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Silent witness


View New York with the Bro' on bejjan's travel map.

We had the whole day full of activities and things to see so the alarm was set early today. And you could tell at the hotel breakfast that most people weren’t up yet. But we had to get up early to make it in time for the ferry to Statue of Liberty. I had intentionally pre-booked early morning tickets, partly because it wouldn’t be as many people then but also because the temperature wouldn’t be too high outside. It’s very easy riding the subway south to Battery Park, from where the ferry runs. You simply take the metro number 1 to its end station South Ferry. You should consider sitting in the front of the train since the subway platform at South Ferry does not reach to the rear cars of the train.

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Even if the clock hadn’t struck 9 am yet, it was terribly hot outside. Hot and muggy! If you you really need a thunderstorm, where can you get one? My brother Danny and I were lucky to arrive just in time as a ferry arrived at the harbor and soon depart for Statue of Liberty. It took about 15 minutes by ferry to get across the Hudson River outlet to Liberty Island. You would think it would be a little more wind out there on the island, but the wind was basically non-existent. It was if not even hotter out there. So we slowly walked to the base of the statue and lined up for security check. Metal detectors and bag x-rays. Luckily you could bring your own water. Tickets with access to the crown are sold out basically the same day as they are released and are difficult to obtain. Tickets to the pedestal are easier to get (although you need to buy them in advance) and tickets with only access to the island can be bought the same day. We had tickets for the pedestal and to get up there you can choose to walk the stairs or take the elevator. I must confess that we were a little lazy and took the elevator up, but only because it was so darn hot in there.

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We find many names for those we love, they say. And sure enough Statue of Liberty has many names; Miss Liberty, Lady Liberty, Mother of Freedom and Green Goddess are just a few. The statue’s formal name is Liberty Enlightening the World. The statue was the first glimpse of America as many immigrants crossed the Atlantic Ocean to start a new life. Statue of Liberty has become to represent freedom, classic liberalism and republicanism and the shape of the statue consists of many symbolisms. For example the feet of Lady Liberty have thoroughly been positioned to represent freedom from oppression and tyranny. You might think that the statue should be quite high, but when you start to look at all the facts you are being fooled. The total height of the monument from the ground to the top of the torch is 93 meters. Out of those 93 meters the pedestal is 47 meters, meaning the actual statue is only 46 meters – in other words; the Statue of Liberty is smaller than the pedestal! Measuring from the heel up to the head it’s barely 34 meters. One estimates that about 600 bolts of lightning hits the Statue of Liberty every year. So you might consider once or twice to visit the statue another day in case a thunderstorm is approaching.

When I was in New York in 2013 there was Government Shutdown, meaning most government tourist attractions were closed – and Statue of Liberty was no exception. Then I had gotten my hands on Crown Tickets. Well, well… now three years later I came ashore on the island and accessed the pedestal. And like so many other I had imagined the statue to be much bigger than in reality. But looking at all facts, the pedestal is actually higher than the statue itself.

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Although the tickets included a visit on Ellis Island and its museum, we refrained to go ashore and continued on straight back to Battery Park. We started walking north by foot towards Ground Zero. When I visited Ground Zero last time, the entire area was fenced and you had to buy tickets to enter and access the area where the twin towers once stood (nowadays it’s free to visit the reflecting pools). Then construction plans for a museum had just taken shape. But now, three years later, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum had opened and of course I had tickets to the museum. The entire museum is underground and includes what’s left of the foundations where both the south and north towers once stood. Enormous iron beams twisted and ripped off like candy wrappers after the buildings collapsed was now a part of the museum. It was a surrealistic feeling walking around down there.

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To see all photos, pictures and videos of the attacks again made you feel a tremendous humility only by standing there. In one of all rooms are photos of all victims of 9/11 attacks. Of course taking photos was prohibited in there and guards inside made sure it stayed that way. Also a badly beat-up fire truck had been set up for display, as well as the concrete stairway supposedly saving thousands of lives from a certain death inside the north tower.

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The concrete stairway, “the Vesey Street stair” also called “Survivors Stairs”, was the only safe way down for people when the escalators right next to it had been destroyed by fallen debris from the tower. The stair has a powerful meaning and remains as a silent witness, a symbol, for the survivors. Just as Danny and I passed the concrete stairway a guide stopped by and started telling stories about the stair and other things regarding September 11th.
The day of the attacks was yet one of the better ones (if you had an option to choose), since a big football game between New York Giants and Denver Broncos took place the night before. That caused many New Yorkers taking the day off, sleeping-in or was late to work on Tuesday September 11th. So at the time of the first attack the buildings were far from full of people. The twin towers held together on a regular working day up to 50 000 employees and it could therefore have been significantly more casualties if the attackers had chosen another day.

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After a lot of thoughts and emotions about the terrorist attacks we went further north to Brooklyn Bridge. Despite the intense heat surrounding New York we decided to walk across the entire bridge and over to Brooklyn. As the oldest suspension bridge in New York and a world famous landmark the gothic bridge is a very popular tourist attraction. The bridge is 1,8 km long and was the world’s largest suspension bridge when it was completed in 1883. The bridge was built with numerous passageways and compartments in its anchorages and some of these vaults were used as wine cellars because the temperature there was always +16 °C.
Once over at the other side of the bridge, in Brooklyn, we went down to the metro and went back to the hotel. After today’s heat we rested for a while before heading to Benjamin’s Restaurant & Bar and our dinner reservation. It was a nice little restaurant and the staff was great. Huge portion sizes were served on huge plates and way too much for one person. But it was not a problem to bring the leftovers in a doggy bag back to the hotel. So what did I have to drink then? For dinner a glass of white wine.

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Afterwards we decided for a Pineapple shot each. And during a visit at the Irish pub and the hotel roof top bar we had have a Tequila Mockingbird and Asian Cosmo each before calling it for the night.

Posted by bejjan 09:08 Archived in USA Tagged new_york statue_of_liberty brooklyn_bridge ground_zero 9/11_memorial

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