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Central Park Date – Visit New York with Romancing Manhattan Tours

A gondola ride followed by lunch (or brunch) on the lake and a stroll through Central Park.

Central Park is a classic New York date. New Yorkers have been romancing each other here for over a century and a half!

Book a gondola ride in advance (at least a week ahead of time if possible) and enjoy a half-hour or hour-long leisurely ride on an authentic Venetian gondola professionally steered by an experienced gondolier relaxing ride around the Central Park Lake is absolutely transporting. Feel free to bring along a bottle of wine or champagne. This is a pretty popular spot where many a gentleman has popped the question. Ask Andres (the gondolier) to show you the Bow Bridge and try to see how many TV shows and movies you recognize being shot at this location!

After your gondola ride you will be docked right at the Boathouse Café where you will enjoy a lunch out on the terrace overlooking the lake. Once again, be sure to call ahead and reserve a table (and be sure to request an outside table). You can conveniently book both the gondola and lunch when you call the restaurant.

When you’re finished with lunch, how about a stroll through Central Park while you’re here? Let me help you out with that. Go to www.centralparknyc.org/maps to view an interactive map of Central Park. From the Boathouse Café take a 5 minute walk over to the Bethesda Terrace (you can see it clearly from the restaurant and the lake. When you’re there, walk under the arcade (tunnel) and look at the beautiful tilework on the ceiling (in good weather it’s common to see people performing in here since the acoustics are pretty awesome). When you’re through the tunnel just walk up the steps and you’ll be at the beginning of one of the most famous walks in New York City – The Mall (or Literary Walk), a promenade designed for proper 19th century strolling by the designers of the park Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead. This also has been in quite a few movies… can you name them? Here are a couple: Maid in Manhattan and Big Daddy. Can you remember others?  When you come to the end of The Mall follow the path on the map that will lead you to 5th Avenue and 59th Street. You’ll be right by The Plaza Hotel where all the horse & carriages are. Once past The Mall you’ll come upon the small but very fun Central Park Zoo. This was the zoo from the animated film Madagascar. Take a peek inside and say hello to the polar bear, seals and 150 other kinds of other animals and creatures from around the world.

The Essentials:

The Boathouse Café and gondola rental: Park Drive North in Central Park; tel: (212) 517-2233; website: www.thecentralparkboathouse.com. Getting there: enter Central Park from either 5th Avenue and 72nd Street or 5th Avenue and 76th Street. It’s just a 10-minute walk from here. Use the Central Park map as a guide, www.centralparknyc.org/maps. Or, go all out and take a horse & carriage from 5th Avenue and 59th Street directly to the boathouse (horse & carriage rides are $50 for the first 20 minutes plus an additional charge thereafter). Always double-check the price with the driver before hopping in.

Hours: Lunch is served Monday – Friday, 12pm – 4pm year round; Saturday – Sunday is brunch only served from 9:30am to 4pm.

Some interesting notes:

Central Park is a completely man-made park and is considered the first urban park in the US. It is 843 acres right smack dab in the middle of Manhattan, some of the most expensive real estate in the world! Construction began in the 1850s and was completed in the 1870s, igniting a frenzy of the city’s wealthiest citizens to build the most beautiful and palatial new residences along 5th Avenue and thereby permanently creating one of the poshest and most exclusive neighborhoods in the world, the Upper East Side.

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New York City date – Visit New York and enjoy these unique experiences

Pretend you’re fictional husband and wife detective team Nick and Nora and solve a NYC mystery through Accomplice New York, then grab a couple of old fashioned drinks at Bemelman’s Bar.

If you never thought you’d ever have the chance to fantasize you were a detective and have a romantic role-playing adventure with your partner while solving a crime… here’s your chance. You can pretend you’re Nick and Nora Charles, the 1930s and 40s TV, radio and movie detectives inThe Thin Man. Grab yourself a fedora and a little velvet hat and get going!

Accomplice is a brilliantly designed and executed interactive game that is part theater, part scavenger hunt and part tour. You’ll be given a mission, a plot to solve and sent out onto the streets of Manhattan aided by clues and mysterious cast members scattered throughout various locations such as street corners, bars, iconic landmarks, and out of the way spots. The New York Times says “it’s like being in the middle of the Michael Douglas movie The Game”. The adventure lasts 2 ½ to 3 hours and you can choose from Accomplice: New York which takes place in the neighborhoods of Chinatown, Little Italy, Soho and the Financial District or Accomplice: The Village which takes place entirely in the crooked, narrow streets of Greenwich Village. All games take place Fridays through Sundays onlyand you definitely need to reserve in advance for this. Call or email them to see how far in advance they suggest you make a reservation. You may need to book a month or more ahead of time. They do sell out.

When you’re finished it’ll be late afternoon and you’ll be ready to relax with a good Martini or Old Fashioned. Head uptown to the classy Bemelman’s Bar at the Carlyle Hotel for a little unwinding and conversation. The bar and hotel date back to the late 1920s. There’s no loud music here, just a piano player and occasionally other musicians playing old jazz standards and cabaret style music. The drinks are expensive, to be sure, but you almost feel as if Nick and Nora themselves, or Cary Grant were about to walk in any minute. Make sure you look good. Be comfortable but don’t where white sneakers or jeans if you can help it. Remember, they always looked good back in the day, even when solving mysteries! For the full effect I recommend going in the evening when it’s dark, so you might have a couple of hours to kill (go before 9:30pm and avoid a cover charge – the music starts at 9:30pm). Try going for a stroll up Madison Avenue between 59th and 80th Streets. You’ll see cute little restaurants tucked away on the side streets and even a diner or two if you want to grab a bite to eat first. Be spontaneous and just pick one that looks appealing to you.

 

The Essentials:

Accomplice, Tel: (212)242-1524www.accomplicetheshow.com

Bemelman’s Bar (inside the Carlyle Hotel), 35 East 76th Street, entrance on Madison Avenue between 76th and 77th Streets. Tel: (212)744-1600

 

Some interesting notes:

The Carlyle Hotel is where former president John F. Kennedy supposedly had his affair with Marilyn Monroe. Look for his picture on the wall when you enter the hotel but before entering the bar.

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Romantic Dates in New York City – Visit New York

The Romantic Movie Locations Date – ice skating, frozen hot chocolate, the Empire State Building and one really big sandwich!(Movies: Harry Met Sally, Serendipity, Sleepless in Seattle)

This can be a lot of fun if you’re a big movie fan. And if this kind of a date excites you, just make sure your partner-in-crime is as equally excited as you are! To make this adventure even more fun you could even do a movie marathon night the day before your date, watching these movies first and then going out and having fun visiting the locations.

 

Now, while there are many great romantic movies shot in NYC (probably more than any other city in the world) I chose three fairly mainstream movies for you to have fun with. You can even turn this into a twice-a-year tradition where you watch a few movies set in New York and then prepare a day to visit and explore some of the locations from key scenes in the movie.  Some other romantic movie favorites shot on location in New York are 9 ½ weeks, West Side Story, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters, An Affair to Remember, You’ve Got Mail and Maid in Manhattan.

 

First is When Harry Met Sally with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. Remember that scene? You know the one I’m talking about… uh huh… yes… that one – the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene where Sally fakes an orgasm right in the middle of a crowded delicatessen. Well, that’s how good Katz’s pastrami and corned beef sandwiches are! So head on downto Katz’s Delicatessen on the corner of Houston and Ludlow Streets in downtown Manhattan. Order a pastrami or corned beef on rye or a Reuben sandwich and let the swooning begin. Be sure to get some pickles! (And if you decide to re-enact this scene yourself in front of your date, please be sure to write to me and let me know the reactions you get from nearby diners!) You will notice a sign above the table Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal sat at when they filmed that scene on location right here at Katz’s Deli. You will need to get a ticket when you enter and then get on line (there’s always a line). The counterman will mark your ticket. You MUST not lose your ticket or you may have a problem when you leave. You will need to show your ticket to the cashier when you leave and pay the amount written on your ticket.

 

Next, if it’s November through March (always call ahead and make sure they are open) hop a cab or take the subway to the 59th Street and 6thAvenue entrance to Central Park. The Wollman Rink is a two minute walk into Central Park from this entrance. Follow the footpath directly into the park and stay to the right. (subways: Take the A, B, C, D, 1, 9 to 59th Street or the N or R to 5th Ave/59th St or the B, Q to 57th Street). Once you’re there remember the love story shared here by Jonathon and Sara (played perfectly by John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale) in the 2001 romantic comedy Serendipity. There were actually two scenes filmed here, one in the beginning when they’re skating together and the one at the end when they find each other after being apart.

 

After your romantic escapades on the ice take a 15-minute walk (or a quick cab ride) over to the extremely popular Serendipity 3 on 60th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues for their famous Frozen Hot Chocolate (it’s out of this world delicious!) – or if doing this date April through October head straight to Serendipity 3 after Katz’s Deli. Jonathon and Sara drank theirs together at an upstairs table. There can be a long wait to get in here and they do not take reservations. So you’ll just need to give your name to the host or hostess and wait for your name to be called. While waiting you can check out the many home décor or antique shops along 58th and 59thStreets between 2nd and 3rd Avenues (known as Designers and Decorator’sWays) or spend some time at Dylan’s Candy Bar on the corner of 60thStreet and 3rd Ave.

 

The final part of your date honors that classic of classics romantic film Sleepless in Seattle with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan by taking a trip to the top of the Empire State Building’s 86th floor observation deck. What a great scene that was! The view from here is just as classic as the movie itself – sweeping, jaw-dropping views that are sure to excite and inspire. Keep in mind that there is also an enclosed 102nd floor observation deck. That is not the one we are talking about here (however the 102nd floor one was where Cary Grant waited for Deborah Kerr in Affair to Remember). Purchase and print your tickets online at www.esbnyc.com. The line to get to the top can take anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour. If you want to drop some extra cash you can opt for the Express Pass which lets you bypass the line. You will see this option on the website when you get your tickets.

 

The Essentials:

Katz’s Delicatessen, 205 East Houston Street on the corner of Ludlow Street (Lower East Side). Tel: (212)254-2246.www.katzsdelicatessen.com.

Wollman Skating Rink, Central Park. Tel: (212)439-6900. Check the website for updated hours and pricing: www.wollmanskatingrink.com.

Serendipity 3, 225 East 60th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Tel:(212)838-3531www.serendipity3.com.

Empire State Building, 350 5th Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets. Tel:(212)736-3100. The Observatory is open every day, including weekends and holidays from 8AM to 2AM. www.esbnyc.com. Prices as of this writing: $25 or $47.50 for the Express ticket (main deck).

 

Some interesting notes:

Katz’s Deli still has their old signs in the window from World War II that say “Send a salami to your boy in the army”.

 

The Empire State Building was completed in May of 1931 in just 13 and a half months right in the middle of the Great Depression. During World War II an American B-25 bomber lost in the fog crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building (the building did not incur any major structural damage).

 

Central Park is a completely man-made park, having been mostly marshes and swamps prior to its construction. It was completed in the 1870s and was the first urban park in America. It covers 843 acres (2.5 miles long and a half mile wide) of extremely expensive real estate right smack dab in the middle of Manhattan.

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A date in Brooklyn – Visit New York with Romancing Manhattan Tours

A visit to the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn and an early romantic dinner at Saul (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn) followed by drinks at Clover Club (Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn)

 What an overlooked gem! If the massiveness of New York City’s subway and transportation system intrigues you, then you will love this little, often overlooked museum. The New York Transit Museum, one of the city’s leading cultural institutions is the largest museum in the United States devoted to urban public transportation history, and one of the premier institutions of its kind in the world. The Museum explores the development of the greater New York Metropolitan region through the presentations of exhibitions, tours, educational programs, and workshops dealing with the cultural, social, and technological history of public transportation. Since it’s inception over a quarter century ago, the Museum, housed in a historic 1936 IND subway station in Brooklyn Heights, has grown in scope and popularity.

The museum’s galleries feature curious and engaging exhibits such as Steel, Stone, and Backbone, which recounts the tale of building New York City’s 100 year-old subway system, and many highly interactive exhibitions such as On The Streets, an in-depth look at New York City’s trolleys and buses.

Since this museum closes at 4pm, you’ll want to get there sometime between 2:30 – 3pm so you don’t have too much time between the museum and the dinner. Allow a good hour to visit this museum.

Tip: Be sure to sneak a kiss or two on one of their vintage subway cars, just like they did in the old days.

After the museum, it’s just a 15 minute walk to your restaurant (see below for easy walking directions). If you have some time to kill before your dinner there are plenty of shops along Smith Street to peruse. Saul is a pioneer in this ever-so-popular hot neighborhood. It’s casual and intimate with an American menu. Their menu changes seasonally so expect nothing but the best and freshest ingredients. Be sure to check out their menu online (see website below). This restaurant does get crowded – and noisy – so be sure to make a reservation just to be safe. For a fun end to a meal you must try their signature Baked Alaska!

 

Tip: ask for table 5A, it’s a corner table.

Walking directions: When exiting the museum turn right on Boerum Place and walk down to Atlantic Avenue. Turn left on Atlantic Avenue and go just one block over to Smith Street. Turn right onto Smith Street and the restaurant will be 2 and a half blocks down on your right (between Dean and Bergen Streets).

For a perfect end to your date, all you have to do is walk four and a half blocks down Smith Street (against the flow of traffic) to Clover Club (Smith Street between Baltic and Butler Streets). The Clover Club is based on an actual club that existed in Philadelphia between 1882 and the 1920s, so the drink menu and atmosphere are reflective of that time period. The bartenders here are extraordinary (mixologists) and the cocktails are sure to impress.  But if you really want to make an impression, order off the menu and ask for the Kick Flip (just trust me on this one, it’s delicious…. and potent!)

Tip: There’s live Big Band jazz on Wednesdays between 8:30pm and 11:30pm. They get very crowded on Wednesday’s so call ahead to reserve a table (there’s no cover charge).

 

The Essentials:

New York Transit Museum, 130 Livington Street in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn. Tel: (718)694-1600. Admission: $7 for adults. www.mta.info/mta/museum/ Hours: Tues – Fri, 10am – 4pm; Sat and Sun, 11am – 5pm. CLOSED MONDAYS.

Saul, 140 Smith Street between Dean and Bergen Streets. Tel: (718)935-9844. www.saulrestaurant.com

Clover Club, 210 Smith Street between Baltic and Butler Streets, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Tel: (718)855-7939. www.cloverclubny.com/

 

Some interesting notes:

New York City has the largest subway system in the world with over 700 miles of tracks and 468 subway stations. It was built in 1904 and transports well over a billion people a year.

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Visit New York – Great Dates in NYC

I have an exciting announcement to make. I will be writing my first book about NYC, specifically about great dates and fun things to do in NYC.

We will be posting one to two dates every week, so stay tuned!

Here’s our first one:

Brunch at Antique Garage, followed by gallery hopping in Soho

This is a great downtown date. Antique Garage has a warm, cozy atmosphere, live jazz and an excellent Mediterranean/Turkish menu (the Turkish Meatballs are amazing!). Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 4pm and live jazz can be heard between 1pm and 4pm (there is no cover charge for the music). The restaurant is located in the trendy neighborhood of SoHo.

Following your awesome brunch, do a little SoHo gallery hopping (one of the best free things to do in New York). Below you’ll see a walking tourroute that you can follow to get you started. Of course, feel free to allow yourself some of your own diversions as you will no doubt spot a gallery or cool little boutique or store that catches your eye. Here is a short list of 5 noteworthy galleries to check out.

Animazing Gallery (54 Greene St), has a unique collection of original and limited edition animation and illustration artwork

Morrison Hotel Gallery (124 Prince St), features great photography of legendary musicians over the past half-century

Opera Gallery (115 Spring St), a high-end gallery with museum-quality modern and contemporary art from around the world

Moss (150 Greene St), furniture as well as decorative/functional items with an artistic mindset are displayed here and available at this unique gallery/store

Pop International Galleries (473 West Broadway), an exciting art gallery specializing in Pop Art, Urban Art and art and photography that is influenced by popular culture

Suggested gallery walking tour route (once again, be sure to allow for some spontaneity in your journey – great dates always involve a little bit of adventure, surprise and spontaneity):

1.

Head left when leaving the restaurant and make your first left ontoBroome Street. Go to the next block and make a left onto Greene Street. Animazing Gallery will be on your left (54 Greene St).

2.

Make a right out of the gallery back to Broome Street and turn left on Broome. Walk 2 blocks to West Broadway and turn right onto West Broadway. Walk just short of 3 blocks to come to Pop International Galleries. It’ll be on your right (473 West Broadway) between Prince and Houston Streets.

3.

Make a left out of the gallery and walk 1 block down to Prince Street. Turn left on Prince Street and stay on the right hand side of the street. Walk 1 block to Wooster Street. Just a little past Wooster Street on Prince Street is Morrison Hotel Gallery on your right (124 Prince St).

4.

Make a right out of the gallery and walk 1 block to Greene Street. Turn left on Greene Street and stay on the right hand side of the street. About half way up the block will be Moss on your right (150 Greene St).

5.

Make a left out of the gallery and walk a block and a half to Spring Street (the block after Prince). Turn left on Spring Street and Opera Gallery will be on your left (115 Spring St).

6.

* For a little sweet love snack head left out of the gallery past Mercer Street and just before you get to Broadway you’ll see Baked By Melissa on your left. They make tiny little cupcake perfections that you can enjoy by the dozen. So load up on some sugar and get that heart pumpin’!

 

Some interesting notes:

SoHo stands for south of Houston Street. It started off as an industrial manufacturing and warehouse district in the 19th century when city life was concentrated more downtown and neighborhoods further uptown were not quite as settled as they are today. It eventually became abandoned in the early to mid 20th century as the population of Manhattan started moving further uptown to the newer areas (Manhattan grew from south to north; from downtown to uptown). Artists started moving into the abandoned warehouses in the mid 1900’s and loft-style city living began. But it was cheap, gritty and undesirable. With the abundance of artists came galleries and cafes to cater to their lifestyle. Eventually the neighborhood attracted the attention of the real estate industry who became interested in putting this area on the map as New York City’s next hot neighborhood. The acronym SoHo was coined, and the many manufacturing and warehouse buildings were converted into expensive loft apartments. Eventually people started moving in and boutiques and restaurants sprouted up all over the place to cater to this new crowd. Today, SoHo is one of the best places to shop in New York. Many galleries still thrive here but these are not the galleries of the struggling artists of 50 years ago. Nonetheless, gallery-hopping in SoHo is a favorite thing to do for many New Yorkers and visitors and it’s absolutely free!

The Essentials:

Antique Garage, 41 Mercer St. (212)219-1019.www.antiquegaragesoho.com

Animazing Gallery, 54 Greene St. (212)226-7374www.animazing.com.

Morrison Hotel Gallery, 124 Prince St. (212)941-8770.www.morrisonhotelgallery.com

Opera Gallery, 115 Spring St. (212)966-6675www.operagallery.com

Moss, 150 Greene St. (212)204-7100www.mossonline.com

Pop International Galleries, 473 West Broadway. (212)533-4262www.popinternational.com

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Happy 4th of July everybody!

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I have a great little story to share which I mentioned in an earlier blog post. But for those who didn’t catch it I feel it is appropriate to mention it again here on this very special day, the day we declared our independence and became a free nation. But before I do, I just want to share a thought.

You know, we’re all New Yorkers, each in our own way right? New York is a city of dreams, a place for new beginnings, new starts, big ideas, grand visions, a place where we can become our very best. People have come here from all over the world to start anew.

It’s truly inspiring and exciting and unforgettable when you visit this great city for the first time. It really does bring out something in you. And there is an energy here that you cannot find anywhere in the world. Many people have said that, and it’s so very true.

So I invite you to fall in love with New York. Come here and get inspired, and go back home feeling a newfound energy that you didn’t have before. Get your New York on! Where’s your inner New Yorker?

I want to personally reach out to as many of you as I can and invite you to connect with with me here on our website, Facebook, on Twitter, on YouTube, LinkedIN and anywhere else you can find us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas, interact with you, and help you plan the most amazing trip to New York City you can imagine.

On that note, I wish you all again a happy 4th of July. Be safe, and I’ll see you in New York!

With Lots of Love,
Jason
Founder/Romancing Manhattan Tours

Ya know, one of my favorite little stories to tell on tours is when George Washington and his troops were read the Declaration of Independence down at City Hall Park.

The date was July 9, 1776. Several people in the crowd were so fired up from hearing the reading that they marched down to the Bowling Green Park at the foot of Broadway and tore down the statue of King George III. They then walked the statue up to the local foundry and had it melted down into bullets, which they used against the British. Of course, the perfect irony here is that the British soldiers were being shot by their own king!

And if you go down to the Bowling Green Park today, which by the way is the oldest park in Manhattan dating back to the 1730s, you’ll notice that the tops of the posts of the fence are on even. That is because the top of the posts were finished off with the design of the British Royal crown. Each of these crowns were sawed-off, which is why the tops of each of the posts are uneven, each in its own way.

I love touching the tops of these posts, I really feel a connection to the past and all that actually happened when I do this. Let us never forget the story of the humble beginnings of this great nation of ours.

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Travel to New York in July – Visit New York

brooklyn bridge
Travel to New York in the summertime can be daunting when the weather is extremely hot, but saving money on hotels helps you keep your cool.
With the exception of July 4, hotels in NYC tend to drop their prices. The earlier you book the more money you will save. Give us a call or send us an email to plan your summer vacation in New York City!
If you plan to visit New York next month (July) we have some fun and interesting, as well as historical dates for you to keep in mind.
On July 9,  1776 while 50 British warships containing 23,000 soldiers lie quietly in New York Harbor, New York City patriots march down to the Bowling Green park in lower Manhattan and pull down the statue of King George III to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. They then marched the statue up to the local foundry and had it melted down into musket balls. When a continental soldier learned that the army would use the lead from the 4000-pound statue for bullets, he was quoted as saying: “I hope that the emanations from the leaden George will make deep impressions in the bodies of some of his redcoated and Tory subjects.”
The beautiful building standing behind the park was built by famous architect Cass Gilbert and was used as a US custom house. Today it is the Museum of the Native American Indian, a branch of the Smithsonian, it is free of charge. You might recognize this building from the movie conspiracy theory with Julia Roberts and Mel Gibson. This is the building where Julia Roberts character worked.
The Bowling Green Park still stands today with the original fence surrounding it. It was called Bowling Green because gentlemen used to go lawn bowling there for the price of one peppercorn a year. Sitting on top of each of the posts of the fence were decorative ornaments of the British crown. Take a closer look at the top of these posts and you will see that each one is uneven. This is because the crowd sawed them off!
On a less serious note, on July 6, 1946 actor and filmmaker Sylvester Stallone is born in Hell’s Kitchen.
On July 5, 1809 New York City’s African-American Baptists organize the Abyssinian Baptist Church. Their success encourages others to found the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1818 and the Negro Presbyterian Church in 1821. Today, the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem on 135th St. is one of the cities best-known black houses of worship; for years, its pulpit was the platform of Congressman Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
On July 1, 1919 after World War I established the airplane as a reliable and efficient transportation tool, the Postal Service connects New York City and Cleveland with daily airmail service, the nations first.
On July 28, 1945, 56 years before the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, on a foggy Saturday morning, an American B-25 bomber crashes into the 78th and 79th floors of the Empire State building killing 10 people in the building and three in the plane. No structural damage to the building is done.