Baby On Board: Babies Born In Train Stations

MTA train station baby
MTA Police Department

Last week, the hashtag #MetroBaby was trending after a Washington, D.C. woman gave birth to a baby boy on a Metro platform. Despite many humorous suggestions for the baby’s name (my favorites: Stan Clear and Doris Closing), Amir Mason was born a few weeks early and delivered safely.

Yesterday, New York got its own Metro Baby when police helped deliver a baby boy in Penn Station. On her way home from a doctor’s appointment and waiting for a Long Island Rail Road train, the mother was overcome with labor pains and taken to the police station office inside the train station. Paramedics from St. Luke’s Hospital were on hand to deliver baby Oscar, and assisting MTA Officer Melissa DeFrancsco noted, “It was awesome.”

The D.C. Metro baby got a train-themed gift basket and $100 transit card from the agency. The New York MTA is presumably still picking out a card.

Are train station babies a new trend? What station is likely to be next? I’d vote for somewhere like London‘s airy and renovated St. Pancras station, with plenty of restaurants and shops, a luxury hotel, and an easy hop to Paris by Eurostar.

Photo of the day (8.5.10)

This photo by narinnr from Kagoshima, Japan (the Naples of the East, says Wikipedia) captures a Ferris wheel built atop a shopping center next to the train station. How fun is that? Imagine if you could kill time between trains at Penn Station riding high above New York?! I’m partial to the Gravitron when choosing an amusement ride, although spinning around against centrifugal force is probably not so fun before a long train ride.

Even more interesting are the statues in front of the Ferris wheel, part of the Satuma students’ monument, dedicated to 19 Japanese students smuggled into Britain in 1865 to learn Western technology. Imagine being the first in your country to study abroad and being responsible for the start of the industrial revolution. Kinda makes a semester abroad in Prague drinking as much beer as humanly possible seem a little weak.

Do you have a photo that will inspire many Google and Wikipedia searches? Or maybe an interesting monument or an unusually-located amusement ride in your travels? Upload it to Gadling’s Flickr group and we might use it for a future Photo of the Day.

Memorable in Manhattan: Package for first-timers

You’ll never forget your first time. It may have been thrilling or awkward, but it was memorable. Many are still waiting for their first … their first trip to New York City. If you’re only exposure to this city is what you’ve seen on television or the big screen, this is your chance to experience it for yourself. The Crowne Plaza Times Square‘s First Time in New York Package will make it easy to give up your city virginity.

I don’t remember my first time in the city (let’s just say I was young), but I do remember my first stay at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. It was only a few weeks after Y2K – and the world didn’t end, in case you were wondering. I remember the feeling that came with stepping onto the sidewalk: the rush of energy was incredible. And then, I got sick – probably a combination of weekly travel, 80-hour work weeks and a diet that looked strangely like a menu at a baseball stadium. So, I really saw little more than the inside of my room, from which I stumbled when I was finally able to handle travel again, and grabbed the 1/9 train down to Penn Station for the ride back to Boston.Hopefully, your first time will be more pleasant! Doubtless, it will be. While the Crowne Plaza can’t immunize you from the nagging diseases that could screw up your trip, it can be all the protection you need when it comes to boredom. As part of the First Time in New York package, you’ll receive two 48-hour passes for the Classic New York Double Decker Bus Tour; tickets to the Empire State Building’s Observation Deck, ferry to the Statue of Liberty and the Natural history Museum; a detailed New York City sightseeing map; a New York City’s Official Visitor Guide; and a commemorative picture frame. At $598 for two nights, this is an absolute steal.

Your first time should be a memory to cherish and a story to tell. Treat yourself to two nights in Manhattan, and you won’t be stuck wondering what it feels like when you watch it on TV.

Escape from New York: Five tips for leaving the city when flights fail you

New York is no stranger to tourist and business travel. We get lot of guests here, and eventually, their trips must come to an end. When the weather turns harsh, this can be problematic. Spring may be close, but March and April snowstorms happen, and there are always spring showers to make getting off the ground at JFK or LaGuardia a pure living hell. Whether you’re traveling in the northeast corridor or need to get to a different airport to get home, there are options.

I came face to face with this problem around six years ago. I was trying to get back to Boston, where I lived at the time. I was in New York every week on business and by Friday wanted nothing more than to get home. I stepped outside at 2 PM and saw snow accumulating on the street, even despite the city traffic. I checked Delta‘s website and saw that nothing had been canceled. So, I high-tailed out to LaGuardia hoping for the best. After a two-hour cab ride, I hit the Marine Air terminal only to find that the website wasn’t being kept up to date.

I needed some options and the thought of another two hours of taxi rides in a blizzard didn’t thrill me. Back in Manhattan, I figured I could pick up a train on Amtrak from Penn Station (which wound up working out). Along the way, I learned some tricks that can help anyone traveling the northeast or looking for an alternative airport when hope appears to be lost.1. Don’t fear public transportation
There’s no subway to LaGuardia, but there are buses. Catch the Q48 from the main airport or the Q47 from Marine Air (if you’re taking the Delta Shuttle). Get off at Roosevelt Ave in Queens, where the F or 7 train will get you back to Midtown. From there, it’s easy to hit Penn Station (New Jersey, Amtrak) Grand Central Station (Connecticut and New York) or the PATH train (if you want to try your luck at Newark). From JFK, you can catch the Skytrain to the subway, but brace yourself for a very long ride – the fastest I ever made it to Midtown was around an hour and a half.

2. Rental cars are risky
First, when flights aren’t taking off, there will be no shortage of people with the same idea. So, supply will be limited. Also, nasty weather makes for nightmarish driving conditions. You’ll be extremely unhappy behind the wheel, a situation that’s likely to be made worse by traffic. If you want to try driving, take public transportation out to the ‘burbs and use a rental agency out there (call first to make sure they can help you out).

3. . Be mindful of the other side
Getting out isn’t enough: you also have to think about where you’re going. If bad weather’s pounding New York, there’s a pretty good chance the situation in Philadelphia, Newark and Boston is also pretty ugly. If you’re having someone pick you up, call ahead. Arrange for a taxi or town car in advance. Definitely check the situation on the ground if you’re trying one of these airports instead. During my trek to Boston during the blizzard a few years ago, I called a local taxi service and asked to be picked up at South Station – and requested that they ask for my name before letting anyone into the cab. Sound arrogant? Well, it saved my ass. I saw the driver turn at least four people away as I pushed through the crowd, and I have no idea how many people tried before I got there.

4. Giving up may not be an option
Sometimes, it’s tempting to quit and just get a hotel room for a night (or a few, depending on how severe the storm is). Depending on what’s going on in the city, however, this may be a pricey alternative. As with rental cars, you won’t be the only person to think of this. Also, a busy night or weekend can cut available rooms down to nothing fast. If you are able to score some digs, you could wind up paying a fortune. If you do decide to stay in the city, hunt for the boutique hotels that y may never have noticed otherwise: they’re your best bet.

5. Draft your friends and family
During my escape from New York, I called my wife and asked her to book my train ticket for me. Handheld computing has come a long way since then, but it’s still inconvenient to hunt for alternatives on an iPhone or Blackberry. If you have someone who’s sitting in a warm office or home, hit him or her up for a hand. They’ll be able to find hotels or other travel arrangements easier than you will. By the time you get from the airport back into Manhattan, you may have a plan that only needs to be executed.

New York’s Penn Station to remain hideous

I have seen my share of ugly architecture (I grew up surrounded by the best socialist realism had to offer, after all) but Penn Station in New York must still be in my Global Top 5 Architecture Nightmares. It is mind-baffling to think that they tore down the original beautiful Pennsylvania Station–which looked much like Grand Central–in the 1960s to build the monstrosity that serves as one of the nation’s busiest rail stations.

The NY Times reports today that the $14 billion plans to rebuild Penn Station and the district around it is in danger because of the “softening economy, shortfalls in government financing, political inertia and daunting logistical problems.” Meanwhile, the developers have already spent $50M in planning efforts.

Looks like Penn Station will remain Grand Central’s ugly sibling for a while.