Anyone who has not been to the Big Apple in recent years will be pleasantly surprised with the family oriented atmosphere of Times Square. Gone is the seediness which gave it a bad image. The impressive stores and fantastic restaurants and incredible Broadway shows make this a world class must do must see. While the beautifully lighted billboards are a sight to behold in the daylight, they are dazzling at night. We spent four nights in NYC and found different lighted billboards each evening.

   Did we look like tourists? Absolutely! So did everyone else! For our first evening on the town, our entourage dined at John's Pizzeria on 44th Street right across from "Phantom of the Opera". We knew of this place due to being in NYC just a month earlier with the Greencastle High School choir. Our group of friends for this evening included the Stewarts, Greenburgs, Max Kumpf, Jason Alsip, Rhonda Hine and Page Curry. After enjoying this fantastic pizza, we explored the building which our waiter had informed us used to be a church. From here, we strolled on down Broadway to 34th Street to go up the Empire State Building. We passed through airport-style security and within the hour found ourselves in the open-air observatory at the 86th Floor, which is the highest point one can reach these days. The view was magnificent! We took pride in learning the exterior is made from Indiana limestone and that the Empire State Building was constructed in only eighteen months.  We could see the Hudson River to the west and the East River to, well, the east! To the north we could easily find Central Park and to the south the famous Flatiron Building which is considered the "first skyscraper". I  found the beautiful Chrysler Building with its aluminum dome and 1930s Art Deco styling to be the most awesome sight. We got to the top of the Empire State Building before dark and stayed until the sun set and all the lights of the city were illuminated. Once we left the Empire State Building, Max Kumpf opted to take a cab back to the hotel. He told us the next day that the cabbie, who was from India, was very interested in knowing that Max is a retired farmer and was amazed at the size of the Kumpf farm.

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