I’ve lived in Manhattan now for a few years and have wanted to see the Macy’s 4th of July FIreworks since moving here. The Professor has never been all that eager to fight the crowds, however. Because of that, and our schedule, I haven’t tried all that hard and it has remained on my bucket list. This year, I decided we were going to do it and started to think about how to accomplish it without spending the $250-500 pp listed for all the viewing options (boats, parties etc).
Things to be concerned about:
1. The Professor had no interest and to lessen the chance of hearing complaints the whole night, my plans had to be smooth/easy.
2. We live on the West side of Manhattan and the fireworks are located on the East side. Getting from the West side to the East side is NEVER really smooth/easy.
3 Crowds-I despise them.
4. The potential costs. I would pay for a subway ride each way, but not much more than that.
5. Time spent. I did NOT want to go somewhere and stand for four hours in the hot, humid weather to get a chance to see fireworks at 9:30pm.
6. The weather and heat. It’s been hot and humid and miserable and I didn’t have a lot of interest going out in 90% humidity and doing anything that required a lot of time or effort.
7. I have very little experience getting around on the East side and didn’t really even know where to go or how to get to where we needed to see the fireworks.
To add to this, we had also invited an Italian friend to come along who’d never seen the show and was interested in seeing it. Now I had to make sure we actually saw something. I didn’t want to look like an idiot to our friend. The Professor was used to me trying things unsuccessfully–but a friend? That was pressure.
With these many concerns weighing me down, I began to plan. On the day of the event, of course. I like to add stress to the equation.
That morning, I began pouring over articles and random website postings about how to achieve my goal.
I discovered that the barges would be parked on the river near 42nd, 34th, and 24th Streets. There were other areas listed, too but either they were listed as designated viewing spots (and pricey!) or would possibly close early for entrance, or were in Brooklyn or in Long Island City. Remember I hate crowds, getting there too early, or paying any money. I decided to add having to go too far or take too many trains and fight those subway crowds to the list.
I eventually found a twelve-year-old post on Trip Advisor that recommended going to 34th, and then trying to get as close to the water as possible from there. Also, the guy suggested to arrive rather late so as to miss the majority of people. That sounded like a plan and since nothing changes all that much in NYC when it comes to yearly special celebrations, I figured it was as good as any idea.
We were on, and I had a (12-year-old) plan.
Long story shortened:
Our friend came over, we ate and drank, then left at 7:30pm.
We took the 1 subway down to 34th Street, exited onto the streets and grabbed the first M34 bus we could crowd into and went as far as the bus went (which I think was 3rd Avenue). Piling out of the bus, we simply followed the exodus walking towards the water.
However, upon arriving at the entrance to the fireworks sometime after 8pm, the cops informed us that they had just closed it down. They then directed us up towards 42nd, though the one cop in charge was very doubtful we’d even get in. Declaring to our friend that I was feeling lucky, we began to walk north on 2nd, heading towards 42nd.
On the way, we noticed a non-police-blocked entrance at 40th, and cut through, missing a lot of the crowd who were headed for 42nd. We made it as far as 1st Avenue where we grabbed spots and waited. By this time it was 9pm.
At approximately 9:30pm the fireworks started and we had a prime viewing location somewhere between 40th and 41st Streets, on 1st Avenue.
When the fireworks quit about 20 minutes (!) later, we weren’t in the thick of the crowds who had squeezed onto 42nd Street, and were able to make our way to a bar where we sat for an hour waiting for the streets to empty out.
It was awesome. We saw the fireworks, and it only cost two subway tickets ($2.75 each) AND a drink at the bar.