New York Vacation: Oct 6 Day three - American Museum of Natural History

Oct 6: Day Three: Plan for the Day
American Museum of Natural History

We all wake up around 11:30 or so New York time, got our showers and headed down for a late breakfast. While we are having breakfast, there was an annual Korean American day parade and we have a good view out the window of the restaurant of floats, marching bands, Korean traditional dancers and martial arts. They actually shut down the street down outside the hotel for the Festival, but we were off to the museum so missed that.

We ask the concierge what subway to take to get over to 81st street and he tells us the best route is to take subway C from Penn Station; just turn right out the door and down three blocks. We exit the door and look down the street and see Penn Station in the distance. Wow…I didn’t know we were so close.

We walk across the Avenue of the Americas, down to Penn Station which is surrounded by Madison Square Gardens. We take the escalator down into Penn Station and discover another world. Major transit hub which includes the Subway, Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, and Amtrak. The place is full of shops including Staples and K-mart, grocery stores and food courts.

We start walking and walking and walking til we reach the subway way in the back. Tickets are two dollars per person each way, except kids under 12 are free. We tell the ticket clerk, we want tickets to train C to go to 81st street. “OH, C train is not working today – you have to take the A train.”

Now, C train takes you all the way to the doorstep of the museum, so we ask “does this train takes us all the way to 81st” The answer is yes.

Then, the gal says we don’t need a ticket for James and “just push your kid under the turnstile, not through.” Neither Father or I are sure we heard her correctly and sound like broken records, both asking at the same time: “push him under?” “Yes, yes,” she says “just push him under.” We look at each other saying “push him under” quizzically. So, we tell James to go under after I go through…he looks at me, looks at father, shrugs his shoulders and goes under. One hurdle down.

We walk up and around and down stairs to get to the C platform. Okay, C isn’t running, but A is, so we need to go to A platform. Kindly person directs us to the stairs that go down and under and back up to A platform. We get over to A platform and father starts chatting with a kindly new Yorker. After a while, someone tells us we have to go back to C platform because that is where the A train is running. We all tromp back over to the C platform and hop on the train. 

We hear periodic announcements from the driver which stop is coming up. We have just arrived at 72nd street, when we hear that the next stop is going to be 122nd street. WHAT? If you need to get to 79th street or beyond, please get off and take the next subway. Urg! We get off and wait for the next train and climb aboard. At 79th street, the next stop is 90 something, so we need to get off and walk to 81st street. We get off and walk up the stairs and as James put it “I see daylight – yeah!”

Father decided at some point he needed a belt, because his jeans were loose so we stop by the store next to the subway entrance. He wanders off to look for belts and James and I stand outside the door for a few moments people watching. I am trying to get my bearings and figure out where we go from there to get to the museum. I also realize that Father will take forever and we go after him, because it is now 3:15 and the museum is only open til 5:45.

We left around 1:30 and it has taken us almost 1 ½ hours to get from 32nd street to 79th street. The museum is on the west side of central park at 81st street and I see absolutely no signs or anything pointing the way. James and I walk upstairs to the men’s department and find father looking at TIES!

I get him over to the belts and he is trying to figure out whether he should be black, brown or ……..I grab a belt, size it to him and tell him to get it, we need to go. We walk up to 81st street and go inside a store for directions to the museum and we are told go left up a few blocks. We go left and start walking, walking, walking. We finally come out on some boulevard, with a park across the street, with what looks like a museum. But, I also see a sign across the street that says Museum of Modern Art with an arrow pointing in the direction of a building.

I am about to lose it at this point, because all I know is that from looking at the map, the Museum of Modern Art is on the opposite side of Central Park. Are we on the wrong side of the park? We walk across into the park, sit down on the bench and I am fuming, hot, footsore and did I say fuming. We sit there a few minutes, trying to get our bearings. Somebody on the bench across from us points over at the building and says “it’s right there.” Bubbububububbub!!!!!!!

We walk along the pathways, past the entrance to the Rose Center for Earth and Space, which is attached to the Museum. We walk around the corner, past the closed subway entrance to the front of the American Museum of Natural History. We have arrived.

The museum is amazing and has four floors of things to see. We only got to see about ¼ of the place. We started out at the hall of African mammals, wandered through the hall of Asian peoples before deciding that what we really wanted to see was the dinosaurs.

The museum is home to the single largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the world with more than 100 specimens of all shapes and sizes in the four halls.

 We go up to the 4th floor to the fossil halls and enter a whole other world. The Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs examines the branches of dinosaurs whose common ancestor had a grasping hand, with fingers that differed in size and shape. This hall included the Apatosaurus and a tyrannosaurus rex, but maniraptors which includes on its evolutionary branch living birds.

The Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs examines the branches of dinosaurs that had backward pointing pubis bone such as the stegosaurus and triceratops.

The Lila Acheson Wallace Wing of Mammals and Their Extinct Relatives included the Hall of Primitive Mammals and The Paul and Irma Milstein Hall of Advanced Mammals. The halls show how the mammals evolved at nearly the same time as the first dinosaurs and the roots of the mammalian line reach back almost 300 million years. We saw fossils of a sloth that was almost the size of an elephant.

More than 600 of these specimens, nearly 85 % of which are real fossils as opposed to casts, are on view.

We also saw a short film called the Evolution of Vertebrates that was very informative. I never remember learning any of this stuff when I was in school.

I will be working up a photo bucket slide show because we just have too many pictures to post separately.

We were all tired and headed for the first floor. We noticed the Hall of Planet Earth and that there was a huge rotating earth in the middle of the room. We wandered through the room for a few minutes which exited in to the Rose Center. We looked at the space stuff for the last 20 minutes before the museum closed.

It was overwhelming to say the least, but very interesting. If you ever plan on going, make sure you plan on a couple days. There is so much to see and do.

We walked back out to the front of the museum, hailed a cab and got back to the hotel in about 20 minutes, driving past trump tower and all the swanky designer clothing stores. We collapsed for a while, ordered room service and spent the rest of the evening reading or using the computer. We fell asleep to the wooshing noise, which Father timed by the way and said it occurred every 5 minutes. We think it might have something to do with the ice machine just down the hall, but we never figured it out.

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