NYC gravitates

The infectious and pulsating energy of New York leaves an everlasting effect on its visitors, writes Suresh Selvaraj

The very mention of New York conjures up fascinating thoughts. It is numero uno amongst top cities of the world and a must-see destination. NY is magical and mesmerising. It’s throbbing and pulsating, 24/7. It’s mad but with a certain method in it.

Any seasoned traveller would tell you that the journey is as interesting as the destination. I took Amtrak’s Adirondack train from Montreal (Canada) to New York to experience the countryside of both USA and Canada. The train was painfully slow as it covered 600 km in 10 hours. Understandably so, as the track snaked around hilly terrains and skirted the frozen Lake Champlain for most part of the journey. The immigration process was interesting as the USA Homeland Border Security officers checked my credentials in the pantry car. The Canada side was whitewashed with snow covering the train tracks too and the train ploughed through it. The best way to see any city is to take the local transport and not the touristy coaches. The silver-coloured subway is the best way to explore NY. You can hear, smell, sense and feel the local flavour and quickly adapt to be a slick New Yorker.

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge

Times Square

On arrival at NY, I decided to walk from Pennsylvania Station to my hotel in midtown Manhattan as I didn’t have much luggage. Thus began my short sojourn to the most happening city of the world. As I wheeled my stroller on the hip 7th Avenue, my eyes popped out, reaching the Times Square. I felt as if I was at the centre of the universe. I craned my neck to look up the glittering skyscrapers around and the blistering neon adverts. Times Square packs a punch. The buzz here is infectious and you can feel the spring in your steps automatically.

Brooklyn Bridge

The view of the Manhattan skyline is wonderful to look at from Brooklyn Bridge.

It’s a 30-minute surely walk across the bridge from High Street side towards Manhattan. NYPD keeps a hawk’s eye on Brooklyn Bridge. Watch out for the hordes of cyclists who weave past the pedestrians. With Manhattan on one side, fast moving cars below, MTA trains trundling by the side, touristy boats crisscrossing the Hudson River, one can take the whole city in one sweep from the Brooklyn bridge.

Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Hundreds of hands go up in the ferry simultaneously with the mobile cameras, when the Statue of Liberty looms ahead. The lady in green, with a torch in one raised hand and a book in another, stands real tall, rock solid and majestic. And she is the actual symbol of not only New York or America but the Free World. Must admit she has a determined, focused and firm look.

Times Square
Times Square

One World Center

One World Center is the replacement of Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. It has a bird-like façade with 102 floors. The ultra tech elevator zips you to 100 floors in 25 seconds. One gets lift-lag like jet lag the moment you are out. The elevator walls are made of 3D screens giving you the real feel of the city that you are whizzing past. You get a 360° angle of NY city and its surroundings.

Memorial fountain
Memorial fountain

Grand Central Terminus

Grand Central New York is just that — G. R. A. N. D. It’s crowded but definitely not like the sea of humanity we see in Mumbai CST (VT). It has 117 tracks.

The single coloumn of WTC that has been preserved
The single coloumn of WTC that has been preserved

Ground Zero

I am sure, all could recall watching with horror how terrorists blew up the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. And, how those two massive 110-floor towers crumbled down. What a horrendous sight that was when we watched it unfold on our TV screens 18 years back. It’s very poignant to visit the most devastating site of 9/11 — Ground Zero.

You walk silently and solemnly, observing every piece of the remnant that’s kept there. They screen special films of that fateful day inside as you silently march into the museum. The sound reverberates in your ears and thoughts whir in your mind’s eye. When you see, hear and also listen to the staff over there, you are sad and glum, with moist eyes. 

The area where the towers stood are built as massive pond-like with water-sheet fountains. Names of all the victims are inscribed on the side walls. Everything was grand about Twin Towers, when they stood:

Each floor of the Twin Towers was of one-acre size. And there were 110 floors each in two towers.

Each tower swayed 12 inches on windy days.

There were 4,25,000 cubic yards of concrete used in WTC — one could build a sidewalk from NY City to Washington DC.

WTC food courts were feeding 150,000 people daily.

There were 43,600 windows and 198 elevators.

It had had 1.8 million visitors per year.

The three restaurants on top employed 450 people who could speak 22 languages.

Outside, at the waterfall areas, one can see people kneeling down, praying, and crying even now. Some wounds never heal. The Manhattan skyline will never be the same without those majestic Twin Towers. If there’s one incident that changed the world, this was it. At the end, I fell silent. Amen.

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