During the middle decades of the previous century, it was not an unusual practice for some travelers to take slides of their journey and then once back home bore their friends and neighborhoods by inviting them over to see a slide show of their adventures. Usually held in the venue of a living room on in the sprawling den or a ranch house, these events were often accompanied by beverages and the passing around of Fritos and dip served on a festive platter. The host traveler would set up a portable screen, the kind you see in schools, and load a carousel on the slide projector with the slides, often placing one or two upside down by mistake. The images most often centered on the subjects, sporting sunglasses and bermuda shorts, standing immobile in front of a well-known attraction, be it the mighty Grand Canyon or the Sphinx or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The more exotic, the more likely this event would occur.
So, it is my great pleasure to present to you a slide show of my three night and four day vacation in Tribeca, a neighborhood in New York City. Thanks to the readers of The Bloggers Guide, a website specializing in city guides from all over the world, voters in their ongoing competition titled the World Blogging Challenge deemed Walking Off the Big Apple worthy enough for the finals, representing the entire continent of North America. Thus, thanks to the sponsor Hotels.com, WOTBA won a three-night stay at the hotel of her choice. Exciting! But where should I stay? As a resident of the zip code 10012 and being a somewhat adventurous person, I have longed to further explore the wilds of 10013.
We begin with my chosen hotel, the Tribeca Grand Hotel. Let me say "thank you!" to Hotels.com once again, because the three nights at the Tribeca Grand introduced me to one of the friendliest hotel staffs I've ever encountered. Serious. These folks are the real deal. On top of the friendliness, I appreciated the overall design, the Church Lounge, and the attention to details in service. When I first arrived, for example, I realized to my chagrin that I need electricity to fully function, and after a quick call to the desk about needing more outlets, a tech guy arrived with a power strip for the phone and laptop. Otherwise, I walk most everywhere, keeping the carbon "footprint" on the low side. I especially liked the hotel's lighting, a critical mood-enhancing branch of design that is often overlooked.
My room on the fifth floor overlooked Walker Street, a nice bit of serendipity for a blog about walking the streets. Throughout my stay, when I wasn't attending the Tribeca Film Festival or sitting on a bench in the nearby Tribeca Park, I explored the neighborhood attractions. Most enchanting is the spectacle at dusk of artist Steven Rand's Church Lights, a revolving spectrum of color lights on three floors of his studio on Church Street. After inquiring about it, the hotel's concierge provided a link to the website. (Man, I could become so dependent on a concierge that functioned like a research librarian.) The stretch of West Broadway down here is lovely to explore on foot. I passed several of the favorite local dining places like Bubby's (120 Hudson Street) and Odeon (145 W. Broadway) and enjoyed the inflatable city crime fighters at Balloon Saloon (133 W. Broadway).
The only mishap of my vacation, and it was my fault, involved the hotel room's "sound masking system." There's a device on the wall with a volume control that allows the guest to turn up white noise, presumably to cut out the ambient noises of the street or from lobby parties. On the first night of my stay, as I was getting ready to turn in, I turned the volume up too high. Consequently, the manufactured noise resulted in about three hours of sleep, leaving me tired and weepy through a morning of movies. I realized the next day that I've grown accustomed to the noises of the city and cannot sleep without them.
On the last morning, and I slept like a rock the night before, I left the hotel early for a walk. Hearing a familiar buzzing sound, I looked up to see five helicopters holding positions almost directly over the hotel. Wandering down Church Street, in the direction of many assembling fire trucks and police vehicles, I learned from street vendors and livery drivers that a vacant building on Reade Street, between Broadway and Church, had partially collapsed (See NYT's story). When I arrived on the scene, a couple of residents of the neighborhood stopped to talk to me about what happened. They assumed that I lived nearby. Yes and no, I could have explained, but that was too complicated. It was time anyway for me to say goodbye to my lovely vacation and to begin the long trip home of 1.1 miles to the north, to a street above Canal.
Images from April 27-30, 2009 by Walking Off the Big Apple. Explore many more sights in Tribeca by following this link on WOTBA. Thanks, everyone!