My United “Polaris” flight arrived in Newark a little before 10 pm, which meant an overnight in the area. (Yes, the flight arrived late, but even the scheduled 9 pm arrival left no options to make it home.) Rather than stay in Newark, I decided to head into the city for the night. Besides the opportunity to check out a new Midtown hotel, a slice of greasy, foldable pizza at midnight seemed a perfect way to cap off my trip.
The NJ Transit brought me to Penn Station by 10:30. From there, it was a roughly 20 minute walk to the hotel. There was one little hitch, though.
Now, I like cold weather and all, but…18 degrees? Did I mention the wind chill of 6? At least I came prepared, with a heavy coat, gloves, and the rest of the works. But still, considering I live in a city where it gets this cold maybe once a year? Ooof. My 20-minute walk also turned into more like 40, because who can resist a photo-op with the Empire State Building?
Pizza at Midnight? Only in New York
I reached my hotel, The Renwick (review forthcoming next week), a little after 11. After settling in and a quick Facetime session with Ashok, I set out for my pizza. Not surprisingly, Google Maps pulled up probably a dozen joints within a 15-minute radius still open. And so, after randomly selecting one close by, I headed back out into the freezing night.
The Renwick is located at 40th and Lexington, and my destination was at 46th and Vanderbilt. I first headed north on the famed Park Avenue, passing by Grand Central Station. What a striking design against the midnight sky…
It didn’t take long from there to find my destination, Uncle Paul’s Pizza. Stepping inside, the place seemed legit.
And indeed – the pizza was most certainly legit.
Only in New York can you get fresh pizza at a quarter past midnight. The plain cheese was the better of the two slices. Hot from the oven, you had no choice but to fold it over. Unless you fancy a side of grease and sauce on your shirt, that is. Not that there was anything wrong with the pepperoni. It was really good, too. And the whole deal cost me less than $10, including a drink. Though a random selection, Uncle Paul’s was just what I was looking for. Mission accomplished 2 1/2 hours into my trip.
Late Night at Times Square
After finishing my delicious pizza meal, I decided to walk down to Times Square before returning to the hotel. Though I’ve been to Times Square a few times, I’ve never been really late at night. My parents lived in Manhattan for a few years in the 1960s, and talked about walking in Times Square at midnight when my infant siblings couldn’t sleep. So, I’ve always been curious to see for myself.
Of course, I still had the cold to contend with. Reaching Times Square meant walking west along 42nd Street, right into the teeth of a wind. So not only was it 18 degrees, it was also windy AF. Yikes. The end result, though? Totally worth it. Times Square is organized chaos most of the time. But at 12:30 am, though there’s still a few people out, you can experience the sea of lights in a relatively calm setting. Of course, the cold probably contributed to the thin crowds.
As a visitor, I’ve always found the fancy NYPD and neon Subway signs fascinating. For once, I managed to get clear pictures without hundreds of people in the way.
The walk back was slightly more pleasant, thanks to a wind at my back instead of in my face. I hoped to make a quick stop at Bryant Park to get photos of the Midtown skyline. Unfortunately, though, the park was closed. I settled for a distant shot of the iconic Chrysler Building instead.
Back at Grand Central Station, I enjoyed another view of the Chrysler Building in the background. It’s quite fascinating to see the 1870s-era Grand Central, the Art Deco Chrysler Building, and modern skyscrapers all in one area.
The entire night tour took a little over an hour. I maintained a pretty brisk pace, though, to stay warm.
Ummm, Didn’t You Say Something About a Bagel?
Indeed, in my intro post, I mentioned the purpose of the trip was to get a pizza AND a bagel. I returned to the hotel around 1; no bagel shops open that time of night. Not to mention, a bagel right after pizza would be…weird. With my flight home not until noon, though, I had plenty of time in the morning to take care of that. I have a cousin who lives in Midtown, and he suggested meeting at Zucker’s Bagels, next door to The Renwick. Zucker’s claims to sell “the authentic hand-rolled, kettle-boiled NYC bagel”. But would they be worth the 5,418-mile trip? A picture says a thousand words.
Yes, the bagels are legit, right down to the schmear. I only wished I’d noticed the jalapeño cream cheese option before ordering. Fiery hot, but so good on a fresh bagel. Luckily, my cousin’s wife let me try some of hers. Total cost for a bagel and coffee: under $6.
So why exactly did I come to New York for just one night? Like Brad, my time is often limited, but I regard one night in a place like NYC better than zero nights. And I’ll have fun explaining to Ashok one day about the time I flew to New York for a piece of pizza and a bagel.
Note: this post is part of my trip report series about my recent weekend trip to New York the long way. Click here for the trip report index and introductory post.