USA series: Midtown Manhattan including the Rockefeller Centre and Times Square

Times Square at night

Times Square at night

Alex and I are on holidays in New York and today looks like a Midtown kind of day. Midtown is where many of New York’s attractions are located including the Rockefeller Centre, the Theatre District (is in “on Broadway”) and Times Square.

To get there, from our accommodation on the Upper West Side of Manhattan we take the line 1 subway Midtown to W. 50TH Street (single ticket cost USA$2.50). The stop at 50th brings us our near the GE Building / Rockefeller Centre and it is a short walk from on from there to Times Square.

Times Square is most known for its bright billboards which are popular when they are lit up at night. Even during the day it still attracts a crowd who visit the many shops and restaurants that line Broadway and Seventh Avenue which intersect here.

Unfortunately for us a main section of the road (Broadway) is under construction. This means not only are there plenty of tourists but workmen also.

Times Square

Times Square

Times square again

Regardless of its imperfect state, we are still excited to be here.

Times Square buzz

Times Square buzz

Heading away from Times Square, we continue further along Broadway to W 42ND Street and take a left. Along W 42ND Street is Bryant Park.  Bryant Park is an oasis in the middle of the bustle of Midtown Manhattan.  We take a seat for a moment to take it in.  There are chess games being played, a guy playing piano and others taking their own moment to enjoy the space.

Bryant Park

Bryant Park

Chess in Bryant Park

Next to Bryant Park and the actual reason why we are on W 42ND Street – the New York Public Library.

2:30pm
The New York Public Library is a national historic landmark and the second largest public library in the USA.  We enter through its revolving doors and head to level 3 to look at the Rose Main Reading Room with its gold lamps, timbered bookshelves, detailed ceiling and overall beautiful interior.

New York Public library grand interior

New York Public library grand interior

New York Public Library books

New York Public Library interior

Leaving the library we continue along W 42ND Street and catch sight of the Chrysler building looming in front of us.

Chrysler Building

Chrysler Building

Alex stopped to take photo of the Chrysler Building and a crazy black lady got cross at me because Alex was taking a photo and then she threw water at me, the water splashing on my feet. She wanted money from Alex because she though she was in the photo… Thanks Alex!

Our next stop is Grand Central Station but before we reach there we are stopped from crossing the road by people filming a movie. Literally, the word on the street was that it is a Russell Crowe movie they were filming the scene for… yep, the extras told us so.

We arrive at the Grand Central Station entrance and head on in to check it out. There are various areas within the station including a dining concourse (and the Oyster Bar Restaurant), shoe shine, market and central ticket area.

Grand Central Market - cheese anyone?

Grand Central Market – cheese anyone?

This station is very grand… and central of course.

Grand Central Station clock

Grand Central Station clock

Grand Central Station interior

Continuing on, we walk up Park Avenue to saunter past the Waldorf Astoria which is basically a fancy and well known hotel.

Waldorf Astoria exterior

Waldorf Astoria exterior

The next Manhattan “attraction” we pass is Radio City Music Hall where American Idol is currently being filmed.  There are apparently tours available but we don’t have our timing right and aren’t that fussed.  Nice to know where it is I guess.

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall

6:00pm
Finally we return to where we began our day, at the Rockefeller Centre/GE Building. Here we are just in time to buy tickets for the last tour of the day for the popular NBC tour. The 1hour 15min tour costs USD$26 (per person). Our tour includes being shown a video, being able to stand outside the bulletproof glass of the NBC operations room and then stand behind another glass viewing area looking down on the stage areas of the Saturday Night Live set.

All very interesting but didn’t get to meet Johnny Carson or whoever hosts the show these days. Somehow our 1hour 15min tour only took 50 minutes?

7:30pm
Next is the highlight of the day, to purchase our USD$27 ticket to “Top of the Rock”. “Top of the Rock” refers to the observation deck at the top of the Rockefeller Centre. We are taken up the 67 floors to the observation deck in a lift with a glass ceiling. It felt like a scene out of Willy Wonk and the Chocolate Factory and partially expecting the lift to bust through the roof.

Several levels at the top offer amazing views of the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and stunning views of greater New York City and beyond its boroughs.

Rockefeller view of Empire State Building

Rockefeller view of Empire State Building

Empire State Building from the Top of the Rock

Central Park from Rockefeller Observation deck

Central Park from Rockefeller Observation deck

Central Park from Rockefeller Observation deck - night

This was stunning and mesmerising, apart from being elbowed by everybody trying to all get a good look. Next time I recommend going after say 9:30pm when the majority of the crowd seems to go away.

Alex's million dollar shot

Alex’s million dollar shot

Rockefeller Centre panorama

9:00pm
After dinner at Applebees at Time Square (USD$50 for dinner for two) we walk a few blocks further on to again stand at Times Square. It starts to rain lightly but despite the rain, the lights of Time Square are illuminating.

We have walked our feet off today on what was a big but great day exploring Midtown Manhattan.[showmyads]

For previous USA series post see Central Park and 5th Avenue
For next USA series post see Wall Street and the High Line