Rounding the city on two wheels

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I ride my bicycle to Lincoln Center, lock it to a bicycle rack, and do several errands. Fifteen minutes later, I return. I can't believe my eyes. Only the lock and bicycle frame remain. The wheels, seat, and lights are gone. A thief has been at work. I lift the bicycle frame onto my shoulder and search for a taxi. Feeling gloomy, I return home. I take the frame to the local bike store. The mechanic has seen many bikes with missing front wheels, but never one stripped clean. Two days later, my bike is returned to me. I am out $300. Bicycle riding is a great way to see New York City. It is not something I wish to give up because of an unpleasant incident. I decide to test-run my newly restored bicycle. I ride down Fifth Avenue to Rockefeller Center. Beneath the protective gaze of Prometheus, ice skaters enjoy themselves. And I am enjoying myself. I continue down Fifth Avenue, past the majestic New York Public Library, to Madison Square Park at 23rd Street. I gaze with admiration at the Flatiron Building. Feeling energetic, I keep going. Broadway takes me past Houston, Canal, and Chambers Streets to City Hall Park. Here the Declaration of Independence, brought by courier from Philadelphia, was read to the American Army on July 9, 1776, in the presence of Gen. George Washington. I ride to Battery Park with its splendid views. Melville and Whitman, like New Yorkers today, enjoyed looking out at the harbor from this spot. Having reached the southernmost tip of Manhattan, I change direction, lest I end up in the Upper Bay. I proceed north along the Hudson River to the World Financial Center. A water taxi - the same yellow color as a street cab - is about to depart. I board it with my bike. We cross the majestic Hudson. The views of the river and city are thrilling. I disembark at Jersey City. I ride to an impressive structure that turns out to be the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal. Built in 1889, the terminal once served 30,000 to 50,000 passengers, and 300 trains, each day. The passengers included immigrants from nearby Ellis Island. The terminal is now a museum. The train tracks have been removed. Still standing are the gates to the platforms, with train destinations listed. From this terminal, 8 million immigrants departed for their new homes. The winter sun sets early. It is time to return. I recross the Hudson and in the darkness bicycle to Columbus Circle. From here I go through Central Park to East 73rd Street, where I live. But for the theft, I would not have undertaken this trip. I needed to prove to myself that I was not a quitter; that I could overcome obstacles to bicycling in the city. While doing so, I have had a splendid day. As I write, my bicycle stands next to the fireplace, ready for the next trip.

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