Our second and final day in New York city.
Today we were going to visit the places we had missed; but first the place that caused New York to hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Ground Zero.
We caught the B line from Newkirk in Brooklyn to Dekalb Street.
The New York subway system is vast. There are numbered lines going north-south and lettered lines coming in from the suburbs. The stations are stiflingly hot, the trains icy cold.
The platforms are long and narrow and there could be three tracks side by side, the middle one being the through line.
The stations are small, just steps down, ticket machines, platform unless more than one line is present.
Travel is by Metrocard only and each journey, however long or short, is $2.50. Up to four people can share a Metrocard and, once bought, can be topped up easily.
The stairs from above go straight on to the platform and the platform either side of the stairwell can be just a few feet wide.
The trains themselves are no different to anywhere else, but the newer ones have digital displays for which train you are on, where it’s going, the time and the next stop. They also have a list of stations the train is stopping at and how many stops it is from where you are. The older ones have nothing other than the line you are on and the start and finish stations.
At Dekalb we changed to the Q, and then the R to Rector Street.
The World Trade Center was down in the lower west side, not the easiest to get to from Brooklyn.
We had booked our time, 10am, from home and there is only a 30 minute window. There is a lot of queuing, three checks that you have a ticket, but entry is free.
The route round the construction site eventually brings you out into a large open area with lots of trees, including the survivor tree which survived the destruction.
The memorials are large square pools, set deep into the ground, with a smaller square sinkhole in the centre. Water flows continually down the sides and into the sinkholes.
Around the top are slanting granite plinths with the names of everyone who died inscribed on them. It’s a very peaceful place with lots of low granite blocks for people to sit on and contemplate.
There is still building work going on, but the Freedom Tower, on the new 1 WTC is close to finishing and will be the highest in the western world.
We left and walked into the financial district, along Wall Street, past the Federal Reserve, Federal Hall, the New York stock exchange and paid a fleeting visit to Trinity Church. We found the original Stone Street, supposedly full of old buildings, but now so full of restaurant tables you can’t see the buildings at all.
Heading towards the river we found the Charging Bull, symbol of the bull market in the stock exchange, but there were so many people crowding round it that we took a couple of token photos and moved on to the Bowling Green park next to it for a quick rest.
The river wasn’t far and we took the Staten Island ferry across the river and back again.
The ferry gives you great views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline, and is free of charge. The statue is on the right going to Staten Island.
Staying with the nautical theme, once back in Manhattan, we walked alongside the river, past the old slips, to South Street Seaport aand Pier 17.
Here there are lots of shops, mostly selling souvenir merchandise, and food outlets.
We had lunch and I tried a corn dog, very tasty, whilst Graeme had a chili and cheese dog.
As our bus tickets were still valid, we hopped on one for a couple of stops, to where China town meets Greenwich Village, then walked through the Village to Lafayette Street where we stopped in one of the innumerable Starbucks for coffee.
Onto the 6 line uptown to Grand Central Station for photos. What a building! It’s impressive from the outside, but when you walk in it’s wall to wall pale marble.
Huge, high-ceilinged areas, chandeliers, steps, even the tickets booths are carved marble and ornate.
A walk of about eight blocks down 5th Ave brought us to Macy’s, New York’s most famous department store.
It’s huge, and encompasses a whole block.
We had a wander around, but were flagging by this point so had some dinner there.
Revitalised, we carried on, and came away with my anniversary present.
Heading back to the hotel we caught the B line and treated ourselves to wine and beer once back in Brooklyn as Chelsea were playing in the final of the Guiness International Champion’s Cup; unfortunately they lost to Real Madrid.
New York is an extremely busy city, a seething mass of humanity and an extensive city full of people of every description.
It truly never sleeps.