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Monday, September 11, 2006

THE BIG APPLE, Day Two: Art and Architecture

Wednesday, Sept. 6
The first thing this morning we went across the road to Benash's Deli/Restaurant and had a typical N.Y. nosh: bagels and cream cheese. (Absolutely the best!)
Manhattan alone has over 4,000 restaurants with a wide range fo food, flavours and prices from hot-dogs to haut-cuisine. If you're a foodie you'll find everything to suit your tastes and you could actually make your stay in NYC a culinary tour. No trip here is complete without sampling the quintessential NY fare such as bagels and cream cheese or the famous cheese cake (we'd visit Lindy's later that day but I never did get to sample a corned beef on rye sandwich or a hot-dog which was first introduced on Coney Island.)

The legendary Carnegie Hall was right across the street from our hotel so we spent some time browsing around reading the play-bills. There aren't any performances until next month and if we'd known we could have taken a tour of the Hall. The premier concert here was conducted by Tchaikovsky; the NY Philharmonic played here in the heyday of Mahler, Toscanini, Stokovwski and Bernstein. A concert date here is recognized as a mark of supreme artistry. Nowadays it also hosts pop concerts as well as classical.

A short walk away is MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art. Originally founded in 1929, it is devoted exclusively to modern art from the late 19th C. The new museum opened in 1984 and has been recently renovated. Famous paintings hang here from the Impressionists to those by Cubists and the Pop Artists such as Andy Warhol. Currently there is an exhibit of Dada artists.

We spent some time browsing in the Sculpture Garden before going inside to see the other exhibits. There are sculptures by Aristide Maillot, Gaston Lachaise, Henry Moore and my favorite, a little nanny goat cast in bronze by Pablo Picasso. As well there is a bronze wall by Henri Matisse.

As I'm most fond of the Impressionist painters I was especially thrilled to view Van Gogh's "Starry Night", Monet's "Water Lilies" as well as others. There were several of Picasso's works including "Demoiselles d'Avignon". I'm not much of a Jackson Pollock fan but it's interesting to view these famous artists' work.

We ate lunch at the MOMA and then walked over to look at Rockefeller Centre. This is one of Manhattan's landmarks, a masterpiece of Art Deco idealism, erected in 1930 and designated as as historic landmark in 1988. It's the world's largest privately owned buisness-entertainment centre composed of 18 buildings on 21 acres on Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. You enter via the slope of the Promenade to the Channel Gardens which leads to the Lower plaza where the famous ice skating rink is located in winter, and al fresco dining in summer. All around flutter the flags of U.N. member countries and in the centre is the imposing gilded bronze statue of Prometheus by sculputor Paul Manship. Just behind Prometheus is where the city's magestic Christmas tree towers over the ice rink during December and early January.

The architecture in New York is amazing and, like in London, you must walk around constantly looking up so as not to miss any of the abundance of architecutral treasures from the shiny glass and steel sky-scrapers to the Gothic revival spires of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Beaux Arts of Grand Central Terminal, the Art Deco of the Chrysler Building and many other historic buildings. There are a total of nineteen Art Deco buildings between Fifth and Seventh Avenues at 48th and 51 Sts alone, all clustered around the Radio City Music Hall with its ornate facades
that are a virtual musuem of sculpture, bas-relief, gilding, mosaics, carvings and moldings.
I had made a list of historic houses and apartments I wanted to see, most notably those that had once been the homes of famous writers, musicians or actors, but unfortunately time did not permit me to see many of them. On another trip to NYC I'd definitely plan to take a historic buildings tour because there's just so much to see in this city that is so rich with history.

Later that afternoon we would venture forth on our first subway ride which would take us to Greenwich Village. I'll write a seperate blog about the Village because that's where I stayed when I first visited NYC in 1968 so for me it would be a nostalgic visit.

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