[Part 1 here]
For someone used to warmer climates, New York in the winter can be a bit of forbidding place. With the temperature regularly dropping below freezing, simply getting around town involves layers of clothing and moving around like the stay puft marshmallow man. It doesn't seem to bother New York locals, however, and after a bit of coaching I got more-or-less comfortable with the frigid environment.
A layer of snow in New York - especially a fresh one - momentarily transforms the city into something unrecognisable. The ever-present layer of grit and grime is simply just painted over, and it does take on an unfamiliar, postcard-like look. In particular, Central Park benefits from this transformation.
There's an ice-skating rink on the downtown side of the park, and it wasn't surprising to see it jam-packed with skaters.
New York always seems to be busy, and multiply so at tourist magnets. We thought we'd stay off the beaten track for this trip, but the cold drew us inside the fantastic American Museum of Natural History. It was, of course, absolutely stuffed to the gills with people. Just downstairs, however, was the A to Z Holiday Tree (say it like zee, not zed, and it works better :P). I've got a soft spot for paper creations so this was a particular treat for me.
On the clear days, the temperature at night dropped well below freezing, prompting us to run around outside and voluntarily turning ourselves into icicles. Despite wearing rather excellent gloves, keeping my hands out of my pockets for any extended period of time to operate a camera was a particular ordeal. However, visiting Times Square without taking a few photos would have been complete madness, so I went ahead and snapped away with inappropriate equipment until my fingers stopped functioning.
My uncle Niru tells me that the busy, lively Times Square on 42nd Street as we know it wasn't always as welcoming as it is today. In the 70's and early 80's, the area was known to be pretty dangerous, and he'd avoid wandering outside on to the street when changing trains at the Times Square subway interchange.
The cold doesn't seem to slow down the locals; on the contrary, it seems to make them a bit more eager to get from point to point above ground.