Friday, October 16, 2015

New York City on Foot

This morning we dressed for a day of lots of walking. We had breakfast at a nearby bagel café. I wanted to make sure Sarah had a chance to taste real New York bagels, and they did not disappoint.

Yesterday on her walk, Sarah had discovered the East River Ferry, which turns out to be a perfect mode of transport to get over to Manhattan. Nice views of the city along the way, and much nicer than being underground. Here's the view of the Upper East Side from the ferry, with a close up of the Chrysler Building.

We took the ferry to Pier 11, then walked to Battery Park, where we bought our tickets, went through security, and waited in line for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We decided not to disembark at the statue, since we had a better view of it from the ferry and similar views of Manhattan from the ferry as we would have had from the top of the statue. Here are some views from that Statue Cruises ferry.

Battery Park, so named because an artillery battery there once served to protect the town.

The requisite shots of us on the ferry.

The receding Manhattan skyline and a close-up of One World Trade Center (“Freedom Tower”).

The Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from France marking the centennial of America's independence, and has become a symbol of freedom and welcome to immigrants.

Ellis Island, the main processing center for immigrants from 1892 until 1954.

View from Ellis Island of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, named for the Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, whose name is misspelled on the bridge. It connects Brooklyn with Staten Island. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its completion in 1964, surpassing the Golden Gate Bridge by 60 feet.

Views from Ellis Island of One World Trade Center and the Wall of Honor outside of the main building which contains a partial list of immigrants processed on the island. I couldn't find my Perera ancestors listed.

The Museum at Ellis Island presents the history of immigration to America, from the 1500s to the present, on the main floor. There is lots of overlap in the exhibits and it does not really give a cohesive sense of chronology, but still I found it interesting, even though I knew most of what it had to teach already. Here are some of the displays showing the main reasons why immigrants came to America.

Upstairs on the second floor is the old enormous processing hall where all the immigrants came through.

There are exhibits on either end and up on the third floor about immigration documentation, the ships people arrived on, the medical and mental examinations they were subject to upon arrival, the Immigrant Aid Societies (one of which was the Italian Welfare League, co-founded by my grandfather's uncle Lionello Perera and his wife Carolyn Allen Perera, who served as its first president from 1920 to 1942), a photography exhibit showing how the main building was left in disrepair after it ceased operations in 1954 and how it was restored. A few of the exhibits were closed, their artifacts removed to storage elsewhere because of damage to the climate control system sustained during Hurricane Sandy.

Some of the ships people came over on:

One of the many archival photos on display:

An interrogation room:

After we got back from Ellis Island, I took a quick peek inside the Museum of Jewish Heritage. It was nothing to write home about, since it is a history that I know pretty well already, though they did have some kinds of artifacts that I had not seen before, such as the trumpet played by Louis Bannet in the orchestra at Auschwitz-Berkenau. He owed his life to that trumpet. There was an Andy Goldsworthy installation of trees growing out of stones on an outdoor terrace.

The highlight of our day was the trip back. We walked all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge and across it. The views were amazing (it was that lovely golden hour of late afternoon as we reached the other side), and the exercise invigorating. The ever-present sight of One World Trade Center looming over the skyline was a constant reminder of the 9-11 tragedy and America’s resolve to move beyond that. It appears to have been designed with an image of a cross in the side of it (perhaps reminiscent of the steel cross found in the rubble of the destroyed buildings). I couldn’t find any website that mentions it as an intentional design element, but it’s clearly visible in one of my photos (the second one down below).

We caught the East River Ferry again on the other side and rode it back to Long Island City, where our hotel is. More amazing views of city at night from the ferry.

Total steps today: 22,884! I think that’s a lifetime record for me. Must have been somewhere around 11-15 miles. I’ve never seen New York that way before, and I must say it gave me a new appreciation for the scale of the city.

1 comment:

Heather van Woerden said...

Love, love, love these pictures.

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