"There are many more ways to be attractive than to be beautiful. "
-- William Landay, Mission Flats

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Taste of the Big Apple

     B and I were invited to a wedding party held at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ. We could drive there and back in one day. But we decided to go a day early, stay overnight, and see a few sights.

     Actually, my mother grew up in Jersey City, back in the 1920s when it was a decent, middle-class suburb across the river from New York City. But by the time I was growing up in the 1960s, Jersey City had become a slum.

     No more. Jersey City is now a thriving metropolis with soaring office buildings, luxury apartments, and easy access to downtown Manhattan.

Jersey City skyline

     But still, it's less expensive than Manhattan, which is why, when we decided to come a day early, we booked into a hotel at Harborside, a development on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River. But we thought, as modern and upscale as it is, why hang out in Jersey City when we could take the Path train and be in New York in a few minutes.

     Well, the Path train is closed on weekends, we found out. They are still working on repairs left over from 2012's Hurricane Sandy. But there's a ferry, we were told, right down at the end on the block.

     So we hopped the ferry and for $6 took a ten minute trip to downtown Manhattan.

The New York skyline

     We got off and walked into Brookfield Place overlooking Rockefeller Park, which hugs the Hudson River. From Brookfield Place you can see the Oculus, the $4 billion structure that replaced the Path station that was destroyed on 9/11. Oculus, derived from the Latin word for "eye," refers to a circular opening in a dome or wall.

The Oculus, as seen from inside Brookfield Place

     Built by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the Oculus design was inspired by a child releasing a dove.

Looking up from just outside the Oculus

     We came out at the World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial. Even today, it's a remarkable site. Flowers and small American flags are stuck into the cracks of the wall. People are visibly moved, even 18 years later.

9/11 Memorial, South Tower

     From the World Trade Center we walked north on West Broadway, and realized once again that in New York, you can find almost anything . . .

In New York City ... really?

     . . . including a poster store that sounded interesting, not that we could afford any of the posters. They're for collectors only.

Philip Williams Posters

     Then we poked our way into the Mysterious Bookshop, which is more our speed -- an entire bookstore chock-a-block with nothing but mystery books. B bought a copy of Murder in the Marais by Cara Black. Don't know much about it, except apparently Parisian investigator Aimee Leduc finds herself in a "dangerous web of ancient secrets" after finding a woman strangled in her home.

The Mysterious Bookshop

     We spent some time in the park, watching the river flowing by, and the people relaxing along the waterfront. Then we went to the Brandy Library for dinner.

Girls exercising on the shoreline

      Lest you think we have a literary bent . . . the Brandy Library does not have any books. Instead it features bookcases packed with bottles of wine and spirits. The menu consisted of one page of food selections, and 20-some pages of alcoholic opportunities.

Brandy and more brandy

     B and I are not drinkers. But we enjoyed the atmosphere, and listened in as the group of young guys at the table next to us ordered a flight of rare brandys and got a ten-minute lesson in spiritology from the young, French-accented waiter.

The sun sets over New Jersey

     Most of the locals, it seemed, went to the Brandy Library for drinks and appetizers, and then they were going off to dinner.

     But for us, when 8 p.m. rolls around, we are ready for the end of the day. So we walked back to the ferry and cruised back west across the Hudson.

The New York skyline, on the way home

     Then the next day we went to the wedding reception in Liberty State Park. And we left early, not because we had a long drive back home (about an hour and a half) but because . . .  no matter where we go, we usually leave early.
View of Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty and Verrazano Bridge, from Liberty State Park, NJ


Tabor said...

Some of those places are familiar, but when there I was rushed. Would like to go back with no agenda.

Celia said...

Such great mini-tour in New York. I like the idea of the ferry ride rather than the train. I'm an early leaver too.

Julie said...

Great post; I enjoyed it. My father was born in Jersey City 88 years ago today! I grew up in Westfield NJ, and I had a great experience going to summer school at NYU one year during college, but eventually my whole family moved out west and I haven't been back for a long time. My Dad is celebrating his 88th today in Arizona.

Tom at Sightings said...

Julie, Congrats to your Dad!

Olga said...

I was last in NYC for a wedding. Now that couples' two children are college graduates. Maybe I will be invited to one of their weddings.

DJan said...

I think I would have enjoyed being with you on this trip. I too am an early to bed kind of gal. :-)

Janis said...

I haven't been to NYC for quite some time. It sounds like I should plan a return visit... and I love the idea of staying in Jersey City and taking the ferry over.

David @iretiredyoung said...

I visited New York for the first time last year, and thoroughly enjoyed my 5 days wandering around the city. The 9/11 Memorial was very moving, and it was fun seeing various sights that are so familiar from films or TV shows. My other fun pastime is watching the people - I can sit in a café for hours doing that.

gigi-hawaii said...

Nice photos. I enjoyed your trip vicariously.

Debby said...

Not so small world - I know Santiago Calatrava's work. He designed the Sundial Bridge in my town. He has a style, that I now recognize and when I check further into it, sure enough, it is the design of Santiago Calatrava. I wonder what his home looks like...

wtmrph said...

Having grow up in Jersey City in the 60's, I was appalled by your ignorant description of the city as a slum. Like any city it had its good and bad areas. I and many others had a great childhood there. Very disappointed in your elitist attitude.

Tom at Sightings said...

wtmrph ... my apologies. I shouldn't be so casual about insulting a place I really know very little about.

Wisewebwoman said...

Thanks for the tour. Most interesting. I remember sending Daughter and Granddaughter to a secret book shop in New York, invitation only. They were thrilled. I think he may have died now but they bought some lovely volumes from him from his own enormous collection.


Kevin said...

wtmrph - a trifle sensitive, perhaps? I spent time in Jersey City in the 60's and don't find Tom's characterization unfair. It's wonderful that JC has come back so far. There was always a core of faithful residents.

Barbara said...

That sounds like a wonderful outing. I've never been to New York or New Jersey. I remember during 9/11 we had an IT problem with I've forgotten which software company. Their offices had been destroyed and they were trying to get back up in New Jersey offices. I expect there might have been quite a few companies that did that and as they rented/bought property there the workers will often follow and that will also bring the demand for updated housing/buildings to smart thinking businessmen. Life is a circle. I'm glad New Jersey has recovered.

Linda Myers said...

What a great day you had! I'm going to NYC for four days in October, with a friend who used to live in New Jersey. I have put the itinerary totally in her hands. But your itinerary sounds very interesting!

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