This past weekend, I got the chance to see New York City up close and personal like. Just a few thoughts and observation, complete with appropriate music to go with it.
Got on the train at 6:30 or so and headed on into Penn station. (Queue Chattanooga Choo Choo lines about leaving the Pennsylvania Station) Down to the subway. What a mess! Most complicated blasted thing I’ve ever seen. A spaghetti of different routes, some of the worst signage I’ve seen and, to boot, on weekends they like shuffling things around for line work. Also pretty dingy in the stations. THIS is supposed to be the famous New York subway?
That notwithstanding, made it down to Battery Park to take the ferry to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Lady Liberty was quite a sight. It seems sad that she is too often draped in a flag and used to sell patriotism. Then headed to Ellis Island. (Queue Neil Diamond’s “They’re Coming to America”) The whole experience puts you in the mood: approaching on a crowded ferry having stood in line. You are surrounded by families and rowdy kids and are in the midst of hearing about a half a dozen languages. How appropriate! Ellis Island was quite moving and well done as an exhibit—even if my ancestors came through Baltimore.
After that, up to see the World Trade Center. What was striking was the lack of patriotic schlock that the event gets back in Kansas. The big sign on one store said “Remember….Fathers Day.” Then to Wall Street. (Queue theme to “Wall Street Week in Review”). It was striking that this “city that never sleeps” had a lot of businesses closed for the day.
Following this, saw one of the truly great museums of the city: the Tenement Museum. Check out the web site at www.tenement.org. A recreation of life on the Lower East Side up close and personal. It showed how dark and crowded the places were, but how they also offered hope. Also showed how urban life in New York is a process of constant change. An emersion into the complex, unsettling life of the tenements and the families who lived there.
Back on the subway to Times Square (Queue “Give my regards to Broadway”—the subway stops were various points in the song). Got a sandwich from a deli and ate it outside by Madison Square Garden. (Queue theme to “Sex in the City”) and then headed on back.