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Madison Square and the MetLife building, NYC
21st Jul 2008
New York City: day 4

Today I took Peter's aged dog to the vet, and sadly we returned empty-handed.

After that I went to Broadway to grab some tickets for a show - more on Wednesday - and then walked the main square.  From Madison Square, home of the original venue, I went south to Union square, where there is a very cool outdoor market.  It was not until the food was inside me that I thought about how many exhaust fumes had wafted over it as it waited for my custom at the side of a busy street. 

From there I continued though NYU and its charming mews to Washington Square (strangely the statue of Washington was in Union Square).   Just south of this is cast-iron historic district, consisting of super-old buildings and cobbled streets that dissect blocks into sub-blocks.  All the building are now occupied with fashion stores so it was not really very historic.  From SoHo (the area South of Houston Street) I finally reached the Tribeca border at the disgusting Canal Street.  The Triangle Below Canal (how witty, how clever, how it doesn't work with a west-is-up map) starts with a vile road lined with peddlers of fake Rolexes, knock-off fashion items, and slave-labour "I love NY" teeshirts. This part of the city, together with the area around Broadway/50th, smelled horrible:  hot rotting trash, urine and sewers were some of the olfactory delights with which New York tantalised me today.  Parts of this city stink just as badly as does the medina in many a Moroccan city. Rather inexcusable for a city of such stature.

Of far more interest to me was the Civic area, where City Hall and the courts are located.  It was interesting to see a municipal building with "New Amsterdam MDCXXV, New York MDCLXIV" carved on it (it was a modern structure though).   An odd little corner house the African Burial Ground National Monument, an NPS-administered site that actually contained humps on a lawn that were - or were meant to be - graves. The monument was covered with all kinds of religious symbols that might be found in Africa, from tribal glyphs to Muslim and Christian symbols.

After nodding off on a park bench for ten minutes I woke myself and went to the South Street Seaport area, a set of dockside wharf-like buildings.  I overheard in the pub where I ate my dinner that much of the area will be replaced with condos, and that the fish market had already joined the meat packers' exile to The Bronx.   My dinner was mainly liquid, a "Beer Voyage" of several local brews from the microbrewery on the waterfront, served simultaneously on a disk.  The "Farmer Jon's Oatmeal Stout" was exceptional.

Next: New York day 5: Islands, Lower Manhattan, Ravi
Previous: New York City: Harlem, Central Park, Brooklyn, ESB.

Diary Photos

Madison Square and the MetLife building, NYC

The Flatiron Building, NYC

Union, not Washington, Square, NYC

Washington Mews, NYC.

Washington Square, NYC

Fatso La Guardia, NYC

Signed, universally ignored, NYC


Cast-Iron historic distric,NYC

Yuk! Canal Street, NYC

New Amsterdam, 1625, NYC

Supreme Court, NYC

Graves? African Burial Monument, NYC

A black squirel, NYC

South Street Sea Port, NYC

Ship and skyscraper, NYC

Beer Voyage, NYC

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