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Second day : New York Public Library

 


 


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The second day starts in Midtown Manhattan at the New York Public Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. This library, which houses 11 million books and nearly 36 million other works, is also an architectural work of art, combining the grandeur of ancient Rome with the refinement of 18th Century France. It ranks as the United States' second library, is an excellent research centre thanks to the richness of its collections and to its accessibility, and regularly holds excellent exhibitions. Again, those bitten by the Napolenic bug will derive a great deal of enjoyment from the famous collection of drawings of military uniforms and civilian clothes. The library also has Napoleon's maps of Russia and of Moscow, particularly interesting as they still bear the date-stamp from when they were acquired in 1918. And provided it has been spruced up for a march or a special event, the (often drab) Bryant Park behind the library can be a nice place to eat in or just to sit and think under the watchful eye of a statue of Goethe.

A short walk will take you to 36th Street and the Pierpont Morgan Library, named after the great American bibliophile and philanthropist. The library building itself (1903-1906) was designed and built by the architect Charles McKim to house Pierpont Morgan's collection of books and manuscripts. The East Room holds autographs of famous authors, such as Voltaire, Lamartine and Balzac, whilst the West Room has a fine collection of French drawings. The library is famous for its excellent temporary exhibitions, often dedicated to 19th century subjects. Check out the programme when you get to New York.
 
Next, take the subway or a bus to 12th Street in the heart of New York's Bohemian quarter, Greenwich Village, and visit the amazing Forbes Magazine collection, put together by the millionaire and Founder of the magazine, Malcolm Forbes. The collection comprises an eclectic mixture of historical documents, master paintings, military paintings, a collection of over 120,000 lead soldiers, 500 models of souvenir ships from Normandy which disappeared in a fire in New York and the biggest collection of Fabergé eggs in the world! Amongst this plethora there is one document calculated to make any Napoleon fan's mouth water, namely: Napoleon's and Josephine's church marriage certificate, written by hand and signed by Cardinal Fesch, dated 27th December, 1804. In fact, the Cardinal officiated at this religious ceremony on 1st December, 1804, the night before the coronation at Notre Dame de Paris, because the civil marriage of 1796 was not recognised by Pope Pius VII. The certificate is not always on display, but if requested in advance, visitors may be granted a special viewing.
Take a look at the Centennial Memorial Arch in Washington Square at the heart of Greenwich Village. In its design, this twenty-six-metre high triumphal arch - erected by Stanford White between 1889 and 1892 to commemorate the centenary of Washington's election to the Presidency - was based on ancient arches of Rome and the Napoleonic arches in Paris and Milan.
 
End the day with a walk through West Village or Soho and then a delicious Indian meal at Baluchi's on Spring Street between Thompson and Sully or a romantic - but more expensive - dinner at Bolo's on 23rd Street where the cuisine has Spanish accent. Round off the evening at the top of the Empire State Building, just like in the films.


 

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