Happy Valentine’s Day!
Whether you revel in this holiday, choose to ignore it, or haven’t even checked your calendar, New York certainly offers its share of events, from the romantic to the just plain…odd.
For starters, take a trip to Times Square (soon) where a 7,000-pound ice sculpture in the shape of a heart is slowly melting its way into viewers’ hearts–and onto the ground.
Designed by Robert and Granger Moorhead, two architects who also happen to be brothers, the sculpture was actually created to melt away in what they call a celebration of its temporary nature.
A commentary on love? Relationships? A way to while away the time? Who knows?
The 10-foot-tall heart, which was finished on Friday, is made of blocks of ice and is designed to act like a kaleidoscope, magnifying and refracting the lights of Times Square.
Over at the Empire State Building, the lights are red, pink and white in honor of the holiday, and 14 couples were married there yesterday, courtesy of wedding website theknot.com. (A heads up: Tomorrow the lights switch to red, white and blue in honor of President’s Day.) One couple was married at the 86th floor Observatory, while the others got hitched on the 61st floor.
More than 200 couples have been married in the building, which has been open for weddings since 1994. This is the only time of year that the building allows these ceremonies to take place.
So celebrate as you like-in New York, Valentine’s Day can be whatever you want.
Love the Pedestrian Mall in New York’s Times Square? Hate it? Completely indifferent to its presence? Well, whatever your feelings, it’s here to stay—at least for the foreseeable future.
An eight-month trial called Greenlight closed 42nd to 47th Streets to traffic. The trial was undertaken to see if getting rid of the three-way intersection where Broadway meets Seventh Avenue would speed up traffic.
Some business, drivers and even pedestrians preferred the old set-up, while many people hailed the plaza and the chance to hang out, read a book, and have lunch, especially during the warmer months.
Mayor Bloomberg announced this past Thursday at a news conference that traffic in the area is down as result of the changes; in addition, he claims that traffic speed increased by approximately seven percent.
(Many people disagree, and say that the function of the plaza is merely to increase tourism to the area, and that traffic flow has not been helped at all. A number of people wander over to see the set-up out of curiosity, and neighborhood restaurants have benefited by being able to send the overflow of customers to the additional outdoor seating.)
Safety conditions also improved, Mayor Bloomberg added, and public response, overall, appears to be favorable; tourists, New Yorkers and businesses were all polled for their reaction.
Now that the plaza is moving into more permanent residency, plans to put in new paving and redesign the space are afoot.
Good news for those who have been enjoying the freedom to literally walk right down the middle of Broadway in the Times Square area – Mayor Bloomberg has announced that the temporary pedestrian mall will become permanent. Closing Broadway to traffic between 42nd and 47th streets began as an experiment in the summer of 2009, the idea being to relieve some traffic congestion in midtown while giving New York visitors and locals alike the opportunity to enjoy the theater district without dodging cars and taxis. Statistics showed that the street closure did not do much to improve NYC traffic, but it did reduce pedestrian injuries in the area considerably while providing tourists more space to take pictures and local office workers a nice place to have lunch outside. Although the current set-up is a bit ramshackle in places, with chairs and tables strewn about over the concrete of Broadway, the pedestrian mall will gradually be transformed into a proper plaza with a more aesthetically pleasing design.
Walking through anything in New York City’s Times Square–whether the Sephora or Toys R Us Stores; the line at TKTS or the pedestrian mall–has a larger-than-life, slightly carnival-ish, sideshow feel.
So the Discovery Times Square Exposition on West 44th street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue; 866-987-9692) fits right in.
The exhibits there are larger, splashier and somehow more brazen than anything you’d find at another New York museum. Witness “Titanic: the Artifact Exhibition,” which runs through Feb. 28. Experience the ship’s maiden voyage! Take on the identity of a Titanic passenger! (Without the unfortunate end result.)
No, you won’t be getting that at the Guggenheim. You can also experience a recreation of the ship’s grand staircase and, to be fair, actually see artifacts from the ship (hence the name.) The objects recovered from the ocean floor include china, jewelry, clothing and documents.
While you’re there, you can also check out “Leonardo Da Vinci’s Workshop,” running through March 14. Gaze at full-scale models of some of his inventions, such as a self-propelled cart and a robot knight (chivalrous and high-tech.) Participate in a family workshop (there’s one today at 1 PM) and come up with your own invention. Or simply play with the touch screens that allow visitors to transform sketches into 3D models.
Coming in April: “King Tut: Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.” It opens on April 23. Ten galleries will showcase 130 artifacts, including some of the possessions from Tut’s tomb.
Bigger, larger-than-life, more over-the-top? Where else but Times Square?
Out with the old, in with the new: In New York City as well as across the country, Toys R Us is spearheading an initiative so parents and caregivers can trade in potentially unsafe, old, and used baby products as part of “The Great Trade In” event. Items that can be traded in include used car seats, strollers, play yards, high chairs, toddler beds, and cribs. (Many of these items are old and still in circulation, but should not actually be used or passed on to someone else.)
In exchange for turning in these products, consumers will receive a 25 percent savings on certain new baby items.
The program began yesterday, and continues through Feb. 20.
During the first trade-in event, in Sept. 2009, tens of thousands of items were brought in; used car seats were the number one item brought to stores–as well as the number one item purchased.
In New York, the place to head, of course, is the Toys R Us in Times Square. (1514 Broadway at 44th Street; 1-800-TOYSRUS). In addition to ridding yourself of those baby products that have been sitting in the attic, kids can partake of the giant Ferris wheel; walk-in Barbie Dream house; and the “R Zone,” a 5500-square megalopolis of the newest in electronic games, DVDs, and other tech gizmos. Customers can play on giant plasma screens (and those over 30 are guaranteed to walk out with unsteady balance and buzzing in your ears, not to mention your brains, so be forewarned.)
Oh yes, watch out for the 5-ton, 20-foot-high, 34-foot long animatronic dinosaur inspired by “Jurassic Park.”
If you weren’t unsteady on your feet after the Ferris Wheel and the game room, you will be after an encounter with him.
If you go to New York’s Times Square in part to gaze at the never-ending display of over sized billboards featuring lingerie ads, celebrities gleaming down at you, and skinny sullen teenagers hawking perfume, you’re in for something different.
Starting today, the FBI will display an enormous billboard in Times Square near the TKTS Booth on 47th Street. The digital board will display a rotating list of New York fugitives as well as the number of an FBI tips hotline. Images of missing children will also be displayed. In addition, the board will take advantage of the number of international tourists by featuring information about criminals from abroad.
The billboard is being provided free of charge by advertiser Clear Channel Outdoor.
The nationwide project was launched in December of 2007. It’s now active in 20 cities, and features more than 1,000 billboards across the country, including many on major highways.
Believe it or not, at least 14 criminals have been apprehended through the use of the billboards, including those whose crimes have included money laundering, armed robbery, and kidnapping.
It’s hoped that the sheer number of people who pass through the Time Square spot, one of the most crowded corners in the city, will lead to some good tips.
In Albuquerque, NM, a mother and son were driving by a billboard when the mother noticed that the image on the board looked like her son.
It was. She took him into the local police station.
Times Square is having its moment: First New Year’s Eve, now the Census Bureau has kicked off its national tour there.
The Census Bureau revved up its “Census Portrait of America Road Tour” in New York City’s Times Square this week, starting the trip across the country to remind people to fill out their census forms–and mail them in. A 46-foot trailer and 12 vans will traverse the USA in the coming months. The trailer is nicknamed “Mail It Back” (catchy..yes? no?) and offers an interactive representation of the census form. The smaller vans offer technology that allows participants to track the tour online as it happens. Updates will be available on social media postings through outlets like Twitter and Facebook.
Well, it beats doing the laundry.
The population count takes place once a decade, and this tour will be part of the largest civic outreach program in US history. It will stop at more than 800 events during the next four months, including the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four, as well as smaller venues like local parades.
The 10-question forms (one of the shortest ever) will arrive in your mailboxes March 15-17; they’re supposed to be an account of everyone living in the United Sates. Results are used to reapportion congressional seats and decide how more than $400 billion a year in federal funding is distributed to local and state governments.
So stand up and be counted, New York!
Happy 2010! Whether you’re recovering from last night’s revelries, wondering if you can forget that second resolution, or hopping on the treadmill to keep your first one, the year has that unused feeling that signifies that anything is possible.
And since it’s the time of top ten lists, we hereby offer 10 ten great things you should see, do, or remember about New York this upcoming year, in no particular order:
1. How many boroughs except Manhattan and maybe Brooklyn have you actually been to? Uh huh, we thought so. Go discover the amazing array of foods in Queens or the shoreline in Staten Island.
2. If you only go to the big-name museums in the city, check out one of the smaller ones, like the Rubin or The Jewish Museum.
3. Rent a rowboat in Central Park. (When it’s warmer.)
4. Take a backstage tour: Radio City; Madison Square Garden–you’ll be amazed at the choices.
5. Eat something you’ve never eaten, whether from a restaurant in Chinatown or a sushi restaurant in midtown.
6. Find somewhere in the city and take a hike. We mean that literally.
7. Go to one of the Botanical Gardens in the spring (Bronx; Brooklyn) and see either the cherry blossoms or the roses.
8. Check out Times Square on a Wednesday afternoon when the matinees let out and all the lights are coming on and simply drink it all in.
9. Trace your history: Visit Ellis Island and discover your family tree.
10. Open a guidebook, close your eyes, point at random, and go do whatever you pick.
This is New York after all. If you can’t be adventurous here, then there’s really no point at all.
Those of you who enjoy late-night reveling, close proximity to millions of other people, and staying up really, really late in the freezing cold will be in your element tonight–it’s New Year’s Eve, and the biggest party in town is in New York City’s Times Square.
Streets start getting roped off as early as 2:00 pm, and partiers often start gathering in the late afternoon to ensure a prime spot.
Festivities continue throughout the evening, with musical performances, opening ceremonies at 6:00 pm, and handouts of hats and balloons given out to revelers starting a little after 7:00 pm. Performers and celebrity guests this year include Jennifer Lopez, Daughtry, Taddy Porter, and Anderson Cooper. (Now there’s an eclectic mix).
At 11:59 pm Mayor Bloomberg and a special guest will push the button that signifies the dropping of the Waterford crystal ball. This year, the ball has been redesigned to include 300 Waterford crystal triangles woven into a Celtic knot–they are etched with ribbons, angel wings and flames to indicate the theme “Let There Be Courage.” The new lights, for those of you on green-watch, replace halogen bulbs, last three times longer, and use about the same amount of energy as it take to light up two regular ovens.
At midnight, following the dramatic countdown, confetti is released, shouting and kissing of your neighbor ensues, and we welcome 2010. More than 1 ton of confetti will be dropped.
And for those of you who were wondering, the ball-drop tradition goes back to 1907, and the ball tonight will drop 70 feet in 60 seconds. It weighs almost 12,000 pounds.
Happy New Year!
As preparations for the festivities in New York’s Times Square get underway for New Year’s Eve, it’s time to start some planning of your own—especially if you plan to join the hordes ringing in the New Year in the heart of New York City.
First off, why not put your resolutions to paper (you do have resolutions, right?)–and add to the confetti that will rain down in Times Square at the same time. Write down a resolution, a hope, a wish, whatever you like–on a piece of confetti–and add it to the Wishing Wall at the Times Square Information Center (7th Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets.) All the confetti will be gathered on Thursday to add to the growing pile of midnight-ready pieces of paper. (You can also submit it online at timessquarenyc.org; it will be printed out and added to the pile. Some New Year’s wishes from last year can be viewed on line.)
While you’re at it, save on that bottle of champagne by checking out the new “Clink Clink” iphone app. Waterford helped design this virtual celebration, which lets two people toast in the New Year with pictures of Waterford champagne flutes and cocktail glasses on the screens. (No alcohol is allowed in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, so you can get your toast in–and have a clear head when you leave as well.)
So get ready–and start counting down to the countdown!