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Day 9 in NYC: Fri, 7/5 – Hudson Yards, The High Line & The Vessel; Wicked

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I slept well, got the blog up and made my way out about 10am. I was meeting a friend for lunch and wasn’t too hungry for some reason so just decided to wait until we were meeting about Noon to eat.

The New York Times building
The New York Times building

I took the 119 bus from Jersey City into Midtown. It stops at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Times Square, and this is the first thing you see upon exiting. I think people forget “times” in Times Square refers to the newspaper.

Outside of Port Authority Bus Terminal
Port Authority Bus Terminal

This is a huge building covering a large chunk between 40th and 42th Streets on 8th Ave; that’s 41st St there running underneath it. It has 223 departure gates and serves about 8000 buses a day. It’s six levels total, underneath linked to the huge subway station at 42nd St.

My goal for the morning was the New York Public Library. I’d stopped by it last year but it was too early in the morning – like about 9:30 when it opens at 10am – and I didn’t feel like waiting so figured I’d come back at some point. Now was the time; I headed towards it along 41st St.

Lawn of Bryant Park, with the end of a stage to the left
The middle of Bryant Park as approached from 41st St, which stops here and picks up again on the other side of the Library, which is that building in the background
Gardens on the side of Bryant Park
Bryant Park along 40th St
The New York Public Libray, with 2 large rainblow flags hanging between the front columns
New York Public Library, 5th Ave at 42nd St

A nice surprise when I got here: an exhibit on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. Also one on Walt Whitman, both free. I’m not big on poetry so skipped the latter but was very interested in the first.

Staircase to the right of the entrance at the library
Staircase to the right of the entrance at the library
Cavernous lobby area, looking across from the far right corner to the staircase to the left of the entrance
As much of the lobby as I could fit in one shot; the staircase in the above photo is to my left and behind me in this one
Room done in all wood paneling, very ornate, with lots of paintings around it
The 3rd floor landing
Ornate wood ceiling with a classical painting covering much of the center
The ceiling
Sign aboe door entering a hallway: Love & Resistancce, Stonewall 50
One of the hallways of the exhibit, the other behind me

The exhibit was divided into 4 sections, one on each wall of 2 hallways across from each other: Resistance, Bars, In print, Love. All of it was very interesting, much of it from the library’s own archives; I decided to go easy on photos.

Photo from the 60s: conservatively dressed people carrying protest signs. The one in front says "sexual preference is irrelevant to federal employment"
Pre-Stonewall protests

The Resistance section started with what it was like for those very brave activists pre-Stonewall who put themselves in danger just for being public about their sexuality. In order to appear as harmless and “normal” as possible, they intentionally dressed very conservatively, hiding “behind masks of propriety in order to critique their oppression.” After Stonewall, Pride marches attracted thousands who felt emboldened to express themselves more freely, encouraged also by the counterculture environment at the time which included a broader sexual revolution for everyone.

An old pamphlet of the Gay Liberation Front, with "come out" on the cover taking up half of it, with a photo underneath of policy taking people away in handcuffs
The Gay Liberation Front was the first activist organization to form after the riots
Sign being carried during an early Pride event: Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day, 1970.
June 28, 1970, first anniversary of Stonewall, and the first Pride march
A huge room with long tables, people scattered throughout mostly working on laptops, walls covered in old painted portraits
The Edna Barnes Salomon Room, off the door to the right of the 3rd floor landing

I left around 1pm. I was meeting my friend Del’Esa, who lived in Sacramento until January 2018 when she moved to Brooklyn. I met up with her when I was here last summer and was looking forward to seeing her again. We had originally planned on meeting at Noon. Her errands delayed her; she texted me while I was in the library that it would be closer to 1pm, which was fine since I didn’t know about the exhibit when I started out.

Intersection of Fifth Ave and 42nd St, with the Chrysler building in the background
Intersection of Fifth Ave and 42nd St, with the Chrysler building in the background

Another iconic intersection that I love, at the northeast corner of the library. Del’Esa was delayed again and we didn’t meet up until closer to 2pm, so I hung out on 5th Ave until we met at a little place called Valerie that was quite charming.

Valerie from the outside
Valerie on 45th St between 5th and 6th Aves

I forgot to take photos of the inside, we so quickly got caught up in conversation. It was a pretty classy place with a decent menu. Since it was so late and I had 6:30pm dinner reservations, we went with various small plates to share. But boy was I hungry by that time.

Roasted cauliflower, spinach and artichoke dip with tortilla chips, their version of pork steam buns
Roasted cauliflower, spinach and artichoke dip with tortilla chips, their version of pork steam buns, open faced
Flatbread with bacon, figs, I don't remember what else!
Flatbread with bacon, figs, I don’t remember what else!

From here we went back to 42nd Street and took the 7 subway line to it’s end at 34th St. Del’Esa had arranged for tickets for us to visit The Vessel, a unique piece of interactive art which is a centerpiece of a huge new development known as Hudson Yards. It’s free, but maximum capacity is 700 people so entrances are timed.

Sign split into 6 sections, providing a map and other details about the High Line
Sign at the start of the High Line

The start of the High Line is at Hudson Yards as well. I’d gone here briefly last year, but from the other side where it ends at 12th St. This was an elevated railroad track that had been out of use since the 80s. Nature had taken it’s course and a wide range of wild vegetation had taken over, creating a natural elevated park of sorts. Michael Bloomberg becomes mayor in 2002 and reverses previous policy which favored demolition of such areas over preseervation. This opened the door for other groups to get involved; the first section of this was opened in 2009 (very long story short). The Hudson Yards development is 26 acres; earliest sections completed in 2016.

Lots of tall buildings, with a funky smaller struture in the middle, in somewhat the shape of a vase
That’s the Vessel surrounded by some of the buildings of Hudson Yards
Rows and rows of pennants (like at a used car lot) flying across the High Lineflying
This was an art installation on the High Line called The Garlands by Daniel Buren. Knitted polyester pennants in various Pantone colors; they went on for quite a while

I had never heard of Pantone colors but Del’Esa, being a fashionista, knew all about it. There’s a Color of the Year? No clue. Google it if you care :0

More of the The Garlands with lots of vegetation on the left
All of that vegetation is natural; it was the sidewalk that was added to the tracks
Me and Del'Esa on the High Line with the Vessel in the background
We asked someone to take a photo of us
A portion of the High Line, sidewalk flanked by vegetation
There are new buildings mixed in with old as the High Line itself spawned new development. Signs on the buildings say things like “Luxury living on the High Line” and “Home on the High Line”
Reflection of the Vessel from the shopping center
Reflection of the Vessel from the shopping center behind it; notice the Neiman Marcus sign at the top
Looking out past trains into the Hudson River
The Hudson River in the background past the trains
A huge building called The Shed, which is actually a music venue
This is called The Shed. It’s, among other things, a music venue that will only feature new artists. The portion on the left is actually a sleeve that opens and closes to change the size of the venue – notice how it would fit like a puzzle piece over the glass enclosed area into the section on the right
Geometric shapes form from the interlocking stairs
The design of the Vessel make for some cool views
Looking down mid-way up you can see the layers build
This is about halfway up
A building with an outdoor swimming pool about 10 floors up
Del’Esa was jealous of the swimming pool, apparently a rarity in these parts
The design creates interlocking hexagons
Cool view looking down into it
Tall buildings with a park in the middle
Looking north into Hudson Yards from the top
Selfie from the top of the Vessel, wth the other side of the structure behind me and the Hudson River in the background
From the top level of the Vessel

We left here about 5:30 and took the subway back to 42nd St.

very high escalator at 34th Street station
The 34th Street station is pretty new and had very high escalators that reminded me of London

Del’Esa and I parted at the 42nd St subway station with loose plans to see each other again today. I was returning to Becco for dinner and had 6:30 reservations. I checked on early seating but no dice, which was not a surprise, so I hung out at a cute little place a block away on 47th.

Cute coffee shop called UT47
Cute coffee shop called UT47, 47th St just off of 9th Ave
Inside the coffee shop, small tables line a good sized hallway, windows to the street in the backgound, interesting mural on the left
Seating area of the cafe

I had an iced ginger latte with a ton of fresh ginger at the bottom. Very original, very tasty.

3 pastas: bowtie in a spicy marinara; kale ravioli, crab linguine
3 pastas: bowtie in a spicy marinara; kale ravioli, crab linguine

I came back to try another round of the chef’s pasta specials. I was seated in a back section I hadn’t even noticed the other day, but had the same waiter. He remembered me!

The Wicked Marquee from 50th
The Wicked Marquee from 50th

I was excited to see Wicked again. I’d read the book back in 2002 and was fascinated by the story, being a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz. Written by Gregory Maguire, it’s subtitle is “The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” The book is very political, very dark, not an easy read. I was skeptical when I heard it was being made into a musical and for years had no interest in it. In May of 2010, Jon and I saw it at the Orpheum in San Francisco. This was just a few months after Michael died; I was a mess during “For Good.” I loved it outside of that and bought the soundtrack and have listened to it countless times since. I was listening to it driving back from the Bay Area a couple of months back and realized I should see it again while I’m here. When I really liked the show I get more out of it the 2nd time and this definitely qualified. (I’ve seen Les Miserables 4x, that’s how much I loved that!)

And I also knew that seeing it on Broadway is different. In general, the quality of the performers here are better than those on tour. And, the quality of the sets is different. Wicked has been playing at the Gershwin Theater on 51st St since it opened October 30, 2003. When that’s your home, you get to do things with the stage that wouldn’t translate well for a touring production.

Huge sidewalk with several lines of people to get into the theater
Entrance into the Gershwin Theater from 51st St
The Wicked Stage, very elaborate, with a dragon of sorts at the top
The Wicked Stage

Let’s just say: I was not disappointed. When I opened the playbill and saw that the understudy was playing Elphaba I admit to being concerned. I needn’t be. If I hadn’t known, I would never have guessed she was the understudy. She pulled it off brilliantly.

And seeing the song Defying Gravity on the original stage was breathtaking. “Everyone deserves a chance to fly.” For a glimpse, check out this clip from the 2004 Tony Awards. That’s original cast Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith. Idina won the Best Actress in a Musical that year. It was nominated for Best Musical, but was beat out by Avenue Q. (Forgive the quality of Idina’s voice in the clip; I understand she had an asthma attack just a few minutes before this performance; given that, it’s awesome…)

Raspberry swirl cheesecake and pink lemonade from Junior's
Raspberry swirl cheesecake and pink lemonade from Junior’s

On my way out I came across the Junior’s on 49th. Fate I call that.

It was an 8pm show; with dessert and a delayed bus, I didn’t get back until almost 1am.

Today I leave Manhattan to do a little exploring in Queens and Brooklyn before my 8pm tickets for Book of Mormon. Beyond that, it’s pretty unstructured so will see what I come across.

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