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Published: July 26th 2012
9/11 Memorial and Freedom Tower
One of the fountains in the 9/11 Memorial and the new No 1 World Trade Center tower.
There was more about the London Olympics on the news this morning, although suddenly it was not so complementary. “Olympics disarray” was the headline and then it was majoring on the transport and the G4S security fiasco. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
We had breakfast in the hotel. We were expecting the usual buffet-type set-up, but it was from a menu and was extremely expensive.
We had booked to go and see the 9/11 Memorial first thing, so we headed down there. We managed to get on the right train this time and we even managed to workout which were the express trains that skip a number of stations. So lesson two for travelling on the New York subway is to look out for the express trains.
We had to queue for a while and there was of course a lot of security. The memorial itself is basically cascading water on the exact footprint of the twin towers, surrounded by all the names of everyone who had died, in the twin towers, in the planes, in the Pentagon and in the earlier bombing of the World Trade Centre. All the names were arranged to keep
Part of the Highlight walk - obviously some people have heard of it!
friends and colleagues together, so you couldn’t rely on alphabetical order to find someone. There was however an electronic look-up system to help you find people.
The so called Visitor Centre was basically a shop, with a display that consisted of a helmet and a 9/11 inspired motorcycle. We had also got the New York City Passes, which you pay for in advance and they then allow you to visit a number of New York attractions and also skip some queues. They were not looking like such a bargain at this point as they claimed they covered free entry to this Visitor Centre, which was free anyway. We asked some of the people working at the memorial if that was really ‘the’ Visitor Centre, which apparently it was.
Next, we went to see the Flatiron building, apparently one of the first skyscrapers, to do the usual cliché photos from the right angle to make it look really thin and then we went to the Highline. This is an old raised railway siding, which has been turned into a long, thin park. This was lovely and made a nice walk, up away from all the traffic. The strange thing
The Manhattan Bridge and the downtown skyline on the twilight boat cruise.
was that when we asked at 9/11 how to get there, none of the locals had ever heard of it. They thought we were mad, until we showed it to them in our book.
Next, we had also booked onto a Wall Street Walking Tour. We only just made it there in time and consequently kept the rest of the group waiting. The tour covered much of the downtown area, not just Wall Street itself. It was surprising to see how much of it is in decline as technology has moved on and the big firms have outgrown the buildings that they used to occupy there. Apparently only a small amount of trading is done in the New York Stock Exchange, but there is still a two block ring of security around it.
Some of the buildings are being converted into apartments now and people are starting to live there. I dread to thing what the prices would be. One building had also been converted into a high school.
We had tried to get tickets for the tour of the Federal Reserve, but that was booked through for months. Apparently 35% of the world’s gold is in
Freedom Tower and Downtown
Downtown again at night from the twilight cruise.
the vaults there, but only 5% of America’s. Most of America’s is obviously at Fort Knox, and the Federal Reserve holds the gold for lots of other countries, so they obviously think it is safer there than it would be in their own vaults.
We then did a bit of shopping, although it quickly became apparent that you do not come to New York for a bargain.
In the evening, we went on the Twilight Board Cruise. I went there to book in advance, so that we knew we had spaces. I was asked a very strange question as to whether I wanted to go on the 6.00pm or 7.30pm cruise. Urr, how the 6.00pm could possibly be a twilight cruise is beyond me.
It was a long walk to get to the pier where the cruise left from on the west of Manhattan as there is no subway station anywhere near it. Lesson three about travelling on the New York subway is more of a moan really. It’s great for travelling up and down the central part of Manhattan, but rubbish for travelling across or covering the west and east.
The 7.30pm was fantastic and the timing was perfect to see the buildings reflecting the setting sun and then later on all the buildings lit-up in the dark. It was also nice and cool. The boat went from the west side of Manhattan round under the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges to the east side and then back again, via the Statue of Liberty.
There was some commentary during the cruise, but it was too quiet to hear.
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