On our fourth day in New York City, the weather turned lousy. Snow fell from the sky and turned into a freezing rain sleet mix later in the day. The sidewalks turned into a slippery mess by the time we left the church. I discovered New Yorkers don’t go to church the way most of the nation travels when they go to worship. The hearty souls attending Hillsong Church have to jump on a subway, travel miles to reach their destination, wait in line at a bagel shop to get breakfast, stand in another long line two blocks long to get to the doorway of the building where services are being held, go through a metal detector, and hope you can find a seat. Richard and Chris sometimes attend Hillsong Church. The large congregation meets at the Hammerstein Ballroom on 34th Street in Manhattan. There are seven services throughout the day on Sunday to accommodate the large assemblage. Once we moved through the metal detectors, we were greeted by a cool band playing smooth Christmas jazz. We walked past the people playing instruments and moved into a large auditorium. A praise and worship team soon took the stage. Everyone in the building was quickly singing. Hundreds of voices were lifted together in praise. The experience was like catching a glimpse of heaven come down to earth. The message delivered by the tattooed pastor was uplifting and filled with spiritual truth.
The snow flurries turned to freezing rain by the time we left the church. The sidewalks were covered in icy slush. I was glad we brought umbrellas as we blended in with the crowd. Our next destination on the list of places we wanted to see during our visit was Grand Central Terminal. We’d heard the once-bustling train station was filled with architectural splendor. As soon as we walked into the massive main terminal of this Beaux-Arts construction, we were overcome by the brilliance of the environment we’d strolled into. This form of architecture draws on neoclassicism incorporating Gothic and Renaissance elements, but this style of architecture uses modern materials such as glass and iron to create the building. From the Celestial Ceiling to the massive marble staircase, the famous four-faced clock, and the 75-foot windows, the terminal is designed to take a person’s breath away. The first Grand Central Terminal was built in 1871 by Cornelius Vanderbilt to accommodate steam locomotives. It became obsolete when steam locomotives were outlawed. The old terminal was demolished, and the new one built in 1913 for electric trains. By the 1950s, this new station was considered obsolete. The train station was saved from the wrecking ball in 1994 when Metro-north took over operation of the old station. Grand Central Station is now one of New York Cities’ prized architectural structures, with restaurants, lounges, and 50 shops. It also serves as a site for art and cultural exhibits. Special events are also held in this marvelous train station throughout the year.
A unique side note about the original Celestial Ceiling. It took a lot of people to create the representation of the constellations in the night sky against the green ceiling, but five men were instrumental in the design. Whitney Warren, Paul Helleu, Monroe Hewlett, and painter Charles Busing worked hard to make sure the stars were accurately represented. They employed Harold Jacobs from Columbia University to make sure the accuracy of the design was correct. He drew heavily from Johann Bayer’s 1603 Star Atlas. It took two months after the terminal opening for one of the people passing through the station to notice the design had been painted backward: east was west, and west was now east. A leaky roof created the need for the original ceiling to be covered. The initial faulty design was retained, but it was done with less elaboration. There were probably so many fascinating details we missed strolling around Grand Central Terminal. There is a free walking tour at 12:30 p.m. on Fridays. It meets at the atrium across the street from Grand Central at 120 Park Avenue. We will be sure and take this tour on our next trip to New York City.
We spent the rest of the afternoon rambling around Manhattan. We stopped by Rockefeller Station. The Christmas tree lights hadn’t been turned on yet, but the place was dressed in holiday finery. People were ice skating on a makeshift rink. After we finished watching them on the ice, we drifted past shop windows decked out for the holiday season. The most notable displays were F.A.O. Schwartz, Kate Spade, and the big shoe windows. Our plan was to go to Central Park. The weather was so cold and wet we decided our best course of action would be to go back to Queens and order Indian food. We made an unplanned stop at an antique store across the street from Central Park. This unique shop had many interesting pieces. Rooster says if we ever get rich, we’re going back to that shop and buy something special. He was so mesmerized by the items on display throughout the store, I thought he was going to pull out the credit card. I was beginning to worry my husband was under a spell created by the magic of the city. We all know Rooster is cheap. It was odd for him to entertain the idea of spending money in a swanky place like the antique store across from Central Park. We were fortunate. Rooster managed to contain himself. We walked out of the posh shop without spending a penny.
It felt good to relax for the evening after all our rambling in the rain. Chris ordered Indian food, and we enjoyed a tasty meal. It was a bittersweet evening. Rooster and I knew we’d be leaving for Indiana soon. We were having such a great adventure. It was a sad thought when we considered the reality that all good things have to come to an end.