Tuesday, November 05, 2013

New York City

As we've traveled around the United States, we've read aloud several historical fiction books relevant to the areas we've been through. It was neat to come upon this Blackfoot display at the Museum of Natural History, as one of the books we read was about the Blackfoot people. 
I have to admit that the Museum of Natural History was a bit of a disappointment after having watched Night at the Museum! Dumdum... no Gumgum! 
And Rexie! The kids were pretty excited to find this.
The highlight of the museum was the Discovery Room, where there were plenty of hands on activities for the kids. We're used to museums that are a lot more interactive, and the little crowd tired pretty quickly of looking at the dioramas and displays. We were all glad to find this room, and the kids would have been happy to stay there longer. Here they were taking part in an archaeological dig. The bones are set in and a mixture of wax and sand is poured around them, so they actually had to chip away at it to unearth the bones. It was well done, and the kids enjoyed it very much. 
For our second day in New York City we decided to take the Staten Island Ferry across the harbor and do some walking. I have seen the Statue of Liberty before, but this time it felt much more meaningful to me.The older I get and the more I learn about history, the more I appreciate what it means. We've been reading aloud The Landmark History of the American People, which I've found to be very enjoyable and interesting. Instead of a timeline of historical facts, it follows themes and trends and gets more into the why, not just the what, of history.  This trip has helped me feel much more connected to our country's history, as well as the story of my own family within it.
We got off the ferry and were greeted by a nice little Farmer's Market set up in the terminal. The moment we stepped outside, however, I felt very much like I do in a foreign country! It was hot and the air was heavy with the smells of exhaust and urine. We were immediately descended upon by touts selling tours; English was clearly not the first language of most of these men and women. Grabbing children by the hand, we all practiced our firm "no" and made a beeline through the crowd! 
The government shutdown had just begun, and I was disappointed not to have been able to visit Ellis Island. My grandma's parents both came through there when they arrived from Italy.
I found this sculpture, The Immigrants, moving. I cannot imagine what it was like for so many to leave everything behind in the hope of creating a better life.
We spent hours walking and felt like we kept getting foiled at every turn! The kids were tired, and yet we pressed on. Finding this building on Mott Street redeemed the day for me. My grandma was born in this apartment building in 1920. It was at the time in Little Italy, but Chinatown has taken over this part of the city. 
We had some delicious pizza at a small restaurant in Little Italy...
...followed by gelato at Ferrara's. The gelato cost us more than the pizza!

I had fun looking in one of the Italian deli shops. I remember my grandma buying ropes of braided,  fresh mozzarella.

There are the kids sitting outside of Ferarra's, eating gelato. Ferarra's was America's first espresso bar , opened in 1892. They also make delicious Italian pastries. I loved exploring this part of the city and thinking about what it was like for the many immigrants, including my Grandma's family. I'm so glad the kids had gotten to know my grandma during the last year of her life, and they too, are learning to appreciate and connect with their Italian heritage. 
It was a long day, and we decided to catch a bus back to the ferry terminal instead of walking the whole way. We walked to the bus stand, and waited, and waited. Finally one of those double decker tour busses came by, and the tour operator invited us to hop on board, for free! They only had a few more stops and were heading our direction. That may have been the highlight of the day for certain small people among us! 
Lower Manhatten from the ferry, heading back to Staten Island. The tallest building is the new One World Trade Center, which is still being completed.
The next day we drove through Times Square on our way home. Talk about sensory overload! Huge video screens cover almost every square foot of the buildings, each playing advertisements, and people, people everywhere. In the center of the picture is where they drop the ball on New Year's Eve. Driving through was enough for me. I was ready to flee the city and head to the hills! 
Having spent several months in India and Nepal, I have a soft spot for rickshaws, and it always makes me happy to find them in urban centers around the country. Four dollars a minute though, is a bit steep for my budget! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love hearing from you and try to respond to your comments here on the page.