Day 6: Cultural New York
My morning started before the rest of the group’s as I had an interview with Columbia University. Luckily for me, we had just taken a tour of the campus yesterday; so finding my way to my interview was a cinch. I went to Murray’s bagels on my way to the subway station. A hot fresh bagel with sun-dried tomato cream cheese spread with a quadruple Americano is perfect for a morning such as this one. I was surprised to find the subway as packed as it was at 9 a.m. I figured most people would have already arrived at work, but it was so packed I had to let an entire train pass by to wait for a less crowded one. Subway rides, especially long ones, are good for people watching. While most people listened to their iPods, there were several students discussing an article for class while another sat reading a biology book with a flustered look on her face. Most people keep to themselves and there is hardly ever eye contact made and everybody observes a one-foot sphere of personal space between each other at all times. At my stop, I got off and headed down a couple of blocks to Columbia. I was a little early so I just sat on the steps to the Butler Library and just looked at the beautiful campus.
Students were bustling to and fro and I couldn’t help but think about the surrounding city and how it would be so easy to get lost in NYC and how ghastly different that is from Crawfordsville and the campus.
My interview went well, and I was accepted into the Stage Management program. I then met up with the rest of the group at the Metropolitan Art Museum. I am a big fan of Art and try to make time to go to the local museum whenever I am in a big city. I spent most of my time in the Sculpture Pavilions and Modern Art sections. The collection there is absolutely astounding and it would take the better part of a day to fully take in the whole museum. Personally I would take at least two days in order to fully process and adequately take it all in. Luckily there was a special exhibit on Robert Rauschenberg. It had all of his famous works along with a number of others. I have only seen these works in textbooks and slides and they are pretty powerful then, but to get to experience. To walk around Monogram and The Bed was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had with Art. It is just so amazing to be in a city with such a rich cultural life. Even from the outside of the Met you know it is going to be pretty powerful because the museum is a colossal building. I hope to make it back someday to fully experience it as I only really saw about a fourth of the collection.
I awoke today freezing in the hostel, as sometime during the night, the proprietors decided to turn off the heat. A quick jaunt down to Murray’s Bagels with Wes Jacks filled me up for a long day of museums. Murray’s has quickly become one of my favorite breakfast destinations for a filling morning meal. We met the group at 9:30 for the trip to the Empire State Building. We walked quite a few blocks from the hostel, and despite the tiredness from the previous day, I still prefer walking above ground to the subway. It’s just a little better when you can hear the sounds of the city and see new and interesting people walking by rather than a quick push uptown in a noisy train.
The Empire State Building was quite the experience. The elevator shot us up in about a minute, landing us on the cold, windswept observation deck. My original view of the New York City skyline from the plane was the only thing that could compare to the view we had from the observation deck.
It was very cold, but I braved the elements to get a good view of the UN building, the Chrysler Building and virtually all of Manhattan. The various facts about the tower were rather interesting including the amount of Indiana limestone in the building (200,000 cubic feet!), but one of the most powerful experiences was the view of the skyline without the WTC towers. A diagram showed us how dominant in the city’s skyline.
After the Empire State Building, the group traveled up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The college gracefully paid the price of admission, and we were let loose in the museum. I immediately traveled to the 19th Century European painting section, a very dangerous place for me, as I spent the better part of two hours exploring the Van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne, Monet, and many others. After that and a jaunt through the modern art section, I had spent about three hours exploring a very small portion of the Met.
Afterwards, a few of us traveled across the park to the Museum of Natural History. We’re off to dinner, so I’ll end by saying this museum was pretty cool. The dinosaurs brought out the inner child in me once again.