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mgt
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Three of us will be visiting New York City for a fortnight between the 9th and 23d of July and would like to visit the Hyde Park estate. I know there is a National Park bus at the weekend which runs in conjunction with a certain Grand Central departure to Poughkeepsie. I would be grateful for any advice on weekday travel, best train departures there and back; practical timings to visit buildings on the estate etc.
I would also welcome advice on "lesser attractions", eg Woolworth's Building, Tweed Court House, Carnegie Garden at the craft museum at his former house.
Thank-you in Advance.
Michael

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sojourner
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Unless the website is inaccurate, the bus (called Roosevelt Ride) travels daily, meeting the Metro North (a less pricey commuter train, NOT Amtrak) train that leaves New York City's Grand Central Station (NOT Penn Station) at 8:46AM and arrives in Poughkeepsie (the last stop) at 10:36AM. Be sure to sit on the river side of the train (left side facing forward as you head north) for the best river views. BTW, if you don't know, Poughkeepsie is pronounced with the first syllable like Edgar Allan: poe-KIP-see. HEre's a link about the bus:
https://www.nps.gov/hofr/planyourvisit/upload/Roosevelt-Ride-Rack-Card.pdf

The bus travels between sites. At the main site is the very interesting (and very early wheelchair accessible) Roosevelt home, the museum (less interesting IMO since they made it kid friendly, but plenty of cool stuff), and the Roosevelts' graves in a small garden. Val-Kill, another site, is the fairly interesting (but very plain) retreat of Eleanor Roosevelt. I have not been to Top Cottage. The Vanderbilt Mansion, home of Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt (Frederick was the grandson who became a director of the NY Central RR that his grandfather Cornelius began; same tracks/route on which you will be riding), is a standard McKim et al Gilded Age Beaux Arts mansion, not to my taste (looks like any old big museum) but tour can be interesting; the (extensive) grounds are lovely. From the back of the mansion and, even better, past the Visitor Center up top, there are fine views of the Hudson; beyond the garden (nice but no big deal) and then down the hill along the creek and out the gate and past the (bigger) waterfall, it is possible to walk to the small Hyde Park train station (to which the Vanderbilts' guests arrived), no longer in operation but maintained as a small museum (which won't be open; but you can look inside) and then come back into the grounds past the (very nice) stable and up the walk/hill--don't know if you would have time for all this. Note that if you do not take the mansion tour, the Vanderbilt grounds are free (but there is also probably a multiticket of the 3-4 National Park sites that includes the mansion). Here is a specific link to the Vanderbilt Mansion National Park: https://www.nps.gov/vama/index.htm

Also in Poughkeepsie, state-run I think and not part of the National Parks, is the Walkway Over the Hudson, an old railroad bridge converted to a pedestrian and bicycle way, quite wide, not scary, very nice views, but no shade, so maybe not as pleasant on a hot July day as it was when I was there. It can be accessed with an elevator from near the Poughkeepsie train station on Water Street (assuming the elevator is running) or further up in Poughkeepsie on Washington St.
Here is a link: http://walkway.org/

Note that if you wanted to get down to Poughkeepsie earlier than the Roosevelt Ride, you could take a taxi; ask a park ranger; you might take a taxi to the Walkway entrance on Washington St, if you are doing that, walk as far across as you like (you don't have to to all the way) and back, get off with the elevator, and get down to the train station and take any train back.

For the river views, sit on the left side facing forward when you travel northbound and the right side facing forward when you travel southbound. Wear hat with brim in late afternoon/evening to keep sun from blocking your vision.

Metro North is cheaper than Amtrak, and prices do not fluctuate based on when you buy them. There are more frequent and later trains (even though somewhat fewer on weekends). Tickets do not involve reservations, i.e., you can take any train back you like EXCEPT there are 2 kinds of tickets, rush hour (weekdays) and cheaper off peak (or whatever they call it)/weekends (when there are fewer trains but still I think one an hour). Metro North also travels to and from the magnificent Grand Central Station (the old NY Central station) instead of the ugly new Penn Station (under the ugly new Madison Square Garden).

Amtrak, OTOH, costs quite a bit more (even with its senior discount), esp as you get close to travel date; it also has reserved seats, so that switching to another train will often involve a higher price; and not all its trains stop in Poughkeepsie (they all atop in Rhinecliff,north of Hyde Park but accessible to it only by car). Also, you do not want to be coming south on the last two Amtrak trains of the day because that come from Canada; they are always late. That all being said, the ride on Amtrak is generally quicker, has somewhat better windows for viewing, has somewhat more comfortable seats (although the new leatherette or whatever it is can be sticky on a hot day, unlike the old cloth), and it is prettier in the NYC area because it goes under the George Washington Bridge and crosses the Harlem River at Spuyten Duyvil; Metro North goes through a portion of the Bronx.

Another option you might consider, if you have the time, is renting a car and staying overnight in Hyde Park or, better, Rhinebeck, an attractive village that is north of Hyde Park and close to the Rhinecliff Amtrak station (btw, the 15 additional minutes on the Amtrak between Poughkeepsie and Rhinecliff is very lovely). Let me know if this interests you and I will supply more info.

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palmland
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Sojourner, excellent information, thanks. Hyde Park is on our list (maybe not the bucket one), But, we will be heading to VT in August by way of our son in NJ and this is on the path. I have heard about Rhinebeck and might want to stop for the night there, if you have more info.
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sojourner
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The Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, has IMO one of the most impressive lobbies of any building in NYC. It was designed by Cass Gilbert as a "Cathedral of Commerce," and so perhaps its ornate quality might even seem over the top to some! It was closed for tours for a long time but lobby tours are now available again, 30, 60, and 90 minutes, not sure what they cost or which is better; here is the link to the tours: https://woolworthtours.com/
Here is some info on the building: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woolworth_Building

Very close to the Woolworth Building, by Park Row, is City Hall, which might qualify as a "lesser site"; it's a fine old building, I believe the oldest city hall in the US still in operation, and tour I took was very interesting. It is open for first-come,-first-served tours on Wednesdays at noon (sign up begins at the kiosk at the southern end of City Hall Park at 10AM; tours are limited to 20 people) and for reservations-only tours on Thursdays at 10. The latter is better if you can arrange it--do so as far in advance as possible. Both tours are free. Here is the link: https://freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-city-hall-tours/

The Tweed (Old NY) Courthouse is nearby, 52 Chambers St, also well worth seeing. It no longer operates as a courthouse but is used by NYC Department of Education. I don't know about tours; a friend who worked down there took me in some time ago. When in NYC, you can call 311 for more info on tours, I think, or try this number: 718-935-2000.

Hmmm . . . only Carnegie Garden I know is in Pittsburgh; but the Carnegie MANSION, his former home on 2 E91st St at Fifth Avenue, is now the Cooper Hewitt Museum of Design, a NYC-branch of the Smithsonian Institute (whose main stuff is in Washington DC). The Cooper Hewitt Museum reopened not that long ago and I was excited and went to the inaugural exhibit with my husband, but it was surprisingly dull (poorly curated, I suppose). At the time, tours were only of the exhibits; no tours of the building (in which I was more interested) seemed to be offered. However, I believe there are now mansion tours on Fridays. Here is a link: https://www.cooperhewitt.org/visit/tours/

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mgt
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Thanks very much, Sojourner, I really appreciate your advice, links and tips. Like you, I thought the Roosevelt Ride was a daily service but something I read recently implied otherwise. But that can be checked.
The Carnegie Garden I mentioned is the one at the Cooper Hewitt. On our last visit three years ago its opening was repeatedly delayed, until well past our visit. It will be interesting to take a train from Grand Central; it is a magnificent building. I went on one of the guided tours a few years ago, interesting but a bit lacking in railway information. We also celebrated my birthday in The Oyster Bar, just for the fun of it. I share most peoples' views on Penn, particularly because of what it replaced. But all cities have made their mistakes. A wonderful North British wooden booking office was ripped out of Edinburgh's Waverley Station and of course Euston lost its much lamented Arch.
We have travelled on the Maple Leaf and I do not think on that occasion it was more than 15 minutes late.
Being sensible, how much of the Hyde Park estate is it possible to visit in one day? Aged 60-72 the three of us are fit and perfectly mobile, but I suppose it comes down to distance. We would certainly like to enjoy gardens and river views.
By the way, how accessible from Manhattan is Theodore Roosevelt's house on Long Island? I think I read that because of National Park cut backs, access was restricted.
Thanks again for your help.

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sojourner
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You can visit all of Roosevelt's Hyde Park estate in one day I'm sure, and even probably Val-Kill, depending on how long the bus takes to get you to and from it. Vanderbilt would probably take too much time, but it does have the historical train connection (i.e., Vanderbilts built/ran the line).

Sagamore Hill, Teddy Roosevelt's summer home, is in Oyster Bay. Here is the link: https://www.nps.gov/sahi/index.htm It is 3 miles from the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Station. Trains from Penn Station (NOT Grand Central in this case) take about 1 hour 20 minutes. Taxis do not always meet the trains at Oyster Bay station, though; you perhaps could book one in advance but I don't know how reliable they are. You might be better off taking the LIRR to Syosset, which has more frequent service (including Uber) and where trains are generally met by taxis, but that is six miles away from Sagamore Hill. Here is a link to one area taxi: http://www.oysterbaytaxi.com/

Remember that as one of you is over 65, you can get the train ticket for the senior rate; also, rates for you should be off peak, since you are going in the opposite direction of commuters. (That's true of Metro North to Hyde Park too, I forgot to mention!)

You may be interested in visiting Teddy Roosevelt's birthplace on E20th St off Fifth Ave in Manhattan, if you have not been: https://www.nps.gov/thrb/index.htm
I don't know how authentic it is, but not as much as the Merchants House Museum, on E 4th St in the area of the East Village now called NoHo, i.e., north of Houston (pronounced house-ton, not like the Texas city): http://merchantshouse.org/
BTW, I have read that Manhattan real-estate developers (among the most vile species on the planet) are threatening the Merchants House!

Roosevelt Island is worth a visit IMO; have you been? You can go by subway (F train), tramway (at E59th and either 2nd or 1st Av, I forget), or the Astoria ferry, which runs hourly (at least on weekdays) and can be taken either from the Wall St Pier--where Wall St hits the East River, just below the South Street Seaport Museum--if for some reason you are staying downtown, or from E35th St on the river (east of 1st avenue)--a very short ride. The ferries are subsidized and cost only $2.75. Roosevelt Island, formerly called Blackwell Island and possibly also Welfare Island (I forget) has a very interesting history, site of NY's smallpox hospital, insane asylum and whatnot in the 1800s, and some of the building ruins remain. Once you get there on the ferry, tramway, or subway, you can catch a free bus nearby south to the FDR Four Freedoms Park, in which you can see the remnants of the smallpox hospital plus a rehabbed old lab of some sort before going to the tip where the fairly new FDR memorial (simple but quite pleasant, designed by the architect Louie Kahn, I believe) is suitably located right across the water from the United Nations building (which FDR helped establish). You can catch the free shuttle bus back (or walk) and then take another to the Octagon building, another 18C survivor I believe, with small art displays inside, and from which you can walk to the Lighthouse at the other tip of the Island. In between, near where the ferry and tramway let you off and the Visitor Info and so on, is some development and a handful of mostly bad-seeming restaurants, but the Japanese one (Fuji East?) has a very good inexpensive lunch box (bento box). The cafeteria in the very new Cornell Tech building, also on the south side of the Island, was also recommended to me, but I haven't been there. Note if you are going to Roosevelt Island, you might want to read The Deadhouse by Linda Fairstein, whose books I usually cannot read, but the info in this one was so interesting that I quite enjoyed it.

As you are going to be in NYC in July, you also may be interested in the Rockaway ferry, a 1 hour ride each way, from the Wall St pier (see above). Again, it's subsidized and only $2.75, a big bargain. I think it goes once an hour but maybe more now; get there EARLY (before 10 if possible) and go on a weekday; it will be hugely popular in July. The ride is great fun, past Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, etc., with a stop in Sunset Park Brooklyn I think, under the Verrazzano Bridge, Staten Island on the right (as you head for Rockaways), more of Brooklyn on the left inc Bay Ridge (you can see the home they show in Blue Bloods if you know where to look), the gated community of Seagate, Coney Island, Floyd Bennett Field; also the gated community of Breezy Point (tip of Rockaways) on the right, all much built up with higher homes since Superstorm Sandy; then under the Marine Park Bridge on Jamaica Bay. Be sure to sit up top/outside for the breeze and best views. Once you get to the Rockaway Ferry Landing you can catch a free shuttle to Riis Park, the best-known beach area (or perhaps the other shuttle, to Rockaway Beach, around Beach 86th Street; don't go lower than that). Or you can just return to Manhattan on the ferry (I think they make you get off and back on but I'm not sure).

Here is info on the Astoria and Rockaway ferries (and free shuttles in Rockaway): https://www.ferry.nyc/

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mgt
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Great, and thanks again. I had not realised there was so much to Roosevelt Island. That is a must and the Rockaway Ferry looks good too. We all like boat trips and I had not heard of this one. We managed to visit a music event on Governor's Island last time, interesting but with quite a bit of building work going. It was probably post Sandy, because much of the museum on Ellis Island was still being reinstated. Of interest to me, because two of my grandfather's brothers emigrated from the Borders area of Scotland in the early 1900s. They eventually settled in the Boston area.
The Teddy Roosevelt Manhattan links are much appreciated. We have simply run out of time in the past.
Thanks also for the pronunciation tips. Poughkeepsie I had but Houston I have obviously been getting wrong for years. I still have problems with the right stress for Potomac!
If we are spared we might manage another year to visit some of the Robert Moses sites on
Long Island. I have been intrigued by the man ever since reading the Robert Caro's excellent biography.

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sojourner
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Hmmm . . . I am not a Robert Moses fan.

Speaking of less traveled NY sites: Have you ever been to Louis Armstrong's house in Corona, Queens? Just a simple home, fixed up interestingly, and Corona is not very attractive, by and large (Jackson Heights is much nicer--not too far from there) but I AM a Louis fan and enjoyed going to the site. It's administered by Queens College, and they give a good tour (though they could focus a little more on the music). I think they are going to be expanding it, though, so maybe save for your next trip. Here is the link: https://www.louisarmstronghouse.org/

An outing: You could take the 7 subway (which becomes elevated in Queens) from the new impressive for NY subway) station at Hudson Yards (just of W34th by 10th Av), go to Jackson Heights for Indian buffet lunch, local color, and walking around nicer residential streets a bit, then get back on the subway a few more stops to Corona to see Louis's house. (Or you could eat Dominican etc food in Corona.)

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Ocala Mike
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Wow, Sojourner, you hit the trifecta with me with that post.

1. Lived in Corona, Queens (the Italian-American section down by Spaghetti Park a mile or so south of the Armstrong house) from 1949-1955. Neighborhood has changed immensely in the last 60 years, for sure.

2. Went to Queens College, 1959-1964, and got my BA in Engl. Lit. before trudging off to the military.

3. Finally (best of all), I worked for an agency that Robert Moses created, the Jones Beach State Parkway Authority (1972-1978). I had access to all of Mr. Moses' archives which were kept at that time in the basement of the headquarters building in Babylon, NY. You might not be a fan of his (I'm not totally, either), but the infrastructure of roads and parks around the NY metropolitan area (especially LI) was pretty much his baby.

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mgt
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The Armstrong connection appeals and again I was unaware of it. We visited some sites in New Orleans. I found the statue across the river in Algiers quite moving.
I do not claim to be an admirer of Moses; I find his methods as portrayed by Caro to be quite reprehensible. I presume the shoreline abomination in Seattle is down to his influence, also the ripping out by T Dan Smith, surely under Moses's influence, of the heart of Newcastle on Tyne to make way for an urban motorway, equally deplorable.
Its now a question of planning. Our hotel is in West 35th Street so that is handy for Penn and Grand Central. We know what to expect weatherwise at that time of year but the benefits are the longish evenings. Thanks again for all your help and advice.

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sojourner
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Louis Armstrong spent the last 30 years of his life in Corona. It was an odd choice of neighborhood, not very glamorous, not particularly African American either, but he seemed happy there and some other musicians did join him nearby. Some of the remodeling and expansion he did to his rather simple home was unusual--mostly done at his wife's behest.

I added a little more info to the post above on taking the #7 subway to Jackson Heights and then continuing to Corona. Even if you don't go to Queens, the new Hudson Yards subway station, right near the top of the Highline (and pretty close to Penn Station and your hotel) is worth seeing.

You have been on the Highline, right? It's great but very popular--go early on a weekday.

Re Moses: He is responsible for the tearing down of lots of older structures that I would have liked to have seen preserved.

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Ocala Mike
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mgt, have a great trip. If you get to go to Jones Beach State Park, know that the water tower is a Venice (Italy) knock off, and was Robert Moses'idea (as was pretty much the entire Long Island parks and parkways concept).
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mgt
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We have been to the Highline twice, once before it was fully open. The last time, three years ago, the completed northern section had a somewhat unkempt air which I gather was intentional? This section is to be allowed to develop naturally? There was still a fair amount of construction work in the area. Is that now complete?
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sojourner
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The construction on the Highline itself seemed complete when I was last there, though I believe there is still work on the high-rise development above/by Hudson Yards. (Overall, there is probably too much development around the entire Highline now that it's fashionable!) So far, the new part of the Highline is definitely more natural than the rest but that allows for the Hudson River views.

The Whitney Museum has opened at the lower (south) end of the Highline. IMO it's overpriced except if it has a very good exhibit, but the museum has great views of the river too. At the south end of the Highline you can nose around the qttractive side streets of the West (Greenwich) Village or, after a short break, continue south down the river all the way to Battery Park, very nice. There is another ferry down on the West side/Hudson near the World Trade Center site (where there is a new building now), with ferries to South Hoboken, among other places. This is not subsidized, but it's a quick ride, still fairly cheap, and that South Hoboken dock if by the old Erie Lackawanna terminal, inc train station with fine interior, part of NJ Transit but not Amtrak. It's worth seeing as you like train stuff. You can also take PATH trains here (for cheaper) and then just come back with the ferry--and I believe you can take the ferry from South Hoboken all the way around the tip of Manhattan to the aforementioned Wall Street dock, which costs a little more but affords much nicer views than the mere quick trip across the Hudson.

Thought of another "lesser attraction": Have you been to the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side, Orchard St at Delancey? Focus here is not immigration like the Ellis Island museum but on life of immigrants after they got here. I thought the museum was fabulous when I went, though I suppose it depends on the guide.

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mgt
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Agree with you about Tenement Museum. We have made two of their tours, the one dealing with garment workers especially interesting. I was somewhat surprised by how well kept the surrounding streets were. I suppose it is another case of inner-city "gentrification". We were fortunate with both guides.
Is the Erie Lackawana terminal actually visitable? I have seen what I assume was the terminal building when on one ferry or another. That I would find interesting. You have certainly opened our eyes to the number of ferry connections available.
I would also agree with you about the proliferation of high-rise development around the High Line. Will the covered area, presumably a goods shed/loading bay survive? Doe such things as building Preservation Orders exist in the USA? Presumably after the demolition of Penn Station something happened.

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mgt
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I have just checked the National Parks Service site for Hyde Park. The Roosevelt Ride Schedule seems to be identical with the one I have from 2015 with the crucial addition, concealed in the text, that the shuttle bus service from Poughkeepsie station to meet the 10.36 arrival operates only on Sundays and Holidays. That is not a problem, as there is an hourly local bus service from the station. Also Hyde Park is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
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Hyde Park CLOSED Mondays and Tuesdays? I had no idea; I think that's a fairly new thing!

I don't know about the local bus, but you could also take a taxi. It would not be prohibitively expensive, esp to the Roosevelt House (Vanderbilt Mansion is much further). I am not sure about Uber here but you can check that too.

But if there is no shuttle, you would need a taxi to get to the Eleanor Roosevelt property too, if you are interested.

I think your best bet might be to go on a weekend. Busier, sure, but less busy than most things in Manhattan!

If I remember I'll give them a call Wednesday and get back to you on anything more I learn.

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mgt
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Thank you. Your help has been much appreciated.
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sojourner
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MGT: OK, I talked with the National Park folks down in Hyde Park. First of all, it's as I thought, the Roosevelt Mansion is open EVERY DAY, and so are Valkill (Eleanor's home) and the Vanderbilt Mansion. The only property that is closed Mondays and Tuesdays is TOP COTTAGE, the small Roosevelt retreat (to which I've never been).

Second: Every day except Sunday (and Monday holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day), Dutchess County has an hourly bus that picks people up at the Poughkeepsie train station and takes them to the Roosevelt Mansion. Then, to go to the other sites, the National Park Service runs a shuttle bus between them (except not, obviously, to Top Cottage on Monday or Tuesday, since it's closed). On Sundays and on Monday holidays, when the Dutchess County hourly bus does not run, the National Park Service has a single morning shuttle go to the Poughkeepsie train station to pick up folks at 8:40--I did not get the time of the single departure back to the station in the afternoon but they will tell you. (And on those days it still also has a shuttle between the sites. )

So that's the scoop. You can email them directly if you have more inquiries, nps.gov/hofr/information

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mgt
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Right. Got that. I have also checked both the ferry and A line routes to Rockaway. I think both routes should probably be experienced. Roosevelt Island is also on the list. I note that Governor's Island is open late on Fridays; it was still suffering from Sandy on our last visit.
I noted that a chunk of Robert Moses Park/Playground is to be sacrificed to the UN. Is that going ahead?
Many thanks again for all your help and the trouble you have gone to. I hope we have another two or three visits to New York left in us. The Teddy Roosevelt sites appeal. In future we should aim to end our holidays in N.Y. as the jet lag when we fly home from the west cost affects me badly. We still have little experience of North/South Dakota and West Virginia and Kentucky. The Austin area is scheduled for next year. Then I suppose river cruises in Europe in our dotage!

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Don't know much about Robert Moses Playground (it's BALLparks, ugly to me, kids I suppose like them but I don't care) but I thought what was happening was some deal in which UN builds 1 building and city gets the money to extend the more parklike Greenway along the river, which is nice. Have you walked E down E41 on the upperlevel, though? There is a lovely little parklike square in Tudor City there where I like to sit. Leona Helmsley (the female Donald Trump) once tried to demolish it in the middle of the night (shades of Penn Station) but all the Old Manhattan locals heard about her plans came back from some ball in their gowns and tuxedos and sat there all night so it couldn't happen. More wranglings, probably--but it was saved!

Also, did I mention to walk up E41 from Lexington or Madison to 5th Ave & NYC Public Library? That is called Library Walk; I really like the inscriptions in the sidewalk.

I will start another strand on my own desire to go to North/South Dakota and also on something in Indiana near Kentucky that I recommend you see.

Posts: 2630 | From: upstate New York | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gilbert B Norman
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quote:
Originally posted by sojourner:
There is a lovely little parklike square in Tudor City there where I like to sit. Leona Helmsley (the female Donald Trump) once tried to demolish it in the middle of the night (shades of Penn Station) but all the Old Manhattan locals heard about her plans came back from some ball in their gowns and tuxedos and sat there all night so it couldn't happen. More wranglings, probably--but it was saved!

Ms. Sojourner, likely this is further off-topic on my part, but out here "Mayor Richard the Second", actually.pulled off an "in the heat of the night" closure such as Leona attempted. That was of Meigs Field (KCGX):

https://www.airspacemag.com/flight-today/day-shut-down-meigs-field-180952788/

There is no separate airport authority in Chicago. The Department of Aviation reports directly to...guess who...the Mayor.

"One man one vote", last time I checked, is still the law of the land, and many private aircraft owners, deep pockets notwithstanding, were not on the Chicago voting rolls.

Posts: 9388 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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