3 posts tagged united states historic places
New York City Adventure: Take a tour of Grand Central’s Secret Places
New York City - Grand Central - Private Tour
I had the rare opportunity to get a private tour of Grand Central’s unusual and special spots and views today. I got to climb a ladder and explore the inside of Grand Central’s huge clock, traverse a hidden staircase, see the master control room, walk around with a hard-hat on in the secret underground station that hosted secret service agents and presidents. In short, I am not sure how much can top this rare New York City experience.
Gallery Key (corresponds to the order of photos in the photo-set):
1. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor once we entered the super private glass catwalk that runs along the top floor of Grand Central. A few panes of glass were opened so that the best camera angles could be accessed and it was pretty much people-watching photography heaven for about 20 minutes. Having only ever admired Grand Central (for the most part) from the ground looking up, this view looking out and over the entirety of the main concourse is something I will never forget.
2. As far back as I can remember, I have wanted to go inside of the information booth that sits in the center of the main concourse. People who visit Grand Central or pass through daily know the information booth as the ornate booth that sits under the famous four-sided clock. It’s been my main meeting point in Grand Central whenever I meet people in the terminal and it’s been in countless television shows and movies throughout the years.
So you can just imagine how giddy I was that I got to go inside of the information booth today. Not only that but there was a pane of glass missing which was perfect to capture an unusual angle of the clock. I also got to go down the secret staircase in the middle of the information booth which led downstairs and fulfilled my early Nancy Drew-fueled dreams of traversing a secret staircase.
3.The center of Grand Central’s Information Booth also still has quite a few of the original travel advertisements pasted to the inner parts of the structure which was awesome to view. Nothing like gazing upon early 20th century travel ads for early to mid 20th century steamboat and steamship adventures.
4. A classic view overlooking Grand Central’s original light structures. I learned today that the reason that all of the light-bulbs are exposed on all of Grand Central’s chandeliers is due to the grand age of electricity. The Vanderbilt’s were extremely proud that Grand Central was one of the first all-electric powered buildings in the world and celebrated by honoring the light-bulb in all it’s exposed glory.
5. As if the day couldn’t get any better, I was treated to a view inside Grand Central’s clock tower which sits behind the massive Tiffany glass clock (the largest in the world). I happen to be extremely scared of heights which is a fear I am trying to get over. Today was definitely a milestone for me as I climbed the largest ladder I have ever climbed (major achievement) to get inside the clock tower. I am so happy I did! This is the view of Grand Central’s Tiffany Clock from inside the clock! One of the panes of glass opens allowing for some super unique views of the top of Grand Central.
6. And the view looking out towards Park Avenue South was pretty spectacular!
7. These are the massive gears and master controls looking towards the Tiffany glass of the clock from inside the clock.
8. Another view of the streets below as seen while hanging out of the Grand Central’s clock.
9. And if the clock tower and glass catwalks weren’t enough, I also got to see Grand Central’s abandoned Track 61 which I was always told was the stuff of urban legend. However, it turns out to be real! When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in office, he utilized a secret train line that connected Grand Central to the Waldorf-Astoria. The area even has a huge freight elevator that was used to fit his limousine allowing FDR to travel to and from New York City in secrecy during World War II. This was the train he used which still sits on Track 61.
10. And finally, another view of the Main Concourse of Grand Central from high above. I can’t get enough of this view.
I want to thank Grand Central for having me as a guest and giving me the grand tour and for my friend Lexi (check out ) who not only put this VIP tour together but helped me out in the clock tower! For news, cool events, and updates about Grand Central:
View these photos and more of Grand Central Terminal’s unusual views (click on each photo in the set to enlarge):
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Great place to experience if you are visiting New York City…
The Cloisters - Autumn - New York City - Fort Tryon Park
There are a few castle-like structures in New York City. This is one of them. The Cloisters is comprised of five different medieval abbeys and can be found in the northern part of Manhattan.
Something I have been meaning to do is to travel to and explore upper Manhattan. When I found out that The Cloisters is currently hosting its first ever contemporary art exhibit on , a great new app that highlights activities all over New York City, I knew I had to check it out.
The exhibit is called “Forty Part Motet” and is a sound installation by Janet Cardiff. If you are on and search for The Cloisters, the activity will show up for you along with transit directions, a map, and the museum’s (suggested) admission price.
It is an eleven minute musical piece that plays 40 voices on 40 different speakers in a 12th century apse called the Fuentidueña Chapel. It’s absolutely mesmerizing and overwhelming to experience the unity of voices in such a great acoustic space surrounded by 12th century artifacts.
I also spent a little time exploring Fort Tryon Park which is currently at autumn peak. What a perfect afternoon.
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Balboa Park - San Diego - California
The first thing you will notice about Southern California is the light.
The sunlight seems to be involved in a lingering conversation with the ocean and the cities that dot the coast. It’s as if the sun, ocean, and coastal cities are constantly hanging on the ends of each other’s sentences.
San Diego is definitely a part of this ongoing dialogue. It’s a city that revels in its proximity to the ocean and is steeped in history. After all, San Diego is the first place that Europeans visited on the west coast. In the mid 1500s, Spanish colonists claimed the area for Spain and 200 years later, the settlement of Alta California was formed based on this early colonial foundation. San Diego became a part of the United States in 1850 after 30 years of being part of Mexico.*
Balboa Park was first known as City Park. It was created in the 1860s and was renamed Balboa Park in 1910. It is named after Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, the first European to spot the Pacific Ocean.
The day I visited Balboa Park was the same day I had to depart on a plane back to New York City. Normally, I like to control when I visit notable places since I am always thinking about light and photography. Mid-day light is not the best light to capture the nuances of a place.
The hour prior to sunset/sunrise and the hour after sunset/sunrise are the times of day when the earth seems to be involved in an elaborate performance with the sun and moon. This is usually when cityscapes and architecture sing their arias.
However, it was almost perfect that I first laid eyes on the marvelous architecture in Balboa Park in the blinding mid-day light. The sun rays poured over the massive buildings and illuminated the ornate decoration in the way that only Southern California can deliver with its direct line of communication with the sun.
As the sun bleached the magnificent structures with bright light illuminating the lush flora that covers the nearly 1200 acres of space that Balboa Park occupies, I couldn’t help but feel like this was the same sort of light that the first inhabitants enjoyed.
While I didn’t have a lot of time to spend in Balboa Park when I was there, I did enjoy what little I saw there. The buildings in this photo-set include: San Diego’s Musuem of Man, Casa de Balboa, and the Botanical Building.
San Diego’s Musuem of Man is a building that is an ode to a variety of architectural styles (Plateresque, Baroque, Churrigueresque, and Rococo) while also being the home to an extensive collection materials dating back to the pre-Columbian history of the western Americas, with materials from the Native American cultures of the Southern California region, and the Maya. It was also the building used by Orson Welles as one of the main features of the fictional estate in Citizen Kane.
I recommend taking the time to spend exploring Balboa Park. I could have easily spent two days just exploring the museums in the park. There are also many beautiful gardens to explore.
And if you find yourself in Southern California, I dare you to not be enraptured by the ongoing conversation between the sunlight, ocean, and coastal cities. It’s an unforgettable conversation.
*As with all colonial history, the native inhabitants were displaced suffering land loss due to war and colonial sprawl. The , whose rich history may date back as far as 12,000 years in the San Diego area, are the original inhabitants of San Diego. They currently inhabit 13 different reservations in the area.
Interested in seeing larger versions of these photos? Feel free to check out the entire set here:
** These photos were taken using the Sony NEX-6 and my iPhone 4S. If you are curious about the photo gear I use, feel free to check out what I have to say about the gear I use .
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