Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fourth of July in New York City

Watching New York City's July 4th fireworks display would be a breeze, I thought to myself a few weeks ago.

We'll walk to the promenade in Bay Ridge along the bay, where there's a clear view of Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. We'll not only have an excellent view, but also avoid the city crowds.

Then I learned the fireworks wouldn't be set off in the East River after all. Instead, for the first time in several years, they'd be over the Hudson River to commemorate Henry Hudson's arrival here 400 years ago.

The Hudson River separates Manhattan's west side from New Jersey. It's an area of the city I'm not extremely familiar with, but I figured we could follow the crowds.

And that we did. Paul and I, along with Allison and Phil (who were returning the visit we paid them in Baltimore last December), began walking west from 42nd Street about 45 minutes before the 9:20 p.m. start.

The crowds got thicker and thicker as we got closer and closer to the 12th Avenue viewing areas. In fact, there were so many people that police officers directed spectators further and further south. We ended up on 34th Street with a prime view of the fireworks in front of us and the Empire State Building behind.

The fireworks were set off from six barges in the river-- we could see four from our vantage point. Not bad. According to one of the free local newspapers, 40,000 fireworks were to be set off-- 1,500 per minute. I thought the finale had occurred about three times before it actually happened.

All in all, it was a great show-- not that I expected anything less. But if I had to be honest, I think Red, White & Boom in Columbus is a little better. There, it feels like the fireworks are hovering directly above you. In New York, I felt removed.

The big surprise: The crowds at Red, White & Boom are actually denser. Maybe that's because New Yorkers had 30+ blocks to spread out!

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