A perfect Manhattan day…

By Caitlin Kelly

Lincoln Center, one of my greatest pleasures of living in New York

It was 95 degrees, and humid — and said to feel like 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

It did!

But it was a perfect day, a day spent gratefully away from the endless grind of the computer and the claustrophobic roar of the air conditioner.

A hooky day.

I drove into the city, (a 40 minute drive from our town on the Hudson River, north of Manhattan), reveling in air conditioning and listening, as usual, to WFUV (the radio station of Fordham Univerisity, a private Jesuit college here.)

Loved seeing dinghies with bellied sails on the Hudson and several huge barges being pushed by tugs. Tugs are like elephants for me — the very sight of one just makes me really happy. Given non-stop maritime traffic here, I get to see them a lot!

I enjoy the drive south from our town, parallel to the Hudson River to my right/west, with glorious views of the city’s skyline, the George Washington Bridge and New Jersey, just a few miles across the water. I moved to New York in 1989, and I never tire of these views. I feel lucky to live close enough to afford it, and to dip in and out of the city without paying every penny to live in it.

The railings of the David Kock Theater at Lincoln Center have lacy, gilded dividers and the diamond-like lights repeat in the exterior and hall interior

I parked beneath Lincoln Center, (whose underground parking lot was a recent discovery), and walked over to ABC — the television network — to drop off the backpack we filled to donate.

Those corporate lobbies are really something. HUGE. Boatloads of green and red marble. Mostly intimidating and not very attractive. One wall of the lobby is filled with color photos of all their stars, and you realize that each person is a brand, a polished and valuable commodity in their collection.


I’d planned on a 1:10 movie, but missed it so I settled into a favorite French restaurant, La Boite en Bois, for a long, long (2.5 hours) lazy lunch. It’s a tiny space, a few steps below ground, and has been in business for 30 years — an impressive run in such a difficult city.

For much of the time I had the 48-seat room all to myself. Chatted in French to one of the waiters and enjoyed a three-course (!), very good meal for $27 ($32 with tip.) I caught up on two days’ worth of the Financial Times and the day’s New York Times. (And fielded a few work emails.)

Hopped a bus crosstown to meet a friend for a drink at a craft beer joint, The Jeffrey, which was terrific. One of the fun things of living here is that there’s always something new to discover — because rents are so high, places can open, even to rave reviews, and be gone within months.

Walked six blocks north, bussed back to the West side and caught Equity, a new film, at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, another below-ground gem. (Sounds like a Hobbit-y day!)


Walking back to the car at 10:15 p.m. — past the now illuminated Lincoln Center fountain, people silhouetted against its lit-up waters — was one of those perfect, classic Manhattan moments. Like Grand Central Terminal, Lincoln Center is such an elegant icon. I never tire of its understated white marble beauty.

The day wasn’t cheap; it’s Manhattan, after all, but not as bad as some might think. I usually limit my NYC excursions to once a week or so, but make sure to maximize my pleasure once I’ve made the journey.

Total cost of my perfect day: parking $48 (10 hours); lunch $32; bus fare $2.75 x two; cab $13; beer (paid for my friend, on her work expense account — we’re both journalists); movie $15, popcorn (dinner!) $5.


14 thoughts on “A perfect Manhattan day…

    1. I knew it would be at least $40…but it worked out to about $5/hr (I arrived at 11:30 a.m., left at 10:30 pm) — and the costs of getting to the same place by commuter train/subway, round-trip, would have been $23, so it’s not a huge cost difference. It’s also a business expense (parking/gas/tolls.)

      It’s one reason people here have to make a decent wage to live here without penury; costs are high.

  1. Gosh, your parking bull was just about the same as all the other expenses combined, although I guess it’s not bad for 10 hours in NYC. It sounded like a wonderful day out! Hooky is a sanity saver to freelancers who work alone.

    1. I know, right?! But, per hour, it’s not that bad. I also usually have extremely good parking karma — i.e. finding FREE NYC street parking right in front of where I need to be. It’s rare that I have to pay to park, so it evens out. 🙂

      It was a heavenly day and ohhhh, I needed it. This summer has been brutally hot and being shut up every day in my apartment alone (even the library) is gross.

      Where are you in the world these days?!

      1. I’m in Belgrade! It’s been hot here, although from everything I’ve heard from NYC folks, this is heavenly compared to what you’ve had. Been plugging along getting work done, although I’ve just had 2 weeks alone, with the rented apartment all to myself (my other half was working in Copenhagen). Pottered around, read lots of books, and didn’t speak to anyone, which was immensely restorative and utter, utter bliss. I thought of your silent retreat with Jose 🙂

      2. I have a friend currently in Krakow….so I’m living vicariously through everyone overseas this year. Finances are appalling, ($1700 month for health insurance is killing us), so no travel anywhere for the foreseeable. 😦

        Not speaking is very soothing indeed. 🙂

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