Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Special Family Connections and Memories in New York City!

Today was such a wonderful day!  I was all rested and ready to make the most of our last full day in this unique city. 

View of Manhattan from ferry

Again, the weather was threatening to spoil another day.  Wait, it never actually spoiled any of our days, but it certainly was threatening again!  So we decided to do the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ferry tour first thing.  Very lucky decision since, while we were visiting the statue, the weather socked in and we could no longer see Manhattan, and barely could see Ellis Island just across the water!

Alan and I had visited the Statue of Liberty in 1988 but were unable to get much further than the first landing on the stairs. This was due to the fact that the elevator was out of order......I do know the world has changed and folks have to have advance tickets to get to the top.  So I didn't even expect to get up anywhere.  I was pleasantly surprised when we learned that we could go up as high as the pedestal.  However, there is no option of elevator service now......but the climb was worth the experience.  At this point, there still was a view to enjoy!  I was surprised how patriotic I felt just being at the Statue of Liberty, the Star Spangled Banner kept floating through my head! 

Ellis Island with Manhattan in background

Once we got back to the ground level, the snow had come with a vengeance and there was nothing but haze where there once was Manhattan!

Ellis Island
It is only a 5 minute ferry ride from one island to the other, then we found ourselves on Ellis Island. When we were here in 1988, this was not an option.  Although the government has owned the island since the 1960's, one of the Rangers told me they did try to sell it off.  How ridiculous that that was even considered! What an amazing part of American history - over 100 million Americans have ties to this island - and I am proud to say that I am one of them!

The Great Hall

My Grandmother came over from Germany with her mother and sisters. She was only 2 years old!  Although it is possible to do all this research from the comfort of your own home, and I did this about 10 years ago, it is so much more meaningful to actually find these records in the Registry Room!

Ship Manifest
The ship's manifest lists bits of information about the passengers, such as their age and whether they can read or not. In my Grandmother's case, she could not!  But her older sisters and mother could, of course. It also lists intended destination. And the strange thing is it shows them as heading for Belleville, Illinois.  Why is this strange? Because the family folklore has them going to Indiana and moving to Belleville because it was close to St Louis at the time of the World's Fair.  "All" the family knows they went to Indiana first.  And the lure of the World's Fair happened in the early 1900's.  If they arrived in 1893, the attraction of the World's Fair had not begun to pull people toward St Louis.
So many questions and no one to answer them.....
continuation of manifest

My Grandma!

a sight not normally seen in Battery Park
After spending almost 2 hours on the island, and this felt like 15 minutes because it was all so exciting and interesting, we decided to get back to Manhattan!  

Again, when we were here last, you could see this little church from the water. But now there is a coast guard station blocking most of the view.  I love the fact this little church is not for moving!

After such an interesting morning, it was lunchtime, so we got on the subway and went in search of Katz Deli!  This is where the famous scene from When Harry met Sally was filmed, where another customer asks to have what she had!  We had a Reuben Sandwich and a Pastrami Sandwich.....delicious!

It is self service and incredibly busy.  You get a ticket when you enter, everyone gets one, and they write what you ordered and what it cost on the ticket.  Even if your ticket is blank, you have to submit it to the cashier when leaving.  A strange system, but it seems to work.

Alan had never had pastrami and tried this.  Luckily, he really enjoyed it.  I got a Reuben sandwich.  I love these and they always remind me of my Dad.  After all, he introduced me to them!

Chaos appears to reign!

Alan speaking the international language of camera!

You would think this was enough activity for one day, but we had tickets to see Enrique Inglesias at Madison Square Garden for 8pm!  So we had a bit of a rest at the hotel.  This hotel is located so close to MSG and the Empire State Building that it is easy to walk there.  And it did feel nice to be able to walk and not fight traffic or crowded subways!

Of course, we passed the Empire State Building, looking very spooky this evening -

And we also passed an Arthur Murray Dance Studio.  The whole day was filled with memories of family, from Ellis Island, to Reuben Sandwiches and now Arthur Murray! How is that connected?  My Dad and Mom met at the Arthur Murray dance studio in St Louis!  They were both dance instructors!

Our last activity of the day was the concert.  This was an amazing cultural experience, not due to his singing or even the show.   We are not really Enrique fans.  But to watch this mainly Hispanic crowd and feel like such a minority. The majority of the concert was in Spanish and the majority of the audience had their phones recording and taking pictures and talking to friends the whole time.  I think we have crossed a line and are maybe in the older generation now!  But it was an event and experience at the Madison Square Garden and I am glad we did this!

The joy of walking to an event!

MSG full house!

The walk home was cold and snowy but so nice.  I am falling in love with this city, but not sure if I would love it so much under normal circumstances!

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."

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