I grew up in a small tourist town in Maine. By default, I was pretty much afraid and apprehensive about the noise and chaos of cities. That began to change in 2009 when I started making more frequent trips to downtown Philadelphia and has evolved into loving cities since moving to San Francisco. There is always so much to do and see, and I absolutely love being able to walk everywhere, particularly in San Francisco where the weather is pleasant all year around.
Last week marked my second trip to Manhattan since I had discovered this love of cities (my first, in 2009, was a short day trip). Given my past apprehension, it’s not surprising that I’d only been to the city a handful of times in my life. My first trips were as a child with my grandparents to visit the American Museum of Natural History where I first saw dinosaurs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and to the top of the World Trade Center. As an adult my only other visit had been to go to The Last HOPE conference, in 2008.
I was pretty excited on this work trip to carve out some tourist time in Manhattan, which began Friday night after the bootcamp as I walked south into the heart of lower Manhattan, following the spire of the new One World Trade Center. I hadn’t actually been to lower Manhattan since that trip to the WTC as a youth, never saw ground zero, so I figured it was time. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was fortunate enough to get one of the by-donation passes at the 9/11 Memorial and walk in without too much of a line.
The memorial is a beautiful park and while previously unconvinced, I was really impressed with how stunning the reflecting pools are. I was also surprised by my own emotions. I was working at a convenience store in upstate New York when 9/11 happened, for my entire shift that day there was an outpouring of love, horror and solidarity that I’d never seen in my neighbors before. People scrambled to contact loved ones in the city and emergency and medical professionals all over town geared up to drive down to help in any way they could. The memory of all that emotion came back to me as I looked across those pools. Powerful, sad stuff.
I left the memorial and considered heading back to my hotel before I found myself in front of a street side tourist map and learned that the New York Stock Exchange was just a short walk away, I’d never seen it before!
After 5PM on a Friday Wall Street is pretty dead, so I got to take a bunch of pictures of the classic building.
Then I went in search of the Charging Bull sculpture and was delighted to see him too!
By this time it was getting to be around 7PM so I began walking back to my hotel. On the way back I walked through City Hall Park where lots of squirrels live, and got a glimpse of New York City Hall. Then walked past the New York County Courthouse and other older municipal buildings.
Back at the hotel I met up with my friend Danita who had driven up from Philadelphia to spend the weekend in the city with me. We ended up having dinner in a random Italian restaurant in Little Italy, just a short walk from our hotel. I wrapped up my meal with a delicious cannoli!
More photos from lower Manhattan here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/sets/72157634433427073/
Next up – our Saturday adventures in midtown!