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Published: September 9th 2010
Went to Ground Zero yesterday. It's now a building site. They're making a memorial plaza with fountains and the like in the layout of the foundations of the destroyed buildings. I got quite choked up to be at the point where the deaths of tens of thousands of people began in a war that still has no end in sight. I then made the mistake of going into St Paul's Chapel, which was right next to the building site. I was suckered in by the fact it is the oldest building on Manhattan and George Washington used to pray there (they've even preserved his pew). But instead of historical content it was of course full of 9/11 memorials, which upset me even more.
In the churchyard there is a bell, given by the City of London and cast by the same guys who made the Liberty Belle and Big Ben. Apparently it was rung after the Madrid bombings and 7/7.
By now wishing I had never come to New York I went to the New York City Police Museum, hoping to find lots of stories of cops and robbers to entertain me. Instead I found a memorial to NY's
police casualties at 9/11 and a room containing all the badges of all the NYPD officers ever killed in the line of duty. Very upsetting.
On the plus side the museum did contain some wonderful improvised weapons used by criminals over the years. My favourite was two horseshoes nailed to a baseball bat. Bet they haven't thought of that one in Hackney yet!
Anyway, by now needing a large hankie and a hug, and with neither available, I went in a bar and had a pint and lunch. Feeling bloated but better I went down to Battery Park which overlooks the Statue of Liberty and what should I come across but a giant memorial to all the US Navy personnel who died in the 41-45 conflict. That set me right off again and made me decide that there was no way I was going to Ellis Island to see how the immigrants suffered. I also really didn't fancy the Statue ferry by this point. Besides, there's something quite romantic about Liberty as a distant but unreachable figure from the shore (see photo).
To cheer myself up I decided to go to the South Street Seaport and what
should I happen to pass on the way but a Vietnam Veterans memorial plaza. Lower Manhattan is miserable!!
Anyway, the Seaport was quite fun for 5 minutes, featuring the world's 2nd largest sailing ship still afloat and the world's largest cast iron ship afloat. I then walked up the Brooklyn Bridge which is huge and affords some pretty spectacular views of the East River and Brooklyn Heights. Back down I went through the labyrinth of Chinatown (very evocative) and then up through Little Italy (not so). By this point, after 6 hours of wandering in 32c heat with no cloud cover, I decided to go back to the hotel.
Today I'm going to do something fun and cheerful that doesn't involve quite so much exposure to the sun. I could really do with a laugh.
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