We left Parsippany, New Jersey, 29 miles from Manhattan, and headed east, avoiding freeways. This is hard to do. We went through Caldwell and Montclair and deepest Newark, then through Harrison and some swamps full of last year's cattails into Jersey City. We had gone 25 of the 29 miles in a little more than two hours, and it was getting to be time for lunch. The neighborhoods we were in didn't look too appealing -- they were full of working people and slow traffic -- so we decided to go to Liberty Park.
From Liberty Park you get a terrific view of the New York skyline still an amazing sequence of skyscrapers, one after another for miles and miles. You also get a closeup of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Times Square
At the moment we were hungry, so we followed signs to the restaurant, only to discover it was a dinner house. As we pulled out of the parking lot we asked the attendant if there was a place we could get lunch.
"Turn right around and go back in; you can get lunch on the red boat."
Sure enough, we found the old Lightship New York, a former Coast Guard cutter. It had been decommissioned and was principally used as the office for the marina (which had probably once been a cargo wharf) but there was also a little cafe where we got a fine sandwich, and enjoyed being on the old ship.
From Jersey City we took the Hudson Tunnel and drove north through Greenwich Village to mid-town, where we checked in to our hotel. It went quite smoothly. We left the truck for one night at $55, and the next day found a much less expensive place to park it for the remainder of our New York visit!
We had lived in Manhattan in 1959-60, and the biggest difference we've noted so far is the unbelievable light show all around Times Square. It seems that every building near Times Square has been used as mounting for huge screens with a constant display of news, weather, financial information, and twinkling and flashing advertising displays.
Of course, there are huge ads for all of the plays -- Aida, The Lion King, The Producers -- and the half-price-ticket booth is directly below us with its long lines each afternoon. The illuminated billboards climb the entire sides of the buildings, for twenty, thirty, forty stories, so you have to crane your neck to see them all. We look out our window at the HSBC display, which shows a series of cartoons featuring the heads of people photographed down on the street. Jutting out of another wall is a gigantic Coke bottle, lit from behind by hundreds of lights. Jeffrey, the Toys R Us giraffe, stars on his huge TV screen. Skyscraper going up
Times Square is the popular tourist destination, so you have plenty of company as you gawk at all the brilliant displays.
What doesn't seem to have changed much is the neighborhoods, at least in midtown Manhattan. There's pretty much the same mix of stores as we remember from over forty years ago, and the neighborhoods we've visited don't seemed to have changed much. We still get a kick out of staring out of a high window down at the little people like ants, and the sea of yellow taxicabs moving along the streets. When it rains there are more cabs and traffic moves lots slower.
Another permanent thing about New York is construction. Buildings are always being torn down and replaced with new buildings. Streets are always being dug up. We've been looking at the construction of a building a couple of blocks away. The ironworkers are scrambling around erecting the framework as a giant crane hoists the building materials from the ground below. How tall will the building get? We don't know.
We're getting into our big-city-sightseeing mode. New York is a great city to walk, but we've also bought Metrocards which we've successfully used to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was full of great art and lots of visitors, including school groups. We didn't do it justice, of course, in a short visit, but we had a great time anyway.