Lady liberty

We’re nearing the end of our epic honeymoon – and first ever visit to the good old US of A.

And we’ve saved the most iconic of all the sights till the last day – the Statue of Liberty.

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We booked our tickets online before we headed out to New York and it’s a good idea to do so as the queues to get tickets on the day are horrific – plus you won’t be able to get a crown or pedestal ticket for love nor money!

We managed to bag a pedestal ticket, but the crown ones are sold out months in advance.

Which means we’re heading all the way up to the base of the statue (or the very top of the stone bit below)

Our first up close glimpse of this giant lady is every bit as awesome as we had hoped – and she does get a lot bigger up close!!!!

Once we disembark onto Liberty Island we waste no time in heading towards the lady herself.

We get to see a life sized replica of the famous torch and admire the corner stone of the liberty pedestal.

But naturally all we really want to see is the lady herself – so here is the most famous up skirt pic of all time!!!!

The view from the pedestal itself shows just how busy it gets.

One of the bonuses of getting a pedestal ticket is that you get to go in the star shaped area on the ground which is far less crowded than just being part of the crowd who didn’t bag a ticket!! Pus you get a much better, less busy picture from the floor looking up too.

Here’s us up on the pedestal with Manhattan in the background. A bit blowy but what a view!35282724_10155407780862353_6245721392935862272_n

We have successfully ticked off another of our epic bucket list sights and it’s a great one.

Seen for free from a distance you might feel a bit disappointed by this green goddess but up close she is incredible.

A gift from the French to the American people, Lady Liberty is a figure of  Libertas, a robed Roman goddess.

She holds a torch above her head with her right hand, and in her left hand carries a tabula ansata inscribed in Roman numerals with July 4, 1776 – the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

A ceremony of dedication was held on the afternoon of October 28, 1886. President Grover Cleveland, the former New York governor, presided over the event.

On the morning of the dedication, a parade was held in New York City; estimates of the number of people who watched it ranged from several hundred thousand to a million.

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All in all an incredible way to finish off our first ever visit to America. A heady, hectic and intoxicating place to be.

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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.

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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Brooklyn Heights

Heading under the river we head to Brooklyn Heights an affluent residential neighborhood within the New York City borough of Brooklyn.

Originally referred to as Brooklyn Village, it has been a prominent area of Brooklyn since 1834.

The neighborhood is noted for its low-rise architecture and its many brownstone rowhouses, most of them built prior to the Civil War

Brooklyn Heights was the first neighborhood to be protected by the 1965 Landmarks Preservation Law of New York City.

The areas is full of lovely architecture, the mainly typical brownstones that feature in nearly every New York film or TV show.

A typical brownstone rowhouse is three or four stories tall, with the main floor above the street level and is reached by stairs, referred to as a “stoop”, a word derived from Dutch.

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Little Italy

Fresh from China Town we head to the neighbouring district of Little Italy.

Once known for its large population of Italian Americans today the evocative neighbourhood holds only a handful of Italian stores and restaurants.

It has some well known neighbours, to the west by Tribeca and Soho, on the south by Chinatown, on the east by the Bowery and Lower East Side, and on the north by Nolita.

It might be small but it packs a lot into a few blocks including colourful artwork and this traditional / kitsch cigar shop complete with Pope and Native American Indian wood carving.

Mass immigration from Italy during the 1880’s led to large settlements of Italian immigrants in lower Manhattan and in 1910 Little Italy was home to almost 10,000 Italians, all bringing their food, language and culture vividly to life in its streets.

They also brought with them less desirable influences including organised crime and the Mafia.

These days the district is a shadow of its former self with its neighbour China Town rapidly expanding to takeover where gelaterias and authentic Italian restaurants once thrived.

But you can still see the red and white checked table clothes lining the streets and grab yourself a cannoli or traditional pastry.

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It is still a fascinating place to visit, still full of little details including this Italian flag coloured water hydrant.

You can also spot colourful wall art in hidden corners if you slow down and take a look.

Little Italy was the location of the fictional Corleone crime family vividly bought to life in the novel The Godfather and the three movies based on it.

Tenement buildings, once home to the immigrants who settled the area still line the narrow streets.

Below is the John Jovino Gun Shop. It has the dubious honour of being the oldest gun shop in New York City, it also claims to be the oldest in all of America.

Founded in 1911, most of its customers are in law enforcement.

Even though its heyday is over, in the sunlight, watching the older men lounge in the shade, you are still transported back to the early days of Little Italy where optimistic men and women from the old world made the bustling streets of NYC their new home.

Wealth and Wall Street

Our hotel is not far from the financial quarter including the infamous Wall Street. A worldwide symbol of money, stocks and shares.

And thanks to cultural references and films such as the Bonfire of the Vanities, Wall Street’s hideous protagonist Gordon Gecko and the more recent Wolf of Wall Street, it has also come to serve as a metaphor for greed, amoral trading and self-interest.

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Wall Street is an eight-block-long street running roughly northwest to southeast from Broadway to South Street, at the East River.

According to Wikipdia there are varying accounts about how the Dutch-named “de Waalstraat” got its name. One version is that the name of the street was derived from a wall on the northern boundary of the New Amsterdam settlement, built to protect against Native Americans, pirates, and the British.

Another theory is that Wall Street was named after Walloons, a distinctive ethnic community within Belgium as the Dutch name for a Walloon is Waal.

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There’s plenty of buildings dedicated to the literal enrichment of bankers and stockbrokers such as the New York Stock exchange above.

Plus there’s places to spend all those ill gotten gains too – like the famous Tiffanys Jewellers.

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Below is Trinity Church that was finished in 1846. It is the third holy incarnation on the site as previous versions perished first by fire then by severe storm damage. A church has been there for over 300 years.

During the September 11 attacks, people took refuge inside the church from a huge dust cloud produced by the first World Trade Center tower collapse. Some of the chapel pew’s paint was rubbed off from the people taking refuge.

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Other notable buildings in the area include Trump Towers and the Federal Hall National Memorial. The current memorial was built in 1842 on the site of the former Federal Hall.

This building was particularly important as it was the first capitol of the newly created United States in 1789 and on its steps George Washington was sworn in as the first President.

The Staten Island ferry

Next iconic experience on the New York adventure – the Staten Island ferry!

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These super distinctive FREE orange ferries trundle their way from Whitehall in Manhattan to the St George terminal on Staten Island.

The ferry, which runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, carries over 23 million passengers annually on a 5.2-mile journey and has been in operation since 1905.

On a typical weekday, five boats make 118 trips, carrying approximately 70,000 passenger and numbers are swelled by hordes of visitors – all eager to catch a free glimpse of Lady Liberty from the boat.

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Each ferry gets its own personal escort out of the harbour by armed coast guards – a little disconcerting! But you also get your first real view of Manhattan from the water.

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And . . . . you also get your first glimpse of that most iconic of women – Lady Liberty… albeit a rather small glimpse!!

However you do get a bit closer to the Green Goddess as the boat floats onwards.

The journey itself takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and is a favourite thing for visitors to do.

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The ferry is instantly recognisable as an icon of New York and has featured in numerous films including Working Girl and The Dark Knight.

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We disembark on Staten Island and, like most passengers, immediately whizz around to rejoin the queue heading back to Manhattan!

In all fairness, Staten Island probably does have some sights to check out, but with time at a premium, and a long list of sights to tick off, we don’t have time!

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So back to Manhattan we head, with yet another stunning view of the Manhattan skyline.

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Just time for another snap of the Staten Island ferry sign for the hubby and me!

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As we leave Battery Park I am distracted, and a little entranced, by the weirdest merry-go-round I have ever seen – The Seaglass Carousel. Enjoy this surreal snippet!