By our third day in New York, normal service had well and truly resumed following the blizzard. So, we took the tourist boat to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. You are able to get off the boat at Liberty Island, but we chose to see the statue from the boat.
However, we did get off at Ellis Island. Opened in 1892, for more than 12 million immigrants, this building was the first glimpse of their new life in the USA. Today, the site serves as a museum about immigration. Here, visitors can learn the moving stories of those who often escaped adversity to start a new life in the US.
We headed from there to another site of historical importance – the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. This haunting memorial commemorates the 2001 September 11 terror attacks, which killed 2,977 victims, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six. The monument consists of two manmade waterfalls, which send water cascading into the ground where the Twin Towers once stood. On the edge of the pools is the name of every person to lose their lives in the attacks.
I’m not sure if someone said this to me, or if I read it in a guide book, but it’s what you don’t see and hear that affects you at the memorial and what you do see and hear at the museum. The building houses a number of artifacts related to the 9/11 attack. These include moving testimonies from victims’ loved ones and hours of video and audio evidence. The museum certainly doesn’t make for an easy visit, but it is an important one all the same.
After a good few hours at the 9/11 memorial, we took the subway to Greenwich Village. By this time it was dark and we could enjoy Washington Square Gardens lit up in all its splendour. We took a little walk around the famous arch and then, after our long day, headed to a bar.
We chose to stop off at McSorley’s Old Ale House. Located in the East Village, this watering hole is New York’s oldest Irish tavern and dates from 1854. And, as a testament to its historic past, the bar has remained largely unchanged for over a century.
The interior boasts a sawdust-strewn floor, walls covered in news cuttings and, apparently, Houdini’s handcuff’s, which are tied to the bar. According to Wikipedia, even Abraham Lincoln drank here and E.E. Cummings wrote a poem about his dear McSorley’s.
After a few jugs of McSorley’s signature ale, our stomachs were rumbling. So we walked down into Little Italy to Lombardi’s. Said to be the oldest pizzeria in the whole US, the restaurant serves gigantic fresh pizzas from a coal-fired oven. Bellisimo!
With our appetites placated, for now at least, we decided to squeeze one more activity into our day. So, we headed to the Empire State Building Observation Deck to confirm if New York really is the city that never sleeps.
And the experience didn’t disappoint. From walking into the building’s iconic art deco entrance hall, ascending in the building’s rapid elevators and watching the city twinkle for as far as the eye could see – it was all completely magical. Needless to say, I fell asleep with this view still in my mind just a couple of hours later.