A tiny bite out of a big apple (aka “how to do New York City in three days”) is all the time we had in order to meet our scheduled RV maintenance appointment in northern Indiana. I didn’t want to leave the east coast before seeing just a bit of NYC, especially the Statue of Liberty, 911 Memorial Museum, and Central Park. We didn’t even begin to scratch the surface but I accomplished what I set out to do, and then some, knowing we would need to come back for an extended period to do this incredible city justice. With the aid of train, subway, ferry, and lots of “sole power”, we took to the streets of Manhattan and the surrounding waterways.
The Staten Island Ferry provides views of the Statue of Liberty while cruising between Manhattan and Staten Island, but if you’re looking to get up close to this lovely lady or climb into her pedestal or crown, there are other ferry operators happy to take you to Liberty Island. The only option available to us when we booked our statue cruise was onto the island and given how crowded the ferry was, I was content to just stand and gaze up in awe from her feet.
The 911 Memorial and Museum was an absolute must for me. You can feel a solemn reverence wrapped around the two square pools that now stand where once the Twin Towers touched the sky. Images of the planes crashing into the towers replayed in my mind as I watched the water cascading into the pools beneath the black granite slabs that display the names of all those who lost their lives that fateful day.
As we walked into the museum the somber weight of 911 surrounded us as the carnage of September 11, 2001 was reenacted – personal effects found in the debris, the twisted wreckage of Ladder Company 3 fire engine, the Survivor Stairs, the Remembrance Room covered floor to ceiling with photos of the victims, putting faces to the many lost.
Phone messages left to loved ones by those on the hijacked planes, on the upper floors of the WTC or at the Pentagon can be heard as you wander through the halls. Last words of love and years of family memories encapsulated in those final few seconds on an answering machine, reminders of how their world stopped that day.
A haunting image described by a local resident, which will stay with me forever, was displayed on a wall next to a photo of men and women falling to their deaths from the dizzying heights of the Twin Towers.
‘She stood at the ledge, hair askew but business suit in place. I watched as she calmly smoothed her skirt into place, one last modest act, then stepped into the void, choosing this death over that of the flames.’
A trip to New York City wouldn’t be complete for me without a stroll through Central Park, a stop for a beer at Tavern on the Green, and visiting Strawberry Fields, where a memorial mosaic honoring John Lennon can be found.
We discovered High Line Park just days before our arrival to NYC and both agree it was one of the more enjoyable stops in our whirlwind visit.
The High Line, built in the 1930’s, was constructed as a West Side improvement project to elevate freight train traffic 30 feet above the streets, removing the risk of having dangerous trains running through Manhattan’s largest industrial district. Trains ran until 1980, carrying meat to the meatpacking district, agricultural goods to the warehouses, and mail to the Post Office.
In 1999 a community based non-profit, Friends of the High Line, stepped in when this historic railway was at risk of being demolished. Today it is a sustainable public space about 1.5 miles in length, a monument to the industrial history of New York’s West Side. Much of this park runs above the Meatpacking District and the Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen neighborhoods.
This unique space blends lush plant life with a seamless walking surface, with impressive views of the Hudson River and the city skyline. It combines viewing platforms, a sundeck, eateries, water features, and areas where performances and exhibits are held, a verdant oasis hovering above the busy streets.
Although these were the highlights of our short time in NYC, below are a few street scenes of a very fast-paced city.