This is topic July in NY City in forum Amtrak at RAILforum.

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Posted by mgt (Member # 5479) on :
I simply want to thank all the contributors whose suggestions made July's visit to NY so enjoyable. I suppose the much anticipated excursion to Hyde Park was the highlight, although there were some annoying timing issues in the National Park shuttle service. Coming by train it was impossible to visit the Vanderbilt and Hyde Park house fully. The Rangers were well aware of this and most apologetic and bent over backwards to ensure we would be allowed to join the Hyde Park tour late. Nor was there any information at Poughkeepsie station as to public transport connections to Hyde Park. The local policeman knew nothing and all the station staff knew was that the National Parks shuttle no longer operated daily. Having found a bus stop we were then entertained and informed by a driving instructor about the route we were taking and what we could expect to see. The return down the Hudson as day faded was truly beautiful.
We find signage to museums etc in Manhattan a problem. We know where we want to go but on emerging from the Subway it is difficult to orientate oneself. We mentioned this in the Tenement Museum and were informed it was a planning issue.
My intended visit to Theodore Roosevelt's birthplace was scuppered by the explosion of the underground pipes in the area, the second time this has happened on visits to New York. I suppose the infrastructure must be pretty ancient by now. However, the Merchant House museum was well worth a visit. It is amazing how buildings like that survive. Although we are certainly aware of how many former low-rise buildings have been replaced in recent years. The transformation around the High Line, which we have known since its inception, has been truly amazing. It is always a pleasure to walk along it.
The free Friday night opening of the Morgan Library was another highlight. My father-in-law was an incunabulist at the British Museum/Library and I was aware of its treasures but had not expected such a magnificent building. Another couple of gems were the Eldridge Street Synagogue and the Museum of Design, Carnegie's old mansion. Again both visits were enhanced by the quality and enthusiasm of the guides. Katz deli was an experience, but I suppose a bit of an anachronism today. I suppose that area and the around the High Line underline the scale of gentrification that is sweeping Manhattan.
We also managed a trip to the Rockaways, there by boat, back by Subway. I visited, by water taxi, the old station/transport hub across the East River, another area under redevelopment, but it was good to see so much of the original architectural detail still in place. Was that the Erie/Lackawanna terminal?
But there was also plenty time to stroll around Greenwich and Central Park, Union Square/Washington Square/Gramercy Park. Each time you notice something else, make a literary or artistic connection, absorb the sights, sounds that comprise New York.
By the way, is it true that New Yorkers rejected a stylised Subway Map as employed by most transport systems in favour of the present monstrosity?
Posted by sojourner (Member # 3134) on :
Hey, MGT, I was wondering how your trip went, thanks for posting. And thank you for the delicious word incunabulist. You seem to have done heaps of things and had a pretty good visit, I hope not too hot or rainy (July was pretty hot and then rainy, as I recall). I am so glad you liked the Merchant House and Eldridge Street Synagogue, two things I recommended when you asked for more obscure attractions. You don't say how the Rockaway ferry was--I hope not too crowded? It's been getting that way, sadly.

Signage is definitely a problem in many places, but did you mean you didn't see signs to the museums themselves, or that the street signs were missing? I find the latter particularly irritating when I come out of the subway too.

The Erie/Lackawanna Terminal I had been talking about is in NJ, across the HUDSON, not East, River. It is accessible by NY Waterways ferry (to South Hoboken) or the PATH train. If you went across the East River to Brooklyn to a station under redevelopment, I'm guessing that is Broadway Junction, a subway station hub--but I'm not sure.

Speaking of Brooklyn, I was there recently, and there is much to see there on your NEXT trip. For instance, I took a walking tour (from the book Walking Brooklyn) of Fort Greene, a pretty historic neighborhood adjoining Downtown Brooklyn. Below Fort Greene Park is where the bones of all the Americans who died on the British prison ships during the Revolution are interred in a mass grave (more people died in these prisons than in battle). There is a monument above it (designed by Stanford White) and many nice homes surrounding the park. Also other attractive buildings and eateries, Brooklyn Tech, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, an apartment house with a plaque to the poet Marianne Moore, who lived there (a big Dodgers fan when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn), Spike Lee's film studio, and lots of Whitman associations (the Brooklyn library branch there is named for him). I bought Walking Brooklyn as an ebook and my friend and I carried it around; I plan to do more walks from it in future. (I also have Walking Queens--and there is a Walking Manhattan too, as well as for other cities; be careful not too buy any that are too outdated. The Brooklyn one came out in a recent edition; I would not buy it before.)

I was also at Floyd Bennett Field, which is of interest to aviation folks--hard to get there without a car, though (my friend had one).

Also, for your next trip, Hamilton Grange has reopened, and there are also the Morris-Jumel Mansion and the Dyckman Farm all well uptown in Manhattan--can't remember if you'd been to any of these.

Did you get to Roosevelt Island? Can't remember if that was on your list too.

I don't know about any new subway map or controversy surrounding it but I believe there was lots of controversy when the present one came out some time ago. I myself still call the subways by their (very) old names, e.g., I say I am taking the "Lexington Avenue IRT" and get corrected to some very confusing and unmemorable number.
Posted by mgt (Member # 5479) on :
My mistake! It was the Hudson I crossed. I took the Ferry from Wall Street to South Hoboken and returned By PATH. As I had a wander outside the station I was admonished, that if I were not an employee I was trespassing! I do not recall seeing any Keep Out signs!
The Rockaway ferry was good, busy buy not overly so. It was interesting to see Coney Island from another perspective. Leaving the Ferry was one instance where more information would have been useful. There was a line of shuttle busses but no real information as to where they went. All the other passengers seemed to be regulars and knew exactly whither they were bound. But it was a lovely day and we enjoyed the sea breezes. We returned by Subway and that seemed to cause annoyance to many locals. There were track repairs on the go and changes to the schedule. As one train arrived another, presumably a connection, left just as the debarking passengers reached the platform. Obviously not the first time this had happened. No doubt there was a reason for this but surely it is better to keep the travelling public informed.
Roosevelt Island we also enjoyed, including the aerial trip across the river. Again there was a hiccup, one of the gondolas had to be taken out of service for technical reasons but it was not too crowded. Again we gained another perspective of Manhattan. Wonder what will finally become of the old hospital. It had a decidedly european Gothick/Romantic atmosphere! The memorial and gardens also impressive. Roosevelt was very much a theme of this holiday as we spent a couple of hours at the memorial in Washington. It is unusual to see such a concrete memorial, depicting actual events from the life, rather than a symbol set in the landscape.
Thanks for the further suggestions!
Posted by Gilbert B Norman (Member # 1541) on :
Originally posted by mgt:
As I had a wander outside the station I was admonished, that if I were not an employee I was trespassing! I do not recall seeing any Keep Out signs!

Ms. Mgt, I continue to be astounded as to how the platforms overseas - at least on the Continent as I haven't set foot in the "Mother Country" since '86 - remain so open.

It appears from your narrative you were wandering about the Hoboken Terminal and did not notice any "No Trespassing" signage. You may have been a "victim" of some "tin horn", and many pages at rail discussion sights have addressed the "rights" of photographers.

But lest we forget, there was a non-passenger fatality at Hoboken within the past two years arising from employee negligence. And even though the UK has had a number of recent terrorist incidents, none have approached the scope of 9/11 - and lest we not forget where "Ground Zero" was that day.

You can be sure that anyone with any ties to NYC (I grew up in Greenwich and my Sister still lives there, my Niece had her "post college, pre life" domicile in Lower Manhattan; one guy who I only tangentially knew was in Tower 1 on a high floor), will simply "never forget".
Posted by sojourner (Member # 3134) on :
You probably saw more of the Erie Lakawanna terminal than I have done. Did you also look in on the waiting room/area for the NJ Transit there (very attractive old station area--not an Amtrak station, btw; Amtrak doesn't go here)? It is rather attractive. South Hoboken, the area adjoining, has some interesting mostly Victorian commercial buildings still standing and is another area for a possible self-guided walking tour; I once found one on line that seemed worthwhile.

Glad you also caught Roosevelt Island. The old asylum is a little creepy, isn't it? Is the old Blackwell House still being restored? That's the one in the middle; I'd like to go back there if/when it's done. I also like the area by the little lighthouse at the other end. The new modern buildings, on the other hand, are rather ugly IMO. But I'd like to investigate that new Cornell medical facility, looked more interesting but I didn't go in when I was there.

Sorry I didn't give you better info on what to do in Rockaway; you could have taken the free shuttle to Riis Park and gone down to the beach there. It's pretty crowded in summer, nicer off season, though I don't think the food vendors are open then (and one wouldn't want to go when it's too deserted). There is a small monument to Jacob Riis hidden away between food vendors. The old buildings are pretty nice and the beach is lovely. Maybe next time!

I haven't been on that subway line in years--what is it like? Did you enjoy the "trestle"?
Posted by mgt (Member # 5479) on :
Mr Norman, the area where I was "trespassing" was on the cobbled square outside the station building. There did seem to be some reconstruction going on in, but no building activity at that particular time.

The days of open platforms in the UK are rapidly disappearing. Access to "train side" is usually through travel-ticket automated barriers, at least in major stations. But there are exceptions. In Newcastle some more local trains depart from open access platforms. Gone are the days of the Platform Tickets, which gave access to all platforms for a whole day for the avid rail fan/photographer/train spotter. Many a day I spent on Portobello station just south of Edinburgh Waverley, on the East Coast main Line, by which time the trains were moving at a brisk but observable pace; the famous named expresses behind the full panoply of Gresley Pacifics. The Queen of Scots Pullman, Glasgow to London via Leeds and Harrogate, cream and brown rolling stock with their cosy pink-lamped interiors.

Yes Sojourner, I did enjoy the interior/waiting room of Hoboken.

I found the whole surface section of the subway back from Rockaway interesting. Quite a variety of bird life and then man's intrusion in the form of the trestle. There seemed to be quite a bit of work on presumably flood defences being carried out.
Posted by sojourner (Member # 3134) on :
In fact, there is a wildlife preserve there, mainly focused on migrating birds. It's between the Broad Channel and Howard Beach subway stops, closer to Broad Channel. It is called the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and is part of Gateway National Recreation Area, administered by the National Park Service (as are Riis Park and Floyd Bennett Field, mentioned above, as well as several other sites around the port of NY and NJ). I'm guessing it's about a mile walk to the refuge from the Broad Channel subway stop, but it could be more. I am not sure what the walking conditions are like--i.e., whether there is a safe sidewalk to walk on, etc. Broad Channel is kinda funky, or used to be--I haven't been there in decades and presume much damage from Superstorm Sandy.

I have never been to the wildlife refuge but always meant to go. I suspect it's quite nice but suffers from the one problem of all these Jamaica Bay places, the stink of fuel from JFK airport, which is close by, along the eastern side of the bay. No doubt there is bad pollution from that source as well.
Posted by Ocala Mike (Member # 4657) on :
Memories -

When I served briefly in the NY Air National Guard, our home base was Floyd Bennett Field just before it closed up and we moved to Westhampton AFB, LI. This was circa 1969-1970. We got activated in March, 1970 for the nationwide postal strike.

Also, I was living in Laurelton, Queens, just NE of JFK at the time. Not too bad for jet fuel fumes (wind was usually the other way), but our place was directly under the flight path for runway 22.
Posted by sojourner (Member # 3134) on :
Yes, it's very noisy in all those places--Laurelton, Rosedale, Rockaways, Howard Beach, Broad Channel, not to mention the "Five Towns" et al in Nassau County. I think it was even worse when they had those SSTs; but maybe now it's worse cuz there are more flights. Definitely seems worse with the jet fuel smell than it used to be.

I had a college roommate who came from Laurelton back around 1970. I don't think it's as nice an area now as it was back then.
Posted by Ocala Mike (Member # 4657) on :
It was already "changing" when I lived there, like the rest of Queens. My old neighborhood of Corona used to be like little Italy around 1950, now it's largely Hispanic.
Posted by sojourner (Member # 3134) on :
I like Queens. It's not as historically or achitecturally interesting to me as Brooklyn or Manhattan, but there are lots of colorful neighborhoods (and restaurants). I enjoyed visiting Louis Armstrong's house in Corona, and Flushing is so Chinese it's really cool to go into the supermarkets, restaurants, etc. The part of Long Island City/Hunterspoint around Citilights has changed, gotten very pricey, has great views of Manhattan. I used to like Astoria and Woodside too, though I haven't been in quite some time. But my favorite neighborhood of those I've been to lately is Jackson Heights. Nice old apartment houses on the side streets, and great central Asian restaurants near the subway. And of course, Howard Beach and Broad Channel are also in Queens, and the Rockaways are technically Queens too.

Though I haven't been there in some time, I believe North Queens hasn't changed as much. Some of those fancy neighbhorhoods on the Sound, like Bayside and especially Douglaston and Little Neck, are still pretty fancy, I believe. Not so interesting perhaps--although Little Neck is the Little Egg to Great Neck (Nassau County, not Queens), the Great Egg, in The Great Gatsby.
Posted by sojourner (Member # 3134) on :
Ps I just corrected my post, which had the wrong name of the farmhouse still surviving in Manhattan (way up north on Harlem River). It is the Dyckman Farmhouse. Sorry, mixing up my famous Dutchmen.

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