New York January 2020 – Day 2 and 3

By Ruben
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series New York Januari 2020

UNITED STATES – Waking up nice and early to promising weather on my second day, I thought I’d go and have a brief look at the neighbourhood I was staying in before I headed for NYC.

As I told you in the last post, my friend’s Airbnb was in Weehawken, on the other side of the Hudson river from Manhattan, in the state of New Jersey. Weehwaken is part of the conurbation of over four million on the east bank of the Hudson, around the cities of Newark, Jersey City and Paterson.

Weehawken itself is not very big. Go 300 meters one way, and you’re on one of Lincoln Tunnel’s access roads. Walk 300 meters the other way, and you’re on Bergenline Avenue, the main street of Union City.

1. Bergenline Avenue

Though the winter temperatures suggest otherwise, New York is on the same latitude as Madrid. But it wasn’t only the clear light that reminded me of Spain on this bright winter Monday morning. It was also the fact that everyone was speaking Spanish. That’s because this area – which is also know as ‘Little Havana’ – is mostly inhabited by Cuban-Americans.

I went shopping at the local City Fresh supermarket every day (for my friend who was sick), and my rudimentary Spanish came in useful. Even the south Asian attendant at a dollar store spoke to me in Spanish, and I don’t look at all Latin American. The Korean lady from whom I bought my 1 dollar bucket of coffee every morning was surprised at how well I spoke English.

2. A side street of Bergenline Avenue
3. Looking the other way, with Manhattan in the background
4. Bergenline Avenue
5. Another side street
6. Bergenline Avenue
7. Bergenline Avenue
8. Bergenline Avenue
9. Bergenline Avenue
The names on these walls bear witness to the first group of immigrants to Union City, who where mostly German-speaking

That was the furthest I got into New Jersey. I’d have been content to look around a bit longer had I been anywhere else. But I still had a whole island full of gigantic buildings to explore on the other side of the river, just a short bus ride away.

10. 5th Avenue
One thing I always thought was interesting about Belgian towns as opposed to Dutch ones, is that you’ll often see, say, a ten-storey building next to a normal townhouse. Well, in New York, those same townhouses are right next to hundred-storey buildings. Strangely, this is the result of a law limiting building heights per lot, but allowing owners of lower buildings to sell the rights rest of their maximum height to their neighbours. I also noticed that many high buildings are set back from the street, or even behind older houses. Obviously, both measures are meant to allow some daylight to reach the street below. Visually, the result is completely unlike more modern skyscraper cities

Sadly, the sky clouded over before the morning was over, making the conditions very boring for pictures. Which is why I’m not going to show you any more I made that day. But I did enjoy myself exploring classic parts of New York (5th Avenue, Greenwich Village, Central Park etc).

Weatherwise, Tuesday (my third day) was as dull as Monday. I arrived at Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) again, which means that I can continue not very far from where I left off.

I don’t have much to show for it here, but PABT is where a lot of the bad things about New York come together. Noise, congestion, lack of greenery, homelessness and inequality are just a few things that you notice right away. And then there’s the thought that you probably still have to pay $3,000 per week to live there.

But the worst in New York also brings out the best in New York. The musicians happily jamming 24/7 in the underground parts of Penn Station seem to want to make everyone feel welcome. People waiting for buses to New Jersey wait patiently in endless lines (and are often open for a little chat). Even beggars are polite and greet you with a smile. An African-American street sweeper (who spoke to me when I was making a picture) assured me that New York is the best place in the world.

11. Much of the architecture around PABT is in a very functional style
12. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any nice classic New Yorkers
13. My destination this morning was the Highline, a park-like walk way on what used to be an elevated railway line. It snakes it’s way through the city, giving views of both big avenues and the backs of buildings, and has to be one of the nicest examples of modern city planning I’ve ever seen. But I won’t show you any more photos, again, because the weather sucked
14. For some reason, the only other good photo I made in Manhattan that morning is of the same place as the the only good photo I made there the day before. I also only just realised that that place is opposite the Empire State building (which is near Koreatown, where my sister had advised me to eat a bibimbap. It was very tasty and not expensive)
15. After the highline, I decided it was time to see if I could find a proper elevated train in which to enjoy the view and give my feet a rest. My guess that the train to Coney Island (the D or N line from 34th Str – Herals Sq) would be a good choice turned out to be correct
16. Arriving in Coney Island, with the Manhattan skyline in the background
17. As you may know, Coney Island, which isn’t an island, is a summertime seaside resort
18. This means that not many people choose to go for a walk there on a grey and windy day in January
19. A few other walkers on the boardwalk (the paintings are on the wall of the New York Aquarium)
20. A two and a half kilometer walk brought me to Brighton Beach, where everyone speaks Russian. Jews from Russia and Ukraine started to settle here in the 1970’s. Nowadays, it seems to be home to people from all over the former Soviet Union, and there are a lot of synagogues, Orthodox churches and mosques

I took the Q line from Brighton Beach, from which I enjoyed the view of other parts of Brooklyn, and got of at Church Avenue. This is in a part of Flatbush that is home to many people from Africa and the Caribbean, and where I heard some people speak French. It started to rain, and I noticed my feet weren’t tired, so I started to walk. The last picture I’ll show you for today is are of Gowanus Creek seen from 9th Street Bridge:

22. Looking towards Manhattan
23. Looking the other way
24. What I didn’t show you on Monday morning is that Weehawken is one of the best places from where to see the whole Manhattan skyline. So I’ll end this post with a photo I took there on Monday evening. I went to this place at least once every day, so expect to see some more of it soon

That was all for my second and third day in New York, so stay tuned for my remaining three days, on which the sun was shining for most of the time.

Series Navigation<< New York January 2020 – Day 1
This entry was posted in New Jersey, New York, United States of America

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