New York City, 4 a.m. – 7 a.m.

Manhattan, relatively empty in the early a.m.
  • Manhattan, relatively empty in the early a.m.

I left Boston at midnight, bound for Pittsburgh, and I knew I'd face a layover.

When I ordered my Megabus tickets, I knew the first leg would only last four hours. I knew I'd have to wake from a deep sleep. I knew Megabus didn't have a "station," only a stretch of sidewalk where riders boarded and exited.

But I'd forgotten that Manhattan bars close at 4 a.m., and cafes and bakeries don't generally open until, say, 6 or 7. I was alone on the dark, moist streets, with only vagrants, police, newspaper deliverers and the steady flow of traffic for company.

For nearly three hours, I trolled the streets for food, a restroom, and something to do. Groggy and aimless, I found that the City that Never Sleeps actually does get some shuteye – during exactly the hours of my layover.

This video explores the sights, sounds and special challenges of Manhattan before dawn.

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