Back by popular demand, here are some more new New York City factoids from our second Gray Line New York Double Decker bus tour that you can make your own and dazzle fellow guests with at your next cocktail party:
- When the Empire State Building first opened in 1931, it was dubbed the “Empty State Building” due to its paltry 18% occupancy rate.
- The fastest that anyone has made it from the bottom to the top of the Empire State Building’s 1,576 steps is in nine minutes and 33 seconds.
- Before he was a retail magnate, R.H. Macy worked on a whaling ship in his teens and sported a red star tattoo. This same star tattoo went on to become the ubiquitous Macy’s logo.
- St. Vincent’s Hospital, which opened in 1849 and treated patients from Titanic survivors in 1912 to the victims of the September 11th attacks, closed its doors earlier this year after 160 years of service.
- More than 150,000 people crossed the Brooklyn Bridge on its opening day on May 24 1883. When rumors began to circulate about the bridge’s instability one week later, a frantic mob began a stampede over the bridge, killing twelve people. Shortly thereafter, P.T. Barnum staged a publicity stunt in which he marched 21 elephants over the bridge to convince the public of its soundness.
When we got to Battery Park, we had to switch buses to complete our eastside loop back uptown and because it was so hot out, Charlie and Vivi convinced me to sit downstairs in the air-conditioning. This was a blessed relief for all of three minutes until I realized that sitting downstairs, one could neither hear the guide’s commentary over the roar of the bus engine nor see properly out of the windows, which were covered on the other side with advertisements. When you embark on your own double decker bus tour, make sure to sit on the upper deck.
Stops and sights on the downtown loop included Greenwich Village, Times Square, the Empire State Building, Union Square, SoHo, Chinatown, Little Italy, the East Village, Rockefeller Center, and the World Trade Center site.
Gray Line New York Sightseeing, Departure point: Seventh Avenue and 47th Street, by the Olive Garden restaurant, (212) 445-0848 or (800) 669-0051 (toll free) http://www.newyorksightseeing.com/tourpage.php?item=DL Tour length: 2+ hours; Operates daily 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM; $39 per adult/$29 per child ages 3-11.