1. The Brooklyn Bridge, May 2007. There is so much to see in New York City that it’s easy to miss out on a number of highlights, even if like me you put aside a week. With my NYC adventure slipping away from me, I almost forgot about The Brooklyn Bridge, the iconic two kilometer structure connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The bridge was opened in 1883 after a grueling fourteen year construction period that saw the death of around 24 workers. Even its designer John A. Roebling died after his feet were crushed during a freak accident with a docking ferry. Today the bridge sees about 150.000 vehicles pass back and forth, not to mention a whole lot of foot traffic. I entered the bridge from The Manhattan side, it takes about twenty five minutes to cross if you’re in a hurry, otherwise you could easily spend an hour here taking in the views.
2. Madison Square Garden, May 2007. My NYC base that week was the cheap and cheerful Chelsea Star Hotel on West 30th Street, a laid-back joint that pitched itself somewhere between a hostel and a motel. The location was brilliant, just a stone’s throw from Madison Square Garden, which we ended up walking past at least four times a day as we went back and forth on our adventures. One morning we took its excellent All Access tour (team locker rooms, VIP suites, Club Bar), while on the way home one evening I managed to grab this fortuitous shot. The line of NYPD cars pulled up out of nowhere, a gaggle of cops spilling out onto the pavement. Straining to earwig as we walked past, they were animatedly debating the previous night’s baseball game and a couple of them… I shit you not… were actually eating donuts!!
3. Broadway Theatre, 53rd Street, May 2007. I’ve never been a big fan of musicals. I once fell asleep during Chicago, barely tolerated Moulin Rouge and absolutely despised Cry-Baby. Nevertheless, I’ve always felt there’s a time and place for everything and was determined to catch some kind of Broadway show during our trip. Desperate to see something I wouldn’t hate, I was instantly drawn to The Color Purple, an adaptation of the Oscar-winning Steven Spielberg film starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. Indeed Winfrey herself was on board as a producer when it began its Broadway run in 2005. Paying a whopping $238 for two choice seats in the orchestra, I’m happy to say they were worth every cent! Highly engaging with its profoundly moving story, there were towering performances, engaging set designs and memorable songs. Initially running until 2008, it later enjoyed an acclaimed revival in December 2015.
4. The Tick Tock Diner, May 2007. It would have been impossible for me to compile this My 5 without a place for the wonderful Tick Tock Diner at 481 8th Avenue. This is where S and I would come for breakfast most mornings for a cooked breakfast, pancakes with syrup. maybe some freshly baked bagels. It was always packed and the friendly Jewish waitresses were like something out of a movie. “More coffee, hon?” “Sure thing, Barb, fill her up!”
5. Crosby Street Hotel, October 2012. When I returned to NYC some five and a half years later, it had come as something of a surprise. “What are you doing this weekend?” my boss asked me as I sat typing up the day’s celebrity news items. “Nothing special, why?” Five days later I found myself on a flight to The Big Apple. Although a bit under the weather with a cold, Jake Gyllenhaal was a pleasure during our brief but enlightening chat. It helped that I’d really enjoyed the movie he was promoting, a gritty crime thriller called End of Watch. We discussed the challenges he had bonding with costar Michael Peña, the steep learning curve of riding with real-life L.A. cops and the joys of hitting the dance floor with the lovely Anna Kendrick.
For more on my interview with Jake Gyllenhaal take a look at the short story End Of Watch.
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