Yes, I know, this is the vacation from two years ago. But it was a fascinating vacation. Any time you spend a week in New York City, you take in a lot. On May 28, 2009, we took the subway down to the Broadway and Nassau station; we thought we'd look at the World Trade Center site, and then walk around the financial district and see where we ended up. Since we had gotten up late, we were past the commute, and the train was pretty empty, except for us and a solemn young man of twenty-something who spent the entire trip tying his yellow Spongebob Squarepants tie in a full windsor, without bothering to button his collar or tuck in his shirttail (at least before he left the train).
Here is a link to the photos from this day - doesn't the New York subway have the most gorgeous tile work you ever saw?
There wasn't much to see at Ground Zero; the visitors center was closed the day we were there (closed Thursday and Friday, if you think of going). I think I got one photo of the construction site, with the usual fence, surmounted by the tops of cranes. But the first thing you see out of the subway is the graveyard of St. Paul's Chapel.
I didn't realize until I got there that St. Paul's was the rest stop cum sleeping barracks cum medical station for all the rescue workers in the pit, around the clock for weeks. Volunteers fed the workers, bunked them, hugged them, gave them massages (thousands of masseurs and chiropractors), played music for them. This is right across the street from where the towers came down. The dust and debris are gone, of course, but the memory, as they say, lingers on. And on top of this, St. Paul's Chapel is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan, completed in 1766, and the tombstones in the graveyard look it. This place was built before cemeteries out in the rolling countryside; if you went to this church, when you died they gave you a funeral, and then they took you out the back door and buried you in the yard.
Well, after that start the rest of the day was interesting but kind of anticlimactic, especially since it was a gloomy and overcast day. We walked around the financial district, saw Wall Street (which I was amused to see is now a pedestrian mall) and Broad Street. We stepped into Trinity Chapel, where a local orchestra was performing in the nave, and glanced at the tombstones in its churchyard. Trinity Chapel's valiant little spire among all the skyscrapers reminded me of our trip to New Zealand; when we toured Dunedin on the south island, we noticed that the church spires were still the tallest buildings in town. We walked down to the Fraunces Tavern (didn't go in), which was reputed to have been a hangout of the Sons of Liberty. We stopped to look at the New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where I got a photo of a blackbird splashing in the fountain. We took a brief tour of the New York Police Museum, just because we ran across it. It's a gorgeous old building, three times higher than it is wide and built of stone. I got one really good photo of the Brooklyn Bridge but after all that walking, I wasn't up to tackling it.
We took a look at the South Street Seaport, but it was just a tourist trap without any interesting restaurants, so we took the train over to Tribeca and found a restaurant called Max. You know it's genuine when you can hear the waiters arguing in Italian. The food was excellent.