Wednesday, July 10. I only had 2 things planned for this day: lunch with friends at the Empire State Building, and visiting Alphabet City, a neighborhood within the East Village. Mostly I walked – over 10 miles according to the step counter on my phone. And, as I review the photos, I realized my fascination with intersections continued! Not sure what that’s about other than my interest in understanding how things are laid out.
The lunch date was early, set for 11:15am due to some work meetings they had. I left the house about 9:30am, took a bus to the Hoboken train station, and picked up the PATH train. It ended at 33rd street which was right where I needed to be, but got off at 23rd St since I had time to kill and couldn’t remember spending much time in that area before.
The first time I’d encountered Penn Station was on Sunday I think, approaching it from Midtown along 7th Ave. It looked nothing like this! With a lot of it underground, you can enter it from many places along 31st and 33rd Sts, and 7th and 9th Aves. The above intersection is 8th Ave at 31st St.
And this is across 8th Ave from the building in the prior photo.
This is the flagship Macy’s location, and the one from the movie Miracle on 34th Street.
A fun intersection. It’s amazing how many times up and down the island I’ve crossed Broadway on this trip. You can barely see the Macy’s entrance from the square bottom left. I went in to kill time and because I knew they’d have clean restrooms!
I was meeting my friends Cory and Alysse who work at LinkedIn, and whose offices are in the Empire State Building. How fun is that? Art and I met Cory here last year and he took us up to the Observation deck; it was great fun. No need to do that again but we had a fun visit over lunch. Rather than the LinkedIn cafeteria – which is amazing and free to them and their guests and where we ate last year – they wanted to go out. Since it was on them (I’m a client) I certainly didn’t complain. We went to a restaurant that’s within the ESB although I didn’t catch the name – too caught up in conversation as we were walking. And too caught up to remember to take a photo of them!
We had a nice visit and said our goodbyes around 12:30. The ESB building is at the corner of 34th Street and 5th Ave. I’ve walked big portions of of 5th Ave in my collective visits, from where it starts at Washington Square, past Central Park in the 60’s. But I’ve spend very little time (or so I thought) on 6th and 7th in this part of town so decided to wander. And that’s really all I did for the next several hours. It was fun and interesting from a getting-to-know-the-city sort of way but not very photogenic. I had several moments where things “clicked” as I’d come across some place I’d been before, but approached from a completely different angle. Hard to explain, but I love it when that happens.
Around 4pm I’d decided I needed a snack and stopped into this on 7th Ave around 19th St.
It was an amazing amount of food for an appetizer and I decided it would just be my early dinner. Good thing lunch was early and I’d just eaten a little bit of leftovers (Korean and Cuban!) for breakfast so it all worked.
When planning my Broadway shows for this trip, I’d bought most of the tickets back in January for the things I knew I wanted to see. I’d decided then I would leave some room to see something randomly using the discount ticket services, of which there are several available. While sitting here I realized if I was going to do that, tonight was my last real opportunity: I have tickets to my last show on Thursday and (at the moment at least) want to leave Friday night open. I pulled up a ticket app recommended by Art and Mike, TodayTix, to see what was available that night. Surprisingly, there were orchestra seats available for The Prom for $99 for that night. I’d heard good things about it from several friends on Facebook, and it was nominated for 7 Tony’s (didn’t win any, sadly) so figured it was a worthwhile risk. I bought the tickets while I was sitting at Elmo’s. I knew nothing else about this show until I sat in my seat in the theater later and read some articles on it.
Originally I’d thought I’d go back to Jersey City early and have a quiet evening in. Not. Now what? I had about 3 hours to kill until showtime. I continued walking and found myself in the West Village again.
This is a super charming neighborhood but I feel like I’ve included too many photos on this trip already of tree lined streets flanked by red brick buildings with fire escapes :) So I’ll spare you!
It was about this time that I realized I’d forgotten the original plan: Alphabet City, which was way across the island in the East Village, over a mile. Oh well, I had the time so started moving in that direction.
This building has an interesting history. Built in 1859, it was the first to use I-steel beams, and also the first to be built with an elevator shaft, even though elevators hadn’t been invented yet. The builder, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper for whom the square and building is named, was sure they would be soon!
He had this built as a fully funded school, which included women students, quite progressive at the time: Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. It provided every student with a full scholarship until 2014.
This is also the site of a famous Abraham Lincoln address on slavery, given on February 27, 1860, and known as the Cooper Union speech.
Cooper Square is at 8th St and 3rd Ave. Alphabet City is past and below that, well over onto 1st Ave, and called so because it’s street names are letters, most famously Avenue C. It has a huge square called Tompkins Square Park where lots of people were about, including basketball courts in full use. It’s the neighborhood that the musical/movie Rent was set in, and was quite seedy back in the 90’s when that debuted. I will admit to secretly hoping some of that seediness was still around, but it’s all been quite gentrified. It looked like everything else I’ve been seeing. It is a diverse, lots of interesting ethnic restaurants around, especially Cuban.
I left this area around 7pm and took a subway uptown. The M train took me to Rockefeller Center at 49th and 6th Ave; my theater was at 48th between 7th and 8th.
The TodayTix folks met you on the sidewalk to give you your ticket.
The Prom was super enjoyable, very funny, amazing performances, great costumes and staging. The premise is: 4 narcissistic and aging Broadway stars are looking for a “cause” to support that will help with their reputation. They pick a teenage lesbian in a small town Indiana (if they ever provided a city name, I missed it) whose high school is giving her a hard time about attending the prom with another girl. They descend upon this small town to help her and hilarity ensues. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it actually; it was very campy and that’s usually not my thing but the writing was great and the performances were amazing. The actress who played the high school lesbian, Caitlin Kinnunen, was my favorite. She earned her first Tony nomination for this role. While I’m still thinking about whether or not I need the soundtrack for Dear Evan Hansen, I will get this one for sure.
The show ended about 10:30pm and I made my way back to Jersey City, but not before a dessert stop.
I took the bus back to the house and got home around 12:15pm.
Today is another light day, with a lunch date and my last show this evening: Puffs. There are also flash flood warnings in effect all day for NJ and NYC so we’ll see how all that goes.
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