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Taking in the New York City night life

New York City subway

"New York, New York
I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps
And find I'm a number one, top of the list
King of the hill, a number one"

- from the song "New York, New York", composed by John Kander, with lyrics by Fred Ebb, recorded by Frank Sinatra

Broadway in New York City

October 25, 2003

We took the subway from JFK Airport and emerged on the other side on to 42nd Street near Broadway and into a new and different world of New York City nightlife and night lights.

Broadway is a wide avenue in New York City that runs the length of Manhattan Island. Broadway started out as a Native American trail by the name of Wickquasgeck Trail. Shortly after the Dutch arrived on Manhattan Island in 1624, it became the new road through the island to New Amsterdam at the southern tip of the island. Broadway also refers to the theater district that has evolved in New York City since the 1800’s. Today, the theater district boasts 39 theaters with over 500 seats each. As we started down the street towards Times Square, we saw many lines of patrons that had been formed leading to various Broadway theaters.

We contemplated taking in a Broadway show. To save money, one can often get a rush or standing room only ticket by going to the box office as early as possible on the day of the show. We found that a standing ticket was available for Phantom of the Opera. This show debuted on Broadway in 1988 and is the longest running show in Broadway history that is still in production. But we passed on this chance to see a Broadway performance, as time was running short. It was stimulating enough to walk the New York City streets and take in the night life, neon lights, the restaurants and shops and the swarms of street vendors, tourists, city dwellers and Broadway patrons.

Broadway in New York City

Broadway theater lines


The swarms led us to Times Square, where we stopped to contemplate this iconic world landmark and symbol of New York City. In April 1904, Longacre Square was renamed Times Square after the Times Building that housed the offices of The New York Times. Times Square is also the site of the annual New Years Eve ball drop, a tradition which began on December 31, 1907. At the southeast corner of Times Square sits Broadway and 42nd street, which is the eastern end of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across America, leading to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.

Times Square is also notable for its illuminated, animated signs. City ordinances require building owners to display these signs. We pondered these signs for a bit, took pictures, and then the boys eyed the very large Toys-R-Us store across the street.

We found ourselves at Toys-R-Us in Times Square. It is the largest toy store in the world and bills itself as “the center of the toy universe.” Young and old visitors to this store might think it is better than Disneyland, with a working Ferris wheel, a king sized animatronic Tyrannosaurus dinosaur and other displays, and toys, toys and more toys. To me, it was a big toy commercial. To Nathan and Duran, it was a lot of fun. It was hard to pull them away, but our stomachs were calling.

The group at Times Square

Times Square

Toys R Us

Toys R Us


We explored Times Square and the Broadway theater district in search of a unique place to eat, as I was hoping to try something different for each meal while traveling. We were walking for a half hour or more and I tried a delicious, but salty pretzel for a dollar from a street vendor as my appetizer. We then found ourselves at Ellen’s Stardust Diner at 1650 Broadway.

Ellen’s Stardust Dinner is much more than just a retro 1950’s themed diner. It surely is that with much nostalgic memorabilia and classic American cuisine. The waiters and waitresses were great at serving food and drink, and they were also Broadway talents! There was no need to go to a Broadway musical. We had our Broadway show here in this diner. The staff performed a variety of songs, including Broadway tunes and classics from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I wondered to myself if this was where all the aspiring Broadway actors and singers go before they get a real job. To me, the performances of the waiters and waitresses were as good as any performances I might see on Broadway. The food was good, too. I had crab cakes with the usual fish and chips trimmings, and others had Stardust Pizza, nachos and other menu items. The price was a bit high at about $75.00 for the five of us, but this could be expected in the city of New York, and for the same price we were treated to quite the show.

We then made our way back towards the subway, stopping at shops and street corners that were occupied by late night street vendors. We were quite full, satisfied and tired as we made our way back to the hotel on the subway.

Ellen's Stardust Diner

Coffee Seafood Sundae

Subway entrance


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