Jenn’s adventures in NYC: Photos

NY Public Library with BofA Building and Grace Building in backgroundI was staffed on a project in Midtown Manhattan from late January to early May, 2011. One of my friends in Champaign-Urbana commented that it was like a paid vacation. True, except for the part where I had to work 40 hours. Though that part was fun too, of course.

I did thoroughly enjoy being in the city for a few months, especially after living in the cornfields for a year and a half. It was awesome to be surrounded by tall buildings, restaurants, public transportation, and limitless entertainment opportunities.

Check out some of the photos I took while I was hanging out in NYC.

Jenn’s adventures in NYC: Restaurants and Hotels

My favorite restaurants in NYC:

Bubby’s Pie Company in TriBeCa. I had dinner here more times than any other restaurant. By the last time, the waitress was trying to remember what my “usual” drink was. Delicious food, chill atmosphere, and great commitment to sustainable and/or local food. [My Yelp review]

East of Eighth in Chelsea. Very chill, good atmosphere, good service, terrific menu. The second time I came here, I ate in the garden out back. It wasn’t breathtakingly beautiful, but it was a nice change to be able to eat in a quiet outdoor patio in the heart of Manhattan. [My Yelp review]

The Long Room in Midtown. The food here is quite good for a pub. Pretty good service, and of course a good whiskey/whisky selection. [My Yelp review]

Rattle N Hum in Midtown. Actually, the food here isn’t that great, but it is a must-stop for beer snobs. Dave was in heaven when I brought him here.

My hotel, as seen from 36th & 6th, with the Empire State Building in the backgroundMy favorite hotel in Manhattan is the Hilton Garden Inn on W 35th Street (Herald Square). I did several weeks of multi-night stay here. Extremely convenient location, wonderful staff, great views from the upper floors, and an all-around good value.

A close second, though I only stayed there once, is the Hilton Garden Inn in TriBeCa. Nice rooms, and literally right above the subway station.

I’m a big fan of the Hilton Garden Inn because of the mini-fridge and microwave in the room. Makes it easier to just have breakfast in my room instead of having to go out.

Jenn¬ís adventures in NYC: Lunch in Midtown

As many office workers can attest, one of the most important parts of each day is figuring out where to have lunch. This exercise can start as early as 9:15 in the morning. Unfortunately, my co-workers and I would often have this decided by 10:30 am and still have to wait an hour and a half until we could put our plan into action, stomachs growling all the while.

Here is a list of my favorite lunch places near Bryant Park:

The Kati Roll Company on 39th between 5th and 6th. My co-worker introduced me to the restaurant and the concept, and I am hooked for life. If I never have a kati roll again, I will cry. [My Yelp review]

Goodburger on 45th between 5th and 6th. I’m always a fan of fast food places that make their food from fresh ingredients while you wait. Great burgers, decent prices, and surprisingly easy to find a table. [My Yelp review]

HB Burger on 43rd between 6th and Broadway. Get there early, because it fills up quickly. Not cheap (to be expected, this close to Touristlandia), but I really liked the atmosphere and the bison burger.

Maoz Vegetarian on the corner of 7th and 40th. I’m not someone who goes out of the way to eat a falafel, but I very much recommend the ones at Maoz. It’s definitely a “to go” place – there’s no seating – but the food is very fresh and the line, though it seems long, moves quickly. [My Yelp review]

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine (warning! clicking this link will cause Cuban music to play loudly through your browser) on 45th between 5th and 6th. My Jamaican colleague was very happy when we found this place. You can get a HUGE meal for lunch prices, or you can opt to get a couple of empanadas. Seating is available if you get there early enough.

Mai Sushi, on 41st between Madison and 5th. Another colleague discovered this for us one day, and we were thrilled for the new option. Affordable yet yummy sushi, with plenty of non-sushi options for those who want something else. Great miso soup. Excellent selection of affordable, prepackaged “to go” boxes.

Jenn’s adventures in NYC: Osama bin Laden’s death

Though I typically stayed in hotels in Midtown, I just happened to be staying in TriBeCa the week of May 1.

When I landed at LaGuardia, the president had already made his announcement about the death of Osama bin Laden. I turned on the TV as soon as I got to the hotel room. MSNBC was showing footage of college-aged people gathering in a celebratory fashion in front of the White House, and Brian Williams was reporting that people were also gathering at Ground Zero. When I realized that I was less than a mile from the site, I felt a responsibility to go and check out what was happening (even though it was past 12:30 at night at this point).

I don’t know what I was expecting – a vigil? a rally? a media circus? but I knew I should take advantage of being there.

First, here are the Facebook posts I wrote when I got there:

12:50 am: I walked down to the WTC site to see what is going on. A crowd has taken over the street but NYPD is trying to keep it from getting any bigger.

1:11 am: I made it to the crowd by going around the block. It reminds me of a mosh pit.

1:13 am: People are chanting various things, including “USA”, “NYC”, and “Yes We Can”.

1:17 am: There seem to be a few 9/11 families but mostly college age people (of which more than a handful are drunk).

1:17 am: Cigars are being smoked.

1:20 am: Some guys were singing “Proud to be an American.” Now it’s stuck in my head.

1:21 am: The police are losing their barricade battle a few yards at a time. They’re doing their best to keep things contained.

1:50 am: Unlike the kids partying on the street in front of the WTC site, I have to get up early tomorrow and go to work. Hope you enjoyed my attempt at social media journalism. =)

Barricade to crowd at WTC siteTo fill in a few things: when I got there, the corner of Church and Barclay was barricaded off, and the police weren’t letting anyone pass. I tried to go around to the west, but that wasn’t the right way to go. I finally went back and to the east, and found that people had gathered on Church and Vesey. When I was leaving, the NYPD had taken down the barricade at Church and Barclay, but were trying to prevent people from walking down that block of Barclay altogether.

There wasn’t much media there when I got there, but by the time I left, I saw journalists in the middle of the crowd, interviewing people. There was a news van parked on Vesey when I left (I’m not sure which network it was… perhaps local).

It didn’t seem to me that the crowd had much purpose in being there – as though people had heard the news and just decided they needed to be with other people. There was really no focal point to the crowd, and even the chants seemed to occur spontaneously from various areas.

I didn’t get good pictures, because it was dark, and – let’s face it – I was shooting with a BlackBerry. But I tried to take some video, and this video turned out okay enough to give a sense of the situation.

There was an Op-Ed in the New York Times a few days later that I felt did a good job of explaining why groups gathered at the WTC site, at the White House, and elsewhere.

There was quite the media circus a couple of days later when Obama came to visit.