NEW YORK – tears from Heaven
Thursday – Our last full day in New York and we have so much left to see. Unfortunately the weather has taken a turn for the worse but we will soldier on. Deciding to give the hotel provided brekkie area a miss, we get some advice from our trusty doorman who tells us about a place not far from the Hotel.
It is called Cafe 28 Gourmet Deli and he thoroughly recommends it to all the guests. OK – let’s go. About a 10 minute walk and we enter through the doors to the warmth of fabulous aromas. They have everything – cooked foods, muffins, bagels, fruits, coffees anything you wish for – it is here. Eat in or take away – we decide to dine in and after getting our food we head upstairs where I take this photo. Underneath our dining area is the display of yoghurts, desserts, pastries, cut fruit and juices.
Feeling rather full from our ‘I don’t know what to have, so I’ll have some of that and some of that and some of that’ we grab some more coffee and begin today’s journey. We are taking a cruise down the river to the Statue of Liberty but first we have to get ourselves down to the dock area so we hail a cab. I love New York cabs. They certainly are interesting to say the least.
The sky is full of very dark grey clouds and soon spots of rain start to fall. Not too bad but we hope that it doesn’t get any worse – we do not have umbrellas! After getting our tickets we walk down to the pier and spy this fine sailing vessel.
This is the Peking Museum ship. Built in Hamburg, Germany 102 years ago, she was used to transport nitrate from the west coast of South America to Europe. Even at that time, sailing ships had mostly been replaced by steamships except for long trips with heavy cargo, where the cost of fuel would have been prohibitive.
She was built for F. Laeisz, a German company that still exists. Peking’s sister ship, Passat, laid down in the same year, carried 34 sails and could go up to 18 knots an hour under sail. Even so, Passat’s maiden voyage from Hamburg to Valparaiso, Chile, took 80 days. The Peking’s capabilities would have been very similar as she was both fast and massive.
Unfortunately she is not open to the public so we continue to wander.
Even though it is overcast we can still manage to get some great photos of the Brooklyn Bridge and surrounding areas. It is not long before our boat arrives and we, along with thousands – would you believe hundreds of Japanese tourists (they are always the most fun and you don’t have to tell them how to use your camera if you want them to take a photo) and other Asian nationalities start to jostle up the plank so to speak. We find some nice seating under shelter on the river side. Our cruise company is Circle Line but our cruise is not listed on their website. Nevermind I will give you a wave by wave description.
We commence by going up river and under the Brooklyn Bridge (we think this is a bit strange as the Statue of Liberty is down the river) – but we soon realise that this is only a photo opportunity and we soon turn around and head in the right direction. Just as well as mutiny was being planned!
We pass Pier 17 Mall which was closed permanently on 9th September this year and will later be demolished after serving tourists along the East River since 1983. The Staten Island Ferry – a famous name – this one is called the John F Kennedy – another famous name! This is a free ferry service and can be a hop on – hop off – but be warned that everyone must get off at every stop and then get back on again!
Next point of interest is the One World Trade Centre and the New York City skyline – all shrouded by mist.
OWTC is the tallest building on the left. Opened in October 2014 – it stands as a shining beacon (unfortunately not today) and it is a bold addition to the skyline after the demise of the Twin Towers. It is the Western Hemisphere’s tallest building standing at 104 stories – approx 545 metres.
Battery Park – all bedecked out in Autumn colours – it adds that extra colour to a drab grey day.
Considering that the weather is lousy with rain every now and again and the river is choppy in parts I am rather pleased with the panoramic shots – although some of the buildings look to be on the sloping side – then again that is most probably how they are!
Rounding the corner at Battery Park we turn up the Hudson. On the shores are the Colgate Clock (left) and the old New Jersey Railway Station (below right).
According to a history of the Colgate clock compiled by New Jersey City University, the clock is a 1924 replacement for the original 1908 steel clock face, which stood atop the Colgate-Palmolive factory in Jersey City until the 1980s. When the Colgate headquarters were demolished, New Jersey preserved the clock which now rests on an empty lot.
The Railway Station (what a great old building) was constructed in 1889, and at the peak of service for the Central Railroad of New Jersey there were millions of passengers a year passing through. Many immigrants to the United States also came directly from Ellis Island, bypassing New York City to make their way through the United States by way of New Jersey. Unfortunately, the Great Depression hit hard, as did the rise of the automobile, and a decline in business caused the terminal to shut down in 1967.
Time for Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1924, Ellis Island was America’s largest and most active immigration station, where over 12 million immigrants were processed. On average, the inspection process took approximately 3-7 hours. For the vast majority of immigrants, Ellis Island truly was an “Island of Hope” – the first stop on their way to new opportunities and experiences in America. For the rest, it became the “Island of Tears” – a place where families were separated and individuals were denied entry into this country. It has hosted a museum of immigration since 1990.
As we continue on – the Star of the Show – the Lady Liberty herself – comes into view.
Ah – The Statue of Liberty – a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess, who bears a torch and a tablet stating the law upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence – 4th July, 1776. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue is an icon of freedom and of the United States, and was a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving from abroad.
The copper statue, designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor, was built by Gustave Eiffel (sound familiar?) was a gift from the people of France and was dedicated on 28th October, 1886.
She certainly is a symbol of freedom and stands proudly welcoming all who venture to New York. The torch (not a real flame) shines like a beacon in the gloomy weather and it is at this point that a rather interesting moment springs to life.
As previously mentioned there are quite a few Asian tourists on board who have run with great energy from side to side to get thousands of photos of whatever is passing by. It really is a hoot to watch and as there has been some heavy rain in parts, this has lain in the awnings at the back of the boat – so of course at the appropriate moment – everything gives way and a great deal of water is let loose on the unsuspecting tourists. This does not deter them from the photos however and the clicking continues.
Talking about photos – we do not do so bad either and the lady is snapped from every angle. What a shame it is such a lousy day – but it could have been worse. After our visit with her the boat then hot foots it back to the dock where we alight and head uptown to visit the Wall Street Stock Exchange area and the 9/11 Memorial. The rain seems to have eased so that is a good thing.
Wall Street and the Stock Exchange – which is covered in a dirty big advertising sheet for twitter – does not sit well for photographers. Who thought this up? They need a great big kick in their rear end for sure. Who wants to know about twitter and who gives a ratz if it is listed or not? I had previously seen photos of this place and there was a great big US flag drapped across the front. That definitely would have been more appropriate than a bird!
But we press on – past Trinity Church and into a rain soaked plaza that is bedecked in fairy lights and interesting statues.
This is the third Trinity Church to stand on this site. In 1696, Governor Benjamin Fletcher approved the purchase of land in Lower Manhattan by the Anglican community for construction of the first church. The parish received its charter from King William III of England on 6th May 1697 which required an annual rent of one peppercorn to the English crown. The Anglican church was constructed in 1698, with assistance from the pirate Captain Kidd. In 1705 Queen Anne of England increased the parish’s land holdings to 215 acres.
During the Revolutionary War, the church’s clergy were Loyalists, while the parishioners included members of the first and second Continental Congresses.
The first church building was destroyed in 1776 by fire, just six days after almost all the city’s volunteer firemen had followed General Washington north. After British evacuation at war’s end, the New York state legislature ratified the charter of Trinity Church in 1784, deleting the provision requiring loyalty to the King of England.
The plaza is so pretty and I can imagine at night with all the fairy lights it would be magic. At the end of this plaza is Bowling Green and the famous statue of the Charging Bull.
Surrounded by tourists galore – each and everyone of them wants to have their photo taken at the other end of the statue holding the rather large appendage of the bull. I’ll give that one a miss thank you.
Time for the most sombre part of today – the 9/11 Memorial.
There is no need to go into detail of what happened on the day – in my opinion it was one of the worse tragedies of the modern era.
There is a lot of building work going on around the area so avoiding scaffolding etc we make our way to the Memorial. Every now and again there is a plaque in memory of someone who lost their life on that day.
As we near the main Memorial, we pass by a magnificent tribute – it is called the FDNY Memorial Wall.
There are many better photos of the complete wall on the web that I could have inserted here, but I always try and use my own – it is a compilation of 7 photos stitched together.
The memorial wall is located at the FDNY Ladder Company 10 Engine 10 firehouse, directly south of the WTC site. The firehouse lost five firefighters on 9/11. The 56-foot long, bronze wall was unveiled in 2006 as a gift from the law firm of Holland & Knight and its charitable foundation under the direction of Brian Starer. The wall serves as a tribute to the 343 of the FDNY and is dedicated to one of the firm’s partners, volunteer firefighter Glenn J. Winuk who perished on 9/11. Depicting the equipment and tactics used on 11th September, the wall displays the names of every active FDNY member, who was killed in the collapse of the towers.
Arriving at the actual site of the Twin Towers – we front up to the counter. There is no fee but you can make a donation and we have no problem with that – seems a small price to pay so that we can enter and pay our respects and in return we get a wrist band.
We progress through the queue and enter into a great expanse of trees and water. It has started to rain again – seems only fitting – below is the North Pool – – to quote from the 9/11 website ‘The 9/11 Memorial is located at the site of the former World Trade Centre complex and occupies approximately half of the 16-acre site. The Memorial features two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools, each about an acre in size, set within the footprints of the original Twin Towers. More than 400 trees surround the reflecting pools and its design conveys a spirit of hope and renewal, and creates a contemplative space separate from the usual sights and sounds of a bustling metropolis.
Swamp white oak trees create a rustling canopy of leaves over the plaza. This grove of trees bring green rebirth in the spring, provide cooling shade in the summer and show seasonal color in fall. A small clearing in the grove, known as the Memorial Glade, designates a space for gatherings and special ceremonies.’
Sometimes it is better to quote passages that say exactly what you want to say but cannot find the words to do so. It is an incredible place and as we solemnly contemplate the names – oh so many names – the rain increases – making us take shelter under the awnings – until the rain becomes just a light shower again.
Above left is the South Pool and after a silent tribute we make our way to the exit – noticing this medallion (above right) in one of the trees – I do not know what significance it has – maybe it was just placed there by someone who paid a silent tribute.
Visiting this place has brought a sense of tragedy. As I sat in safety 10,000 miles away in front of the television all those years ago watching everything unfold – the Towers falling – the will to live – the heroic spirit fighting against the odds to save those who were trapped – I wondered how can humans do this to one another? And for what I ask? On the other hand it has brought a sense of tranquility and a hope that the true human spirit will never forget or submit to the terror regimes so prominent in today’s society.