2012: New York

Around the Town

Oct. 22


We had only one more full day in New York, so I wanted to make it a catch-all of sightseeing we'd missed so far. First up: a short walk to show Mike the ultimate hub of New York transportation, Grand Central Station. After admiring the big atrium and its clock, and visiting the resident Apple store, we went back outside for a neck-breaking view of the nearby Chrysler Building.


We took the subway downtown for the next activity of the day. I wanted to show Mike the best value in Manhattan, a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry. While the views were somewhat redundant to our Circle Line cruise, it's still a fun (and de rigueur) thing to do.

After disembarking, we took another run at the Wall Street Bull. Last time the NYC police were blocking our way. Today, we faced a more formidable opponent: a horde of Japanese tourists who weren't in a sharing mood. We fought our way to the bull's head for a couple of quick snaps. I had better luck at the south end; nobody seemed anxious to pose with bull butt.

The tourists were more interested in the bull than in the actual stock exchange, so it was quieter on Wall Street itself. I had last walked this block back in the 1970's, and it was somewhat depressing to see the security guard and fence protecting the entrance to the building. How much has changed, here and everywhere.

Just across from the NYSE is Federal Hall National Memorial. Although this building was constructed in 1842, it sits on the site of the original 1703 New York City Hall which later became Federal Hall, the original seat of U.S. government under the Constitution. The current building has served as a customs house, a subtreasury, an FBI office, and a passport office, before its 1955 designation as a national memorial.

Inside the building, the old vault doors -- a remnant of the building's subtreasury days -- are now used as secure display areas for documents on loan from the National Archives. On this day we saw the original Bill of Rights (sadly, faded and unreadable now) and George Washington's first inaugural address, which was delivered from the balcony of the old Federal Hall.

Roosevelt Island sits in the middle of the East River. It's largely a residential area, and amazingly there is no bridge to it from Manhattan, only from Queens. Manhattan commuters can reach it by subway, or via an aerial tram that runs parallel to the Queensboro Bridge (immortalized in song by Simon and Garfunkel as the 59th Street Bridge).

Tram station. View from tram. East River.

The tram is probably more popular with tourists than residents, and we were no different. You need to really want to ride it, though, because the departure station is not easy to get to and not close to much else.

Fly away, tram car. Queensboro Bridge. Nice tree. Undercarriage.

Once on Roosevelt Island, there isn't really anything to do; it's all about the tram ride. So we spent a little time watching the tram car depart and fly back toward Manhattan, and then we took a few pictures at the river's edge.

We rode the tram back to Manhattan after a half hour or so. We should have caught the subway back, because we were in for a bit of a walk otherwise. But there was a silver lining: on our walk back we got our last views of the two best buildings in NYC.