The lottery winners who took Manhattan
They got lucky -- so then they took Manhattan. What do lottery winners -- many of them first-time visitors -- want to see and do on a trip to New York
The ice rink in Bryant Park, Manhattan at Christmas
Lottery trip winners Suzy Madigan and her mother Christina Madigan from Cratloe, Co Clare, pictured with Christina’s daughter Jenny, visiting from Portland, Oregan enjoying the view of Manhattan from the Observation Deck at the Rockefeller Centre
A man with an upright piano is playing on West 14th street as his terrier trots up and down on top, barking along to the music. “I don’t want money, just take my card and like me on Facebook,” says pianist Dotan Negrin (PianoAcrossAmerica.com) as we walk down to the street from the High Line, a park on a disused elevated railway line in mid-Manhattan.
Up on the High Line we’ve passed a boy, whose sign reads “Will do Shakespeare Monologues for $2”, chatting to a bunch of happy tourists. It’s hard to see how any tourist could not be happy in New York city. There’s something here for everyone, whether it’s shopping, visiting galleries and museums, going to a show, eating and drinking, or just plain gawking at the sights.
Street theatre – like the piano man and his dog or a trio of boys doing acrobatics along with a comic routine on the edge of Central Park, or even the cops in Times Square posing with tourists – is one of the unexpected delights you stumble across as you make your way around Manhattan.
For a first-time visitor it’s a particular delight, whatever your age. And in spite of Ireland’s love affair with the city, there are still a lot of us who’ve never been there before: more than half of the 78 people who visited there recently after winning a prize of the trip on the National Lottery’s Big Money Game show were first-timers.
The 39 winners (and their friends or partners) stayed in a plush hotel, the Sofitel on West 44th Street, were given €2,500 to spend, a clutch of maps and guidebooks (Top 10 New York City, published by DK Eyewitness Travel, dk.com, is excellent) and let loose in downtown Manhattan for five days. Nearly a week later they heaved suitcases bulging with bargains onto the airport bus, chatting happily about that cliche – a trip of a lifetime.
So, what would a lottery winner’s guide to New York include?
A trip to the Top of the Rock, the observation deck on top of the Rockefeller Center, which has unobstructed views over Manhattan and beyond – and views of the Empire State Building, too.
A visit to Macy’s mid-price department store at Herald Square. An hour-long bus trip to Jersey Gardens outlet mall.
A night-time boat trip on the Hudson to the Statue of Liberty or a night bus trip around Lower Manhattan, looking back at the glamorous, glittering city skyline.
Walking across Brooklyn Bridge in the daytime for more amazing views, and a stroll around Brooklyn Heights, a leafy neighbourhood of old brownstones and chic coffee shops.
It could include coffee in Bryant Park behind the New York Public Library – and a visit to the library. A stroll in Central Park. A visit to the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero and a visit to St Paul’s, Manhattan’s oldest church, a block away: there is a moving exhibit in the church which became a place of rest for 9/11 recovery workers.
Full-on sung High Mass in St Patrick’s on Fifth Avenue. A visit to a Broadway show – the prize included an outing to long-running Jersey Boys.
Lethal cocktails – or at least coffee – in the Algonquin Hotel of Dorothy Parker and round table fame.