Little Italy

Where the Sidewalk Ends (the final part)

We are now down to the last mile! If you haven’t read my earlier posts, I am recounting the walk my husband and I took a few weeks ago. From the northern tip of Manhattan to the southern tip, 13.5 miles, over 200 blocks, we really got to see the city I call home.

In the last post, we had just finished dinner in Little Italy. It took us a little while to find our bearings after dinner. Once you walk south of Houston St., the easy to navigate grid of Manhattan all but disappears and you’re left wondering the twisted, diagonal streets of downtown. If you’re interested in the urban planning of Manhattan, I recommend this interesting article. The grid of Manhattan was originally described as the “republican predilection for control and balance … [and] distrust of nature.”

After the hectic crowded streets of Little Italy and Chinatown, the city bursts into a collection of impressive, European-looking municipal buildings and lit-up sky scrapers. I always expect to see Batman flying around this area.

During the daytime, Wall Street is bustling with pedestrians and cars, but at night it is nearly empty. This is a really great place to visit (during the day) if you have kids. The South St. Seaport has fun museums and a boardwalk. You can take a boat ride around the city, or just walk the cobblestone streets.

No trip to the Wall Street area is complete with out a visit to the famous bull. It’s always fun to watch people pose in front of the bull and wait for them to come up with the brilliant idea of posing next to the giant bull testicles in the back of the sculpture. This happens almost every time. People are very predictable.

It’s also worth it to visit this area at night to see the construction lights of the new World Trade Center.

By this point in our walk, Broadway, the avenue we had been walking down for the entire day, disappeared and we were just hoping that we were still going in the right direction. I hate to admit how many times I’ve walked this area thinking I was going east when really I was going north. It’s super confusing, I tell you!

Finally finally finally, we reached the Staten Island ferry; the southern tip! We quickly posed for a picture and then ran in to use the bathroom and got some more water.

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We made it!

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The Statue of Liberty is hiding somewhere out in that darkness.

We were tired and exhausted at this point, but we couldn’t go all this way with out stopping by the water and enjoying a few moments of peace. It was now 10 pm, but the docks were busy with men who were fishing. They all seemed to know each other and looked at us like we were the odd ones. Perhaps we were the odd ones. After all, who walks the length of Manhattan in one day?

Would I do it again? Absolutely.  I had been to almost every neighborhood we walked through before but it was so nice to see how they all fit together in the massive quilt of diversity that is New York City. Nowhere else can you see so many different styles of architecture and so many different kinds of people. Nowhere else can you eat so many different kinds of food and hear so many different accents and languages. Walking down Manhattan felt like a tour of the world.

Where the Sidewalk Ends (Part 5)

Sorry for the delay in this series – I was in L.A. and Santa Fe for the last few days. I’ll tell you all about that soon, but, first things first, I need to finish telling you all about our journey from the northern tip of Manhattan to the southern tip.  In the last post we were enjoying some tasty dogs in the flatiron district.

For the next ten blocks, we kind of stumbled around in a tired, over-stuffed stupor. At first I thought I was imagining all the bells and singing, and then I realized that we were in Union Sq. just in time for the Hare Krishna show. For my first few years in New York, Union Sq. was definitely my favorite part of the city. My sister went to NYU and her dorm was right around the corner. When I’d come to visit her, I’d tried to spend as much time in the square, watching all the skateboarding punks, the old men playing dominos, the street performers, and the people selling jewelry and apple pie. Even now, with a Whole Foods, DSW and three Starbucks, I still think it’s the perfect spot to spend the afternoon people-watching and getting a true sense of the diversity that makes NYC so unique.

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The Hare Krishnas in Union Sq.

Just when I thought I couldn’t walk any farther, we crossed the 200 block marker, and I felt a sudden rush of energy. “Let’s walk to New Jersey!” I joked.

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200 blocks!

A good representation of Little Italy

We made it to Little Italy just in time for dinner. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures because I was too focused on finding a restaurant and it was pretty dark, so this is someone else’s picture of the garlic scented streets.

Here’s my advice for eating in Little Italy: be careful of the specials. We chose a restaurant where the entrees were all between $15-$20. I ordered one of the pasta specials and as the waitress was leaving to put in our order she casually said, “oh yeah, because it’s a special it’s going to cost a few extra dollars. That’s ok, right?”

“Sure,” I said, and then fortunately added, “Wait, how much exactly?”

“$69.”

At which point I nearly choked on my water, and immediately ordered something else. Pasta needs to be covered in gold if I’m going to pay that much for it. That really rounded out my experience of feeling like a tourist.

Ok, we’re so close to the end – only a mile and half to go.

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