Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

Today, we explored Lower Manhattan and a tiny bit of Brooklyn on the last of the four year-round New York City Volksmarches offered by the Princeton Area Walkers.

We got off to an inauspicious start, thanks to the MTA and Google; the walk directions emphasized that we should go to the Chambers Street Station serving the 1-2-3 lines instead of the one serving the E. Google suggested we walk to the 59th Street station and take the R train to 42nd Street and transfer to the 2 (Express).

Easy, right? But when we got to 59th Street, the next few trains on the schedule were N trains; we let the first one go but then I looked carefully at the map, and then at the Google results, and realized that the N and the R both went to 42nd Street. That was ten minutes lost.

At 59th, the first train going to Chambers Street was the 1 (Local), so we let it go by. Ten minutes later, a 2 pulled in and we got on, only to hear the conductor announce that it was going to operate on the local tracks and make all stops – another ten minutes lost.

But we finally got to the starting point and began the walk. We were greeted by a wonderful display of tulips in front of PS234.

We also passed a Zucker’s Bagels & Smoked Fish restaurant – they were so busy that they hadn’t taken down their Passover special board.

This neighborhood had been badly affected by the damage caused by 9/11.

After a few minutes, we reached Nelson Rockefeller Park and the Esplanade. Like almost everywhere else we’ve been on this trip, there were tulips in profusion.

Colgate-Palmolive used to be headquartered on the Jersey side of the Hudson; they moved, but left their clock behind.

Near the North Cove Marina, we got a very nice view of the top of the new 1 World Trade Center reflected in a nearby skyscraper.

We also got to enjoy the ferry and sightseeing boats near the Statue of Liberty.

If we come back to the area, I’d like to visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

Ellis Island is nearby, so this statue of Mother Cabrini (the first naturalized US citizen to become a saint) is in the right place, as is another sculpture called “The Immigrants”.

The American Merchant Marine Memorial fits the area, too. The sculptor based it on a photograph of an actual event.

We’ve heard a lot about Castle Clinton on the Bowery Boys podcasts, so I was happy to see it in the flesh…errr, stone. It was built to defend New York from the British, and placed so that its guns had a 360-degree field of fire. The guns were never used, and the expansion of Manhattan brought it firmly onto land; it became a theatre for a while and is now the National Park Service headquarters for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It’s rather low and nondescript, so I didn’t get a good photo, but it provided a great vantage point to see all of 1 World Trade Center.

Our walk next took us to Bowling Green, the oldest park in New York. It’s tulip time there, too!

We walked by other historical buildings, including Fraunces’ Tavern, where George Washington bade farewell to his officers. It’s still an active restaurant, but we went to Just Salad instead.

I might not have noticed this mural on the International Telephone and Telegraph building if the volksmarch instructions hadn’t pointed it out.

No trip to Lower Manhattan is complete without seeing the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall.

We didn’t go into Trinity Church, but we did pay our respects to two of its permanent residents.

Our next stop was the National September 11 Memorial. The last time we were in New York, the site was still under active construction; now, you can see the pools where the Twin Towers stood as well as seeing the new 1 World Trade Center towering over the area.

The Oculus is a very interesting building above the new WTC Subway/PATH station. It’s supposed to look like a hand releasing a dove, and it’s aligned so that its floor is washed with light every September 11th between 8:46am (the first impact) until 10:28am (the collapse of the second tower). Naturally, it’s also a high-end shopping center.

The climax of today’s volksmarch was a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. This was the second time that Diane and I had done the bridge walk; it was quite a nice day for it!

And then all we had to do was walk back to the Chambers Street subway station to finish the walk. We took the E train back to midtown; it was a lot easier than our morning trek!

We had dinner at Raku It’s Japanese on East 52nd Street; it was a nice, unpretentious neighborhood place with friendly service and good food. The waiter talked us into trying sparkling sake and we liked it!

On our way back to the hotel, I saw what looked like LARGE parking tickets under the wipers of several cars. I was wrong.

Each ticket contained a different quotation about kindness; seeing them was an unexpectedly pleasant way to finish the evening.