My parents were always looking for a way to entertain us kids, and cheap was best. We did like to travel as a family and did our share of car rides for vacations and the like. One weekend staple was this trip to NYC. We did it regularly, always essentially the same events although in different order but still the same. And the trip went like this.
Going to mass was essential for the family, we went to the 9am service, out of there and on the road by 10 am. We would take the Long Island Expressway into Manhattan. The world’s largest parking lot during the week, my dad knew it was the fastest way into the city when there was no traffic and on a Sunday morning, none would be encountered. We would pass the site of the 1964 World’s Fair just past Flushing, Queens and would see the Unisphere as we drove by. The mid town tunnel was an experience. Just the thought that there was water above you as you cruised through was enough to get the skin crawling when you are a kid. The slight rise to the road meant the trip through was almost done.
The ride took about 30 minutes and would pass Governor’s Island and the statue of Liberty as well as other ferries. When we got to the terminal on the other side, we ran down the ramp back through the turnstiles and back on board for the trip back.
Back to the car and a drive all of a mile uptown to City Hall Park, by the Municipal Courthouse, for our favorite part of the day, a trip to the Automat. From Wiki – “An automat is a fast food restaurant where simple foods and drink are served by coin-operated and bill-operated vending machines. Originally, the machines took only nickels. In the original format, a cashier would sit in a change booth in the center of the restaurant, behind a wide marble counter with five to eight rounded depressions in it. The diner would insert the required number of coins in a machine and then lift a window, which was hinged at the top, to remove the meal, which was generally wrapped in waxed paper. The machines were filled from the kitchen behind. All or most New York automats also had a cafeteria-style steam table where patrons could slide a tray along rails and choose foods, which were ladled out of steaming tureens. The first automat in the U.S. was opened June 12, 1902, at 818 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia by Horn & Hardart. The automat was brought to New York City in 1912 and gradually became part of popular culture in northern industrial cities. Horn & Hardart was the most prominent automat chain. In its heyday, recipes were kept in a safe, and described how to place the food on the plate as well as how to make it. The automats were popular with a wide variety of patrons, including Walter Winchell, Irving Berlin and other celebrities of the era.”