New York City was not on our planned route heading south, because we had both been there before. But in this lifestyle we realize that we need to see everything we can while we’re here, and plans can change quickly. So we decided to tackle the challenging trip to the Big Apple, and yes, it was an unpleasant drive on I-95 S from Connecticut, passing through the Bronx in New York to the New Jersey turnpike. But we made it with the only damage being to our nerves.
The only RV park with easy access to NYC is Liberty Harbor RV Park (Steve’s review is here), across the Hudson River in Jersey City. For $80 a night you get a space in a parking lot with just water and electrical hookups. They are the only game in town, as they are within easy access of Manhattan by ferry or train. And they know it!
Reconnecting with my long lost friend, Rosana – whom I had not seen for 37 years – was a great reason to stop by NYC. She and her hubby Angelo gave us a wonderful personalized tour around town, and that’s always the best way to experience a big city.
The highlight of our wanderings was visiting the 9/11 Memorial. Access is free, but a donation is requested when you get your timestamped pass, which is recommended because of how busy it gets. The Memorial is surrounded by ongoing construction on several World Trade Center structures, which is amazing to see in itself. We went on a Saturday, and a large crowd was already forming as the gate opened at 10AM. A security screening was required prior to entry, and we noticed lots of cameras and a large police presence.
The new One World Trade Center is scheduled to be completed in early 2014, and it dominates the nearby skyline. It is almost complete at 104 floors, and is topped by a spire that reaches the symbolic height of 1,776 feet – a number commemorating the year of America’s independence.
The rebuilding continues, and we observed solemnity and respect among the hundreds of visitors.
Our friends took us all around town, and for those of you who have visited or lived there, you know that getting around means taking the subway and walking on the streets and avenues. We learned that In New York City, an avenue block is 1/4 mile long and runs from east to west, while a street block is 1/16 of a mile long and runs from north to south. Believe me, we did LOTS of walking on this day!
Walking down Wall Street, I caught a glimpse of Trinity Church. It was positioned very nicely between other tall buildings.
In its yard is a two-ton bronze sculpture installed as a reminder of a large sycamore tree. The tree was uprooted on September 11, 2001 from St Paul’s Chapel several blocks away and found lying in the yard of Trinity Church. It had fallen in such a way that none of the historic tombstones around it were disturbed and none of the wreckage reached the Chapel.
When we arrived at the American Museum of Natural History, I recognized immediately that these were the actual exhibits behind the characters featured in the movie “Night at the Museum”! The David H. Koch Dinosaur collection alone occupied a large area on the fourth floor. This museum is huge and amazing, and it requires at least a full day (and maybe more) to explore. A must-see if you’re in NYC.
As you may have guessed, the Rockefeller Center is a tourist destination and we were there milling around with hundreds of other folks.
A visit to NYC wouldn’t be complete without being in Times Square at night! Our friends made sure we saw it during the day and then again all lit up.
Lastly, they took us across to Brooklyn where we were able to see the amazing Manhattan skyline from yet another vantage point. Awesome!
It was truly great seeing and reconnecting with Rosana again after so many years. Many thanks to her and Angelo, our gracious and patient hosts for giving us a fantastic tour of NYC – and for the wonderful lunch in Chinatown. You are the best!
Next up: High Rises and Many Bridges – The Big Apple pt. 2