Our last day in NY started with a quintessential NY tourist agenda. First we tried to rush tickets for Come From Away which is a play about 9-11, but it was standing room only, so we passed on that idea. Then we had our NY bagel experience – they tasted just like the NY bagels in Santa Monica!
Yesterday was slated to be quite rainy so after surveying everyone we talked to about which museum to prioritize, we decided on the MET. I have never been in such a large museum. We were constantly trying to figure out where we were and how to get to the next room. We started with the Egyptian temple, then went to the American wing where we saw an assortment of Colonial era furniture and furnishings, but this was the high end stuff. Everything we have seen to date on our tours (Lincoln, Paul Revere, etc.) have been from poorer family homes so it was a nice comparison.
After seeing the American history related art, we checked out the modern art and of course the 20th century European artists (Monet, Manet, Renoir, etc.). There was no way we could see it all and spend any significant amount of time in any one area. I can see how New Yorker’s must love to just stop in on a weekend day to check out one or two exhibits, and just come back anytime for others.
Afterward we met up with Ruth and Bailey for some more quality friend time. After a couple hours we had to say goodbye as they had evening plans. On our way to meet Diego for dinner we got to see all the diplomats leaving the UN for the evening.
We met Diego for some local ramen and decided to catch the subway at Grand Central Station for our last NY venue.
This week there was a special exhibit honoring women scientists and engineers. They were projecting some celestial designs and the women’s names on the ceiling of the station. It was really cool! (This picture was not staged – just good timing!)
Fast forward 200 years, I thought it was important to visit the 9-11 museum so Shayna could learn a bit about recent history. This is another “must see”. Be forewarned, it is really intense. I did not know how Shayna would respond to what we would see so I opted out of the guided tour, but I STRONGLY recommend it if you go. This museum was was the most crowded venue we have been to so far. It was PACKED. More amazing, despite all of the people, the museum is almost silent. There is such a sense of reverence in the space. Of course, I could not make it much past the first display without crying. I am not sure if it impacted Shayna quite the same way. I think it is much more heart wrenching for anyone who was alive at the time and watched the events unfold vs. the younger generations who have only read about it.
There is so much to see and we ended up moving through many of the displays rather quickly, one to protect Shayna from some of the vivid displays and second to get away from the crowds (it was almost impossible to see the displays in some rooms). Of all the incredibly artwork that commemorated the event this flag was designed by an artist. The red and white stripes are made up of pictures of each individual that passed, or a candle for those who did not have a picture and the blue is of the police and fireman who perished.
At the end of the museum (it has an IKEA format where you wind through a set pathway) there is a place you can write a message and then if appears on a map that everyone can see. Here is Shayna’s message:
And here is what the display looks like:
After the museum we decided to do something a little lighter. Since the next day was going to be rain, we had to fit in our outdoor activities. Shayna really wanted to check out Central Park. We decided the best way to see it was by bike.
After our bike ride we met up with some old McKinley friends. Bailey was in Shayna’s class and a good friend. They moved back to NYC about 3 years ago. We had such a nice visit. It has been so comforting to have friends and family to be with, not only while we are on the road, but particularly in New York with all the crowds and chaos. Since it is UN week it has been particularly crazy, especially where Bailey lives which is right near the UN.
Sunday was a really special day. When I was researching for this trip, I found a woman in New York who conducts historical tours. Her company is called Patriot Tours: Patriot Tours. When I contacted Karen, she offered to do a special tour for the kids (a bit shorter and focused than the adult version). I reached out to anyone I knew with kids in NY and we managed to pull together a small group for our tour.
Ruth and Bailey are friends who used to live in Santa Monica, Melissa is one of my synchro teammates who happened to be in town and then Marika is the sister of our wonderful next door neighbor, and her son Clyde.
We had a great time together on our tour learning about revolutionary history in New York. I think the locals had a special appreciation of what we learned about since they have been walking the same paths as our forefathers from 200 years ago. Of course, the tour had to include some Hamilton history.
We ended our tour with a quick stop at the Fearless Girl.
Shayna and I had a very special evening planned. As part of Shayna’s ELA studies, we have doing a poetry unit, reading TS Elliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, studying the poems and listening to the music while following along with the poems. We concluded this poetry unit with a trip to see CATS. Shayna was so excited. We found a nice family owned Italian restaurant in the theater district, had our NY Italian food and went to see the play. Needless to say, Shayna loved it!
Once people were released from Ellis Island many of them settled on the lower east side of Manhattan. In the late 1800s/early 1900s it was the Irish and Germans, followed by the Eastern Europeans, Italians and Chinese. So, to stay with the theme we decided to visit the Tenament Museum on Saturday. You have to reserve tours, 1 hour walk through the tenaments or 2 hour walking tours around the neighborhoods, all with different themes. Because these tours are so popular we could not get the tours we wanted until the afternoon. So, we started the day by walking around the lower east side. We started at the Essex Street Market, which is the only remaining NYC indoor vendor market (think Grand Central Market without the restaurants).
Next we checked out the Hester Street Fair (think a farmer’s market with just the prepared foods). It all looked great, but too early to eat.
So, we wandered around China Town and Little Italy. It was the annual St. Gennaro festival (think carnival and restaurant outdoor seating with people walking around all fitting within the narrow streets of NY). It was crazy but looked like lots of fun.
We finally were hungry enough for lunch and found a cute little Dim Sum restaurant which turned out to be well known for its Bao. Yum!
Finally it was time for our tours. We started with a 2 hour walking tour titled Then and Now. Our guide provided a great review of the LES neighborhoods and buildings discussing how the landscape has changed over time and questioned us about which buildings/streets should be preserved vs. rebuilt. It really provided perspective on all of the factors to consider with change and development of neighborhoods.
Then we met my nephew Diego who joined us for a 1 hour tour inside the Tenament building. It was a hot day, so we definitely got a little perspective on what life was like inside these buildings. This tour really rounded our 2 day exploration of immigrant life in NYC.
Of course a day on the lower east side would not be complete without a visit to a deli, so we had dinner at Katz’s Deli. The 3 of us split one meal – matzoh ball soup, brisket, kugel, potato pancake and pickles – can’t get more DELI than that!