Sixth Form Half Term Trip to New York
By Jess Berry
Over February half term, 10 Sixth Form Economists went to New York to study some of the financial, economic and business aspects of this global city.
As soon as we arrived, despite an early start at Heathrow airport and long flight, we decided a good place to begin our exploration of the city was Central Park, a short walk from our hotel. We wanted to get a feel for New York in the winter, with the bright blue skies and crisp air … and to check out the ice skating rink! Like true New Yorkers we grabbed a coffee and some food from a street cart that would satisfy us until dinner! Before we knew it was time to freshen up at the hotel before going to the infamous Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Here we tucked into some typical American food whilst the wait staff, all budding Broadway performers, sang our favourite show tunes! Later, we had some free time to shop and bask in the lights of Times Square at night, as the feeling of being in New York began to really set in.
The next day was perhaps the busiest, walking around 30 000 steps! After navigating the subway, we started the day by exploring the High Line, a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park built on top of New York’s oldest Railroad on the West side of Manhattan. The weather was warmer than we had predicted and the long walk through the park was beautiful and bright. It was a stark change from the crowded bustle of Times Square. After that, we hopped back on the subway and headed downtown to the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked half way across and got some social media worthy photos before heading over to Battery Park to grab a lunch of bagels and meet out tour guides, an ex-trader and an ex-police man, for our guided tour of the Financial District. They gave us a full historical background of New York’s renowned buildings and sights, including the ‘Charging Bull’ on Wall street, the Federal Hall and ‘Fearless Girl’, who now stands opposite the New York Stock Exchange to represent the power of women in leadership.
We then took a ferry across the Hudson River to Staten Island to get photos of the lower Manhattan Skyline and the Statue of Liberty! After retuning back, we went to the 9/11 Memorial and museum where we held back tears near the memorial pools which were placed where the North and South Towers stood before the attacks, while our guide told us about how he’d been in the basement of the North Tower just 20 minutes before the first attack. Overall, this was one of the most amazing days of the trip, filled with economics, history and a moving recount one of the most influential turning points in modern day history.
Our last full day started with a visit to the Top of the Rock, which was at the top of the notorious Rockefeller Centre, where we experienced a panoramic view of all Manhattan. On one side we could see the new One World Trade centre, the Empire State building and its architectural rival, the Chrysler building. On the other we couldn’t take in anything but the sheer size of Central Park. On our way out we stumbled across an ‘Amazon Go’ store, a checkout-free shopping experience made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars. The ‘Just Walk Out Technology’ automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart, pure Economics in Action!
We grabbed a slice of Manhattan pizza at the world famous landmark, Grand Central Station, before heading over the United Nations Headquarters for a guided tour. Here we saw the main UNHQ and each of the meeting rooms, including where Greta Thunberg had recently spoken, which was well timed well due to meetings taking place that morning and afternoon! We learnt all about the UN’s seventeen sustainable goals for 2030 with the main focus and obstacle being the Climate Crisis. After the UNHQ we headed back to the hotel before dinner at the Hard Rock Café before a Broadway rendition of Mean Girls which was amazing to say the least!
By Wednesday, the last day we had finally adjusted to the New York Time Zone. We had a more relaxed morning where we could finish off any leftover shopping we needed to do but not before a proper American style diner breakfast of pancakes at Applebee’s. After walking pretty much the entire of 5th Avenue, we headed to Macy’s Flagship Store to have a behind the scenes tour of what it really takes to be the world’s largest and oldest department store, and to learn how they can continue to be competitive in an ever changing and predominately online world.
The trip was so much fun and we were amazed at how much we managed to see and do in only four short days! The trip wouldn’t have run so smoothly or been so exciting without Miss Watkins and Miss Longmore who planned and took us on the trip. Thank you very much!