The Panorama and (Another) NYC Love Letter

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I have always taken advantage of New York City. I’m a licensed NYC tour guide. I walk the bridges every chance I get, most often the Brooklyn Bridge but if it’s too crazy, the Manhattan Bridge. I walk from the Upper West Side through Central Park to SoHo and back home to Brooklyn Heights. I explore the neighborhoods, try new restaurants, go back to old favorites. I go to the opera and to Broadway shows. I grocery shop at only-in-NYC places like Sahadi’s, Kalustyan’s, Eli’s Manhattan, Raffetto’s for fresh pasta, Di Palo for mozzarella, Zabar’s, and Citarella - and in Brooklyn, Union Market, Fish Tales, Staubitz Market, Perelandra, and Fairway. Plus Whole Foods Gowanus, of course.

I have always felt the more I do here, the more there is to do. It doesn’t get old or stale. I constantly add new things to my “list.”

But one thing that has been on my list for 10 years has been the famous Panorama at the Queens Museum. And we finally went there this weekend. Built for the 1964 World’s Fair, the scale model of NYC’s five boroughs (where 1 inch=100 feet), is just so cool. You can really grasp how huge and small it is at the same time.

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What hit me the most was all the memories that swept over me looking at the city - from the Statue of Liberty to the George Washington Bridge, from Lincoln Center and the Museum of Natural History to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Washington Square Park. I tried to find the street I first lived on (binoculars would have been useful), Thompson Street. I looked for the street I currently live on. I looked at JFK and LaGuardia and wondered how many times I have flown in and out of the city. I looked at the whole chaotic, beautiful city and my heart almost burst.

Then we walked through Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, by Meadow Lake (a lake literally surrounded by highways), and over to Forest Hills, a neighborhood I love in Queens. We didn’t have time to stop into Natural Market on Austin Street, pick up dumplings at Bangkok Cuisine, or wander through the gorgeous Tudor homes in Forest Hills Gardens. We had to get back to the baby. But I’m happy to have checked another thing off my never-ending NYC list.

The Unisphere, built for the 1964 World’s Fair.

The Unisphere, built for the 1964 World’s Fair.

A Magical East River Ferry

The Brooklyn waterfront looks worlds apart from when I first saw it many years ago.

The expansion of the East River Ferry this year is changing the area even more. We hopped on a few weeks ago, and absolutely loved it, quickly adding to the "must take all visitors" list. It's breathtaking and beats any Circle Line tour - and it's only a few bucks.

The River Cafe under the Brooklyn Bridge.

The River Cafe under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Hop on at the DUMBO stop (after getting an almond croissant at Almondine, pizza at Juliana's, or fancy brunch at The River Cafe) and take it to 34th Street. You'll see a rapidly changing Brooklyn and Queens landscape. It's also quite fast, unlike the turtle-ing city tour boats.

Here's the East River ferry schedule and a great article from the New York Times on how the ferry is changing the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront. 

Long Island City, Queens.

Long Island City, Queens.

Once we got off at 34th Street, we wandered our way up to Central Park, which made for a pretty great cross-borough walking in NYC kind of day. Anyone else obsessed with their step count on the iPhone? I live for the 20,000+ steps kind of days. 

The 34th Street stop.

The 34th Street stop.

Central Park.

Central Park.