We weren’t really planning to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. We were supposed to, according to the magical white folder, be spending the morning at the NY Transit Museum, and then we had day two of that double-decker bus tour. But before we could do any of that, Edward wanted to go to the toy store.
The problem with going to the toy store was that it didn’t exist. Due to a ridiculous rent dispute, the Times Square Toys R Us, which Ruby has been raving about for the past two years, closed January 1. There is nothing there. It is boarded up. And all he had been talking about all week was going there to ride the ferris wheel and see Willy Wonka’s Candy Shop, and just lose himself in the overwhelming toy heaven that once was. Sadly, this was not to be. I did, however, discover another Toys R Us in Manhattan, just two blocks from our hotel! Perfect! Problem solved!
Problem not solved. This was, without a doubt, the lamest Toys R Us ever. It was a “Toys R Us Express,” located on the 2nd floor of a mall, and it was about a quarter of the size of our own Vermont Toys R Us. We tried to talk it up as we walked in, but there was no dressing up this turd for him. He was disappointed. He did perk up a bit when he found a gigantic super soaker squirt gun that he bought with the rest of his souvenir money, but we hurried out of there right quick to take the Subway to Brooklyn, where we found one of the coolest places ever.
The New York Transit Museum is not easy to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for. If you are expecting a museum-looking building, you will be looking for a long, long time. Because the NY Transit Museum is completely underground. The whole thing is in an old, abandoned subway station, and you get there by going down the stairs in the sidewalk, just like you would if you wanted to catch a train. Only you won’t be catching any trains down those stairs. You won’t need to. They aren’t going anywhere. Feel free to just get on and relax!
Thanks to Make-a-Wish we not only got passes to the museum, but a guided tour by the very excellent museum director who was so friendly, knowledgeable, and excited to show us around! We got to check out all of the different types of turnstiles that have been used over the years, and the kids had a great time going through them, over, and over, and over again!
Of course the real treat was on the lower level, where subway cars from every period in history sit upon live rails in a station that, while walled off, is still connected to the main NY Subway system. Plastered with period advertisements, our guide took us on a tour through history, highlighting the changes from one car to the next and explaining how those changes came about. We saw doors widen and get added. We saw seats changes. We saw everything from the turn of the last century, to the turn of this one, and it was incredible.
The kids were loving the trains, and Edward in particular was thrilled to find the children’s area where he could actually pretend to drive a city bus and interact with the various exhibits. This was the perfect place for him to spend his last day in New York.
But the museum was not done with us yet! We had been pre-signed-up for spots in their computer room, and for one glorious hour after lunch we got to drive subway simulators alongside the guys who designed and coded the program! They even let me try, and I have to tell you, an hour went by in no time at all. I drove a subway from Coney Island to Grand Central Station, and I was pretty good at not missing the station by the end it. Still needed a bit of practice though. Luckily you can download the program yourself (called OpenBVE) and play at home!
Once we were done with the trains and buses and simulators and (very important) gift shops, it was time to head home. But seeing as how we were in Brooklyn already, wouldn’t it be nice to stop off and at least check out the Brooklyn Bridge? Why yes, yes it would. And so we took a subway from the Transit Museum to the pedestrian entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge and went up to just take a quick look around.
I don’t think you can just take a quick look around the Brooklyn Bridge. The thing is a work of art. We started walking along the bridge, checking out how it was built, the beautiful design work, the views of the river and the city, and we just never stopped. By the time we got to the center of the bridge it was clear that turning back was not an option. After an exhausting week of go go go we were going to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Except for Edward, who was carried by my poor wife most of the way, making her officially the most tired family member (and with good reason!). But what a thrill to be on the bridge that we had previously flown over by helicopter and gone under by fire boat!
One thing I will warn you about while crossing the bridge, is to be very careful of that bike lane. They take the bike lane very seriously. As in, if there is a pedestrian in the bike lane, and a biker rides up at 300 mph and murders that pedestrian with only the power of speed and indignation, everyone will look around and say to each other, “Eh, well, shouldn’t’ve been in the bike lane…” Not that people didn’t walk in the bike lane, but they were certainly taking their lives into their own hands, that’s all I’m saying.
By the time we got home we had two choices: be good parents and take reasonable naps and have early bedtimes, or take our kids back to Times Square to see The Angry Birds Movie on a screen larger than all of the screens in Vermont put together. Hooray for bad parenting! But no, actually, this was good parenting. We exposed our kids to something new and awesome, it was a relaxing and still-sitting sort of activity, and if we had all spent the evening cooped up together in the tiny hotel room trying to fall asleep at 6 pm, none of us would have survived. Hooray for good parenting!
We had an excellent time at the movies, and after the movie got out at around 9:30 PM we went right back to the hotel room and got lots of good sleep for our flight home the next day. No! Ha ha! Just kidding! We went to the Disney Store and spent more money! Because good parenting! Hooray! Finally a decent toy store!
We ended our trip the way we began it: super excited, kind of tired, and surrounded by superheroes (and droids, and princesses, and…). Thank you Make-a-Wish, for giving Edward exactly what he wanted. And if he ever gets a second wish, it would be for you to re-open the Toys R Us in Times Square. In fact, that might make a lot of kids really happy, so see what you can do. Thanks! You’re the best!