Subject: Re: Helmsley NY Hotel
Ross:

The Helmsley midtown east hotel is at 48th &Lex. It's a terrific, centralized located for ease of access to most of Manhattan, and the area surrounding the hotel is saturated with other hotels, restaurants, shops and people on the go all day and into the night. Walking west you will cross stately Park Avenue and then 5th Avenue in the vicinity of St. Patrick's Cathedral. Continuing west you can easily visit MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), Rockefeller Center and, a few more blocks west, Broadway. Going north on 5th Avenue will take you past all of the famous storefronts, the famed Plaza Hotel at the base of Central Park and into the park, with museums on either side. Going south to 42nd will put you in the awesome Grand Central Station, where you can hop a subway anywhere. The Lex Ave line stop at 51st is even nearer to your hotel.

You don't mention whether this is your first or a return visit. With such a brief time to enjoy the city, I think your best bet would be to simply put on your most comfortable walking shoes and soak up as much as you can. If you have a couple of must sees, research opening/closing times and locations before you arrive to save time-- the NY subway map is online in printable format. If it *is* your first visit, I'd rate a late night trip to the top of the Empire State Building a priority. I think the last elevator goes up a little before midnight. Go to their website--you can even get a reservation online to avoid the queue. If you wanted to see the WTC site, I doubt you will have time due to the logistics involved; however, read the latest info and decide for yourself at http://www.nycvisit.com/content/index.cfm?pagePkey=312

As an aside, I was so struck by our most recent visit to Manhattan in early February, our first since September 11. It was a fascinating experience from a sociological perspective, especially for my husband, who grew up in the city. I don't know how much the city's look and feel has changed with the passing months, but then, everywhere we looked, even in the poshest storefront displays, we saw red, white and blue (not limited to patriotic symbols, but in clothing ensembles, Valentine's hearts, pastries--everything!), US flags, tributes to rescue personnel and memorials to the victims. The usual PSA placards in subway cars (promoting literacy, help for AIDs sufferers, drug rehab and the like) now spoke of such things as dealing with loss, recovery centers and support for grandparents thrust into parenting orphaned grandchildren, and some were reprints of poignant letters and notes reflecting residents' perspectives on how the tragedy had impacted their lives. In sum, there were visible reminders of the tragedy and of an impassioned patriotic spirit everywhere, not just in the Financial District locale of the WTC. Yet the mood of the city was not grim; instead, it felt like New Yorkers were just coming out of their grief, realizing it was okay to laugh again and showing that chutzpah to live as only New Yorkers can. We saw police officers all over the city exercising a firm but friendly show of security, tourists were being warmly welcomed back to the Big Apple in every way (including lots of discounts), and the locals were quick to pause and offer help if we even hesitated at an intersection.

Can you tell? I love New York! Hope your visit is a success.

Diana Ball near Houston, TX