Monday, August 16, 2010
New York's Tour Buses at Night
I work just a few blocks from both the World Trade Center site and the New York Stock Exchange, so I'm used to seeing tour buses. Lots of tour buses.
You can hardly venture outside in Lower Manhattan without coming *thisclose* to a double-decker with camera-laden tourists snapping away. Sometimes I wonder how many strangers' photos I'll live forever in, a tiny speck on the sidewalk as they angle for that elusive perfect picture of Ground Zero construction cranes.
But these buses aren't out only during the day. The major companies also have night tours to see all the pretty lights. I've seen a night tour bus here and there, but I've never seen more than I did on Saturday night.
Paul and I ate supper at Cafetasia, a Thai restaurant about a block from Washington Square Park and not much further from St. Mark's Place, in the heart of Greenwich Village and filled with NYU kids. (And yes, I just called college students "kids." I'm now officially old.)
We got two seats at a floor-to-ceiling window facing East 8th Street. Along with my pad thai, I got a view of so many night tour buses that I eventually had to stop counting. I'd guess we saw at least 10 in the hour or so we were there -- in addition to several regular MTA city buses.
Paul and I tried to speculate why the tour buses pass through East 8th. Maybe we're jaded now, but we didn't see anything special about the Johnny Rockets next door or the Crumbs across the street. I like Crumbs cupcakes as much as the next person, I'm just saying it's not very scenic.
Maybe the buses are using the street as a byway to get from the aforementioned park to St. Mark's Place, which really is a tourist attraction lined with so many hole-in-the-wall shops and restaurants that it truly is difficult to walk down on any day that's halfway pleasant. But I've never seen a bus venture down the narrow street.
In any case, the number of tour buses was a reminder that New York's ambiance is created just as much by the 45 million visitors to the city as its 8 million residents. And also that Gray Line's making a killing at $39 a ticket.