Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Frugal Tourist explores NYC

The OC had business in New York City...with a paid-for hotel room. How could I possibly not go along and share that free hotel room when it had been decades since I'd last been in NYC?

We drove to where I-84 and the Hudson River intersected, parked our car and took the Metro North commuter train while looking out at the wide river almost all the way to Grand Central Station. We passed prisons (the destination for those "sent up the river"), West Point, and went under the Tappan Zee bridge that we've so often driven over.

Tappan Zee Bridge as seen from the Metro North train

We came out of the subway into the hustle and bustle of Times Square with its flashing bright lights and teeming crowds.

Hello Times Square

The next morning, the OC went off to do what he'd come for and I set out to explore the city while also seeing how little I could spend for a day in New York.

Hey, look! There's the famous Radio City Music Hall. Wait. What are all those people doing crowding around the entrance with lights and giant white reflectors? Must go see...

Radio City Music Hall

They must be setting up to film something. I wonder what.

Filming is quite an undertaking!

"Pardon me, sir, but why are all those people standing around over there?"

A crowd of extras shiver while waiting in the morning chill for filming to begin.

"They're extras? Waiting to film a scene for a TV show? Cool. When will filming begin? In about half an hour or an hour? Thank you. I'll come back then. Bye."

"Oh. One more question, please, but what show is it?"

"30 Rock?" "Uh, okaaay." "And it will air on October 30, you say?" "Thank you."

Walking away, (to his relief, I'm sure) I'm thinking to myself, "Hmmm, it will be interesting to see what they do behind the scenes. Did he say "3rd rock" or "30 rock"? Ah, well, off to check out the place where crowds of people try to get seen on NBC's Today Show.

Hey, they're doing that outdoor thing right now. Look at the crowds of people. I'll just hold up my camera and see what's happening.

People hoping to be seen on the Today Show's outdoor segments.  Notice the cameramen and the back of Willard's bald head.

Well, my camera can see cameramen, the back of Al's bald head...and more people! Me? I can see the backs of the people in front of me...until the cameras get turned off, that is, and people start to drift away and I can finally see the center of the ring.

It's easy to get up to the rail when they aren't actually filming. :)

Okay, that was interesting. I guess. Now to walk a few blocks back to where I can watch a TV show being filmed.

Whoo-eee, at this time of the morning, at least, the streets of midtown Manhattan seem to be filled with primarily taxis and busses with only an occasional car. Oh, and a great many walkers, too, of course.

Mostly taxis--and busses--on the streets of NYC

Wow! Those are some serious cameras they're using!

Whoo-eee, that is SOME camera!

There they are--filming in action. Of course, I can't actually see the action...

Back at Radio City Music Hall the extras line up and filming begins on the 30 Rock season opener

Now they film the star (with green scarf) walking along. Hmmm, she looks kind of familiar.

The star (Tina Fey) arrives with her green scarf

They kept the cameras rolling while she stops to do an interchange with a "family" of actors/extras. I have no idea what they were saying--I guess I'll have to wait until Oct 30 when I can watch 30 Rock and find out! The lady in the khaki pants was one of the many extras who kept walking back and forth to add "sidewalk of NYC" realism.

Watch for this scene with Tina Fey on October 30...if you watch 30 Rock, of course

I hung around there a long time snapping pictures ("No flash! No flash!") and trying to stay out of their way because I was certainly not one of their extras!

Tina Fey and ???

Someone finally told me the name of the green-scarfed star; she's pretty famous now--in large part because of the Sarah Palin impersonations she's been doing recently. The man in front of her, I'm told, is Peter Dinklage. (Thanks, Shelly)

Yes, it's Tina Fey

Yup, it's Tina Fey! Three yards away from me. And, before you ask, no, I certainly did not do anything like interrupt the filming to ask for an autograph.

Tina Fey

But I confess that I was fascinated watching them all work. It takes a lot of people to film even a few minutes of television!

Taking a break between shoots

I finally left them to their project and continued on with my own project--playing frugal tourist in New York City.

After walking several blocks, my feet began to get tired (all that standing around on hard concrete watching TV shows being made is hard on feet) so I hopped on a city bus bound for Lower Manhattan many, many blocks away. Cost: $2

When the bus driver said we were nearing Ground Zero, I got off and began exploring. In a big, elegant building that turned out to be the World Financial Center, I found a Rite Aid. It just happened to be running a sale on Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate so I bought 3 bars. Cost: $1

Half a block back, there was an intriguing raised green area. So, I pulled a water bottle and an apple out of my backpack, opened one of the chocolate bars and set off to have a picnic.Irish Hunger Memorial NYC Except that green area turned out to be the Irish Hunger Memorial--a rather incongruous place to assuage my hunger. Pondering the pain of those thousands and thousands of starving people did make me appreciate my simple lunch all the more.

I got my first glimpse of part of the massive crater of Ground Zero from an overpass not far away. Downwind, there was still the faint hint of smoke in the air.

Ground Zero

See that bit of green and the church steeple on the left?

It is St. Paul's Chapel, Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use. It was witness to the Great Fire of 1776 and host to George Washington on Inauguration Day. It survived the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and was where the many rescue workers rested and were fed after 9/11. Amazingly, the trees took the brunt of the crashing debris and not even a window was broken in the chapel.

St. Paul's Chapel

I made my way down canyons of tall buildings in search of Wall Street and finally got a glimpse of the Stock Exchange.

looking toward Wall Street

But then a gorgeous building caught my eye. I had to find out more about it!
So, of course, I promptly crossed the street in search of a sigh, placard or door. It turned out to be Federal Hall, the first capitol of the U.S. and the site of George Washington's first inauguration.

Federal Hall

After exploring the inside of this fascinating national memorial, I came out the other side to discover crowds of people--including several news crews--in front of the New York Stock Exchange building.

View from steps of Federal hall of crowds and security outside stock exchange
"What ever is going on here?" I wondered. It turned out that I was there on the scene at the beginning of the stock market plunge!

Stock Exchange on Oct 6--with worldwide news media

There were five or six news crews from different countries filming reports to be sent out via satellite. I was able to identify crews who were filming broadcasts for Russia, Brazil and Japan--countries whose own stock markets, I found out later, have also suffered severe declines.

Please tell our viewers how this US stock market drop affects those in our country
"Please explain to our viewers at home the effect this dramatic drop in the US stock market will have on them."

I bade a non-too-fond farewell to the scene of the stock market frenzy and fear
Front of New York Stock Exchange

and took myself off toward Battery Park in search of the dock for the (free!) Staten Island Ferry.

Staten Island Ferry

It was a beautiful day for a boat ride from the tip of Manhattan across to Staten Island and back--with a good look at the Statue of Liberty both ways.

By now, I was running out of time before the OC would be expecting me so, after getting off the ferry, I rode the subway ($2) back up toward Times Square and our hotel. The OC and I walked a few blocks past Carnegie Hall Carnegie Hall

and on to Central Park where I got to see the beautiful handcarved horses of its famous antique Carousel.
Central Park Carousel

In Central Park, you can forget you're in the middle of a big city...until you look up!
You could forget you're in the middle of NYC...until you look up!

bus ride: $2
candy bars: $1
subway ride: $2

A day of New York City adventures: priceless


Blogger Renna said...

What awesome photographs! You must have a fantastic camera. That looks like a fun day. Maybe someday I'll get to go there, myself. :-)

12:06 AM  
Blogger Gail said...

I was in New York City over the same weekend, and in Central Park at the same time!

12:27 AM  
Blogger sunny said...

Nice trip. Nice pics. Who photographed YOU at all those places?

2:13 PM  
Blogger Danaover40 said...

Great photos and what an inspiring post of frugality in NYC. You saw all the elements of the city in one day. I miss not reading your posts on the swap, but enjoy keeping up with your nest. Come see what my nest is doing.....

10:40 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

These are GREAT pictures...thanks for taking us along on you tour with you. It WAS FUN!!! But what was more FUN was that it only cost YOU $5.00. WOOOO HOOOOO!!!!

12:30 PM  
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