New York City
New York City- May, 2001
We were up early to finish packing for the
trip. At 7:15 A.M., we drove to Bflo International
Airport. The parking lots were crowded as usual and I
wondered “who are all these people and where do they fly
The airport shuttle picked us up in the lot
and we were ferried to the main terminal. Check in at
Continental was perfunctory. We walked through the
security portals, towards our departure gate at the end
of the Continental wing. Good coffee and bagels are
available at “Jakes,” so we stopped in for breakfast.
The small executive jet, that was
Continental flight # 4161-T loaded us all without
trouble, though it was full seating. We off-lifted at
8:45 A.M. and made the one-hour flight, without
incident, into LaGuardia Airport, NYC. Along the route,
we were low enough so that I could enjoy the distinctive
contours of the five Finger Lakes as they lay below us,
sparkling in the morning sun. We approached LaGuardia
from across Long island Sound and I looked down with
interest upon the varied port facilities and buildings
that had once been so productive.
On land once again, we scurried through
the terminal and lassoed a cab for the 25 minute, $25
ride into midtown Manhattan. Traffic was building but
not yet that congested for a Friday in Manhattan.
On Central park South, we drove by the
Plaza, the Park Lane and several other luxury hotels to
our own destination the New York City Athletic Club, at
120 Central Park South. The interior of the lobby is
subdued and “clubby” as you would expect. A rota of
members killed in wars, the famous’winged foot” statuary
emblem of the club and lots of mahogany and plush,
stuffed chairs completed the décor. Check in was easy
We were here as guests of member Bill
Brosnahan, who had arranged the stay for us at a very
reasonable cost of $220 per night. This is inexpensive
for New York City. Our room was available, so we rode
the elevator up to room # 1418 and unpacked. The room
was small, with lots of dark woods. It reminds me of
the hotel Thayer at West Point. It was warm and sunny
out, in the upper 80’s, so we changed into shorts and
walking shoes and then headed out for the day.
A few blocks South on 7th Avenue, we
turned left onto 53rd and soon found the modest entrance
to the Museum of Modern Art. Its Library-like façade is
unassuming. For $10 each, we entered and ascended the
escalator to see what lay within. An eye appealing
exhibit by Van Gogh, entitled “The post man,” is
interesting. A Diego River mural, the likes of which we
had last seen inside Coit Tower, in San Francisco, also
was appealing. Most of the rest of the collection,
except for a few Warhols, could be handled neatly with
30 pounds of semtex, a good blasting cap and a bulldozer
to pave over the mess. To each their own I guess.
It was noon, so we decided to have lunch
at the MOMA. We sat on the terrace and enjoyed cold
pumpkin soup, bread, olive oil and some lovely salad.
The service was attentive and we enjoyed the lunch. ($50)
From the MOMA, we walked over to 5th
Avenue, that quinticential Avenue of Dreams. The vehicular
traffic was heavy and the constant ”Sonata of car Horns”
was ever present. We walked up 5th to Central Park and
then along Central Park East. At 70th, we crossed over
to that beautiful French Chateau that houses the Frick
Collection. Inside, for $10 each and amidst the quiet
splendor of a truly beautiful home, we enjoyed Boucher’s
Four Seasons, an impressive Renoir and a few fanciful
Whistlers. The painted, room-sized murals of Fraggonard
and Boucher are inspiring. We enjoyed all of these works
and the many other paintings that the redoubtable Henry
Clay Frick had assembled in his private collection.
Lastly, we sat for a time amidst the quiet splashing of
the fountain in the central court and enjoyed the beauty
of the building itself. Whatever sins Mr. Frick had
undoubtedly committed, his largesse in creating the
museum went a long way in atoning for.
Outside the Frick Gallery, the weather
was warm and sunny. We retreated to the shaded beauty of
central park and walked along its well trimmed and
litter free paths back towards 59th. Like hundreds of
others, we sat on the benches, sipping water and watched
the parade of people walk by. There are so many people
in these five burroughs and so little space for them to
walk in the park. It made me appreciate the space and
the beauty we enjoy in Western New York.
At 59th, we sat for a time in the Grand
Army Plaza, with its towering equestrian statue of
William Tecumseh Sherman. The vehicular traffic was even
heavier as the afternoon progressed. The swirls of
pedestrians was impressive even for New York. We walked
across Fifth and stopped in to see the fun of F.A.O
Schwartz. The place was loaded with high school kids on
schools trips. We retreated, singed with the impatience
these junior people always bring to me.
We visited the Plaza just to walk inside
this magnificent luxury hotel. The Oak Bar, The Oyster
Room and the grand Tea Court were all predictably busy
and full. Small portraits of Eloise, from a story about
the Plaza from the 50’s, adorned the walls. Exiting the
plaza, we walked over to 7th, past historic Carnegie
Hall and decided to have some Café au lait in the Café
The service was swift. We sipped our bowl-
like café au lait as we watched the action swirl by in
the streets outside. The energy of this city can make
you tired just watching it.
The wind was picking up and the day
cooling, as we once again sat in the Grand Army Plaza.
We were reluctant to return to our room, because it was
so nice out.
Finally, we succumbed and walked back
to the NYC A.C. We changed into swimwear and headed down
onto the third floor to swim for a time. The blue-tiled,
six-lane pool is well kept. We sat in the hot tub for a
time and waited our turn in the busy pool. Then, after
swimming laps and sitting for a time, we decided to
repair to our room for a conversation with Ozzie Nelson.
( a nap) On the way out, we met and talked with a
voluble Irish man from County Clare. A brief nap
At 7:30 P.M., we dressed for dinner and
rode down to the eleventh floor of the Club. The dining
area is airy and plush, over looking Central Park. We
sat near a window and had a drink. The room was full and
lively with conversation.
A very nice green salad, followed by a
great Tuna steak for me, and a chicken dish for Mary
proved excellent. A good glass of Merlot and then some
very good coffee and apple strudel made for a memorable
repast.($112) The service was excellent, the music and
atmosphere relaxing and restful. We much enjoyed our
dinner here and are appreciative of brother Brosnahan
for recommending the place and arranging our
It was Mary’s 50th Birthday and we had
had a full day. From dinner, we packed it in, heading
back to the room to read and relax. We had enjoyed our
first day in New York immensely.
Saturday- 5/5 – New York City
We were up at 7:30 A.M.. It was already 73
degrees and windy out. We decided to walk through
Central Park on our way to the Metropolitan Museum of
Art. Joggers, bikers and strollers were already
everywhere about. We walked along the well-tended paths
and admired the genius of Fredrick Law Olmstead, the
architect who had designed the park in late 1800’s. At
the “sail boat pond” we sat for a time with good coffee
and Danish and admired the beauty of the facility. One
homeless person was rather obnoxious, but I guess you
can’t police them all. We continued on through the park
until we reached the MET, at 85th st. The steps were
already crowded with visitors. Jackie Kennedy’s dresses
were on exhibit and the curious were flocking in. For
$10 each, we entered this great museum that we like so
much. Our favorite area is the 2nd floor 19th century
French Impressionists exhibit. We never tire of drinking
in the richly colorful Renoirs, the bright pastels of
the Monets and Degas and the blurry softness of the
Pissaros. Tissot now has a few works in the collection
as well. He rivals Renoir as my personal favorite.
The line to see Jackie Kennnedy’s clothing now strung
out forever in a two-hour wait. I wouldn’t wait that
long to see Jackie herself, if she was back from the
grave, let alone an exhibit of some old dresses she had
On the first floor, we wandered through the
Egyptian exhibits and all of the other cultural wealth
on display, before stopping to look at the intricate
golden carvings of the Incas. You have to wonder how the
institution has acquired all of this wealth so casually
on display. Beyond the Incas and next to another casting
of Rodin’s “Burgher’s of Calais”(we had seen six already
in other locations), we sat in a small courtyard and had
some coffee and bagels. The full-length windows
displayed the beauty of the park, just outside.
Refreshed, we ascended the grand staircase
once again to look through the 14th through 18th century
European collection. Most of it is too dark or too
religious for my tastes, but the various rooms are all
interesting to the casual visitor. We had been here now
for 2& 1/2 hours and were tiring. We find that in all such
museums (even the Louvre) about 2& 1/2 hours into the
visit, our eyes start to glaze over and it is time to
Outside on Fifth Avenue, the pedestrian
crowds were sizeable. A Revlon-sponsored women’s run-in-
the park had attracted 45,000 runners. The race had now
just ended. Lucky us.
We walked down a few blocks and then
managed to squeeze onto an M1 bus headed downtown. The
slow crawl down Fifth Avenue afforded us a wonderful
opportunity to see the length of the island. Rockefeller
Center, St.Pat’s Cathedral and other famous buildings
all passed in slow review. The pedestrian crowds were
considerable. Tri Beca, The Village, NYU and other areas
all passed by for our appraisal. Around 14th St. a large
array of scruffier people walked by in a street parade,
urging the decriminalization of marijuana. We had to
transfer busses at 7th for the final leg down to Battery
At Battery Park, we considered riding the
Staten Island Ferry, but realized we didn’t have enough
time left for the one hour round trip. Instead, we sat
for a time and watched the famous ferry leave her slip
and then glide by the even more famous statue of the
green lady with the torch in the harbor. You could hear
a score or more of different languages float around you
with the swirl of tourists passing by. The cheap watch
guys were there in abundance as well.
From the Battery, we walked North and East
along the promenade towards South Street Sea Port. It
was clouding over and a few raindrops christened us. The
financial center and newer buildings nearby all
reflected optimism from the polished mirror surfaces of
their windowed exteriors.
As we approached South Street Seaport, long
rows of tour buses attested to the areas popularity. It
was “Cinco de Mayo” and a large contingent of Hispanics
was assembling for an afternoon festival of music
celebrating this Independence Day in Mexico.
We walked around the area looking into the windows of
the Fulton Street Fish market, wondering at all of the
seafood that must pass through here daily. The seaport
facility is as we remembered it. Three stories of an
indoor mall surrounded by outdoor decking and a wooden
plaza for events. A few metal-hulled and wooden-masted
sailing vessels are moored here in slips, along with the
more famous “Ambrose light ship.”
We did the “crowd thing” for a while and
then decided that the day was waning and we needed to
get all of the way back to Central Park to get ready for
dinner. We walked over Fulton to 7th Street. Two NYC
cops gave us predictably wrong subway information. And
then, even the subway fee collector sent us to the wrong
station. Ah, New Yorkers! In any case, we managed to
finally find and wait on the correct underground
platform for the “A train” that would rocket us up to
59th under the vehicular and pedestrian madness above.
($1.50 each) The train came and we boarded for the
effortless ride beneath the bowels of this great city.
As a denizen of the streets myself, I
recognized one probable killer and his sidekick get on
the subway car. They were hunting in pairs. I knew that
someone would meet with misfortune at the hands of this
pair of thugs before the day was out. Our stop came soon
enough and we exited into the emerging sun of a lovely
The Café Parisienne, on 58th St., looked
interesting so we stopped in for cappuccino and
biscotti. ($10) before heading back to the hotel. There,
we chilled out in the air-conditioning and watched the
Sabres beat the Penguins for a great 3-2 overtime win in
game number five of the series. After we showered and
dressed for dinner, we descended to the lobby and stood
outside the Athletic Club to enjoy the late afternoon
and watch the passing crowds. Soon enough, at 5:00 P.M.
Marie and Bill mead pulled up to the curb. They are good
friends from Montclair New Jersey that we had met and
traveled with in Italy. They had driven over to have
dinner with us. We joined the Meads and set off over
59th to Madison and then down that boulevard of
shopper’s dreams. We were headed for the Gotham bar &
grill on East 12th Street. Bob Davis had reached out to
Rudi Giuliani’s office for reservations to this trendy
eatery for us. We were meeting Mary’s sister Trish and
Husband Brandon there as well.
We arrived early, parked the car in a
garage and decided to walk down to Washington Square.
The square and the area were filled with students from
nearby NYU. A street theater of performers was in
progress, entertaining all who watched. We watched for a
time as well and then set off to walk the surrounding
streets amidst the clutter of flea markets and sidewalk
sales. It is a different city down at this end of the
island. We had noticed that this afternoon as well,
amidst the clutter and the cheap stores of lower
It was nearing six P.M., so we rounded
the block and walked into the airy comfort of one of New
York’s trendiest (for the moment) eateries. Trish and
Brandon met us at the bar. We introduced them to the
Meads and then had a drink before being escorted to our
table. The place was SRO even at this early hour.
We ordered a few bottles of Shiraz and had
some fantastic seafood and other types of salad. The
chef’s creation put them all in “tower of Pisa”
formations that were interesting and wonderful to the
taste. I had some awesome tuna filet. The others
enjoyed an eclectic array of seafood, veal and steak.
Everyone was well pleased with the quality of the food.
We had coffee, a “birthday” creation from the chef and
even desserts to round off this exquisite meal. Lily,
the server was pleasant and efficient ($600) The staff
never rushed us, but at 9:00, we decided not to abuse
our hospitality any longer and left the table, full from
a great dinner.
Outside, the evening was warm and
pleasant. We said a fond goodbye to the Meads who were
headed back to New Jersey. Trish and Brandon wanted to
stop for a nightcap and then were gracious enough to
offer us a ride uptown. We drove up Madison and over
59th to Central park South. There, we stopped by the
Park Lane and sat for a time in their elegant second-
floor bar sipping wine and chatting of things familial.
Finally, as midnight approached, we parted reluctantly,
the Watsons for Connecticut and we for our hotel. We
retired mildly lit and full from a wonderful dinner with
friends in a great city. Life, at times is good.
Sunday 5/6/- New York City, N.Y.
We arose later than usual, the effects of
several libations from the evening before, the
precipitating factor. It was 58 degrees and windy out,
cooler than the last two days. We walked up the west
side of Central Park enjoying the “sheep’s meadow” and
the larger lake, where we stopped for coffee and bagels.
People were everywhere, including rowing boats on the
Lake. A massive flow of cyclers (over 50,000) was
flowing through the ring road. They were on some
citywide excursion or other. We walked back over to the
sailboat pond and had some more good coffee there as we
watched the many dads showing their “piccolo mostri” how
to sail the small electronically controlled crafts. It
was sunny and warmer near this pond and it was pleasant
just to sit here and watch the people flow by.
Nearby, we stopped for a time and admired
the wonderful bronze “Alice in Wonderland” sculpture
surrounded by children. Another figure, in bronze
nearby, turned out to be Hans Christian Andersen. From
the pond, we walked back over the ring road, past the
lake with rowers on it and onward towards 59th street.
Reluctantly, we realized that we had to exit the park
and get ready to leave this City of wonder and activity.
From the park, we walked down 7th to 57th and stopped
by the “Brooklyn Diner” for a great late breakfast.
($30) The food here is terriffic and the place was SRO.
From the Diner, we grudgingly headed back
to the hotel and packed for our return trip. We checked
out and hailed a cab out on 59th for the 25 minute, $30
ride over to LaGuardia. The Driver took us North on
Madison for an eye opener view of another part of the
City. Like different worlds, these many sections of so
diverse a population exist along side of each other like
different spheres in parallel universes, seldom if ever
aware of the other’s existence.
At LaGuardia, we checked our bags in at
the desk and got through the obnoxious security gate for
the Continental express jet that would rocket us back to
Buffalo. The flight was over an hour late, as usual for
anything Continental and out of LaGuardia.
Finally we off-lifted at 5:00 P.M. and flew
westward over the expanse of New York State to that
westernmost outpost on the lake Erie Shore, Buffalo. We
landed, recovered our bags without incident and then
caught an airport bus to our car, way over in section b-
14. The tab for parking was a reasonable.
We unpacked, checked our mail and messages
and settled in to read the papers. It had been a very
nice trip to an exciting and interesting City. We were
glad that we had gone, but were even more pleased to be
Joseph Xavier Martin