Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 25/60: NYC, 9/11 Memorial

To get downtown to the 9/11 Memorial by the time of our reservation at 10:30 a.m., we had to get the hotel shuttle by a few minutes after 8:00 a.m. We took the train to Grand Central station, and changed to a line that has a stop about six blocks from the visitor entrance to the Memorial. We got downtown in time to stop at Starbucks for a light breakfast, and a restroom break, as there are no restrooms at the memorial.

There are two reasons that viewing the Memorial is such a complicated deal. Security: they do a regular airline-type screening. They very nearly confiscated my tiny Swiss multi-function knife, but I couldn't find it in my handbag, so they waved me on. The other reason is that the crowd of visitors must thread through a very active construction site. The Memorial is finished, but all around it, towers are being built, both on the site of the World Trade Center and in surrounding blocks. It's really something to see men and equipment working at various heights and with mysterious equipment—also noisy.

Nevertheless, the Memorial does create an attitude of reverential contemplation. That in itself is pretty amazing. You probably know that the footprints of the Twin Towers are now pools of water, sort of inverted fountains, with thin waterfalls sliding down each wall. The action of falling, the patterns created by the falling water, the broad pool of water at the bottom—it all serves to create calm and reconciliation. Many tourists and school children stand around the walls of the fountain, but the space is so large that it didn't feel crowded when we were there. I wish I had had paper; you can make rubbings of the names of the victims. Thankfully we didn't know anyone directly involved.

South Pool of 9/11 Memorial
Dan's photo
Jan at 9/11 Memorial
Dan's photo
We hung around a half hour or more, taking pictures of the pools and the surrounding buildings. The sky was dull gray; the temperature mild.

For lunch, we took a taxi to a place called Fraunces Tavern near Battery Park. The brick building dates from the 1700s, supposedly the first building in New York; the interior decoration is a mix of old-fashioned styles, not particularly authentic. A local characterized the place as a tourist trap, and he was basically right. My turkey burger was so spicy that I couldn't eat it. Dan's wiener schnitzel was dry and dull. There was a museum upstairs, but we couldn't stand to stay inside any longer.

We walked over to Bowling Green, the city's first park. This put us right behind Wall Street. Dan took photos of the line of folks posing with the bronze bull on the corner. I observed another set of people whose idea was to pose at the ass end with one hand on the testicles. My photos of this phenomenon didn't come out; it's just as well.

Charging Bull, 1989
Arturo Di Modica (b. 1941)
Dan's photo
We entered the subway at Bowling Green, changed at Grand Central, and when we got to our station in Long Island City, Dan used his cell phone to call the motel shuttle. Dan was proud that we managed the whole trip without using a taxi, except for a ride at lunch.

We were back by 4 p.m. We rested and later watched the first Presidential Debate.

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