August 1, 2006

New York City, day 2

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at August 1, 2006 8:46 PM

This time I went solo and took the train in. The morning was devoted to walking around and the afternoon to Liberty and Ellis Islands.

Weather: Yesterday I said the heat and humidity was "not as bad as it could be". Today the city proved that statement correct by raising the temperature about ten degrees. The heat truly brought out the many fragrances of the city. Meanwhile, the street vendors were primarily advertising ice cold water today. I rode in a Metro North car with an air-conditioning system struggling to stay online, but also a new-looking car on the 4 train that was as well chilled as some of the office buildings I walked by earlier, despite being packed with passengers.

Wandering: After arriving at Grand Central I wandered around midtown a bit, but I think I missed most of the interesting points (we did go through Times Square and Bryant Park yesterday). This time I mainly saw lots of shiny corporate-looking buildings. I then went downtown and had more luck with the random walk, stopping by the stock exchange and Federal Hall (which I think I had previously only seen in Metal Gear Solid 2).

Pizza: Went to a randomly-chosen pizza place downtown, but was not impressed. (However, my standards are fairly high, since Berkeley has multiple world-class pizza restaurants.)

Battery Park: There's a new garden under construction here, so much of it was closed off and there was a lot of dust. However, it is still the point of departure for the Liberty Island ferry so there were plenty of other tourists and the attendant souvenir shops and so forth.

The Ferry: The wind on the harbor provided a nice break from the heat, plus great views of everything. It occurs to me that I've never taken any of the ferries in the San Francisco Bay; maybe I should do that sometime.

Liberty Island: The park around the Statue of Liberty was good just for walking around; it also had excellent views of everything else in the harbor and was a good place to take pictures and admire the statue. The lemonade sold here was very important (and I was surprised they weren't doing more business).

Statue of Liberty Museum: Laaaaame. First you wait in line forever to go through a truly obnoxious bit of security theater, including the questionable new "puffer" machines, plus x-raying absolutely everything in your pockets. Note that the x-ray and metal detector had already been done when getting on the ferry, but they make you do it again. The actual museum is interesting at first, but quickly runs out of material and tries to supplement it with a collection of Statue of Liberty kitsch. Amusing but definitely not worth the wait. The view from the pedestal is only marginally better than the view from the island or the ferry. Skip this.

Ellis Island: The immigration museum was very interesting from both a historical and a political point of view. There are a lot of little details like documents and personal articles and recordings of stories from immigrants that really give a sense of what the place was like. Furthermore there is lots of material on the politics of immigration during Ellis Island's operation, which happen to be much the same as the politics of immigration today.

New York Public Library: I stopped by again before going back to Connecticut and was able to get in this time. It is indeed an impressive building. Lots of marble and some nice murals. There were a couple of interesting exhibits, one on French book art (including some illustrations of French versions of Edgar Allan Poe stories), and the other on the Declaration of Independence, which consisted of several different versions of the declaration in the library's holdings. Most of these are copies distributed by newspapers throughout the colonies following its signing, but there's also one handwritten by Thomas Jefferson.

Overheard: The best one today was probably this:
Guy with foreign accent enters a crowded subway car.
Guy: I've never been this close to a woman before!
[uncomfortable silence]
Guy: Besides my wife!
--4 train

There was also what sounded like a good crazy guy and/or cell phone rant the other time I rode the 4 train, but I wasn't close enough to hear much of it.

Tomorrow: Get up really early and go to the airport, possibly get back to Berkeley in time for salsa class.

Tags: Travel
Comments

Immigration policies: Actually, this is why my father is from Argentina. (They wouldn't let his parents in the first time they tried to come to the US because the quota for immigrant Jews had already been met. My grandparents on my father's side were among many Jews who found South America to be far more welcoming than the US. [Some of my relatives ended up spending time as partisans, although I apparently didn't inherit any of the requisite skills.] They did get here some number of decades later, however.)

Statue of Liberty: When I was there in summer 01, my friend and I went to the island on which it stands [ :) ] and walked around and took pictures (and possibly even had lemonade), but we saw the huge line and given that I was spending only 2 days in NYC (with some of it already dedicated to seeing a game at Yankee stadium...their grounds crew does the YMCA in the 7th inning and they play different versions of "New York, New York" depending on whether they win or lose: Sinatra if they win; Liza Minelli if they lose), we decided not to bother trying to get in.

Posted by: Mason | August 2, 2006 1:28 AM

thanks for coming out east

Posted by: shellock | August 2, 2006 4:47 AM

You missed Sleater-Kinney by one day. They're playing their last NYC show tonight at Webster Hall.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 2, 2006 6:03 AM

Anonymous: Imagine that I am doing the Darth Vader Nooooo! right now. If I had known about that I totally would have extended my trip (assuming I could get tickets, which is unlikely).

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | August 2, 2006 6:47 PM
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