’21 Sep: New York New York

It’s a helluva town.

Arrival Evening

This was my first plane ride since covid and I think it went very well. The airport was not crowded (at 5am..) and in both the airport and on the plane mask compliance was 100%.

I’m settled here in the Lower East Side in a most curious hotel and a different kind of neighborhood. The dotted line shows the 8 minute walk from the hotel to the most useful metro stop, one of the downsides to this hotel. I think it will be fine though, I think the 8 minutes will dissolve into the many hours of walking to come.

What the hotel says about itself: The Sanctuary NYC mission is to provide a ‘retreat for the soul’, a respite from the usual non-spiritual accommodations available to travelers who journey to New York. As Sanctuary NYC is part of St. Christophers Interfaith Community/Dharma in Action, we live by the credo that taking care of guests is our intrinsic dharmic duty, as St. Christopher was the patron saint of travelers.

From the hotel’s website, the lobby above showing the yoga studio past the glass doors, and the room. The door in the distance of the room leads to a private patio, pretty rare in the city I think. They ask you to only cook vegetarian food in the kitchen.

Pictures from google street. There are about 100 restaurants between the metro and the hotel and these mini-marts on every corner. I got a very nice salad at Wholesome Foods for dinner and then fell into a deep sleep, waking up at 3:30am NY time. I’m typing this at 4am. Let’s see how I do with the time change..since I never know what time it is anyway!

When I was getting my salad at Wholesome Foods the guy, who appeared from his demeanor to be the owner, said it’s your first time here, right? and I said yes, that’s right! and he said why don’t you pick another ingredient, it’s on me. Opinion affirmed: people in New York are perfectly lovely.

P&G and The Tenement Museum

Not having been to NY in 15 years so many sites are new to me, for example The Tenement Museum, which is awesome.

You can tell this is an internet picture because of the trees.

What makes a building a tenement? What our guide said, and may I note that we had a private guide, which was wonderful: 1) 4-5 floors walk-up 2) shared by at least three unrelated families 3) each with their own kitchen.

They have fitted out one floor to represent a few exact families (we learn their individual stories), from the 19th and 20th centuries, that lived in this building. Below are some samples of the rooms from the internet since no photos were allowed. You can choose among several tours from different eras. I recommend you chose one related to your own background. You will be amazed. My grandparents definitely lived here!

More tenements, the basic construction of the Lower East Side.

Here we are, too cute, right?!

Following are a few pictures from my street. Soon Ingalill will arrive and we’ll head out for a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Oh Goodie, I’ve never walked across the Brooklyn Bridge before.

There are three of these pocket parks within five blocks.
Our synagogue, speaking to the hugely mixed nature of this neighborhood and all the immigrants who have passed through.
Highly decorated and severely plain, living side by side…

A Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

I very likely would not have done this were it not for Lill, her youth and get-up-and-go. After her arrival in late afternoon we took the train over to the base of the bridge. This is not a cut and paste but rather Night Sight that certainly could have done a better job.

Starting from the beginning, here’s the Chambers Street Station.

We’re heading into Brooklyn around 6:15pm.

The crowds were no problem, they were cute actually, everyone striking a pose for their photo.

From Wikipedia: The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge, spanning the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Opened on May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first fixed crossing of the East River. It was also the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its openingIts stone towers are neo-Gothic, with characteristic pointed arches...the city, in 2021, installed a two-way protected bike path on the Manhattan-bound roadway, allowing the existing promenade to be used exclusively by pedestrians.

Super-telephoto in the camera and again in the computer, because I wanted to.
At this point we are making a slow amble back to Manhattan, waiting for a black sky.
People in Brooklyn living in glass houses, taken from the bridge.
That’s the Manhattan Bridge, and you can walk across it too. The internet seems to think it is good because it is less crowded than the Brooklyn Bridge but it is bad because the fencing makes it difficult to get good views. We liked looking at it and if there was all the time in the world we cross that one too.
Another one, because.
This is what happened when I tried to do a pano.
This is what happened when Lill did a pano.

Central Park and The Frick

We did a quick buzz into Central Park. Central Park is big, we probably missed your favorite place, but we did what we wanted to do.

I wanted to see Alice in Wonderland and make a picture for Rome. Here it is babe!

Constructed in 1959 by José de Creeft, commissioned by Delacorte where children are invited to climb, touch and crawl all over Alice and her friends.
But First! Gotta get a dog at the park!
Bethesda Fountain, centerpiece of the Bethesda Terrace, present in the park since the beginning in the 1860s.

Check out the buildings above, the ones in the distance. Notice you can’t see the top of the building on the left. This will play into the second part of our day.

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Now it’s time to talk about The Frick, currently known as The Frick Madison. Briefly, The Frick Collection has been housed in the mansion of the late Henry Clay Frick who passed in 1919. The mansion and the fabulous collection has been open to the public since 1935. In March 2021, the Collection temporarily relocated to Frick Madison, at the Marcel Breuer-designed building at 945 Madison Avenue, during the renovation of its historic building. I heard that The Frick has a 2 year lease.

All this doesn’t fully express what a monumental change the new building brought to the exhibition of The Frick’s collection. If you have the least interest at all in museums I promise you will want to click on this link to an: article from the NY Times.

No photos allowed, I got this from the NY Times article referenced above, the picture in it’s home of 80+ years and how it looked on moving day. You might think NOOO you might think YESSS but you won’t be indifferent. Do read the article before you decide.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

The fire station across the street from ground zero.

Every time I see a skyline picture with the Twin Towers I’m re-awakened to how totally they dominated the views. I remember the towers were very controversial at first and how over time I think we just got used to it.

(Internet picture)

And then they were gone.

(Internet picture)
(Internet picture)

The pools are situated on the footprint of the towers. The lighter building is the museum. The city has given up real estate where, on a typical weekday, an estimated 50,000 people worked in the towers and another 140,000 passed through as visitors, for the sake of this memorial.

The winged building is Oculus btw.

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Little Island

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Here’s an internet aerial so you can get an overview of its siting and the scale of Little Island. It’s a highly designed space, seemingly made for crowds to move along landscaped paths with occasional stops for a selfie. There’s not much room for ‘free play‘ and the amphitheater holds only 687 people, nice for the lucky ones who can get a reservation.

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One of the two entrances.
Those catawampus buildings are, in fact, catawampus!

Little Island is a vanity project of Barry Diller (from Bloomberg.com) While it may be Barry Diller’s ideal park, it doesn’t line up with the needs or expectations (or budget) of most of the 8 million plus New Yorkers, many of whom don’t have access to private outdoor space and need room to walk, play, party and sprawl. This is a pretty harsh review. Many reviewers are delighted with the space. My personal impression was dominated by ‘wow, this feels expensive’.

Music! You go Lill.
Notice the tallest building, One World, next to where the Twin Towers once stood.
Looking back.

A Walk Along the High Line

from Wikipedia: The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway, and rail trail created on a former New York Central Railroad spur… The abandoned spur has been redesigned as a “living system” drawing from multiple disciplines which include landscape architecture, urban design, and ecology. Since opening in June 2009, the High Line has become an icon of contemporary landscape architecture.

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They’ve left remnants of the old train tracks along the way. It was fine to walk in the shade but mostly the day was HOT.
I read they chose plantings to match what had grown naturally along the tracks.
There was a lot of scaffolding which didn’t look that great but we welcomed for the shade.

Our traditional reflect-o and more of the natural foliage from the railroad tracks.

Art.
And more art. There are many art pieces on the High Line and wikipedia is happy to tell you all about it.

To find out about this eye-popping building I googled ‘jetson’s building on the high line’ and sure enough, there it was.

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The inscription above says ‘This book belongs to its owner Fathallah Saad. He bought it with his own money at the beginning of March 1892.’
We ended at the end, at Hudson Yard, more of that later.

Lady Liberty and Ellis Island

We did what needed to be done: ‘All ferry ticketing is run through Statue Cruises, which is the only vendor authorized to provide tickets and transportation to Liberty and Ellis Islands.’

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Lill has a picture of herself in this pose from so many years ago.
I know, my hair, always good for a laugh.

Here it is below, Ingalill herself, circa 1987.

The visitor’s center was very good, with interesting displays about the history and construction of the statue.

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The arrival building at Ellis Island.

When talking about Ellis Island we mostly hear numbers, how many passed through this hall, from where, how long did it take, how many were turned back, and how many were sent to the hospital. The displays here tried to personalize at every turn. We saw images of individuals, the things they brought, the clothes they wore, pictures of their families back home.

And for $10 you could use their computer for 30 minutes to try to find your relatives. Is this my grandfather? We thought he came in 1910, we thought he was 17, we thought he came from Ukraine but then google has never heard of Hamentz, Russia.

We three sisters remember the story differently so I’m going to tell my version! Grandpa told me that when he was coming to America, when he first caught sight of the Statue of Liberty he jumped off the ship and swam the rest of the way straight to New York City. But then he was the kind of guy who might very well make up a city to be from…

Inside our 30 minutes I couldn’t remember the first and last name of my other grandparents, all immigrants who would have come through Ellis Island. Lill couldn’t remember the full names of any of her relatives that came during the time frame (1892-1954) either! I think this resource is available online and you might not even have to pay the 10 bucks.

The below is a photo from the screen.

UPDATE Sep 26!

Above is the ship’s handwritten manifest including my grandfather’s entry, line 4, and this is a blowup of the Place of Birth in Russia. The typist had transcribed the name as Hamentz, so I started googling around starting with a K and look at that, Kamenetz (Kamenets) is a place in western Ukraine!

One World Observation Deck

You can see to the curvature of the earth..or so it seems anyway. Above are three of the four bridges to the east, from the top, the Williamsburg, then the Manhattan, and then the Brooklyn Bridge.

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We had tickets for Friday but since the visibility was Zero they were giving re-bookings and we got new tickets for Sunday.

They’ve been checking vaccination status and keeping the numbers down everywhere we’ve been. No excuse-me excuse-me to get a chance at the window.