The Big Apple

Rex's USA Diary

Manhattan Island

The Red Indian tribe that originally inhabited Manhattan were the Algonquin. You may be surprised to know that America does not have Red Indians any more. That name was given to the native tribes by colonials for their similarity to the Indians of India, though these natives had a reddish hue to their colouring. The politically correct term for a Red Indian is 'Native American'.

When Dutch colonists arrived on the island in 1624 they bought it off some Algonquin who happened to be passing by (but who didn't actually own it), named it New Amsterdam and established their colony within a walled compound. The financial district of Wall Street follows the course of that earlier wall. The British later laid claim to the island after doing a deal with the Dutch in which this  location was swapped for a remote British spice island. The British named it New York.

The habit of taking names from anywhere and everywhere to use for American town or street names still goes on - for instance, my local area has many street names from Lord of the Rings characters. I am waiting for Harry Potter names to strike.

Most of Manhattan has a very orderly arrangement of roads and avenues. Avenues run the length of the island and are named First, Second, Third, etc. to Twelfth Avenue. The streets run east-west across the island and are numbered rather than named, from 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. up into the 100's at the top of the island. The majority of them are one way, with alternate streets and avenues going in opposite directions, though some avenues are dual direction.


New York has footpaths, which is very refreshing as there is a definite shortage of them in Maryland. So I hiked. Down to the wharfs for a starter. And with a great summer's day, clear sky and no smog revealing a beautiful skyline.

NYC skyline

There was a lot of activity at the wharf with a parade of cruise ships lined up nose-in to the island, passengers clamoring for attention, losing bags, standing in the cycle lanes getting run over. Cycle lanes are another rarity so I enjoyed watching that bit of chaos. But my main interest was to reestablish contact with the Intrepid Museum - a retired aircraft carrier loaded up with aircraft.

Intrepid aircraft carrier museum

Heading back into the city I came across some giant spiders invading the Rockefeller Center. They were standing very still so they wouldn't be noticed and that tactic seemed to be working. For everyone except one bug-eyed Kiwi.

Rockefeller spiders

I also explored the railway stations so I would know how to get out of town. When my time came on Sunday I boarded a Metro-Express at Penn Station and relaxed as it whizzed me past the nose-to-tail traffic jam of cars heading back towards Washington. I felt very smug. The train dumped me here near the BWI airport.

NYC train to BWI Airport

If you want to avoid getting a gammy knee from too much walking, learn about the New York Subway System: Beginners Guide to the NYC Subway