5-17-2016: New York, New York

Although it’s the 18th, I’ll be writing this as if it were yesterday.

TL;DR today we rode the Big Bus tour bus around Lower Manhattan. Then we walked to the Intrepid Museum. After that we went biked around in Central Park and went to the Rockefeller Complex.

Big Bus Tour

We started our day by getting on the Big Bus tour, the tour we got tickets for yesterday morning. The bus stopped right outside our hotel which was nice. Unfortunately we had no idea the exact location it would stop so we wandered around asking people. We managed to find the correct spot and board the bus. There was a guide who gave information about the sights we were seeing from the bus. He was a New York Native who grew up somewhere near Central Park. We drove past a bunch of interesting sites in downtown New York. Everything from museums and monuments to Wall Street and Broadway. I would elaborate on what we learned, but that would be a lot of writing so I won’t. Besides, judging by the dismal number of views I’m getting on my posts, you probably don’t care anyway.

I will mention one more thing: the best quote from the guide:

Choice, seems to be a thing these days, you can choose anything.

~ the Tour Guide

The Intrepid Museum

We got off the bus and walked over to the Intrepid Museum. The Intrepid was an aircraft carrier which served during WWII and Vietnam.

The first thing we did was watch a film about the carrier. The film featured veterans of the ship from the two conflicts it was in. Interestingly, John McCain served on the Intrepid during the Vietnam conflict. The film also featured a Mercury astronaut and a Japanese Imperial Air Force member.

During WWII, the Intrepid took part in many battles including the Battle for the Philippines. It was struck by four Kamikaze strikes but never sank (obviously). The Intrepid was also used during the Space Race. It was the vessel that the Mercury capsules were hoisted onto after making their water landings. During the Vietnam war, pilots from the Intrepid took part in strategic bomb strikes in North Vietnam. The Intrepid was called back into service after 9/11 and acted as the FBI headquarters for a time. (I’m pretty sure it was FBI, it might have been some other agency.)


After viewing the film and learning about the history of the ship we walked around the hangar deck (the deck right beneath the flight deck (the top deck)) and looked around that the displays. It’s called the hangar deck because that’s where they store the planes before they go up to the flight deck. We then went up to the flight deck and looked at more planes up there. Then we went up to the bridge. The Intrepid was the flagship for one of the task groups in the task force for the Battle of the Philippines. We saw the admirals cabin and the room where he conducted the movements of the entire task group. He didn’t actually have control over the ship, that was the ship’s captain’s responsibility. The admiral was also only a part of a larger task force.

Next we went into the captain’s quarters and to the room where the boat was steered. The captain didn’t actually steer the ship, he only told the person which way and how fast to go. In fact, the navigator was the one who actually determined what course needed to be taken.

The Bridge of the Intrepid
The Bridge of the Intrepid

Failing Remedial Bus 057

The next thing we wanted to do was go bike around in Central Park. We elected to ride the bus up to Central Park so we waited at the bus stop for the correct bus. It came and pulled over and we were very proud of ourselves for being in the right place. Then it took back off into traffic. The driver totally left us behind. I guess we were supposed to wave him down or something. Anyway, we didn’t even have a chance to try Bus 101, we flunked out at Bus 057: Remedial Getting On Bus class.

No Soup For You!

Because of our epic failure to get on the bus, we had to walk to Central Park. On our way, we came across The Soup Man of Seinfeld fame. Look it up. I got jambalaya and I even got bread and an apple with it. We thought it might have been funny if we made him mad and see if he’d actually say “No Soup for You!” but we didn’t. We walked into Central Park and ate our soup. It was really good. (I’m pretty sure everything would have seemed good at that point, I don’t even remember what we’d eaten for breakfast that morning.)

Biking Central Park

After lunch we rented bikes using our New York Pass and rode around in Central Park. Central Park was full of activity. There kids practicing for track and soccer and playing baseball. We saw families with children playing on the playgrounds. There were also people running and biking (and passing us slowpokes). People from all socioeconomic levels were in Central Park. Everyone from the mentally ill homeless person to the affluent family biking home from a grocery store run were in the same park sharing the same space. It seemed like a very unifying space. The bike ride was very relaxing and I can understand the appeal it has to the many residents of New York.

Top of the Rock

We returned our bikes and walked over to the Rockefeller Center, a complex that takes up multiple city blocks and includes the offices and studios for NBC (including MSNBC) and FOX. (I know, the media arch rivals have offices within a few hundred metres of each other. We began by joining a guided tour of the center (also on the New York Pass). The guide explained some of the history of the building and of the Rockefeller family. I’ll summarize it here,

Essentially John D. Rockefeller got really rich on oil with the Standard Oil Company. The government forced him to split his company because at that point he controlled vast portions of the oil industry in the United States. The companies that broke off became big in their own right (Exon and Chevron). Rockefeller had stock in all of the break-off companies and he died with a net worth of something to the order of $300 billion of today’s dollars. Rockefeller was the richest person in US history. His son, John D. Rockefeller Jr. (Junior) inherited the entirety of his fathers fortune. It was Junior who built the Rockefeller Center. He began the project in the 1930s as a joint project with someone, but then the stock market crashed and the other party ran out of funding. So he funded the entire thing out of pocket. His wife inspired much of the art in the Rockefeller Center because she was a modern art admirer.

Anyway, we walked around as he explained some of the art and architecture of the Center. At this point, it was getting late and we wanted to go to the top of the Rockefeller Center before it got dark so we left the tour after half an hour. On the way up to the Rockefeller Center observation deck, we passed through a whole bunch of queues that would have been awful to stand in during high tourism season. It did take a while to get to the top, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

The reason we wanted to come up to the top of the Rockefeller Center at this time was to get a view of New York in the daytime. One neat thing about the Rockefeller Center’s observation deck is that you can see the Empire State Building from the observation deck.

Views from the Top of the Rockefeller Building.
Views from the Top of the Rockefeller Building. Originally posted on Instagram.

Business, Dinner and Bed

We went from the Rockefeller Center back to our hotel room because I had to do a webinar thing for Colorado School of Mines. After that, we went to get some dinner (we were both starving) and then I finished my blog and went to bed.

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