As most of you know by now, I am not a native New Yorker. I would generalize and say that being an 'outsider' (not from New York) enables a perspective that 'insiders' (from New York) likely don't have. As a result, I don't take anything for granted and still feel like a tourist in New York City, despite living here for over half my life.
Just last week I had the opportunity to boat around New York City with fellow Louper Mark W. I was amazed at how different the city looks from the outside looking in. We journeyed from his slip in Jersey City, to the Statue of Liberty, passed the 3 bridges to Brooklyn, up the East River, all the way to Great Neck, City Island, and back. We intended to go fishing but not much was happening; of course Mark W. went back out a couple days later and caught 8 Striped Bass and saw a whale! Obviously, New York became the center of commerce in the colonial days because of its safe harbor, navigable waters, and access to international destination ... all still true today. There was something very novel and cool about boating in New York City, particularly in mid-November! However, what blew me away was how truly amazing the view into Manhattan is --- the famous skyline!
In this week's newsletter, I offer an alternative perspective on NYC and keep you ahead of the curve and in the Loupe!
One World Observatory
See Forever. Why not? In an effort to give you details I may be spoiling some of the surprise, so read no further if you like surprises. This observatory on the 100th floor of the Freedom Tower delivers on this promise to see everything. It offers an expansive view of Manhattan, and outlying areas, from way above it all. I have been to many observation decks (John Hancock in Chicago, CN Tower in Toronto, etc.) and this may be the best one yet. The initial elevator ride provides a historical view of what lower Manhattan looked like when first settled as you ascend into the clouds, literally. When you reach the observation deck, there is a brief movie about the vibrancy of NYC and then the screens disappear and you are left with stunning views. You then go to the 360 degree observation deck where you can see everything in every direction. I think I understand now why people are paying astronomical prices for apartments in 432 Park Avenue! It is a great way to see New York, whether you are a tourist of not. I guarantee that few native New Yorkers have been here but this is a choice spot to be on the inside looking out!
Yet another way to take in the natural (and unnatural beauty) of New York is via the skies. The folks at Liberty Helicopter who have the largest and most experienced fleet have developed this specialty service for the snap happy tourist. To be honest, the owner of Liberty is a pilot and adrenaline junkie, and now he is making the rush available to us. Here's the deal ... this is entitled The Ultimate Aerial Photo Experience and this is literally that. Act like the pros, harness into a helicopter with open doors and get ready to take the ultimate selfie. Choose from one of the packages and get up there!
The NYC Experience @ $199 lasting 15 minutes leaving from Kearny, NJ
The Manhattan Premium @ $395 lasting 20 minutes and leaving from the 34th Street Blade Lounge
The NYC Classic @ $499 lasting 30 minutes and leaving from Kearny, NJ
All these allow you to dangle out the window (if you want?) and embrace the sweeping views of New York City from above. In the NYC Classic you will be able to pick your destinations, as long as they are not too close to Trump Tower! This is the ultimate experience for someone (adventure seeker) looking from the outside in ... disclaimer, this is not for the acrophobic, claustrophobic, aviophobic or aerophobic ....
One thing New Yorkers take for granted is the view of New York City. It is literally impossible to take in the skyline from inside Manhattan, and therefore the only times you may see it are when you are flying in to LaGuardia Airport or approaching the Midtown tunnel. Therefore, there is significant novelty to restaurants in the boroughs that face the Manhattan skyline.
Maiella, located directly below the famous Pepsi Cola sign (hence the red glow in the picture above) in Gantry State Park, has the most incredible views of the iconic Manhattan skyline. Grab your parents, your kids, your date, your friends, or your out-of-towners (perfect) and drive directly there (they have valet)! This is Chef Rocco Sacramone 's latest venture (renowned for old school, venerable Italian spot L'incontro in Astoria). They serve Central Italian cuisine, but are famous for their fettuccini that is cooked inside a parmesan cheese wheel table side. The service is very friendly and it is refreshing to go to an Italian restaurant where you don't know everyone/anyone! Now you are officially back on the outside looking in.
Ricoh Theta S
Typical cameras provide a very limited perspective. Often times you want to capture everything in every direction. The Ricoh Theta S changes everything. This small and light weight device captures a 360 degree still shot, or even video, of where you are and what you are doing. Why focus on the things in front of you when you can see everything? Imagine having a picture at your wedding of not just the kiss, but also everyone's reaction to it...I wish the technology was around then! This device easily syncs with your iPhone and seamlessly films in every direction. No more need to use a special app and slowly pan around your location to capture a 360 image, now you can just press the shutter button. This does work much better during the day, and especially outdoors, as it has no flash. Instead of being on the outside looking in, this device will allow you to be on the inside looking out!
If you don't want another device to lug around and/or don't want to pay $350 for it, you may consider Panorama360 which does essentially the same thing. It is an iPhone app that creates a 360 degree panorama that is both virtual and interactive. However, unlike the Rikoh Theta S, it is necessary to slowly film around the center point to capture everything in the 360 field of vision. It won't be a perfect rendering but will capture more than enough. The images will reside on your phone, or you can login to the website. Nonetheless, for free you to can take pictures of amazing places and have a full perspective. Once again, you are now on the inside looking out.