KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
On a previous visit to New York we had made a point to walk across the famous Brooklyn Bridge, looking towards Manhattan, at dusk. It was one of the most wonderful things we have done in this amazing city. Now that we are back, and have done and seen many of the most popular touristy things, I have been looking for more unusual or out-of-the way sights.
Anil and I are both avid movie buffs, and I have always loved scenes in films where New Yorkers sit along the water, under a bridge, either alone or with a lover. One of my goals for this, our fourth trip to NYC was to look for the park bench that was featured in the Woody Allen movie ‘Manhattan’. After walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and observing the approaches on either side of the East River, I was pretty sure it wasn’t the Brooklyn Bridge.
I did a little sleuthing on the internet and was surprised to learn that the spot I was searching for was probably Sutton Place Park, in Manhattan, under the Queensborough Bridge. This is the same bridge that was made famous in the Simon and Garfunkel classic ‘59th Street Bridge Song’. You might know it as ‘Feelin’ Groovy’.
I also learned that the Queensborough Bridge is often referred to as the 59th Street Bridge because it is located between 59th and 60th streets. Apparently, the current mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg announced in December 2010 that it will be renamed the Ed Koch Queensborough Bridge. Ed Koch was a popular mayor who served the city from 1978 to 1989. He is also an avid moviegoer, usually seeing two or three movies each weekend. I can identify with that!
In 2009, he started doing video movie reviews entitled ‘Mayor at the Movies’. I have included a link to one such video where he states that he was unaware of the impending honour and wonders if anyone will ever refer to the bridge using his name. I chose to include the link below because it has some great black and white footage of the bridge and the surrounding area.
We had a week of terrific weather following the weekend arrival of Hurricane Irene, but then another tropical storm drifting up from the Gulf of Mexico enveloped the city. The forecast was for cool temperatures and plenty of rain, not what the region needs as it is trying to recover from devastating flooding caused by Irene. Despite the rain, we decided to go into the city to buy tickets to see ‘The Lion King’, rather than purchasing them on line and paying a service fee of $25 per ticket.
I spent the better part of the day working on my journal so we didn’t get away until after 4:00pm. The tickets for the evening performance were completely sold out, so we decided to look at availability for Thursday or Friday nights. To our delight, we were able to get two great seats on the main floor, row N, for Friday. I guess it was meant to be, because Friday, Sept 9th is Anil’s birthday. It just so happens to be his last before he becomes a ‘seasoned citizen’.
We stopped in a nearby pub to celebrate with a plate of bangers and mash, washed down with a cold Guinness. We decided that we would make a full evening outing on Friday by dining at Sardi’s a New York institution in the Theatre District. We went straight there and made a reservation for dinner before the play.
It was raining heavily, off and on, and was starting to get dark, but we wanted to spend some more time out in the fresh air. I suggested that we walk to 50th street and the East River to see if we could find Sutton Place and the iconic view of the Queensborough Bridge. We walked through a part of Manhattan we’d never seen on foot before, up 7th Ave all the way to Central Park and then east towards the bridge. Along the way we passed some of the most expensive real estate in the world.
So expensive in fact, that there wasn’t a public washroom anywhere along the route, and we weren’t dressed to dash into the lobby facilities in any of the grand hotels we passed. You can only imagine how delighted we were to discover the lovely Bridge Market, tucked right under the 59th Street Bridge. We dashed in and made use of the modern toilets there, just before the store closed.
We knew we were in the right neighbourhood, and we found the Sutton Place Park within a block of the market. By this time, it was quite dark, and the bridge was stunning high above us. The rain disappeared and we were on our own to enjoy the setting and remember the movies. We lingered for some time, taking a few photos and then decided to walk back towards the bus terminal via 5th Ave. I thought it might be nice to poke our heads into St. Patrick’s Cathedral if it was still open to the public in the evening.
Just as we were leaving a woman in her early seventies came towards us with her very big, black dog. I admired her pet and we struck up a conversation. I’m sure Anil would say I met my match, because she was only too happy to chatter on about the neighbourhood, the movies and some of the famous people who have lived in the area. It was a wonderful half hour, comparing notes on favourite films and critiquing the recent work of famous actors.
We were worried that the rain would start again, so took our leave when she asked us which hotel we were staying at. We explained that we were staying with family across the Hudson in West New York. Her face lit up in surprise and she told us she was born there and named the West New York schools she had attended. We laughed at the coincidence and agreed, it’s a very small world.
We were highly motivated to walk the twenty or so blocks to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, but a few blocks further on, the skies opened up and the rain pelted us heavily. We dashed into a nearby subway entrance and rode the last E train heading towards the World Trade Centre station.