Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NYC Day #1 - continued

We reluctantly wrapped up our visit to Central Park in the mid-afternoon of our first full day in NYC. We decided to brave the subway to head back to the hotel, both to prepare for our journey to the Bronx later that day and also to rest our already-weary feet. The famous (or infamous?) NYC subway was surprisingly easy to navigate, and not nearly as smelly or scary as one is led to believe. We walked through Times Square just in time to see the renowned "Naked Cowboy" doing his thing, whatever that is, exactly. I couldn't help it, I had to take a picture.

After freshening up at the hotel, we walked to the Rockefeller Station subway stop and boarded the "D" train toward Yankee Stadium. It was about a 30 minute trip straight up Manhattan, and pretty non-eventful. Finally, we emerged from the station at 161st St and set out for the Stadium. Immediately, we were impressed (or depressed, I guess), by the rough and worn appearance of the area surrounding the park. Prior to our trip, I had read on the internet about Yankee Stadium's lack of family-friendly urban warmth that's easily found at Fenway Park or Wrigley Field, and those writers were not kidding. Many would describe Yankee Stadium as "a dump", and we could almost instantly see why. Still, the history surrounding this institution is undeniable and no true baseball fan would allow physical appearance to entirely dissuade their opinion of the place as a whole.

We wanted to visit Monument Park, a small area nestled behind the outfield wall dedicated to honoring former Yankee greats. We weren't the only ones with this idea, especially in the waning days of the stadium's existence. At about 4 pm, we joined an enormous line, and waited for over an hour for the gates to open. Once in the stadium, admission to Monument Park was first-come-first-serve, and our patience was tested by the pushy-shovey nature of our fellow fans. Somehow we made it in, and viewed this famous little area in its waning days. We saw monuments to the Babe, Lou Gehrig (my favorite), Mickey Mantle, and more. As foul balls rained down around us (we couldn't believe how exposed we all were), we scooted out of there and into our seats, a pair of aisle seats in the upper deck set at a dizzying and vertigo-inspiring angle. We had a great view and enjoyed taking in the game. It was hard to believe we were in this place of such great legend, "the House that Ruth Built". Even more hard to believe that soon it will no longer exist; we made it just in time.

Toward the end of the game, we exited our seats and hit the subway for the return trip, hoping to beat the rush. We did, and were back safely in Times Square (the Naked Cowboy was gone by then, in case you were wondering) in no time. We had dinner at The Perfect Pint across from our hotel, then fell into bed, exhausted. What a great day!

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