O-Berry Arts Home  > Travel Stories  > New York 2004

O-Berry takes Manhattan


A friend of mine got a job in New York and an apartment in New Jersey, thus providing me with a place to sleep without paying for a New York hotel. This is most excellent when you consider that I don't really care for Manhattan (it's big, noisy, smelly, crowded, etc.) but dearly love the art museums. Michelle and I have known each other since grade school, so this was also a chance for us to hang out.

Hoboken New Jersey

Manhattan from NJ

View of Manhattan skyline from Hoboken waterfront park

Actually a cool little town. It's on the water right across from New York, and has a park along the water with a wonderful view of Manhattan. Hoboken is a happening town filled with yuppies, many of whom, I suspect, work in Manhattan but don't want to live there. The weekend that I was there, there was a street fair going on, and Michelle and I helped the economy: Michelle bought art; I bought a stuffed toy.

street fair

Street fair from Michelle's apartment

Michelle's apartment

She has a view of Manhattan. Partial view. OK, she can see the top third of the Empire State Building from one room. But at night it's really cool since they light it up. The apartment is elderly -- it's a converted tenement house -- and has an oddball floor plan to go with the odd fixtures: "railroad style" which means 6 rooms in a row, 10-feet wide. And windows between the rooms (Yes, inside. Yes, I mean there is a window between the bedroom and the closet. I said it was odd.) The bathroom is an add-on, and has a claw-foot tub which is not entirely level -- the whole thing sort of rocks a little and gives you the frightful impression as you are taking a shower that you might tip over, tub and all. Michelle assures me that it's safe.

Empire State Building

View from Michelle's apartment

clawfoot tub

The bathroom -- sink is behind the door

Ground Zero

Cross of I-beams at Ground Zero

Small section of the plaque bearing the names of the victims

The Path train from New Jersey goes right through the base of the reconstruction. I knew the World Trade Center station had just reopened last November, but I didn't realize that I would be arriving in New York inside the actual site. It was... I'm not sure how to describe it, but you're traveling through the basement of what is now a construction site, with rebar and building materials all around you. But you know that it's a reconstruction site. At street level, there is a fence surrounding the site, and on that fence there is a list of the names of everyone who died. It's a long fence.

Central Park

I will say this much -- it is very cool to sit in the park and see the buildings all around you. It's pretty wild how you can be in a really really huge park, surrounded by baseball games, frisbees, cyclists, etc. and the skyline reaches over the tops of the trees. Central Park

Bryant Park reading room   bryantpark.org

Bryant Park reading room Bryant Park is this little park near the library, and in it there is a reading room. They set up magazines and books, and have a separate area with tables and chairs and no smoking and quiet please and anyone can sit there and read for a while. So I did.

The Guggenheim   guggenheim.org

The Guggenheim is a trip. I do love modern art -- it makes neurons fire that don't normally fire. The current exhibition includes a stack of blank white paper, a pile of crushed aspirin, a photo of the back of a crow's head, a "quotidian object elevated to something precious" (a chicken egg), and lest ye think that one over there is nothing more than day-glo paint on black stucco, it is actually "emblems of a social reality in which artifice replaces empirical experience." But you knew that.

Guggenheim exterior

The exterior of the Guggenheim

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (a.k.a. "The Met")   metmuseum.org

Met interior

An interior courtyard

It's really big. I got lost.

However, the good thing about getting lost in a place like the Met is that you invariably end up surrounded by some wonderful art. I stumbled across the Tiffany's (I love Tiffany), and then eventually found the fabulous oil paintings (you know, Monet, Vermeer... those guys).

I also had lunch with some total strangers and we exchanged travel stories.

The Whitney   whitney.org

The Whitney is really fabulous. They focus on American art from the 20th Century forward (that's 1900 'til now), and have a wonderful collection of Hopper and Calder (the mobiles). I was there during their biennial, where they spotlight contemporary artists. The line is around the block. The first four floors featured an amazing array of painting, drawing, film, photography, and, uh, installations. Even the stairwell, elevator and bathrooms were not immune! There was weird lighting and music in the ground-floor restroom, and the elevator featured a rousing southern-Baptist-style rendition of "Hold on, you're almost there."

The Frick   frick.org

Henry Frick was a steel man and collected fine art. Their house is now a museum, and includes both their art and their furniture. The have some wonderful art and some horrid furniture. I'm really not into that ornate/gaudy stuff. There was, however, a pair of Vermeers that I enjoyed greatly.

The Rose Center and Museum of Natural History   amnh.org/rose   amnh.org

Planets and quarks

Astronomy and dinosaurs. Two of my favorite things. The Rose Center is both a very cool building and has great educational exhibits. There a meteorite that's not much bigger than I am, but weighs considerably more (1,500 lbs); a model of the Mars rover, and whole lot of good exhibits on stars, galaxies, and planets. There was also an exhibit of photographs from the moon landings.

The museum of Natural History has an immense collection, but I just went to the dinosaurs.

New York Public library   nypl.org

I love books and I love libraries. I've heard that the New York Public Library has a beautiful reading room, not to mention a huge collection. The day I went, they were closed! Closed Mondays, who would've thunk? I didn't get to see it the first time I was in New York, either. But, as the lion says, "Patience."


Patience. Or is it Fortitude?

The subway   mta.nyc

This vacation was brought to you by the letter B and the numbers 5 and 6. Special thanks to Hotel Michelle for the futon and the array of fruity shampoos.