New York City is Back and Doing Great! Fourth of July is Spectacular!
In August 2020, Comedian Jerry Seinfeld wrote an op-ed for the New York Times titled “So You Think New York is Dead? (It’s Not)” and Jerry was right! Traveling to NYC this weekend was almost the same as the several times I have been there over the years on our nation’s birthday. One diff was after some time of not wearing masks here in Florida, New Yorkers are still required to wear masks on public transit and flying still requires them. We found this out as arrived at Penn Station and used the subway, trains and buses to get around the city in our whirlwind two days.
Saturday we attended one of the annual games of the Subway Series between the NY Yankees and the New York Mets. It had been raining in the city when we arrived but by the time we got out to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, it was clearing out. We were in the 3rd level cheap seats that ran fifty bucks for July 4th weekend! We had the front row so the view was great. Of course, we had a ballpark hot dog and got the souvenir cup, which later you have to figure out how to get in your bag to bring it home – I did! We toured the Hard Rock Café memorabilia, which includes a giant NY Yankees guitar signed by many players including Jeter, Rodriguez and Rivera. It is located at Gate 6, right where the subway drops you off. The Mets won two of the three games to take the series and they are a hometown New York City team. For any baseball fan, it is always an experience to see the famed Yankee Stadium.
We moved on from the Bronx to the east side to check out Roosevelt Island. The island goes back to the 18th century and has housed a prison, insane asylum and a small pox hospital. It was named for President Franklin Roosevelt in 1973. You can take the subway, bus or tram over to the island, which today has around 11,000 residents living in apartments and condos. There are restaurants & shops as well as the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park named for him as he was a native New Yorker. There are many walkers, joggers and bikers along the scenic river overlooking Manhattan. The tram is a four-minute ride, the cost of a Metro ride ($2.75) and not for the faint of heart. It travels at 16 mph and is 250 ft. in the air, riding next to the Queensboro Bridge. The views are absolutely amazing, a not-to-miss sight in NYC! On our way back to the hotel, we were lucky to happen upon the “Magnolia Bakery”, made famous on the TV show “Sex and the City”! They have the most amazing cupcakes and lemon bars, perfect for hotel room snacks.
On July 4th, we made the pilgrimage to the 9/11 Memorial. Mini-flags were placed on every name at the North and South pools. There were also white roses placed on a few names and a tour guide was overheard saying that the flowers are placed for the victim’s birthday. There were many people visiting but it was very quiet in respect to this hallowed ground. A beautiful place to sit and rest awhile. The museum was open and quite busy. We went inside the new Oculus subway station to head to our next stop which was Strawberry Fields at Central Park. My friend had never been there and I am a huge Lennon fan so I never pass up an opportunity to visit. We walked past the Dakota, which is where Lennon was assassinated and Yoko Ono still lives. The Dakota has a history of famous people living or staying there including Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall and U2’s Bono. The park was busy and many people were visiting the famous “Imagine” mosaic which was draped in red & white flowers with blue candles for the holiday. People were taking photos, listening to a musician playing Beatles & Lennon songs and the crowd was singing along. I love Strawberry Fields it is a special place for Lennon who loved New York City and America.
Next on our agenda was Times Square. We took the subway to that famous corner of 42nd Street. It was crazy busy with tourists everywhere doing the same thing as us! We only spent a short time in the Square to eat as we had to get to our last adventure of the holiday – the fireworks!
We bought tickets to take the Circle Line cruise boat to watch the world famous Macy’s fireworks. Circle Line has been in NYC for 75 years. I have taken their regular cruises before and never disappointed. We arrived at Pier 83 by the crosstown pier bus. Hundreds of people were also arriving, we weren’t sure what to expect. There were three ferry boats holding around 350 people per boat. Our picture was taken before we boarded ala cruise photo to be viewed online later. We boarded and went right to the top of the boat and although we couldn’t sit together, we were able to get a seat. The top is the most popular spot and you have to get up there quick to secure a spot. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the boat headed out around 6:45 pm. It took us past the Manhattan skyline, the Freedom Tower and out to Lady Liberty herself, standing in all her glory on this July 4th, 2021. We headed down the East River, toward the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Many boats were following us down the river to the fireworks barge area.
Coast Guard and NYPD boats were everywhere keeping the boats at bay from the fireworks barges. There are five Macy’s barges lined up down the river from around 34th St. from which stood the Empire State down to 59th Street. The Circle Lines boats were lined up next to each other and were the front of the line of boats for the fireworks viewing. The DJ kept the music going and people were dancing and having a blast! It was diversity all the way with a mix of Americans out to enjoy the July 4th holiday! The fireworks started at 9:25 pm and lasted 30 min. Everyone was in awe of the epic show put on by Macy’s and the City of New York. The kids were all amazed and the rest of us just took a breath of peace for a few minutes to be grateful to be there after the past 15 months and especially what New Yorkers have been through. I have traveled to NYC many times over 20 years and I have seen the city go through September 11th, survive and turn it into a classy & moving tribute to those lives lost. Yes, there are empty storefronts and apartments for now but I have no doubt they will all come back when this pandemic is over and done. Thanks, NYC, for a great July 4th, 2021!
Photos courtesy of Vicky Sullivan