In New York everything is grand. There is the Grand Central Station, the Grand Central Library – and the list goes on. Maybe it is the influence of the Irish immigrants. Maybe they are just grandiose – either way there is something grand on every corner.
In the morning I went into town again to attend the Sukkot morning service. The synagogue was already quite busy the night before but in the morning it almost completely filled up. They played music and sang along and there was also a procession around the room. Afterwards we all went up to the tent again but it was too busy and I left.
I went for another walk in Central Park to visit the grand lakes and take some more shots of the buildings. The park was full of runners and walker, tennis players and tourists. The leaves already started falling but luckily the city came under an unexpected heat wave and the temperatures hit 30 degrees C! For the four days I was there several records broke due to the summer heat.
Instead of relying on my rain coat, I was walking around in a T-shirt with sweat pouring down my back. It was quite unexpected and for the first day I was carrying my jacket around with me. I got to 5th Avenue just after lunch time and was very hungry and started looking for somewhere to eat.
The Lexington Candy Shop
By total chance I stumbled upon the Lexington Candy Shop, which is in fact a famous burger joint. It had several hundred Coke bottles in the window, covering several decades of designs.
On the inside it looks like one of those typical US diners: metal stools by the bar and seats by the window. Several movies were shot here, including some by Woody Allen. In fact, his favourite table was right next to mine. The guy sitting at Woody Allen’s table was quite chatty so he gave a burger recommendation which worked out fine.
The shop’s history: Founded in 1925, Lexington Candy Shop is New York City’s only reminder of a bygone era when soda fountains and luncheonettes were fixtures in every neighborhood throughout New York. Continuously owned and operated through three generations of family and partners, walking into the restaurant has often been compared to going through a time warp. In 2015 they celebrated their 90th anniversary!
The Mystery Man
I carried on chatting to the guy sitting next to me about New York, family history and university. My visit was also during the height of the election season so we started talking about that too. He was some kind of a lobbyist/campaigner for the Clinton family. He never told me his name but we had a mutual acquaintance: Tam Dalyell. I interviewed Tam for my university dissertation and following that I published a book about the Falklands Conflict. You can buy it here.
Sir Thomas Dalyell of the Binns, 11th Baronet (born 9 August 1932), known as Tam Dalyell, is a Scottish Labour Party politician who was an MP from 1962 to 2005. He is well known for his formulation of what came to be known as the “West Lothian Question“, on whether non-English MPs should be able to vote upon English-only matters after political devolution.
As it turns out, Dalyell visited New York on a number of occasions and the mystery man sitting next to me was his personal guide. They went behind the scenes at various Bill Clinton election campaigns and toured the East Coast together. Small world!
The Half Half and the Buffalo
I saw a lady sipping some delicious drink at the bar and I ordered the same. It turned out it was another New York delicacy called Half-Half. It is half lemonade and half sweet tea – totally fab! And the lemonade is home made in the bar from fresh lemons. The buffalo burger was also super nice, I’ve never tasted anything like that before.
Grand Central Station
After lunch I headed to Grand Central. The building is pretty much hidden away between the skyscrapers but on the inside it looks stunning. I cannot believe they wanted to demolish this building to give way to another skyscraper. There is an Apple store inside where I recharged my battery – it was running out very fast taking all the photos and videos.
The basement is full of restaurants and the famous oyster bar. I came back here to have dinner at the Shake Shack which was a big disappointment. The food was OK but the burgers were so small that I stayed hungry afterwards.
There are historic tours inside the building so if you are interested in one just check this website.
Grand Central Library
From Grand Central Terminal it is a very short walk to the Central Library. The library is open every day, check the link for opening times. It is definitely one of the most stunning libraries in the world so make sure you visit.
The library was built using the money of Samuel J. Tilden (1814-1886). Upon his death he bequeathed the bulk of his fortune — about $2.4 million — to “establish and maintain a free library and reading room in the city of New York. Read more here.
Entry is free and you can easily spend an hour or two wondering around the building. From here I went down south again but I will continue in another post.
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