Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New York City, Part 2 - History and Solemnity

Yesterday's post featured the High Line Trail in Manhattan.  Though I posted about the High Line first, we actually visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on Saturday, and then the National 9/11 Memorial and High Line on Sunday.

Saturday was a "washout."  It rained all day long.  It wasn't pouring, but it was definitely raining.  We took the ferry from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan to Liberty Island and toured the Statue of Liberty and its museum.  Kali and I had visited the statue decades ago, but our friend Trijntje from the Netherlands had never been there.  We were able to get up to the base of the statue at the top of its stone pedestal, but we couldn't climb to the crown because the "crown tours" were sold out through April.  The fact that we couldn't climb to the windows in the crown was fine because the weather was so foggy that we couldn't have seen anything anyway.  The image heading this post is from the museum, which displays is a full-size replica of the statue's face.   I took the image from the opposite side of the building and only captured a part of the face; I liked the effect.

Considering that it was rainy and foggy, this image isn't half bad
The stone pedestal supporting the Statue of Liberty is a work of art in itself.  Though the pedestal was completed in the 1870's, it has a very "art deco" gestalt that appeals to me immensely.

From the statue, we cruised to Ellis Island and spent about three hours in the restored immigrant processing facility.  It was fascinating.  Kali's grandfather and father passed through Ellis Island when they immigrated from Italy; we have a copy of the ship's manifest with their names.  My ancestors may have passed through Ellis Island, too; I don't have any information about my family's origins
On Sunday morning, we took the subway to the National 9/11 Memorial.  I couldn't predict how I would react when we approached the site.  But as the dramatic and sombre memorial pools came into view, I choked up and began to tear.  It was very moving and sobering.
Our friend Trijntje (left) and Kali at the South Tower Pool
The pools (located in the footprints of the two towers) are beautiful and appropriate remembrances of the victims' their names are inscribed along the edges.

The South Tower Pool at the 9/11 Memorial
We went inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum and spent two hours there.  The building is large, spacious, and airy - except for the gallery where most to the story behind the attacks is presented.  There, the space is tight, dark, claustrophobic, and unpleasantly crowded.  I don't think the effect was intentional; instead, I think the designers did a poor job anticipating how popular the space would become.  I heard many people sniffing and sobbing as we toured the exhibit; it was very moving.

The new One World Trade Center will open in May
Outside the museum, we gazed up at the new One World Trade Center building, the tallest building in Manhattan at 1776 feet (with its antenna).  Personally, I wouldn't want to work in the building; surely, it's a target.
National 9/11 Memorial Museum (right) and the "bones" of a new transportation hub under construction (left)
It was amazing to me how the site of this tragedy has been transformed in only 14 years.  From the 9/11 Memorial, we went to the High Line, as I described in my last post.

We had a good weekend New York.  it was great to see our friend (whom we had last seen 12 years ago), and the city is always exciting.


packrat said...

What a terrific post, Scott; very moving in itself. The photos are great. My maternal grandparents both passed through Ellis Island when they came from Italy to start a new life here. When I first went into the navy I was stationed briefly at the old Brooklyn Naval Yard, so i got to see quite a bit of the Big Apple way back when.

Mark P said...

Regarding the High Line, I love it when cities make the effort to provide spaces like that. Of course, Central Park is a wonderful example of that.

I think your P&S camera did a fine job. I enlarged the view that included the Empire State Building and I think the detail held up well.

robin andrea said...

I love seeing these images. They make me want to go to New York and see it again. It's been almost 30 years since I've been back there. I can't believe that I never went to the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island, and I grew up in New Jersey. Your photos tell a beautiful rich story.

Scott said...

Packrat: Kali's grandfather and father (when he was very young) passed through Ellis Island on their way to the United States from southern Italy, too. We have a copy of the ship's manifest listing both their names. We ordered the manifest several years ago from the Ellis Island Foundation.

Scott said...

Mark: The High Line is a real hit and success story. It has utterly transformed a formerly downtrodden part of Manhattan. Now, let's hope the Reading Viaduct project in Philadelphia (very much in the same vein) will accomplish great things here, too.

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: Though Kali and I are only 100 miles from NYC, we don't visit very often. I'm there about once a year in the outer boroughs to visit urban restoration projects, but it's been so long since we were in Manhattan as touristas I can hardly remember. We DID go to the Metropolitan Opera a few years ago with friends from Philadelphia, but we went up for the performance and left immediately afterward; that hardly counts.

Since Kali and I will be leaving the Philadelphia area in three years, Kali has been making a "bucket list" of places we need to visit but have yet to do visit so that we don't leave without having seen everything we should (like you and the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island). Actually, our list is pretty short; we've been proactive about seeing the sights here over the last 27 years.

packrat said...

Scott: My grandparents were from a small village called Colobraro in Provincia di Matera, Basilicata. "Mear the arch of the boot," as my grandmother used to say to me.

Scott said...

Packrat: From what I understand, Kali's family came from Sicily, but where on the island we don't know.