1YoT: New York City Part 2 – Midtown and Upper Manhattan

We started our New York visit in Lower Manhattan, now it is time for Midtown and Upper Manhattan. Lower Manhattan had so much amazingness, it’s hard to believe this area had even more!

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We started Lower Manhattan with a museum and we (coincidentally) started Upper Manhattan with a museum too. This is The Met, short for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the largest and grandest art museums in the world.

The Met doesn’t have the most famous works of art, but their collection is so diverse, so unique. Here are several examples, from Egypt, Oceana, Korea, the Middle East…

The Met has a lot of unique exhibits too. I’ve never heard of an art museum showcasing an entire building but this one has several. The interior in the upper left was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the third work of his we’ve seen on this trip.

Medieval samurai and knight armor. The Met had a pretty extensive collection of these, and it was amazing.

The Met’s dress exhibit. This exhibit was popular with women, the opposite of the battle armor, which was popular with men.

Like the National Gallery at the Smithsonian, the Met’s best painting collection (in my opinion) was their impressionism collection. Here are several notable works by Van Gogh, Monet, Seurat, and Cezanne; the Cezanne work (lower right) being one of my favorite pieces from my oft-mentioned art history class.

Also, the Seurat piece (lower left in the above collection) is a study he did in preparation for his famous pointillism piece. The pointillism piece itself is in the Art Institute of Chicago, a museum I ranted about here.

One thing the Met has that most art museums don’t is a fantastic collection of American paintings. Here are three of their best (clockwise from upper left): The Veteran in a New Field by Homer (depicting the artists reaction to both the Union’s Civil War victory and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln), Merced River by Bierstadt (America’s greatest landscape painter), and the iconic Washington Crossing the Delaware by Leutze (Leutze was German but was raised in America and created this painting to encourage liberal reform in Europe, using America as inspiration).

I should also note that these paintings, The Veteran in a New Field in particular, are what inspired me to look up the location of American Gothic

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A block from the Met is the Guggenheim, another famous New York art museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed when we visited, so the building’s exterior (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, #4 on this trip) was all we saw.

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The third and final New York art museum we visited was the Museum of Modern Art, also known as MoMA. Unlike other museums of this caliber, the building MoMA was housed in was lackluster, but the collection inside was spectacular.

Here is the museum’s greatest work, one of the greatest paintings ever painted (and my personal favorite): Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

More masterpieces from MoMA’s collection, specifically: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso, The Persistence of Memory by Dali, and One: Number 31 by Pollock.

MoMA’s most famous post-modern art. Post-modern art was all about asking “what is art?”. Why are paintings of Campbell’s soup cans worth millions when actual Campbell’s soup has utility but a painting has none (go to a third world country and see which one they prefer). Also, why is a painting of a flag worth millions but an actual flag is not? What exactly is the difference between a painting of a flag and a flag? Why aren’t both considered flags? What would it take for a painting of a flag be considered a flag? etc

And finally, no modern art museum is complete without some weird stuff…

Alright, enough museums. Lets go outside and see the city!

Midtown Manhattan’s two most famous skyscrapers, the Empire State Building (left) and the Chrysler Building (right). Both were formerly the tallest buildings in the world, Chrysler Building from 1930 to 1931 and the Empire State Building from 1931 to 1967. These mark the third and fourth former tallest structures we’ve seen on this trip.

We went to the top of midtown Manhattan’s third most famous skyscraper, 30 Rockefeller Plaza. We chose this skyscraper for several reasons: we heard it had the best views, we could see both the Empire State Building and World Trade Center (we thought we’d also see the Chrysler Building but it was blocked by another skyscraper), and it also had great views of Central Park.

Speaking of Central Park, we went there too (the third giant urban park we’ve visited on our trip).

We also visited New York’s newest famous park, High Line. This park, built from 2006-2011, is located on 1.5 miles of an elevated and out-of-commission rail line.

Grand Central Station, another famous New York City destination.

And the New York Public Library, whose famous reading room was closed for restoration.

Times Square was insane, like Hollywood and Highland but on crack.

And we also visited Broadway, where the show we were interested in (Book of Mormon) was packed.

Here’s two more live entertainment venues: Radio City and Carnegie Hall. 

And finally, this is St Patrick’s Cathedral, across the street from 30 Rock’s underground mall.

Did you notice the last six captions made a poem? All the New York art must’ve inspired me; I hope you enjoyed it!

Lastly (and maybe most importantly), here’s some of the food we had on our visit. New York pizza and bagels, Katz Deli, everything was so delicious. New York City definitely has the best food we’ve had on our entire US roadtrip.

With that, we’ve finished our visit to Manhattan. But as much as we did, I’m amazed at all the things we missed (Woolworth Building, Flatiron Building, The Dakota, Metropolitan Opera House, Cathedral of St John the Divine, Grant’s Tomb, Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum, inside the Guggenheim, all the other Jewish delis), how can one city have so many amazing things?

To summarize, I will simply say that not only is Manhattan the most amazing city we’ve ever visited, it is also unlike any other place we’ve ever been. Most destinations remind me at least somewhat of other cities I’ve been to (Buenos Aires/Paris/Los Angeles, London/Chicago, Barcelona/Seattle, Glacier/Grand Tetons/Patagonia, etc), and even for the places that don’t, it still feels like there are similar destinations out there, I just haven’t visited them yet. But not New York. I’m pretty sure there is no place like New York in the entire world. It really is a special place, it is amazing.

Finally, before we leave, we also need to mention that New York is more than just Manhattan. There’s also Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island… To see these travels, click here!

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