Empire State Building
We had a strategy: get to the Empire State Building by 8:00 am to beat the crowds. We went out for breakfast at a nice little place on Malcolm X Blvd. around the corner from our guest house.
Then we walked to the subway and took it down to 34th St. From there we walked a few blocks to 5th Ave. and it was pretty easy to find!
The building takes up three sides of the block, but only one of its entrances is for the observatory. So we walked around the block and entered – into an Art Deco palace.
I’ve never seen a place with so much bling. Walls, ceilings, floors – all are gold with accents of silver, orange, and black. The whole place just shines!
Our strategy had worked: there were no lines. We zoomed right through, stopping only to snap a few photos. We stepped on the elevator and immediately (it seemed) we were on the 86th floor.
They have both indoor and outdoor observatories. We did a 360 walk around both and the views were fantastic. It was a perfect day for picture-taking. Karen was able to get some great panoramas (including the one you see at the top of this page) with her new camera.
To the left you can see some of the other photos we took in and around the Empire State Building. Roll your mouse over the thumbnail images to see the captions; click to see a full-size photo.
The J.P. Morgan Library
After leaving the Empire State Building we walked over to the Morgan Library, at the corner of Madison Ave. and 36th St. Walking in New York City is always an adventure. There’s plenty to look at, of course, but you have to pay attention to the sidewalk too. There are a LOT of people walking. Many of them are faster than you, and you are in their way. And there is a scaffold structure on almost every block. Karen developed a theory that they just put up scaffolding to add to the pedestrian challenge – it has nothing to do with construction.
The Morgan Library was established from the estate of J.P. Morgan, famous New York Rich Guy from a hundred years ago. It’s really a museum, not a library as we think of it. (I don’t think they would have let me borrow anything.) Among the special exhibits on display were some fabulous medieval jeweled book covers and illuminated manuscripts, which Karen really enjoys. As it turned out there were a lot of beautiful things there and we were glad to have the chance to see them.
To the right you can see our photos of some of our favorite silver and jeweled book covers, and a couple of illuminated manuscripts. Click on the images to open them to full-size – they are quite beautiful. You can see the captions by running your mouse over them.
The rooms in the Morgan Library were especially beautiful. Our favorite was the actual library, where the books were kept. Below you’ll see photos of the ceiling, the tapestry on the wall, the carpet, and the beautiful three-tier balconies where the books were shelved. There were several other rooms with beautiful ceilings. Click on the pictures below to see detail.
The Morgan Library contains many works of art. Photography was forbidden for some of them, but we were able to take pictures of many of our favorite pieces. These include paintings, drawings, sculptures, and reliquaries. (A reliquary is a very fancy container for a sacred object.)
Cylinder seals – These are from the ancient Near East (think modern Iraq and Iran), around 3500 B.C. A small cylinder, made of amethyst, obsidian or other hard stone, was carved with a unique image. In those days, people would use hot wax to seal documents. While the wax was still soft, the cylinder would be rolled over it, leaving an impression that was unique to the sender.
J.P. Morgan had a large collection of these cylinder seals, and they are on display at the Morgan Library. The cylinder is shown, along with a photo of its impression, and an enlargement of the photo to show detail. Be sure and click on the small picture so you can see the full detail – these cylinder images are quite impressive.