In Jocelyn Davies’ The Odds of Lightning (which is currently one of our extended excerpts, read it while you can!), four former best friends unwittingly embark on an epic all-night adventure throughout New York City. Jocelyn recently followed in their footsteps and with the help of her sister, documented her journey! Read on to experience Jocelyn’s The Odds of Lightning-inspired NYC Walking Tour and be sure to share any thoughts or feels you have in the comments!
Seven miles. Five hours. One chance…to document *most* of the locations in The Odds of Lightning.
On an overcast and humid Sunday in September, I woke up early, grabbed an ice coffee, and took the subway from Brooklyn all the way uptown to 86th street. The Plan: meet my sister, who agreed to be my photography assistant for the day, and visit (almost) all of the NYC spots that Tiny, Lu, Nathaniel and Will visit over the course of their all night adventure in The Odds of Lightning. They did it in twelve hours in the middle of the night. My sister and I were going for five in the middle of the afternoon. (#grownups) We also didn’t follow the exact order that they follow in the book, because we had hindsight and common sense on our side. It was still fun.
Stop 1: The Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park (East 74th Street)
I used to go here all the time with my friends when we were kids. We would go to the Boat Basin, and then come here and climb all over Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the Rabbit like it was a jungle gym. I still have a photo of us sitting on Alice’s lap, which was the inspiration for the photo that Tiny, Lu, Nathaniel and Will take on the day before high school starts.
Stop 2: The Plaza (59th street and 5th Avenue)
The Plaza is a New York icon, home of Eloise and where Kevin Macallister stays when he’s lost in New York in Home Alone 2. When we walked into the Plaza I immediately thought the security guards were going to march us right back out. It’s so fancy. But they graciously let us stay so I could take embarrassing pictures. Here I am dressed very appropriately for standing under a massive crystal chandelier in the Palm room (where Will and Lu perform the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet).
Stop 3: The Museum of Natural History (81st and Central Park West)
We walked across town at 59th street, passing the horse-drawn carriages that the kids take in the book.
We turned north at Central Park West and walked uptown to 81st street (passing the Dakota—the building where John Lennon once lived). Then we arrived at the Museum!
Inside, I palled around with the Raptor skeleton—the Barosaurus didn’t fit in the shot.
One of the benefits of sneaking into the Museum of Natural History in the middle of the night—like in The Odds of Lightning—is that there are no tourists waiting on line to get in. Unfortunately, there are TONS of tourists during the day, and we had a tight schedule to stick to, so we saved the Whale Room (Lu’s favorite room) for another time. Fun fact: it’s also my favorite room. I really did learn how to say “bioluminescence” at a super young age and freaked strangers out with my advanced childhood vocabulary.
Here’s a picture from the AMNH website.
Stop 4: The Empire State Building (34th and Broadway)
We took the subway down to Herald Square (in the book, they take an ill-fated cab ride) and walked over to the Empire State Building. Luckily, the lines here were surprisingly short, so we took the elevator up up up (Eloise joke) to the open air observation deck on the 86th floor just like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle—and Tiny, Lu, Will and Nathaniel in The Odds of Lightning. There’s a reason why so many books and movies take place up here—it’s magical and quiet so high up. The book and I enjoyed the view together.
Stop 5: The Brooklyn Bridge (City Hall)
We get smoothies at a street vendor and begin our walk across the bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge is a pivotal set piece in The Odds of Lightning—both in the past, and in the present—and it ties both stories together. As I walk across, I imagine that Tiny, Lu, Nathaniel and Will are there with me, looking out across the New York City skyline together. My sister and I weave through tourists and bicyclists (as combinations go, not the best) to take our last photos of the day.
Thanks for joining me on this Odds of Lightning-inspired walking tour of New York City—and I hope you enjoy the book!