02.10.2013 - 02.10.2013
We got up a little earlier today to be down at breakfast at 7am. On the news they were nagging about the Government Shutdown and Obama Care whether the president would give in to the Republicans or not. An hour later we took “the tube” down to South Ferry to find out if we could get out to Statue of Liberty or not. We arrived at Battery Park at 8.30am and walked to the ferry that was moored to the wharf. In fact there were already people lined up so we joined them. The crew on the ferry came and told us that the ferry wasn’t owned by the government which meant that the ferry would take us out on the water and just circle around Liberty Island even though Statue of Liberty itself was closed. We’ll take it! Since we had already paid for the tickets it was a fair deal.
So we embarked the ferry that was soon enough filled with tourists in hope of getting a view of Statue of Liberty up close, even though we wouldn’t be able to disembark Liberty Island. The ferry left the harbor going north on Hudson River and we got a magnificent view of Manhattan Skyline. The sun shined in an almost cloud free sky and made the buildings infinitely high. That was so impressive to see. Later the ferry turned around back towards south and Liberty Island and Statue of Liberty. The boat slowly passed the island so we would have time to take pictures but we didn’t get any closer than that. You could spot riot fences and barriers in the harbor at Liberty Island. Then the ferry made an extra turn in on East River and went in under Brooklyn Bridge before it turned back to the harbor. So we did get some value for the money anyway, even though we couldn’t disembark and visit the actual crown of the Statue of Liberty (that we had paid for).
Facts about Statue of Liberty…
The statue was a gift from the French government to America’s 100-year-celibration of independence. The statue was designed by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, a young French sculptor who aimed for building a statue just as big as the colossal Helios that once stood on the Greek island Rhodos. The Statue of Liberty is inspired from the goddess Libertas from the Roman myths, with a glorious crown, attired ankle-length dress and slaveries chains by the feet. The Statue of Liberty’s face is told to be shaped after Bartholdi’s own mother Charlotte and the body is said being designed after a prostitute. The crown has sevens spikes which symbolize the Seven Seas and the Seven Continents which freedom was being spread. In the left hand she holds a board with the inscription “July IV MDCCLXXVI” (4th of July 1776), which is the day America was founded and the English colonies in North America declared independence from. In her right hand she holds the torch that symbolizes enlightenment.
The Statue weigh 225 tons, is 46,5 meters high and together with the pedestal (27 meters) it reaches a total of 93 meters. Inside is a stairway you can use to get up all 354 steps up to the crown. The statue was manufactured in France and sent over to the USA in 214 pieces. It took nine years to assemble the statue and during six of those years the torch was exhibited in Madison Square Park to gain interest and finance the construction of the pedestal that the Americans had to pay for themselves. In 1884 the Statue of Liberty stood ready upon Liberty Island. In 1986, about hundred years after the completion of the statue, the torch was replaced with a new one, but the original is still available to see in the monuments museum.
Satisfied we disembarked the ferry and started to walk north to get to the Charging Bull. The Charging Bull is a 3,2 ton heavy bronze sculpture standing in Bowling Green Park close to Wall Street, Manhattan in New York. With its 3,4 meters height and almost 5 meter long the sculpture symbolizes an aggressive financial optimism and success since it’s leaning backwards on its hips and with its head lowered ready to attack. The bull is a popular attraction, which we experienced. Once we had gotten there several busloads with Asian tourists were at the site taking turns photographing them with the sculpture. After a few minutes we gave up realizing we would have to wait all day long if we wanted to have a photo alone with the Charging Bull. So we kept on going along Wall Street down to East River and headed for Brooklyn Bridge instead. When we got up on the bridge the temperature was close to +27 °C and the sun was broiling high up in the sky. The wind was almost non-existent so we had to stop every other meter to drink water and rest in the shadow (where there was one).
Facts about the Brooklyn Bridge…
Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1869-1883 and linked New York and at the time independent city Brooklyn together. Brooklyn was founded by Dutch settlers during 17th century and was in the end of 1880 one of Americas largest cities. Fifteen years after the bridge was opened the citizens of Brooklyn voted for a motion that meant Brooklyn became a district of New York. Brooklyn Bridge is nowadays one of New York’s most famous landmarks. The idea to build Brooklyn Bridge was born when the German immigrant John Roebling took the ferry over East River and the ferry got stuck in the ice. Unfortunately John Roebling crushed his foot, got tetanus and died and never got to see his masterpiece finished. His son Washington Roebling took over the project. But when the bridge was opened May 24th 1883, Washington laid on his deathbed, severely sick in caisson disease after the pedestal work he had done on the bridge.
Father and son Roebling hadn’t just built a bridge that looked strong, its construction has proved to be just as strong. A network of wires is anchored into the ground to prevent the bridge to collapse whereof the strongest has a diameter of 28 cm. Even if the four strongest wires would break all the other wires would be enough to support the bridge. Roebling claimed the bridge would stand even without any wires. To disprove the people’s skepticism he let a caravan of circus animals – including a herd of 21 elephants – pass on the bridge in 1884. With its length of 1,8 km and a 486 meters span in-between the towers Brooklyn Bridge was the world's largest suspension bridge when it was completed. The most remarkable about the bridge should be the two stonewall towers which majorities of the wires are attached to. The two gothic arches reach a height of 84 meters each. Roebling claimed also that the memorable towers would make the bridge to a historical monument. And so it did. Brooklyn Bridge officially became a Historical Monument in 1964. During the years the bridge has had traffic of horses, trams and railways but today is only six traffic lanes for cars and an upper level for pedestrians and bicycles. The elevated pathway gives the visitors not only an opportunity to pass Easter River without being disturbed by traffic, but also gives a very nice view of the gothic towers and Manhattans Skyline.
So we walked almost halfway over the bridge before we turned around. Not that we didn’t want to but we had the Ground Zero or 9/11 Memorial scheduled and we wouldn’t make it if we didn’t turn around. After swirling around on the streets at Lower Manhattan (well posted signs though!) we arrived at the entrance. The queue was long and if you ever plan to visit Ground Zero you must consider 45-60 minutes only standing in line, especially during high season. The security level was high to get in, resembled of an airport security check. Guards checked your bag (water was allowed in though) and then you had to do a body scan for metal items before you could enter the actual 9/11 Memorial.
Facts about 9/11 Memorial or Ground Zero…
9/11 Memorial is the memorial of the terrorist attacks towards the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. The Monument, named “Reflecting Absence”, symbolize the area for the two twin-towers by two square lowered pools with eternal streaming waterfalls. Ground Zero opened just in time for the 10-year memorial of the attacks. The name of all victims from the September 11th 2001 and the terror bombings in 1993 are inscribed on the bronze panels around the pools. On-site are 400 planted trees and a underground museum (not yet opened during our visit though) that exhibit remains of the twin-towers from the terrorist attacks. One of all the trees that were planted on-site is known as “Survival Tree”. The tree, planted during 1970, was badly damaged and burned but was miraculously saved from all remains of World Trade Center in October 2001. N.Y.C. Parks Department took care of the tree and replanted it out on Memorial Plaza in December 2010.
The monument Reflecting Absence is built on the exact same spot as the two twin-towers were. The size of the pools and how they are placed are identical with how the towers once were. Along the pool sides streams waterfalls that can symbolize with how the towers imploded after the attacks. The reconstruction of the World Trade Center should be finished by 2020 and will consist of five skyscrapers. None of them will be higher than the two twin-towers. The tallest building “One World Trade Center” or “Freedom Tower”, with its 102 floors and 541 meters will be New York’s highest building. The height is symbolic since 541 meters (1776 ft) stands for the year America was founded, that is 1776. Freedom Tower shall be the most stable skyscraper in the world at the expense of 20 billion Swedish kronor. I remember exactly what I did that Tuesday September 11th, 2001. Soon after 5pm Swedish time the horror hit the news. Sweden and the whole world held their breaths. It wasn’t an action movie, it was for real. It’s hard to understand what the New Yorkers had to deal with that day.
We got to the South Pool first and what struck me the most was the deafening murmuring from the waterfalls. The murmuring excluded Lower Manhattans busy city life and gave us visitors focus on the monument. The deepness of the pools was seemingly bottomless and no matter how long you stood there starring into the deep you couldn’t see the bottom. The mystery of the pools can resemble the consequences of the terrorist’s actions – just as deep and bottomless. I felt very small standing there looking down into the pools and realizing how fragile life is. I’m not a religious person in any way but I felt my life changed while standing there. About a month prior our trip they had broadcast the movie World Trade Center from 2006 with Nicolas Cage in the lead on TV in Sweden. So with that movie fresh in mind (with authentic pictures from the attacks) I just had to honor the victims with a silent minute.
After the visit I felt kind of emotionally empty and the heat didn’t make it better. After a well-needed lunch we took the tube back to our hostel for some siesta. When we woke up we craved for some frozen yoghurt. Brain freeze! But it felt ok because of the heat outside today. I had googled a candy store close to Central Park named Dylan’s Candy Bar. It is actually Dylan Lauren (Ralph Lauren’s daughter) that owns the store! So it felt like a must when I was here in New York. We walked to 60th Street and 3rd Avenue and entered a total heaven for candy lovers. Two whole floors with candy and a third floor with a café. It wasn’t the cheapest candy you can buy but I did buy some anyway. On our way back to the hostel we shopped clothes at New York & Company on 5th Avenue. I found a pair of pants with 50% discount that I bought. Then we had to buy breakfast for tomorrow morning since we had to get up before hostel breakfast and catch our transfer at 5.10am for our day-trip to Niagara Falls.