New York-te amo

A note: I wrote this post long before the name “Sandy” ever entered the meteorology radar. I’m traveling to New York City later this week and so my thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by Hurricane Sandy. 

As a child I visited New York City often. I grew up in Philadelphia which is only two hours away, my grandfather’s brother lived there (he moved there in 1947 and still lives there on his own at the impressive age of 91), and my parents loved the theater. Those three things combined equated to multiple trips there in the course of a year. The first ever New York City stage production that I saw was Radio City Christmas Spectacular (think the world famous Rockettes) and my first Broadway show was “The Secret Garden,” a brilliant musical adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s cherished children’s work of the same name. (The Secret Garden has sadly never been revived.) I even acted on Broadway-when I was eight I was asked during intermission of the two-man show Fool Moon starring Bill Irwin and David Shriner if I wanted to appear on stage in a scene in the second act. I, of course, said yes and it was a completely novel experience since it was I who was asked and not my older brother.

When I was 13 my great-uncle decided he no longer wanted to go to “grandma’s house” for Thanksgiving and instead would treat the whole family to Thanksgiving dinner at Windows on the World, a restaurant located on the 107th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. It was one of the city’s most respected restaurants, not to mention one of the costliest as well. The dining experience was unforgettable. Although I had a pretty charmed upbringing, dining at Windows on the World definitely made one feel as if they were part of the  elite, the 21st century equivalent of dining with the Astors and Vanderbilts. When September 11, 2001 happened, I reacted in horror along with every other American, and yet I had a quasi-personal connection there that many did not. My great-uncle dined at Windows on the World every Tuesday morning for breakfast (it was a private restaurant for breakfast and lunch and he was a member). Many of you may not remember but September 11 in 2001 fell on a Tuesday. For what could perhaps be labeled as someone watching out for him, my great-uncle had a doctor’s appointment that day and planned to dine there another day that week instead. Heartbreakingly, like everyone else in the Twin Towers who were too high up to escape, everyone at Windows on the World perished that fateful day-guests dining there and the staff, many of whom my great-uncle had personally known. Our Thanksgiving dinner was moved to a restaurant in mid-town Manhattan, but all these years later I still think of our Thanksgivings at Windows on the World, where I tried venison for the first time and which offered the prettiest views in all of New York.

My visits to New York became less frequent when I went away to college, seeing as how Pittsburgh was in the opposite direction of New York. While I’ve certainly seen vast stretches of the world since then, the place that I first started visiting as an infant will always stay in my heart. In a couple of days I’ll be traveling there for my brother’s wedding. I haven’t been back since 2009 and I’m actually going to spend a couple of days there before the wedding to get in some much needed touristy fun. You see, when I was younger and would visit I would often scoff at doing tourist pursuits, much preferring to rack up as many Broadway shows as possible. But now since keeping this blog, I realize there’s so much of New York I’ve never seen but know I’d like. Hopefully in a month’s time I’ll have some terrific posts and pictures to share with you all!

 Outside of The King and I theater
P.S. A shout-out to my dad who was kind enough to scan all of these photo gems.

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