Ghost in Grand Central

We paid to be a part of a ghost tour at the Grand Central terminal on 42nd street, almost a decade ago.
The tour host welcomed us, maintaining an eerie voice, as he not only briefed us about the haunted areas in New York City but cautioned us; this appeared more gimmicky to market his tours than the possibility that a ghost would reveal itself.
But, every time he said many places in Manhattan, including Wall Street and Canal Street, remained haunted and that people had heard native Indian death chants, about twenty of us thrill-seeking strangers peeked at one another, ticking each one off, ensuring there was no zombie in disguise. Worse, when he blurted that the Grand Central itself was haunted, we braved a quick 360-degree whirl. It didn’t help that it was raining outside in the month of December and we were at the terminal in an off-peak hour. It helped though that in the first fifteen minutes of the tour, we didn’t experience any paranormal kicks or slaps.
The host informed us that the terminal had been constructed for the wealthy; that Cornelius Vanderbilt, who built and owned the station, had once ferried people from Staten Island to Manhattan, charging 18 cents per person; that his ambitious vision had driven him to build railroads.
If one noticed the sloping ramps in the terminal, the system was built to provide an efficient flow of passengers to and from trains.
Twisted yet beautiful

The mural painting in the vaulted ceilings was based on the designs of constellations. History: after the layout image was designed, it was projected onto the ceiling for painting. But it was erroneously projected upwards, reversing the image. Responding to critics, Vanderbilt suggested that the design be looked at as a new concept. Then, at one point, the whole ceiling was black from cigarette smoke; and though it was cleaned, a black spot in a corner was left untouched for souvenir-sake, if you will.

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Archaic and haunted

John Campbell, another rich man, and Vanderbilt’s friend, had requested the latter to rent him a room. Hence, there is a Campbell apartment within the complex where you’d see a locker. Legend has it that Campbell’s ghost lives there. Besides, there’s an oyster bar in the terminal where customers have reported hearing strange voices and sounds of breaking plates.

There’s a safe passage from under Grand Central station to the Astoria hotel, which VVIPs like the President of the USA take in case of emergency.

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Any beautiful city in the world has a mysterious past, or present, to it. How’s New York City an exception?

One World Observatory, The Freedom Tower

I have written two posts earlier about the views from our apartment. Please see Beginning and The Tallest Building.

When we moved into our apartment a decade ago, there was no Freedom Tower. Memories of 9/11 still fresh.

Over the years, One World Trade Center or the Freedom Tower has become what you see below. We have seen it evolve while witnessing our own evolution. And last weekend, we visited One World Observatory at One World Trade Center.

The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, fourth tallest in the world. A symbol of resilience, rising from the ashes. The apartment view.
That’s our apartment building. Witnessing the witnesser of the past ten years from the 102nd floor of One World Observatory.
Zoomed-in view from the ground
As expected, there were airport-like security checks.
The tunnel, en route to the Sky Pod elevator, has mock displays of the natural rock foundations of the building. The bedrock of New York City: how an ancient mountain range made its skyscrapers possible.

Sky Pod elevators. We reached the 102nd floor in 47 seconds. Inside, on our rocket ride, we experienced a three-dimensional time-lapse panorama of NYC history unfolding on three walls of the elevator cab. (Warning: The elevator ride you are about to experience utilizes large format media displays to create the illusion of dynamic motion and viewing beyond the elevator cab walls. Individuals who are sensitive to simulation experiences, or suffer from fear of heights or motion sickness are advised to either close their eyes or face the elevator doors to avoid discomfort.)
See Forever Theater. After you disembark the elevator, you walk up to a big rectangular screen where you’ll see a multi-media presentation highlighting the NYC timeline, introducing you to the observatory.

360-degree views:

East River, Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge
Financial District, Governors Island, Brooklyn
Midtown and Uptown Manhattan
The iconic Hudson River separating New Jersey from New York City.
The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Staten Island, and Jersey City in New Jersey.
At One Dine, One World, celebrating our son’s birthday.
Exploring the Sky Portal: a real-time perspective from HD cameras affixed to the tower’s spire, projected right at the feet.
The Buzz gives all the information you need about NYC.
Calatrava’s Bird in Flight, the WTC transportation hub that cost $4 billion.
The Oculus, the transportation hub
The West Concourse

It starts with Lines (Photo Challenge). It starts with Rivulet, too (Daily Prompt).

Bowlmor Friday Fun At Chelsea Piers

First off, bowling has always been popular. Millions of people have played it for thousands of years, believe it or not.

Way back in 5,200 B.C., bowling balls and pins were found in the tomb of an Egyptian king. In fourth century Germany, where bowling was part of a religious ceremony, those who could knock down the pins were believed to be of good character and those who couldn’t had to do penance.

Popular in America since Colonial days, bowling started the American Bowling Congress in 1895, which is now called the United States Bowling Congress. Martin Luther was a bowler.

Located at Pier 60 – just off the West Side Highway – and with 40 bowling lanes, laneside video walls, the flashing lights and sounds of arcade games, Bowlmor gave us the outing we’d long sought: a ride into a zone that settled us into getting our focus back, decimating the days of distraction.

The entrance is a mix of dark hues, symbolic of a thick colorful interior.
To the right of the entrance is this Golf Club: Manhattan’s only four-tiered outdoor driving range. Practice putting, take lessons from professional golfers, feel free to hit full shots.
Entering the building, the first things you see are ropes and harnesses, which Bowlmar claims is NYC’s only indoor ropes course
Stacked on the shelves behind the front desk are bowling shoes. These shoes have a sole which allows a bowler to slide before releasing the ball.
The length from the foul line to the head pin is 60 feet. On either side of the lane are gutters.
Rolling the ball at the pins
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Thick bright lounge area

Here, in the brief clip, it’s my second roll at the pins. I knock them down. It’s a spare.

We got a few strikes. See the X in the small square.
With reservation comes food. Chicken tenders, french fries, cheese pizza; also, fruit punch and sauces.
His first attempt at an advanced racing game…

Guess what, he did really well.

I don’t know how he managed it but he came first. He thanked me, and I kissed him.

Though our fingers, elbows, and legs were sore, we were all smiles.

Pret A Manger In Newport Center Mall

Pret A Manger has always impressed me with its offering of healthy, fresh, and seasonal food. I have frequented its shops in New York City and was aware that it had opened its first Jersey City location in Newport Center mall. So, when I received a mail from the Newport Center informing that the sandwich chain would not only open today but give away free breakfast/lunch, I was thrilled.

Barnstock brick-tile gives the brand a reclaimed finish

I wanted to make it to their 12 PM lunch giveaway, so had set a reminder for 11.45 am (I was in Starbucks working on a story). At 11.50 am, I was standing outside the shop, perhaps the 50th in line. Glancing behind me, I could see a big crowd. The line snaking down possibly all the way to the entrance of the mall. And since the entrance, which was beyond my view, was perhaps jammed with people queueing up for the freebie, the mall security devised a plan to move the crowd up to line in the opposite direction. This would ease the regular foot traffic entering and exiting the mall.

The clip here shows the constant movement of people as they line up for giveaways.

​The prospect of eating a fresh bowl of salad and cold pressed juice kept me enthused. When my turn came, I picked Chicken and Avocado salad, and cold-pressed Watermelon juice.

Chargrilled chicken (antibiotic-free), avocado, grape tomatoes, lemon juice, mesclun, dried cranberries, and roasted walnut.

A seasonal cold-pressed juice made with sun-ripened watermelons and a touch of strawberry puree.

After consuming the delicious freshness, I did a digestion walk, ending up at the front of the chain again. The lunch giveaways had ended, but two friendly representatives were distributing free fruit cups. I picked a cup each of melon medley and grapes.

Summing up my love for Pret A Manger and its inauguration in Newport Center, I was not expecting to receive a voucher that another representative gave me for a free coffee or tea.

Such a beautiful day! Thank you, Pret A Manger.

 

What’s New York City without them

There are things without which this city cannot survive: NYPD, FDNY, yellow cab, street vendors, to name a few. And there are things with which the city continues to thrive: street performers, among others.

A revisit:

New York City Police Department:  There’s a fine line between their alertness and friendliness.174996_10151289560360625_112948555_o

Fire Department of the city of New York: All of us know what their contribution has been (before, on, after 9/11). Don’t (therefore) hate the sound their trucks make.329351_10150392331585625_996432770_o

Blue Boat: I see one of these every day from my apartment. Their reach is far and wide.337459_10150392342150625_1065411757_o

Yellow Cab: Ubiquitous, and the need of the minute.413176_10151289590500625_1986082458_o

School Bus: Safe and sound, and in shape.171941_10151289581240625_125984412_o

United States Postal Service: They do deliver.617041_10151289590285625_68339071_o

Deli: Coffee, croissant, muffin, and more.339788_10151289592250625_252827647_o

Street Food: Devour it.53854_10151289596590625_64169138_o

Laborers: The most ignored are the most hardworking.665054_10151316757600625_1890988838_o

Citi Bikes: Ride them.1043854_10151770789410625_1175918212_n

Horse carriage ride: Harsh?665344_10151316762490625_1720755098_o

Solo ride is light ride622616_10151316764330625_1317395301_o

Scare the brave201156_10151316768525625_2053913873_o

Hug the loving394091_10150620600735625_227385326_n

Street Performers: Talented, and though they do this for money, they won’t ask you for a cent.

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