Tunnel vision is often contagious as the hustle and bustle of life provides plenty of excuses for keeping our noses to the grindstone instead of taking the time to stop and smell the coffee.
Well…….I’ve decided to do just that, stop, take a breath and become more engaged in life. My first stop was to become a tourist in my own city. Crossing 34th Street and 5th Avenue, the throngs of tourists, native New Yorkers and vendors selling all sorts of wares and commodities, can be overwhelming as they move asynchronously 10 deep along the crowded sidewalks. The moving crowds cross the streets silently daring the multitudes of cars, yellow cabs and errant bicyclists to get out of their way. Sidestepping the masses is its own art form but this dance comes in handy as you navigate the city.
There are many earnest young men and women streaming about whose jobs are to sell you tickets to the sights, sounds and attractions of the city. We purchased two combination tickets, one for the 86th Floor Observation Deck of the Empire State Building and the second for a Water Taxi Ride around Manhattan which included stops at Battery Park, Wall Street and the piers of Brooklyn Heights and Fort Greene. On board there was an extremely knowledgeable tour guide who provided historical context to the centuries old architecture, bridges and landings of NYC. The water taxi spanned the East and Hudson Rivers and provided an up close view of the Statue of Liberty, whose majesty always makes my heart skip a beat no matter how often I see her.
Before you reach the 86th Floor of the Observation Deck, one of the stops includes an historical photo array of the Empire State buildings construction which includes pictures of the architects, construction engineers, the drawings, work schedules, and timeline charts. The enormity of the project, as evidenced by the well documented photos, is mind boggling. How could they accomplish such a monumental feat in 1931? The Empire State Building took just 410 days to complete, 12 days ahead of schedule and under budget. 3,400 workers who were mostly European immigrants and hundreds of Mohawk iron workers from the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal comprised the manpower needed to complete the tallest building in the world, a title it held for 40 years.
If you love or even like history, both tours are definitely worth the price of admission.