Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The City That Never Sleeps...

It's been a while since I was in New York so my buddy and I flew up on Friday of the long Memorial Day weekend to take in a few shows and visit the Statue of Liberty which recently re-opened to the public.

No one is allowed inside the statue itself now but you step ashore on the island and can go to an outdoor platform high up on the pedestal. Before 9/11 you could go up to the "crown" but the last time people were permitted to climb a ladder from there up to the torch was 1916.

The ferry that takes you to Liberty Island continues on to Ellis Island so we also were able to see where more than 11,000,000 immigrants - men, women and children - were processed when they first arrived in America.

About a third stayed in the New York area but the rest fanned out in all directions. A chart showed the destinations of 950,000 newcomers during a one year period and I noted that 2 went to Florida and only 1 went to South Carolina. To Beaufort.
With all the discussion going on about immigration, it was a timely visit to the restored facility that was the 1920s welcome mat to America. Actually, about 2% were refused admittance for a variety of reasons and had to turn around and go back. What a crushing disappointment that had to be after coming all that way.

There was a haze over Manhattan as we sailed through the harbor on a bright and sunny day. It was Fleet Week - as part of the Memorial Day weekend - so Navy destroyers cut through the waves and helicopters clattered and hovered in formation overhead.

Sunday in the park meant going to Central Park after several hours of delightful wandering through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a perfect day for a drink at The Boathouse, strolling Strawberry Fields across from John Lennon's Dakota and joining the frisbee throwing crowd in the Sheep Meadow.

My last visit to The City was almost 2 years ago, a week before Christmas, and Central Park was buried under mounds of snow so a visit to the adjacent Guggenheim was as close as we got.

We did see two Broadway shows - The Odd Couple and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - and found a Blues club in West Village that plays 7 nights a week. Two great acts that have played here are due in New York in mid-July. We visited a pizzeria that dated from 1905 and yes, there is a distinctive taste to New York-style pizza. We stole forks from Tavern On The Green but there was a compelling reason that involved a lunch in Chinatown and chopstick envy. I'll display pictures of that and much, much more in a later NYC post.

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