Paterson New Jersey

Making our way back to the Port Authority terminal, we got directions as needed and found our way to the gate where the buses to Paterson New Jersey depart from. We had a house sit to close cover us for the following five days which just about sees our time in the USA coming to a close. Paterson is only a little over 20 miles from Manhattan, but riding the bus, the trip takes you atleast an hour – if you have a good run. Paterson is I think the 3rd largest city in New Jersey with a population of around 150,000. Paterson was well known for being a big industrial town – the heart of it being based on fabric mills, but with the industry closing, the area has suffered somewhat – I guess its fair that I describe it as a lower socio area. We enjoyed the bus ride out to Paterson but arrived a little early to go straight to the house sit so we found a bite to eat and killed some time before finding Yvonne’s home which is an apartment in what was one of the main silk mills in Paterson. Living with Yvonne here in the apartment is Elizabeth Summers – a 3-year-old Yorkie – cute little dog, who is well spoilt by her owner. Yvonne took us through things locally, and we then headed out with Elizabeth for a walk so that Yvonne ‘could slip away without her seeing her do so’. Back to the apartment, we settled in to making Elizabeth comfortable with us. We had a quiet day Wednesday in the apartment – getting Elizabeth out for a couple of walks, despite the cold day that developed. We enjoyed a quiet day entertaining the dog and catching up on some email duties (Blog entries).

Thursday was a cold damp day but we headed off in the morning to get a bus back into Manhattan for the day. We arrived into the Port Authority terminal and stepped back out into the madness that is Manhattan / New York City – the place is alive all the time it seems. Not surprising when you look at the scale of NYC – a population of over 8.6 million has to go somewhere. From the terminal we made our way a number of blocks over to the Hudson River to where the aircraft carrier Intrepid is berthed – the base of the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum. The aircraft carrier was decommissioned in 1974 and berthed up the Hudson River some time thereafter. The aircraft carrier is now an interactive museum with aircraft on the deck to explore and the internals of the carrier as well. I didn’t push my luck and do the museum visit – I’ve been very lucky with all that I’ve seen and we’ve been fortunate enough to do a carrier museum previously in San Diego (the USS Midway). I satisfied my appetite for all things naval and aviation and had a good wander around the docks and got a few pics – the display includes a British Airways Concorde on the dock below the carrier – maybe a visit for another trip to New York. From the Intrepid we wandered back along the waterfront (a lot of work is being down refurbishing some of the abandoned dockland areas – Google are establishing new offices and a retail space in one of the old dock buildings and there is a really neat project underway at the old Cunard Pier 54 site which will be a very cool looking floating garden that will simply be called ‘Pier 54’ and which is due to open next year) – West Side Highway / Joe DiMaggio Highway, down to the Chelsea / Gramercy area which is where the Highline walk commences (at the old Chelsea Meat Packing area that looks to have been refurbished into a very up market part of town with boutique stores and dining). We only found out about this area through a friend back home who was in the New York late last year and came upon the area (to our surprise we haven’t located a dedicated NYC Welcome Centre for visitor / tourist info).

The Highline is a stretch of disused subway / Metro line that cuts through some really nice parts of lower to mid-Manhattan, along the track lines. The tracks have been out of use for years by the looks of some of the trees and bits growing up through the tracks, but the developers have done a great job with the paving’s and walkway surfaces, the benches  that have been installed and the art installations that are regular to break up the otherwise amazing spectacle that is the Manhattan skyline. The architecture is great – we walked alongside / through some amazing looking building – some old, some very retro, some very new – I’m loving it. The walkway runs out on you all to soon at the Hudson Yards complex – a big block that looks out on the Hudson River a block away. This complex is amazing – there is ‘The Shed’ which is a huge moveable canopy that slides into and out from the neighbouring building for concerts and events. There’s a very flash retail space at the base of the huge new building which I think is called the ‘Edge’ – this building will (opens next month) have the highest open-air viewing platform in NYC on the 100th floor – sure to give amazing views out over this amazing island. The real standout in the area is a structure / piece of art called ‘Vessel’ – it opened last year and is a honeycomb like structure that rises 16 stories – you have 154 separate flights of stairs – 2500 steps in total, and 80 landing areas for you to stop and soak up all that this amazing structure offers you. It was designed by a British architect who has some other popular structures here in Manhattan. The Vessel is an amazing piece of architecture and engineering – and is very very impressive.

Wrapped with all that we had seen on this grey day in Manhattan we wandered back up town to the bus terminal and only had a short wait before a bus pulled up to take us back out to Paterson. It was raining and getting dark by the time we got back out to the area but we called into the local market and picked up a few supplies before getting back to find Elizabeth exciting to see us home for the evening. We had a quiet start to our day on Friday – after all, it was our wedding anniversary, so we had a nice morning reflecting on our journeys to date, and plans moving forward. The day was cold and windy, but we wrapped up and headed across town to find the Paterson Great Falls Welcome Centre. This area is run by the National Park Service and the team there were great giving us a whole lot of insight into the formation of this area. We knew that Paterson had some history as an industrial city, but little did we know that Paterson was credited with being the first City of Innovation to be developed here in the US. Alexander Hamilton who was one of Washington’s key supporters, founded America’s first planned city of innovation and industry in 1792, helping to drive the US as the world’s largest and most productive economy. Paterson became a manufacturing hub for locomotives, textiles, silk, machine tools, and then in the early 1900’s, aircraft engines. The area was in fact at one time the US’s largest producers of locomotives, and produced nearly half the nations silk stocks. Colt made their first guns in the area, and the area is credited with being the home of the world’s first operable submarine.

Central to the area, and needed to provide all the power required for all this progress, is the Great Falls Hydroelectric Plant which sits on the Passaic River. The waterfalls here are 77 ft high and 300 ft long, making them the second largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi (second to Niagara). The power plant fed the cities industrial appetite. We had a great wander around the falls and then we found our way up to Hinchliffe Stadium that was erected in 1932. It was thought that the stadium would be the site of the ’32 Olympic Games, but I don’t think they went ahead with the depression? The stadium is in a state of disrepair, but the National Park’s Service has taken charge of the site which is the Park Service’s only stadium site in the US, and there are plans to restore the site to his glory days of the 30’s – 50’s when it was site / base to the Negro Baseball League, football and also Speedway – some of the pics of the Speedway action from the 40’s and 50’s looked great. From this area we made our way over to the Paterson Museum where the volunteer was only too happy to take us through the museum and impart all the info that they could. The museum is home to info on the original Indian inhabitants in the corner of New Jersey, the train industry, textile mills, aviation and marine developments, a very cool collection of early Colt weapons, and a great Gasoline Alley tribute to the speedway and racing shops that operated in the area. Really surprised but pleased by finding what we did today, and learning what we had, we headed off back to the apartment, just as a low shower of snow came down. The weather was really cold, but there was blue sky, and snow coming down – what a combination.

On Saturday we rose to a fine but very cold day. Carol got Elizabeth out for a quick walk round the block and then we headed down to get a bus back into Manhattan. We’re getting use to the ride in and out – some of the sights are looking familiar but it’s a good way to ride. We got out of the bus terminal to be hit with a very cool wind chill but we pushed on – heading east today – up towards the East River. Along the way we went in and had a nice look around Central Park Station – very nice facility. Next along the road was the Chrysler Building – another of New York’s iconic buildings. From there it’s a couple more blocks and you are outside the United Nations complex – main building and I think the General Assembly Hall. The facility was all locked up today – during the week you can tour through the area. The UN is just one block back from the East River and so has one of the best outlooks over onto Brooklyn – the skyline over there looking good as well. With the cold biting hard at us we headed back uptown a few blocks and found something warm to eat before heading on to see the Empire State Building. We didn’t go up to the observation deck – just a look through the foyer area for us today. We then headed downtown to the iconic Flatiron Building – the one that sits on a corner and looks like a slice of cake from above. Unfortunately the building was being renovated at the moment so was largely shrouded in scaffolding but you get a sense for what the building is. We headed back into the heart of Manhattan going past Madison Square Garden – which is not a garden as such but a building complex that takes up the block. We made it back to the bus terminal and got ourselves a bus back to Paterson.

Just as we arrived into Paterson, the white flurry stuff began to fall again, but not in enough volume to be an issue – touch wood that continues to be the case until we are gone from these shores. Despite the cold we got back to the apartment and found Elizabeth excited to see us so we got her out for a walk around the block before warming ourselves back up for the evening. Tomorrow Sunday sees us heading back into New York for our last two nights back here in the US. Our stint here in Paterson has been good – the location was convenient for getting in and out from Manhattan. Being on foot we have been a little limited in how far we could go locally, but Paterson comes across as a bit of a mix – it obviously had been a very progressive area 100 years ago, but it appears that progress caught up with Paterson and the city has deteriorated the past 20 years or more. That said, its still a hub for a load of people, and there’s a mix of retail, businesses and homes in the area. One of the concerning factors in the area and New York for that matter is that you really can’t seem to escape the sound of cars honking horns as they grow impatient, or emergency services rushing somewhere with their sirens blaring – maybe it simply has something to do with the scale of this area. We will wait to see how our Sunday dawns but fair to expect it will be cold again. We look forward to getting back into Manhattan and making the most of the next couple of days.

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