles. Many of which are political or satirical in nature.

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Empire at night

We get a double dose of the gorgeous Empire State Building as our city pass lets us enter twice in one day.

So as night falls we headed back up this iconic slab of NYC real estate to see the Big Apple all lit up.-PAXP-deijE

 

The dazzling lights are spread beneath us like so many fallen stars landed on the sidewalks.

The Empire State itself becomes a huge light show that is visible for miles around.

Even though it is very blowy and incredibly cold we still enjoy picking out the landmarks.

Enjoy this unflattering video of me being blown about in the high rise winds!

And a more pensive angle of yours truly……..

The glow from Times Square is visible even from way up here! Bright lights indeed.

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Empire State of mind

Finally, the time has come, to visit the most iconic, of all NYC icons – The Empire State Building!!

We’re going up not once but twice, as our City Pass allows for two visits on the same day.

So we’ll see the Big Apple from above in the daylight and again at night too.

The first floor is an interesting exhibition about how the building was created. But we’re eager to get to the top and check out the views (and in my case take endless pics of the shiny view finders that appear in every film every shot on the Empire State)

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The urban sprawl of the city lies beneath us like a forest of grey concrete trees. Easily spotted is the beautiful Chrysler Building, still elegant in the hazy NYC skyline.

The hubby looks a little distorted in the viewfinder as I force him to pose for about the millionth time!

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At this point I am actually a little more excited about the view finders it must be said!

But how is this for an epic list of sights? A real line up of big hitters including Lady Liberty and Ellis Island.

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Even though it’s a grey day you can still get a sense of the dramatic urban beauty of Manhattan from atop what is possibly the most well known building in the world.

We’ll head up again after dark to see the city sparkly into life with a million lights.

Times Square by night

Suckers for punishment that we are we decide to make a second pilgrimage to the tourist trap that is Times Square. But this time at night to check out the ads in all their glorious, eye wateringly neon glory.

If the place was bad by day you could multiple the crowds, noise and frustration by a million at night!

It was as if the whole of NYC was out on the street, cheek by jowl, elbowing each other for space and prime Instagramming spots.

We literally shuffled through the streets as it was impossible to walk due to the sheer volume of people crowded onto the streets.

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So enjoy these few snaps of the bright lights of this big city as I couldn’t wait to get out of there TBH!

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Central Park

When you think of New York, one of the most well known places is Central Park.

Appearing in countless films, TV shows and music videos, it’s the quintessential icon of New Yorker’s leisure time.

Central Park is the fifth-largest park in New York City, covering 843 acres and was established in 1857.

It has nearly 50 monuments and 36 bridges as well as numerous paths and trails to explore.

The park is the most filmed location in the world. A December 2017 report found that 231 movies have used Central Park for on-location shoots,

One of the most recognisable scenes however is the boating lake that has been the scene of many a romantic cinematic moment.

Rowboats and kayaks are rented on an hourly basis at the Loeb Boathouse so naturally we have to grab the oars and set off for a ‘gentle’ boating experience.

Above Bow Bridge crosses The Lake and was designed by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, and completed in 1862. At 87 feet it’s the longest bridge in the park.

Below is another famous bridge – The Oak bride, a more rustic river crossing that you can often find buskers playing to the rowers below.

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You could spend days meandering through the park and just soaking up the atmosphere.

Circle Line cruise

We’re taking to the water to see the city of NYC from a new perspective now with a Circle Line Cruise.

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Started in 1945 Circle Line is one of the oldest NYC cruise companies and offers lots of different options for seeing the Big Apple from the water.

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Departing from Pier 83, close to the Intrepid Aircraft carrier that now serves as a museum, we opted for the Landmarks Cruise.

Two and a half hours of gentle floating between some of the most iconic sights the city has to offer.

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From the comfort of the deck you can see it all, from the One World Centre to the Empire State, the Chrysler Building to the Brooklyn Bridge.

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And of course, the most iconic green woman ever created – Lady Liberty. I don’t pretend to be cool about it, the hubby remains impassive but he is excited inside – I think!

 

Here’s a few phone snaps of the lady herself – not great quality but you get the gist.

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Later on in our trip we’ll get to climb up to the pedestal of this world famous landmark for a proper up close look at here.

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After bidding goodbye to her for a while the cruise carries on to the three impressive bridges that span the East River – below is just one of them.

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We got the cruise as part of the New York City Pass which saved us some money and also time queuing at several attractions.

It’s well worth a look if you know exactly what you want to see and have the luxury of a few days to see them in.

Other passes tend to make you cram everything into one, two or three days but this one allowed you to do them at leisure over nine days.

Flatiron & 5th Avenue

New York is littered with world renowned architecture and instantly recognisable buildings.

One such landmark is the The Flatiron Building, originally the Fuller Building, a triangular 22-story steel-framed highrise on Fifth Avenue.

On completion in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city at 20 floors high and was one of only two skyscrapers north of 14th Street – the other being the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, one block east.

Close to the Flatiron you can see one of the city’s last remaining cast iron street clocks.

This 19-foot timepiece has an ornamental base and a wreath of oak leaves around the clock face.

It’s gilded in gold and has stood, providing the time for busy New Yorkers since 1909. It was completely restored back to its former glory in 2011.

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Every angle of this quirky building is gorgeous and its address instantly transports you to a world of decade, luxury and old school American elegance and expense.

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If you turn your back on the Flat Iron building you can spot another highly iconic sight – the towering Empire State building – complete with all the perfect NYC elements, yellow traffic lights and a yellow cab!!

The National Historic Landmark program (NRHP) focuses on places of significance in American history, architecture, engineering, or culture.

It recognises structures, buildings, sites, and districts associated with important events, people, or architectural movements.

There’s an impressive list of National Historic Landmarks located along Fifth Avenue.

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National Historic Landmarks in the vicinity of Fifth Avenue include:

  • The Empire State Building – 350 Fifth Avenue
  • Flatiron Building – 175 Fifth Avenue – National Historic Landmark
  • New York Public Library – Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street
  • Rockefeller Center − 45 Rockefeller Plaza
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral – 460 Madison Avenue

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This part of the city feels like walking through a film set.

It actually can’t get any more American than this snap of the Stars and Stripes fluttering in front of the world’s most iconic skyscaper.

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Manhattan by night from Brooklyn park

Having spent the day in my new favourite place – Brooklyn – we head back at night to see the wonderful night time spectacle of Manhattan.

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Shimmering and glittering in the velvet night like a mirage or the wonderous City of Oz.

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The reflection of the sparkling highrise buildings dances across the pitch black depths of the East River.

You can clearly make out the One World centre with its illuminated spike heading straight for the heavens.

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Below the Brooklyn bridge is lit up in its night time best to light the way home for weary workers and excitable tourists.

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It’s a gorgeous sight and free too! Just head to Brooklyn park and enjoy the view.

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Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest roadway bridges in the United States. Started in 1869 and completed fourteen years later in 1883, it connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, spanning the East River.

It has a main span of 1,595.5 feet and was the first steel-wire suspension bridge constructed.

The immense towers are built of limestone, granite and cement. The bridge’s two towers were built by floating two caissons – giant upside-down boxes made of southern yellow pine, in the span of the East River, and then beginning to build the stone towers on top of them until they sank to the bottom of the river

The bridge itself is a hectic, thronged walkway above the constantly flowing traffic.

The view from the bridge is simply phenomenal – looking down and towards Manhattan.

More than 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 cyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge each day meaning that it is not a relaxing experience!

The bridge was originally conceived by German immigrant John Augustus Roebling in 1852 who spent 15 years working to sell the idea.

Sadly he died of a tetanus infection before construction could begin and the project was passed to his son.

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Walking the bridge is a definite highlight that everyone should try and squeeze into an NYC trip.

Vinegar Hill


Next on our tour of Brooklyn we’re heading to a curious little neighbourhood that is not exactly on the tourist trail – Vinegar Hill.

It’s a tiny neighbourhood in Brooklyn on the East River Waterfront between Dumbo and the Brooklyn Navy Yard.


The neighbourhood gets its name from the Battle of Vinegar Hill, an engagement near Enniscorthy during the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Vinegar Hill was commonly known as Irishtown in the 19th century, one of several places in the New York area with that name because of its sizeable population of Irish immigrants.

Most of Vinegar Hill consists of 19th-century Federal Style and Greek Revival style homes mixed with industrial buildings.

Hudson Avenue and Plymouth, Water and Front Streets are not tarmacked roads, rather they are made of Belgian Blocks which are similar to cobbles but a bit flatter and more rectangular.

The tiny little district is like a miniature open air architecture museum.

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It feels like a place stranded in time – a odd, out of place that has sealed the past in amber and shows how Brooklyn would have looked in the early 19th century.

The area was declared a Historical District in the late 1990s but it does not feel as if any investment is forthcoming, rather it feels like the developers are circling like vultures, just waiting to be able to level these characterful properties and throw up more homogeneous, glass sky scrapers.

Sadly it has a air of slow and inevitable decay, as is evidenced by the lone three story walk-up houses that are still standing defiantly even though their neighbours have long been demolished.

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It is one of a vanishing breed of areas that shows how New York was, back when it was a mecca for anyone with a dream.

A place of opportunity no matter how rich or poor you were. There is little space for penniless dreamers in the Big Apple these days.

With its endless concrete canyons and ever higher towers, New York feels like a place so concerned with rushing to its future that it has no time to appreciate where it has come from.

Long may places like Vinegar Hill stay standing to allow for a nostalgic remembrance of the ordinary people that contributed to NYCs success.