Archive for the ‘NYC-NJ March 2010’ Category

NYC Skyline

The March 2010 trip consisted of two days of visits in to New York City from “home base” at a very nice Holiday Inn in Haskell, NJ.  The trip is directly summarized below, followed by individual posts with pictures and captions.  While the itinerary listed here is in the correct order, the posts themselves are in reverse chronological order, with the most recent visits at the top.

Friday, March 19, 2010:

  • Morning:  Drove from Haskell to Montclair University to pick up a New Jersey Transit Montclair-Boonton Line train in to Penn Station, New York City
  • Mid-Day:  Visit to American Museum of Natural History
  • Afternoon:  Visit to “Top of the Rock” (30 Rockefeller) and the Rockefeller Concourse
  • Evening:  Visit to Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Late Evening:  Returned to the subway via a walk across Central Park, returning to Penn Station for the train back to Montclair

Saturday, March 20, 2010:

  • Morning:  Drove from Haskell to Paterson, NJ to see the Great Falls of the Passaic River
  • Mid-Day:  Rode the New Jersey Transit Mainline train in from Paterson to Secaucus Junction, transferring to a train heading for Penn Station
  • Afternoon:  Rode the N train New York Subway all the way from 42nd Street to Coney Island, visited New York Aquarium, and returned to Manhattan aboard the Q train
  • Evening:  Spent time with Elisabeth’s sister Chris and her fiance Adam and then returned via Secaucus and the Mainline to the Paterson Station

An unusual request for a place to buy quail eggs by Elisabeth was no match for the stunning ability of Chris’ fiance Adam to find anything anywhere in New York City. Our quest took us to a whole foods market in Union Square, a two-story grocery store featuring a special escalator for shopping carts. (It is too bad we didn’t get a picture of that!)

Union Square, Manhattan

A view of Union Square, in Lower Manhattan; the Empire State Building is visible to the left, blocks north of the square

Union Square at Night

Another side of Union Square, this time at night (click image for larger view)

Secaucus Junction

Secaucus Junction, providing passengers transfer between the New Jersey Transit Mainline and the Northeast Corridor (click image for larger view)

The train ride back out from Penn Station toward the New Jersey Transit Mainline brought us through the Secaucus Junction again. Elisabeth says that the station brings to mind a mental picture of marine animals meeting to elect their governmental representatives (a “Sea Caucus”). But anyway, this second-time stop at Secaucus provided a few spare minutes to get a picture of the titanium cattail sculpture illuminated with the three colors of New Jersey Transit (above, right). The cattail is apparently abundant in the New Jersey Meadowlands surrounding the station.

Coney Island / New York Aquarium

It was the first ever trip on the New York Subway for Eric back in December 2009 (and also traveling on PATCO and SEPTA in Philadelphia in November 2009 before) that began to get him interested in intercity rail travel.  With Elisabeth, her sister Chris, and Chris’ fiance Adam, the four were riding the New York City Subway R train back to Chris’ apartment in Astoria, Queens when Adam said, “I’m glad we’re not on the R train, I really hate the R train; it’s the worst train.”  We had to let Adam know that he was indeed on the R train (there was a big R in a yellow circle on the train interior just behind where he was standing). Adam thought that we had boarded an N train, and he said that the N was much better because it offered superior views of Manhattan, running on an elevated line instead of the tunnel that the R train used.

After a delightful dinner and dessert with Chris and Adam in Astoria that evening back in December, Elisabeth and Eric had the opportunity to ride the N train on the return trip to Manhattan.  Eric discovered that Adam was right; not only was the N train more modernized and cleaner, but the sights from the elevated rails were really enjoyable.  Unfortunately, time that evening was limited, and the two had to get off and transfer to Penn Station for a ride out of the city back to the hotel in New Jersey.  But reading the dynamic route displays inside the train, Eric saw that the N train ran all the way to Coney Island, and began to think, “Wouldn’t it be fun to ride it all the way to the end sometime?”

And on March 20, 2010, that time had arrived: the opportunity to take an excursion from Manhattan all the way down to Coney Island / Stillwell Ave on the N train.  Plus, at the end, the world’s largest above-ground rail terminal station (the Stillwell Station, according to Wikipedia) awaited.  At Stillwell Eric was able to observe the end-of-the-line procedures where a subway train was disembarked, and then after about ten minutes the train was re-boarded (the crew members either getting a break or switching staff). The train would finally run right back out the way that it came in to Stillwell for another trip through Manhattan up to the end of the line at Ditmars Blvd in Queens, picking up and dispensing passengers all along the route.

But the surprise attraction for Elisabeth was a visit to the New York Aquarium (and Elisabeth loves aquariums), and that aquarium was just one station away from Stillwell aboard the Q train heading out of the station in the direction opposite of the N train approach.  After such a lengthy introduction, pictures from the Aquarium and boardwalk at Coney Island are presented below.

New York Aquarium entrance

The New York Aquarium entrance, on the Coney Island boardwalk

Coney Island attractions

Coney Island attractions, adjacent to the aquarium

A turtle at the aquarium

A turtle at the New York Aquarium

Sharks at the aquarium

Sharks at the New York Aquarium

Penquins at the aquarium

Closing time! The penquins are going back inside for the night

A penquin at the aquarium

The last penquin is going back inside for the night

Coney Island beach

The beach at Coney Island outside the aquarium; looking out at New York Lower Bay and further to the Atlantic Ocean

Coney Island Cyclone

The famous Coney Island Cyclone

The Montclair-Boonton Line runs on a different schedule on weekends, and since we were already in Paterson to see the spectacular Great Falls of the Passaic, it made sense to use the Paterson New Jersey Transit station to get a train on the NJT “Main Line” from Paterson to Secaucus Junction, transferring at Secaucus to a Morris and Essex Line train running on the Northeast Corridor to get in to Penn Station.

The Paterson station is an old Erie Railroad station, and the elevated structure of the station still has “Erie Railroad” written in the concrete.  Eric took some pictures while waiting for the train.

Paterson Station elevated platform

The elevated station platform provided a nice view of a square in Paterson

Paterson Station

Paterson Station platform, looking north up the NJT Mainline; trains heading out of Hoboken to Suffern or Port Jervis travel past, stopping on this side

Flags outside Paterson Station

An attempt to capture the 9-11 memorial flag (in white) waving in the wind

Great Falls of the Passaic River

With no useful help from the British lady inside the GPS navigator that we borrowed from Elisabeth’s dad, we found the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey.  And we were both glad that we did, because the falls were a truly amazing sight to behold.  The night before, returning from Montclair back to the hotel, we were rerouted in a few places because of flooding.  We later found out that some of the families staying at the hotel were themselves temporarily displaced from their homes due to a lot of flooding in the area.  Snow melt and precipitation led to higher volumes of water flowing down the Passaic River, and when the water reached the Great Falls, it created a spectacular sight.

Everywhere we walked at the park overlooking the falls in Paterson there was mist.  It was hard to keep the camera dry.  We took many pictures of the falls and the amazing rainbow that was so brilliantly clear.  Some of our favorite shots are included below. (Click any image to see the full-size view. Hit the ‘back’ button on the browser to return to this page after looking over the full-size view.)

Passaic River Falls 001Passaic River Falls 002
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Passaic River Falls Panorama

The scene was breathtaking. The following scripture quickly comes to mind…

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:8-17 ESV)

Our final hour in Manhattan on Friday was dedicated to getting back to Penn Station for the New Jersey Transit train out of the city.  Since the Metropolitan Museum of Art is not conveniently located near a subway station, we walked about a half-mile across Central Park back toward the American Museum of Natural History where we were earlier in the day to use that subway station.  Along the way, we were able to get some nice nighttime pictures of the city.

Rose Center for Earth and Space

The Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History

Street at Night with Empire State Building

A nighttime street-scape features the Empire State Building

Empire State Building at night

The Empire State Building at night featuring red and white colors

Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden sits on top of Penn Station, one of the busiest rail stations in the world

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Getting to the Met required a little more legwork. The closest subway station to be found was along the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, three long blocks away from the museum. We did get to ride up what was at one time the longest escalator in the world when we transferred from a train on the IND Queens Boulevard Line to the Lexington Ave train.  That was fun.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is immense.  It would take at least a whole day to see it all, but here are some pictures from the two hours we had left in the day to visit.

MET Entrance Hall

The Great Hall, entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Flowers in MET Entrance Hall

A decorative alcove in the MET Great Hall

Egypt Gallery

A view of the Temple of Dendur in the massive Sackler Wing of the museum, featuring Egyptian art

Egypt Gallery

Another view in the Sackler Wing

Egypt Gallery

Egyptian art detail on the temple wall

Central Park through the window

Looking out toward Central Park from the Sackler Wing of the museum

American Wing Facade

This facade from an old bank building provides the entrance from the courtyard into the American Wing

American Wing period room

The American Wing features rooms decorated in period furnishings and artwork

Stuart portrait of Washington

A Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington

The Frank Lloyd Wright Room

The Frank Lloyd Wright Room in the American Wing

Stained Glass at MET

Artwork of stained glass is displayed just outside the courtyard by the American Wing

European Sculpture Court

The European Sculpture Court at the MET

Rockefeller Center / The “GE Building” at 30 Rockefeller

After our visit to the American Museum of Natural History (pictures, previous post), we grabbed a B Train on the NYC Subway directly from the museum station to a station underneath Rockefeller Center, connected to the Rockefeller Concourse below street level.  A few minutes of navigating the underground concourse brought us to the entrance at “Top of the Rock”, the elevator ride 68 floors to the top of 30 Rockefeller, the “GE Building” (escalators and steps at the top allow one to go all the way to the 70th floor).  This was the building under construction when the well-known picture “Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper” was taken in 1932 (click link for more information).

A number of buildings, bridges, and other sites are mentioned in the captions of the pictures below.  Links to more information on some of these locations are listed at the bottom of this post.

Empire State Building from 30 Rockefeller

Looking south to the Empire State Building, 15 short blocks away (click image for larger view)

Empire State Building from 30 Rockefeller

To the left of The Empire State Building is the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge; to the right is Liberty Island with the Statue of Liberty (click image for larger view)

Long Island from atop 30 Rockefeller

A view to the east at Long Island, including Astoria, Queens, where Elisabeth's sister Chris lives (click image for larger view)

LaGuardia from atop 30 Rockefeller

LaGuardia airport, northern Long Island, looking across Astoria, Queens, as seen from the top of 30 Rockefeller (click image for larger view)

Bridges across Ward Island

The red steel arch bridge is Amtrak's Hell Gate Bridge along the Northeast Corridor train line; the suspension bridge in front is part of the Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) bridge connecting Long Island (Queens) to Manhattan Island and to the southern New York mainland (The Bronx) (click image for larger view)

George Washington Bridge from the top of 30 Rock

Turning to the northwest, the George Washington Bridge going across the Hudson from Manhattan to New Jersey is visible with the Hudson (New Jersey) Palisades as the backdrop (click image for larger view)

Central Park from 30 Rockefeller

Looking directly north over Central Park; George Washington Bridge is visible to the northwest (click image for larger view)

Metropolitan Museum of Art from 30 Rockefeller

Metropolitan Museum of Art surrounded by East Central Park (click image for a larger view)

MetLife and Chrysler Buildings

To the Southeast, the MetLife Building hides the Chrysler Building from the view atop 30 Rockefeller (click image for larger view)

Williamsburg Bridge from 30 Rockefeller

Also to the Southeast, the Williamsburg Bridge spans the East River, connecting Lower Manhattan with Long Island (Brooklyn) (click image for larger view)


30 Rockefeller North Panorama

North Panorama atop 70th floor, 30 Rockefeller


30 Rockefeller South Panorama

South Panorama atop 70th floor, 30 Rockefeller

Swarovski crystal-themed interior

Inside the GE Building on the 68th floor is a Swarovski crystal-themed interior around the corner from the elevator banks

The Sunken Plaza and Ice Rink

Through the glass windows of a Rockefeller Concourse cafe, skaters are visible on the ice rink in the sunken plaza (click image for larger view)

Links to more information on locations named in this post:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), also mentioned in one of the captions above, is where we traveled next.  Pictures from inside the museum are featured in the next post.

The American Museum of Natural History

During the late morning and early afternoon, we spent time exploring the American Museum of Natural History at 79th Street and Central Park West.  There was an exhibit about the ancient Silk Road which interested Elisabeth and an IMAX film called Mysteries of the Great Lakes that Eric wished to see.  In both cases, pictures could not be taken, but here is a sampling of other sights from in and around the museum.

Roosevelt quote in main entrance hall

The main entrance hall featured a collection of quotes from President Theodore Roosevelt

Artwork on a museum wall

Artwork on one of the hallway walls of the museum

Elephants at American Museum of Natural History

An elephant display at the American Museum of Natural History (click image for larger view)

Whale at American Museum of Natural History

A large whale hangs from a gallery ceiling at the AMNH (click image for larger view)

Panorama of whale display at AMNH

Panorama of the whale at AMNH (click image for larger view)

“I remember trying to take a picture of this whale years ago as a young person visiting this museum with an old, traditional film camera. The gallery is very dark, and all that developed was a very dim, blurry shape with some blue lighting in the background; you could not tell what the picture was. Looking at these photos from our new Kodak digital camera, it is amazing how affordable camera technology has advanced after all these years.” ~ Eric

AMNH architecture

Interesting AMNH building architecture as seen from tower window (click image for larger view)

AMNH from across Central Park

American Museum of Natural History on the edge of Central Park as seen from the top of 30 Rockefeller (click image for larger view)

The last image is actually from the top of the “GE Building” at 30 Rockefeller, and so we are getting a little ahead of ourselves.  Move on to the next post for more pictures from the “Top of the Rock”.

After a long night of late driving on Thursday, March 18, we had arrived early Friday morning to our hotel, a lovely Holiday Inn Express in Haskell (Wayne), New Jersey.  The pleasant extras like the towel arrangement shown here and the beautiful view of the small lake right outside which greeted us in the morning made this hotel an instant favorite.

A hotel extra special touch

An "extra-special" touch at the Haskell Holiday Inn Express

A View from the Hotel

A beautiful view out the window of Upper Twin Lake greets us in the morning

Upper Twin Lake behind the hotel

A beautiful morning on Upper Twin Lake, just behind the hotel (click image for larger view)

We rode New Jersey Transit’s Montclair-Boonton Line in to Penn Station, New York City. Our first stop was to be the American Museum of Natural History (featured in the movie Night at the Museum), so we transferred from Penn Station onto the New York City subway, navigating the trains right to the 81st Street Station on the IND Eighth Avenue Line. These trips kept us “underground” from the New Jersey entrance of the North River Tunnels on the Northeast Corridor under the Hudson River to Penn Station to Columbus Circle until finally emerging from the subway at street level right outside the museum at 81st Street.

NYC Subway Musicians

A New York City Subway scene featuring musicians and a flower vendor