In this month's column, you won't read about
a great adventure. I won't report on a voyage
to a foreign land. I didn't stay at a luxurious
resort. I shall not muse about warm seas, white
sands, or balmy nights. No, this month my story
is about the cold and frozen delights.
I went to visit my daughter in Manhattan in January.
I love the city and I had great plans to walk
in Greenwich Village and Soho, traipse down Madison
and Fifth Avenues, meander through Times Square,
buy a soft pretzel or two, and just people watch.
But the New York weatherman quickly dismissed
that plan with his talk of blizzards, freezing
temperatures, and below zero wind chills. Hellova
welcome to the Big Apple. Stay indoors was his
advice. I decided to ignore it.
Bundled with scarves and gloves, coats and hats,
we took a taxi to the Wollman Rink, the ice skating
rink at the south end of Central Park near the
Grand Army Plaza at East 59th Street and Central
Park South. Set in an icy island surrounded by
woods and Manhattan's skyline, the location defines
"picturesque." We skated round and round
- alongside locals and tourists and well-bundled,
red cheeked children taking lessons in the center
of the rink. The music played and no one stopped
even as the first snows of the blizzard of '05
began to fall. The rink is another of Donald Trump's
possessions. Inside, there's a snack bar where
you can relax, sip hot chocolate, and watch the
skaters. There's also a souvenir shop selling
tee shirts and hats with Trump's patented "You're
He needs the money. The Donald was wedding his
third wife in Florida at the same time I was skating
around his rink with my first, and I don't think
his joy was any greater than mine.
Another Central Park ice skating option is the
Lasker Rink at the northern, Harlem end of the
park between 106th and 108th Streets.
Central Park was quickly covered in a glorious
powdery white and we left the Wollman Rink for
lunch at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park
at West 67th Street (212-873-3200). A curious
line of orange markers lined the park's paths.
They were the anchors set out in preparation for
Christo's "Gates." The Gates is a huge
art project by "environmental artists"
Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, most famous
for their past art projects that involved "wrapping"
islands and bridges in cloth. The Gates will be
7500 vertical curtains of free flowing saffron
colored cloth hanging above 23 miles of Central
Park's footpaths. It is scheduled to be set up
in early February and remain for just 16 days.
The artists describe The Gates as "a golden
ceiling creating warm shadows. When seen from
the buildings surrounding Central Park, The Gates
will seem like a golden river appearing and disappearing
through the bare branches and will highlight the
shape of the footpaths ... a long-to-be-remembered
joyous experience for every New Yorker."
Just a short walk in snow brought us to the Tavern
on the Green. Built in 1870, the Victorian Gothic
building was originally a sheep barn and remained
as that until New York's parks commissioner had
it converted into a restaurant. Mayor Fiorello
La Guardia officiated at its grand opening in
1934. Since then it has been a New York landmark,
undergoing a series of renovations and a succession
of management companies. In 1976, restaurateur
Warner LeRoy, creator of the Russian Tea Room
and Maxwell's Plum, took over the Tavern's management.
He created glass enclosed dining rooms overlooking
Central Park with ornate ceilings and grand glittering
chandeliers. In 1993, he created a "menagerie
of topiaries" - great animal shaped bushes
designed by the landscapers who created the sculptures
for the movie "Edward Scizzorhands."
The renovated Tavern on the Green became a spectacular
setting for New York prestigious events - Broadway
openings, film premiers, and political functions.
It also became a setting in many a movie - Wall
Street, The Out of Towners, Arthur, Heartburn,
and many more.
By the time we finished lunch, snow had well-flocked
the topiary around the restaurant and the blizzard
was in full force. But while the streets of Manhattan
were near vacant, the taxis still dared the roads
and subways were still running. So, our next indoor
stop was Saks Fifth Avenue, on 5th Avenue of course.
While few people challenged the snow covered streets,
inside, Saks was abuzz with activity. Its main
floor is almost entirely cosmetics with the handsomest
of men and women offering up their fragrances
and lotions. Women can wander from one counter
to another getting one free makeover after another,
and, for me, in the men's section, they provided
all sorts of creams, facial masks, and even lengthy
After enough pampering, we headed outdoors again.
Rockefeller Center is just across the street from
Saks. It has its own skating rink and an underground
shopping mall that leads you to the 6th Avenue
subway line. From the subway you can travel to
stations that exit right next to an assortment
of the greatest museums in the world - MoMA (the
Museum of Modern Art), the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan
Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum (of American
Art), or, after a longer ride, to the Brooklyn
Museum of Art. You'll need more than one day of
blizzard conditions to visit them all.
The Museum of Modern Art, which has been closed
for about two years, just re-opened in November
2004. Its collection is wonderful, expansive,
and well displayed in new galleries. A single
room filled with Van Gogh's, Cezanne's, Picasso's,
and other Impressionists was a billion dollar
eyeful. It has, however, one of the most expensive
museum admissions I have run across: Adults $20.
Broadway theatre remained open during the blizzard.
After all, "the show must go on." And
TKTS, the ticket discount center in Times Square
remained open as well.
So, what do you need to enjoy New York in a blizzard?
An overcoat, scarf, gloves, earmuffs, rubber boots,
a "damn the cold" adventurous spirit,
and plans on how to spend your extra day