Sunday, July 27, 2008

Off the grid in Battery Park: Getting There

Photo of Battery Park/lower Manhattan
from The Battery Conservancy site.

I've wanted to visit the southern tip of Manhattan for awhile but I just finally got down there this weekend. The Financial District has a reputation for being dead at night and on the weekends but recently that rap has started to shift. I wanted to see what the deal was and snap some pictures.

It's weird but I am always a bit scared about going off the grid. I like the pattern of numbers of rectangles and am always scared of getting lost. It's silly because you can't really ever get too lost in Manhattan. But apparently my friends are no different because no less than 7 buds rejected the idea of tagging along downtown. Even my friend M who lives in the Financial District was like, "No way, I want to get out of here on the weekend." So I lived up to my independent rep and went alone.

The weather could not have been better -- sunny, pleasantly warm and only a touch of humidity. I left my apartment around noon expecting it to take about 45 minutes to get down there and I felt like that was probably longer than I needed. I had no idea the MTA was about to make me suffer.

There were MTA cops hanging out outside of the 77th St entrances. That should have been my first clue. After waiting on the downtown 6 train platform for 20 minutes (no exaggeration) without a single frickin' announcement I decided to go upstairs and try the bus instead. Bad idea because the line was ridiculous due to no subway. I watched two or three full buses skip the stop and knew that there was definitely a problem. With a sigh, I decided to walk down to 59th St to see if the express was running.

As I passed over the 68th St station, I could sort of hear an announcement about a power outage at Union Square (I think) disrupting downtown service. Awesome. That was going to put a damper on getting off the grid. It was like the city was conspiring against me! I continued walking down anyway and floated around the 59th St area for awhile before continuing down towards Grand Central. I floated from Lexington to 5th Ave and back again. I really was just walking aimlessly. Finally at 44th St and Lex I saw an empty M102 and jumped on it. My trip downtown was back on.

At least it was until it turned out that the last stop on the M102 was in the East Village where Astor Place and St. Mark's Place meet. Turns out only the M103 truly goes downtown, and it stops at City Hall. I knew I was near the 6 train so I decided to give it another shot. I walked over to Astor Place proper and while I found the uptown entrance fine I could not find the downtown entrance. I could only laugh as I walked around looking for it. I guess I could have, you know, asked someone. But it was high comedy aimlessly stumbling around. Eventually I ended up at Broadway and jumped on an N downtown instead. At Canal St. I switched to a 4.

Finally I was on the right train! By this time it was 2:30 PM. It had taken me 2.5 hours to make it to the right subway train. Yeesh. I wouldn't have been surprised if the train broke down along the way. The 4 is the least-efficient subway line after all. A couple of stops later I had finally made it to Wall St. If nothing else, I am at least determined.

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