We started today with breakfast at a cafe down the road from our apartment. It was recommended by the owner of the apartment. Had a nice eggs benedict on a muffin which was quite nice, and an American coffee, which is just a brewed coffee with milk. Coffee here isn’t as good as it is back in Melbourne, so rather than being disappointed by a latte I decided I might as well just get a standard coffee. Overall it was a nice breakfast.
From there we caught the subway down to the 9/11 Memorial. Entry is free, but it’s a ticketed attraction to help control crowds. We checked the website before leaving the apartment and tickets were still available for all times (every 15 minutes) so we didn’t book. Similar to the Empire State Building we had to pass through security (empty pockets, remove belts, xray machines etc – a lot like airport security) then make our way through a long, but empty, queuing area.
The site is still largely under construction, but the memorial pools are complete and the surrounding trees are well developed. The new World Trade Centre towers are almost complete, but not yet open for business. The memorial pools are very large. They help to give an idea of how big the buildings were, but it’s still hard to fully envisage the size of the original World Trade Centre.
There are two of these pools, one for each of the buildings destroyed during the terrorist attacks. Each pool is surrounded by a list of all the people who died in the attacks of 2001,and also a bombing on the same site in 1993. The overall mood was sombre, and it was overcast and drizzly which added to the mood. We spent some time quietly taking in the memorial then visited the information centre. There was a video playing there showing interviews with survivors. It was incredibly sad hearing their stories and how it has impacted their lives.
After the memorial, the girls went to visit the Museum of Modern Art, and I stayed down the south area of the island to visit Wall Street and the rest of the financial district. I stopped by the New York stock exchange, but unfortunately there is no public access to the building. I wandered down the rest of the street checking out some of the other nice old buildings in the area.
I grabbed a toasted bagel with scallion cream cheese and tomato, and sat in a small park to eat it and plan the rest of my afternoon. I stopped by the big Bronze Bull in Bowling Green Park, then walked down towards the water at Battery Park. A lot of the park is under construction, I’m assuming from Hurricane Sandy last year, so there wasn’t a lot to see. Also, being a week day and with an occasional shower there weren’t a lot of people around. I bought some roasted peanuts and a cheeky squirrel came running over before I’d even opened them! Someone else was feeding them so they knew what I had.
There’s a walking path that stretches all the way through Battery Park so I decided to walk along that for a bit. After a few minutes it started to rain quite heavily, so I ducked into the Skyscraper Museum for shelter. The museum gets a mention in the USA Lonely Planet guide, which normally has good recommendations, but this particular sight is one of the less exciting ones. There was a tour by the curator starting just as I arrived, so I decided to join that. It turned out to be a very detailed tour of the current exhibit which is the Woolworths Building and went into a bit too much detail. Woolworths was a chain of discount department stores in America, and when the building was completed in 1913 it was the tallest in New York at almost 50 stories. It didn’t hold that title for long because there were a lot of skyscrapers being built during that time. If the tour had been a bit shorter it would’ve been really good. As it was, it was interesting learning about the amount of work that went into these buildings, as each of the ceramic bricks were hand made. Also, there were a lot of people involved in construction and design between the architect and the final product. Quite impressive to be constructing buildings that tall without modern technologies. Some of the bricks are starting to come loose and need replacing, but overall the building is doing well. They’re in the process of gutting the upper house and converting it into apartments.
After the tour it had fortunately stopped raining. I went back to Battery Park and walked along the Hudson River for a little while. It’s a very nice stretch of park along there.
After that I caught the subway to City Hall hoping to take a look, but it’s fenced off with no public access and half of the building is behind scaffolding while they do works so there wasn’t even a lot to see from the outside. I wandered around that area for a little while, then caught up with Julie for dinner (Italian this time) then we found a nearby karaoke bar and hung out there for an hour or so. Overall it was a very productive day!