The History of One Day, But a Very Significant One

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February 14th 2016
Published: February 18th 2016
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The view from the observation deck in the new World Trade Center building, once we had completed 'the experience'.
After another night for car horn and fire engine sirens, and the free-for-all at breakfast, we again piled on the layers and it was again back out into the freezing cold wind. First on the itinerary for today was the World Trade Center, which meant getting the subway. We studied the map extensively and were confident we knew which letter train we needed to get. The first train that came was actually the right one for the World Trade Center so by luck more than judgement we got there, without going down the wrong line or skipping it on an express.

Things did get a bit messy when buying our tickets. I had a Metro card from the other morning, however the other three did not. We thought it would be a simple request to get three cards and then put $10 on all four cards, but it took a while to get that across. So that's two ticket office people in two days thinking "Bloody stupid British haven't got a clue".

(We found out later that we actually haven't got a clue as we could have all used the same card!)

Last time we came here we
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Two of the new buildings of the World Trade Center, including One World Trade Center.
needed to go through security to get to the 9/11 memorial fountains, but this area is all open now. The fountains themselves were not flowing, presumably given that the water would freeze almost instantly.

We had passes for the 9/11 Memorial Museum, but we still had to queue in the cold to convert them into tickets, which was annoying. The building isn't that big so we were not expecting it to take very long, however after going down underground, it opened up into this huge cavern, parts of which still consist of some of the foundations of the two towers. The main part of the museum effectively plays out a timeline of the attacks and their aftermath, with maps, photos, videos and artefacts recovered from the site. You need a couple of hours at least, however we were in a bit of a rush as we had timed tickets for the observation deck of the new Number One World Trade Center building. We were late.

They had really gone to town on the whole "experience" thing. There was yet more security and then the queue for the lifts was through a rock cavern, with projected text about the
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A piece of the old World Trade Center, with messages from the time.
foundations of the towers and how the solid bedrock is great for building skyscrapers. The lifts themselves were probably the fastest we have ever been in and it took a only matter of seconds to get to the observation deck at the top, on the 94th floor I think. The walls of the lifts were actually screens that showed a virtual image of the view outside, but evolving, starting from when Manhattan was first occupied and then playing out the view through all the years up until now. It was a shame the lift was so quick. There was of course the usual green-screen photograph and then we all had to stand in front of a cinema type screen and watch a video about the people and places in New York. We were all wondering why we were watching this when the screen went up to reveal the magnificent view. I had to admit it worked brilliantly.

Whilst the observation deck was nice and warm, which was appreciated, we did miss being able to go outside as you can at the Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building.

We motivated ourselves to head back outside into the bitter
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Looking back at Manhattan from Queens.
cold (apparently it was the coldest Valentines day in history) and walked up to Soho and Greenwich village. By this time we were ready for something to eat and drink. We contemplated a Starbucks, but luckily it was crowded and there was no where to sit and then we spotted a place called 'Spurs' opposite. Once we had established that it was absolutely nothing to do with that North London football team, we went in for some French Onion Soup , which was stunning and absolutely perfect for warming up after the cold walk. It was shocking that we had even considered that other place.

We did have one criticism of Spurs, which actually applies to just about everywhere. When ever we ask for some water, it comes with a tonne of ice. Seriously, it's -19°C outside and one of the reasons we have come in here is to stop the onset of frost bite. Would we really want ice in our water?

After a walk through Washington Square and the University of New York we got the subway up to Times Square to take in the atmosphere and let my wife and daughter get a shopping fix.
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The old record sleeves as menus in Vynl.

I headed off to Queens to try and get some photos back towards Manhattan as it was getting dark. The whole area of Queens alongside the East River has clearly been completely gentrified. There were a few remains of the old docks, which is obviously what the area was in the past, but now it is all big, high-rised, expensive looking apartment blocks, all taking advantage of the view.

There is a small park along the river (Gantry Plaza State Park), which was remarkably peaceful after all the noise of Manhattan. I could not hear a single car horn. It would have been a very pleasant place for a stroll had it not been so phenomenally cold.

For an evening meal we headed to Hell's Kitchen and found a place called Vynl, which seemed to be a messed up or maybe trendy spelling of vinyl, as in the old records. The menus were made out of old record sleeves and the décor was made from the records themselves. Rather than reading the menu we got side tracked on trying to explain the concept of vinyl records to our daughter who found it rather hard to grasp.

It was a fantastic place and fantastic food. My 'Elvis's Revenge' sandwich, with bacon, peanut butter and banana worked surprisingly well. One mistake that I keep making is that when the menu says 'chips' they actually mean 'crisps' (as we call them in the UK). Once I had got over my "I'm British and I want chips, I mean fries, no chips!" tantrum, it was nice to try something different.

We were enjoying our food and our own company and did not look round the restaurant. When we did it was kind of obvious that, being straight, we were in a minority. A lot of the people in there were very, well, glamorous. Then when we went back outside, we noticed that several places had rainbow flags outside.


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