Anyway, some more details are in order. We (Lisa and I, that is) were staying in the upper west side, in my old roomate's apartment (he's a grad student at Columbia now). The first day was spectacularly hot and muggy; the air was so dense that we couldn't see more than a few blocks in any direction, so the city really was revealed to us quite piecemeal. We'd be taken around on the subways by our hosts periodically emerging at various well-known locations. It remided me a little of channel surfing:
Empire State Building
You get the idea.
Now, I'm not trying to demean these sites in the least. It's just amazing how close they all are too each other, especially when you're riding the subway. Everyone's also amazed by the size of the buildings in Manhattan, myself included, but the thing that really impressed me was the density of the buildings. Every single building is a high rise - even the "low lying" areas are saturated with 10+ story buildings.
Anyway, the weather was much more cooperative the final two days we were there - clear skies, 30 mile visibilty, pleasantly warm temperature. The visibilty came in handy for the harbor cruise we went on, as well as our trip to the top of the empire state building, from which you could see all the way to the atlantic coast. Plus, we avoided an 1 1/2 hour wait for tickets by buying them and printing them out online (don't let this secret get out, loyal readers). Is there any greater feeling than being able to skip past one of those gigantic lines?
We also visted Central Park, Wall Street and the Financial District, The American Museum of Natural History, Fifth Avenue, Battery Park, the Columbia and Mt. Sinai Campuses, and the giant Toys-R'-Us in Times Square, as well as some other stuff I'm sure I'm forgetting, but I think I've blabbed on enough for one post. I'll just say that it was a really great trip.
And, no, I didn't think the subways smelled like urine, although they certainly aren't going to win any pleasant-odor awards.