Monday, June 30, 2014

New York City tour, part 1

Location: Gifford-Pinchot State Park, south of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
(click pics to enlarge)

My original plan after touring Washington D.C. a few weeks ago was to continue up the east coast and see New York City. But, after dealing with the traffic and volume of people in DC, I decided a calmer place would be better and headed up to Erie, PA and Buffalo, NY. Although there were a lot of tourists at Niagara Falls, it wasn't nearly what it would have been in NYC. I figured if I still wanted to see the Big Apple, I would be able to tour it on my way back south from Maine.

There were only a few things I really wanted to see in New York City. Those were the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center (where the twin towers used to be located), Empire State Building and the lobby of the Chrysler Building. I knew that I didn't want to drive in downtown New York so I started looking at the train, subway and bus system in the hopes of using them like I did in DC. After several hours of research, I was no closer to understanding their system so I changed plans and started looking for campgrounds on the outer limits of the city with tours going into the city. I finally decided on the KOA at Newburgh, New York. They have a private tour that leaves their campground with a tour guide and bus driver. That tour left the campground at 7:30 a.m. last Friday (yeah, I know I'm behind on posting, but it's been a hectic few days). We got back to the campground around 9 or so. 

The tour bus was comfortable with good A/C and was about 3/4 full. The tour guide was knowledgeable, friendly and funny. Due to bad traffic and a broken down bus in the bus lanes, it took a little over 2 hours to get downtown. On the way, we passed through parts of New Jersey and the guide mentioned that gasoline was about 35 cents cheaper there. Sure enough, we passed a gas station selling unleaded for 3.45 per gallon. He didn't say why it is cheaper and I haven't researched to find out why. The trip into the city was nice and felt a little strange to be going somewhere without driving. I was the only solo tourist on the tour but it was not a problem as I met and visited with several nice women and their husbands. I was amazed how well the driver maneuvered the bus through traffic and made turns that I thought for sure was going to cause an accident or hit someone. People and cars were everywhere. But contrary to what people say, there wasn't a lot of horn honking. The guide said that was because there was a city ordinance that called for a ticket and fine for excessive horn honking. It must work because there were plenty of opportunities for horn honking but none was done.
Downtown with the One World Trade Center building

The first stop was to see the Statue of Liberty. There was construction going on in Battery Park where you board the ferry to go to Liberty Island so we had to walk around it which meant about a 15 minute hike. One of the things in Battery Park is the "sphere" from the World Trade Center. The sphere was in between the buildings when they collapsed. It has found a permanent home in Battery Park among the trees and is about 3 to 4 blocks from the One World Trade building.
The Sphere
There was a memorial on the way to the ferry that wasn't listed anywhere in the brochures or mentioned by the tour guide. It was impressive and I took pictures with the intent to find out what it was after the tour. Come to find out it is the American Merchant Mariner's Memorial. It commemorates all of the Merchant Mariner's who have lost their lives between the Revolutionary War and now. It was completed and dedicated in 1991. It is a representation of a picture taken by a U-boat sailor during World War II after they torpedoed a merchant ship. It shows the men on the sinking ship hoping for a rescue. The U-boat did not rescue survivors. If you look close, you will see a man in the water reaching up while a man on the boat is reaching down. During high tide, the man in the water is completely underwater with only his hand and part of his arm sticking out. The statue was impressive, but apparently is overlooked by most New Yorkers.

American Merchant Mariners Memorial

We had to have a strip search before we could board the ferry for the trip to Liberty Island. Just kidding, it wasn't a strip search, but you had to empty your pockets, remove belts, hats and watches and walk through a metal detector while your stuff went through an X-ray machine. Security was tight, but not too tight and I didn't hear anyone object. We boarded the ferry and it was about 1/2 to 3/4 full. The board runs on a schedule and leaves based on time, not how many people are on board. The trip takes about 20 minutes to get to the island and the view back towards the city is really good with the One World Trade building standing tall. The other shiny building in some of the picture on the left is the Goldman Sach's Tower located in Jersey City.
Leaving the dock with the One World Trade Center in the pic

The skyline with One World Trade Center dominating the height

The ferry swings wide into the Hudson River before docking at Liberty Island. When I first saw her I thought about how European immigrants would have been feeling after weeks at sea to get to the U.S. The statue, while representing many things to many people, was still a welcoming sight to people that had left their home countries, many with only a few dollars and carrying everything they owned. They all knew back then that the U.S. was a land of opportunity and they controlled their own destiny. If they tried hard, anything was possible.
First sight?

Closer, with a cloud

One World Trade Center on right

She stands 151 feet tall on a base that is about 130 feet tall. She captures your attention immediately. She is one of the first structures that was built with a supporting structure underneath while the outer layer is strictly for looks and provides no support. She was dedicated in 1886 and it took twenty years for the copper sheeting to gain the green patina that's on her now. After the patina started showing, there was a movement to paint her because they thought she was rusting away. The U.S. Corps of Engineers inspected it and found out the patina was a normal effect of copper oxidizing and determined that it protected the copper instead of destroying it. Although the original idea was to have the torch serve as a lighthouse, it was never bright enough to serve that function. The tablet in her left hand has the date, July 4, 1776 inscribed on it memorializing the date of independence of the United States. At her feet is a broken shackle and chain. Different people have given different interpretation for what it represents. I like to believe it represents Freedom and Liberty.
One World Trade Center in background

Liberty and Commercialization

Reservations are made way in advance to be able to go up to the crown and admittance is really restricted. We stayed down below. It was a nice visit on a nice day. They have a very large gift/food shop on the island and I took a couple pictures to show the contrast between commercialization and the statue. I was glad I could buy a bottle of water though, cause I needed it. They don't jack the price up either, I got a large bottle of water for $1.50. 

On the way back to the city, the ferry stops at Ellis Island. It was the place where immigrants were processed before being allowed to enter the country. They were given medical check-ups and quarantined if suspected of carrying disease. Between 1886 and 1924, over 14 million immigrants were processed there and entered the country by way of New York City. Both islands carry a strong history that should be remembered.

Ellis Island with Liberty in the background

Docks at Ellis Island, where immigrants first set foot on US soil

More of the tour in the next post. 

It was a good day

Ya'll take care of each other. Cya down the road.   

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures! One of our reading stories is about the Statue of Liberty so I'll be able to show these pictures this year. I read a kid book about September 11 so I'll be able to show them what it looks like now. I can't wait to read about Part 2.