Skip to main content

Sunday Excursion on the 5th of July: Bicycling Off the Big Apple

After a relentlessly long and rainy June in New York that seemed to literally dampen summertime spirits, during a time that has many questioning how they can personally manoeuvre this changing urban economy, following what must be an unusually dark, often bizarre and fast news cycle for the summer, the dawn of a serene 4th of July weekend seemed like a gift from the heavens. Saturday was a tad breezy, but our city managed to get through the whole day and into the night for the spectacle of fireworks on the Hudson and the opening of the Statue of Liberty's crown without one drop of rain. Given our state of mind, it felt like a miracle.

Sunday the 5th turned out even more miraculous weather-wise - low humidity with a cool morning with the clearest of skies. After walking the dogs, I felt an instant urge to see the city. Many residents had abandoned the city for beaches, and while most Sunday mornings prove a quiet time, I knew the moment of this particular Sunday morning, the 5th of July, provided a rare time to sail uptown on a bicycle with hardly a soul in sight. While I may have enjoyed a walk uptown equally as well, I woke up craving a jaunty and faster pace. Looking at the blue skies from my balcony, I wanted to get to Central Park as fast as possible, and without resorting to waiting for a train in a dark subway station below the earth.

Under this cloudless blue sky I biked straight north via 6th Avenue, stopping rarely, but after 49th St., I was forced to weave slowly and carefully through a group of vendors setting up a street fair for the day. Reaching the park, I cruised around at a slow pace, choosing to let the serious cyclists (the guys with striped jerseys and the gear) speed around me. I dismounted and walked my bike up The Mall, stopping and gazing for a few minutes on the lovely Bethesda Fountain down below me on the terrace. On 72nd Street, I found the bike route that directed me home, to the west and to the southwest, to 59th Street and Broadway.


View Cycling Off the Big Apple: From the Village to Central Park in a larger map

A bike ride from Washington Square Park uptown to Bethesda Terrace & Fountain in Central Park and then back again takes in an impressive number of New York attractions, especially for the return trip downtown via Broadway and Fifth Avenue. On the way up, I passed by Chelsea, Bryant Park, the Theater District and Radio City Music Hall. On the way home, I sailed through Times Square and Herald Square and then past Madison Square Park where I had a good look at the oncoming Flatiron Building, and then I soared down Fifth Avenue to the Washington Square Arch. At the end of this modest 7-mile ride, I felt triumphant, as if the Arch marked my own finish line of the last stage of the Tour de France.

I have played my share of video and computer games over the years, but riding a bicycle through Times Square on a Sunday morning seemed so surreal that I can only compare it to simulated virtual reality. With the newly-painted bike paths, riding a bike through this electric part of Manhattan is not only easy, but it's encouraged. Seeing this part of the city by two wheels is nevertheless a strange excursion, because the cultural history of New York has little reference to experiencing Times Square and the theater district in quite this way.

Reading the city's cultural and literary history prepares us for taxis, limos, cars, cigarettes and cigars, engine exhaust, dressing up for the play, pretty women and handsome men in elegant clothing, martinis and doorman, someone opening the car door, the city at night. We don't yet have a body of literature that includes, for example, episodes like biking past the Palace Theatre at 10 a.m. on a Sunday holiday morning and crashing into a set of disposable lawn furniture. I'm sure that will come.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from July 5, 2009.

Comments

Happy blogiversary, Teri!
Teri Tynes said…
Thanks, Terry B,
Didn't know there was a word for it!
And THANK YOU for so many good comments.
On to Year 3...
Teri T
Anonymous said…
Great blog Teri, 1st time visitor last month from Indiana. Prepared by reading you. Even whent to Marx Bros home on 93rd. Indy Family
Teri Tynes said…
Thanks so much, Anonymous from Indiana. Glad you enjoyed the walk and please come back again.

Popular posts from this blog

Editorial for Blog Action Day

I was so scared when I saw An Inconvenient Truth that I changed my prodigal ways. Today, Walking Off the Big Apple is participating in Blog Action Day, an event that challenges 15,000 or more people who are in a similar line of work to write posts about the environment. New York City will be in enormous trouble should the prevailing tide of climate change continue. I mean that literally. With the rise in sea levels, a strong storm surge would devastate many of the low-lying residential areas. Lower Manhattan would suffer enormous consequences but also parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island would be affected. The warmer weather we've experienced here over the past few years is also likely to continue. Warm weather leads to more smog, pollution, and the likelihood of disease and asthma. I could get really sick just walking around. The economic impact of climate change would be serious. All the plans for new uses of the waterfront for housing and recreation would be a no-start

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

25 Things to Do Near the American Museum of Natural History

After visiting the American Museum of Natural History, explore attractions on the Upper West Side or in Central Park. Visitors to New York often run around from one major tourist site to the next, sometimes from one side of the city to the other, and in the process, exhaust themselves thoroughly. Ambitious itineraries often include something like coffee in the Village in the morning, lunch near MoMA, a couple of hours in the museum, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry in the afternoon, cocktails at the midtown hotel, a quick dinner, and then a Broadway show. It's a wonder people don't pass out at the theater. While sitting on the steps of the American Museum of History, consider exploring the Upper West Side and nearby sites of interest in Central Park. There's a better way to plan a New York trip. Consider grouping attractions together geographically. Several posts on this site address this recommended approach. The Wild West of the Tecumseh Playground Groupin

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk. One such essay, " Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer , Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the

Museums in New York Open on Tuesdays

American Folk Art Museum , 45 W. 53rd St. Asia Society and Museum , 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street) Guggenheim Museum , 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th St.) Pictured left International Center of Photography , 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street The Metropolitan Museum of Art , 1000 Fifth Avenue NEW: Beginning May 1, 2013 MoMA will be open seven days a week. 11 W. 53rd St. The Morgan Library & Museum , 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street Museum of the City of New York , 1220 Fifth Avenue New York University, Grey Art Gallery , 100 Washington Square East Mondays and Tuesdays are the hardest days to remember which museums are open. See the list for NY museums open on Mondays here .

14 Useful Mobile Apps for Walking New York City

Texting and walking at the same time is wrong. Talking on the phone while strolling down the street is wrong. Leaving the sidewalk to stop and consult the information on a cellphone, preferably while alone, is OK. What's on Walking Off the Big Apple's iPhone: A List Walkmeter GPS Walking Stopwatch for Fitness and Weight Loss . While out walking, Walkmeter tracks routes, time, speed, and elevation. This is an excellent app for recording improvised or impromptu strolls, especially with many unplanned detours. The GPS function maps out the actual route. The app keeps a running tally of calories burned while walking, useful for weight loss goals. Another welcome feature is the ability to switch over to other modes of activity, including cycling. An indispensable app for city walkers. $4.99  New York City Compass , designed by Francesco Bertelli, is an elegant compass calibrated for Manhattan, with indications for Uptown, East Side, Downtown, and West Side. While facing a cert

From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan

(revised 2017) How long does it take to walk from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden to well-known destinations in Manhattan? What are the best walking routes ? What if I don't want to see anything in particular but just want to walk around? In addition to the thousands of working commuters from the surrounding area, especially from New Jersey and Long Island who arrive at Penn Station via New Jersey Transit or the Long Island Rail Road, many people arrive at the station just to spend time in The City. Some have questions. Furthermore, a sporting event may have brought you to Madison Square Garden (above Penn Station), and you want to check out what the city offers near the event. This post if for you.  The map below should help you measure walking distances and times from the station to well-known destinations in Manhattan - Bryant Park , the Metropolitan Museum of Art , the Empire State Building , Times Square , Rockefeller Center , Washington Square Park , the High Line

The High Line and Chelsea Market: A Good Pairing for a Walk

(revised 2017) The advent of spring, with its signs of growth and rebirth, is apparent both on the High Line , where volunteers are cutting away the old growth to reveal fresh blooms, and inside the Chelsea Market, where new tenants are revitalizing the space. A walk to take in both can become an exploration of bounty and surprise, a sensual walk of adventure and sustenance. A good pairing for a walk: The High Line and Chelsea Market Walking the High Line for a round trip from Gansevoort to W. 30th and then back again adds up to a healthy 2-mile walk. Regular walkers of the elevated park look for an excuse to go there. Especially delightful is showing off the park, a model of its kind, to visitors from out of town. A stroll through Chelsea Market. Time check. If you haven't stopped into Chelsea Market lately, you may want to take a detour from the High Line at the stairs on W. 16th St. and walk through the market for a quick assessment or a sampling. Among the sampli