Seeing it from the eyes of a New York City first timer

After going up and up, in elevator after elevator, reaching the top, stepping out into the cool damp night, finally, the glittering city unfolded below them – black, pink and red.

On the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in Manhattan, on Sunday, March 10, 2013, a little after 10:50 p.m., three student newspaper editors looked out at the city beneath them.  For one of them, it was her first time in the city she’d only ever seen in movies or photos.

Climbing the Empire State Building is only one of the adventures the three young women had together while in New York City.

In the city for a long weekend, attending the 2013 College Media Association’s spring national college media convention in New York City (March 9-12, 2013), at night, after they’d sat in on numerous journalism-related seminars, the friends explored New York City and made memories that would stay with them.

Earlier on the night of March 10, the trio, which included The Gatepost’s Associate Editor Kerrin Murray and News Editor Kathleen McDonough, searched for the perfect place to eat.

While they searched, walking around Times Square, they stared at the huge advertisements and the unbelievably bright flashing lights that lined the streets.  They often crinkled their noses at unfamiliar and putrid smells that sometimes filled the city air.

They walked passed giant Cookie Monsters and Toy Story Woodies, were prompted by street vendors to attend “free” comedy shows (which were only free if they spent so much on drinks).  The editors even ended up crossing the street with the Duggars from The Learning Channel’s “19 Kids and Counting” (they were scheduled to appear on the “Today Show” the following day).

“I felt like an ant and I couldn’t imagine being there on New Year’s Eve – it was already so crowded,” said Murray.  “I felt like a packing peanut.”

“I loved Times Square and all stores,” said McDonough.  “It’s a big city of lights and I got lost in it – it was such an explosion of people.”

Finally, the editors decided to eat at Food Network star Guy Fieri’s restaurant Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar in Times Square, located at 220 West 44th St. between 7th and 8th Avenues.

The New York City first timer enjoyed the Volcano Chicken – a grilled chicken breast with a spicy chipotle barbeque cream sauce served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, grilled seasonal vegetables and crispy onion straws.

Murray ordered the Rotisserie-Roasted Garlic-Rosemary Chicken – a wood stone rotisserie roasted half chicken with garlic, fresh rosemary, lemon sauce and mushrooms and served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

“The chicken and herbs danced on my tongue and the potatoes roasted in my belly,” said Murray.  “I was shocked when I realized it was half a chicken.  I also felt like I was on an extra vacation, because there were British customers at two tables next to us.”

McDonough had the Motley Que Ribs – house smoked St. Louis ribs glazed with Guy’s Signature Barbeque Sauce and served with crispy slaw and seasoned fries.  She also ordered onion rings.

“The ribs were okay, but the onion rings were out of this world,” said McDonough.

The restaurant’s atmosphere was quiet and comfortable.

For dessert, the editors went to the Cake Boss Cafe’s Discovery Times Square location at 226 W. 44th St.

From the street outside, the bright white-walled cafe appeared inviting and cozy.

Inside, a line of customers stretched passed the red counter and glass dessert display case, with order number tickets in their hands.

In order to decide what they wanted to order, the three editors had to squeeze in between the other customers to get a glimpse into the dessert case.

Surprisingly, the wait wasn’t long.  Both the New York City first timer and Murray ordered mini round cheesecakes.  Murray’s was topped with fresh fruit – kiwi, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, and the New York City first timer’s was topped with a giant chocolate-covered strawberry.  McDonough ordered three of the giant chocolate-covered strawberries.

They would have to wait until later that night to indulge in their creamy cheesecake and juicy strawberries, because as soon as they left the cafe with dessert boxes in hand, they spontaneously decided to walk to the Empire State Building to see New York City from a drastically different perspective.

On the 86th floor, the New York City first timer stared in awe at the city below her.  From the different spots where she stood, she could see a glimmering black Hudson River, a glowing Chrysler Building, the George Washington Bridge and Manhattan’s Financial District.

She could also see Ellis Island and the magnificent Statue of Liberty, as well as the Borough of Queens, the Queensborough Bridge, the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge Tri-Borough and Times Square.

It was an incredible feeling – to see so much of the city and yet feel so small.  She didn’t want to leave, but when she did, she knew she needed to come back someday.

“I was completely awe struck and my breath was taken away,” said Murray.  “I finally got some fresh air up there!

“It’s one of those moments – I know a lot of people have experienced it, but it was still so amazing,” she said.

(For photos, see my post An NYC first timer.)