Traveling Solo for 1 Week in New York City

FEB 2011

In 2011 I was attending the University of Manitoba and decided to travel to New York for my spring break to enjoy some time adventuring solo and visit some design and architecture work that I love and was inspired by.

This trip really started off with a bang! Shortly after arriving I grabbed my camera and decided to walk down to Times Square just down the street from where I was staying. Before I could even turn on my camera a gentleman walked up to me and asked if I was taking picture for a magazine. I laughed it off and said "no, just for me." He insisted that I take his picture so I scrambled to turn on my camera, settings were not ideal but I quickly took his photo before he turned to walk away just as quickly as he had arrived. As he walked away he turned to me and said words that I will always remember. He said "now go sell that photo to a magazine. You go make that money girl, don't let the money make you."

One of my first stops was a New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Perhaps it was the Canadian in me.. but it was much warmer than the arenas I was used to watching hockey in.

It was an important stop on my list to go on a morning walk on The Highline. It is an old rail track that has been revamped into an elevated park. I've heard it can be really busy up there but I only saw one or two other people when I went. That could have been that it was February or it could have been that it was early in the morning.. or a combination of both. But I highly recommend a visit here if you're in New York. I would dedicate some time to walking and enjoying the park.

There was only one day during my trip that I saw snow falling, which was weird for me in February as someone who was living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. But we got a beautiful dusting of snow in the morning, I remember waking up to one of my roommates in the hotel I was staying at staring out the window excited because she had never seen snow before. By the end of the day it was mostly gone, but during this one day I thought the snow covered city was beautiful! On this day I did the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. Just like other experiences I'm guessing it was a combination of being February, snowy and early in the day that there was basically no one else there. I only saw one other person when I was there which made it easy to enjoy the view and get a few great photos!

While on my trip I reserved tickets to go see a taping of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. There are no cost to these tickets but you need to reserve them in advance or hope for the best on the standby list.

If you're in New York City you also need to go see a show. I went to see Phantom of the Opera and it was incredible! Highly recommend going to see something either on or off Broadway. 

There are so many museums to visit in New York and if you're like me you LOVE going to museums when you travel. I spent countless hours walking through museums and I always recommend if there is one in particular you want to enjoy go when they first open to get ahead of the large crowds. But any time of day is great for a visit to any of these gems. You can visit the MoMA, enjoy the unique architecture while enjoying the Guggenheim, the incredible American Museum of Natural History, and for my absolute favourite experience go on an early morning walk in Central Park and visit the MET when they open their doors for the day.

One evening I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for the experience, from there I got a great sunset view of the Statue of Liberty. The next morning I visited Ellis Island but didn't go up into the statue. Getting there was a very long process but I also opted to do it in the afternoon so if I ever go back it would be much earlier in the hope I would avoid the kind of lines that I experienced.

And of course because of my love for architecture, and at the time I was obsessed with skyscrapers I had to do the Empire State Building. It was of course busy with other tourists when I was there but I went at the perfect time to catch the sunset! It's hard to judge exactly when you'll make it up depending on how busy it is but if you can time it for sunset it is amazing to watch from up there!

Then I got to visit one of my favourite pieces of architecture anywhere, the Woolworth Building. This building doesn't have tours like many other landmarks, I believe they now have lobby tours and at some point did have more in depth tours which I really hope they do again. This building is an unsung hero of the Manhattan skyline. It was designed by architecture Cass Gilbert for Frank Woolworth. F. W. Woolworth was the founder of the Five and Dime stores and pioneered multi-use building. The base of the Woolworth Building contained a bank and shops while the upper floors were offices and residences. Frank Woolworth was on a mission to build the tallest building in the world.. and he did! More than that it held the title of tallest building in the world for 17 years. To this day it remains in the top 100 tallest buildings in the USA. The lobby of the building contains immaculate carvings including one of Frank Woolworth counting his money and the architecture holding a model of the building. This building also housed the most advanced elevator system for its age. For me one of my favourite parts to learning the story and background of this building was also learning about it's founder. Frank Woolworth believed that if you die a rich man your life has been wasted. He didn't believe in piling up money just for the sake of having it, he believed in spending his money to create something amazing, something like the tallest building in the world. And what an amazing feat that was.

With so much to see and do in New York I recommend taking advantage of every moment. When I go back I will definitely still have more to see and have discovered Untapped New York that offers what looks to be amazing walking tours of different venues throughout the city. I didn't do any of these tours but they look fantastic and would gladly check them out on my next trip! The 9/11 Memorial was under construction when I went but is now open to visit.

I did do an amazing tour of Carnegie Hall while I was there. I visited Rosevelt Island via the tramway as part of my studies. I wanted to get a feel for the layout of the island and the design of the space. It was a lovely and relaxing adventure. You can visit and walk around Wall Street and Times Square, I loved the street food available anywhere I went in Manhattan. There are also some really amazing pocket parks that are little hidden gems in the city including Paley Park and enjoy the water feature or visit the smallest park Septuagesimo Uno which sits nestled in between row houses. 

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