I’ve finally gotten around to it – I am writing about my summer vacation during my winter vacation! I was only in New York for about 3 days, but I still managed to squeeze in a couple of touristy activities.
ONE WORLD OBSERVATORY / 285 Fulton Street, New York / website
One of our first stops was the One World Observatory. Located on floors 100-102 of the World Trade Centre, it offers fantastic and extremely extensive views of the city! (Toronto feels like a dinky little town compared to the majestic and powerful size of New York City!)
First, we took an elevator up to the observatory. The walls of the elevator were screens which showed how the city looked during different eras, and we saw the landscape of the city change throughout history. We literally moved upwards as we moved forwards in time!
Once we arrived at the appropriate floor, my dad went crazy taking pictures!!! I took a few, but all of the different points of view started to look the same to me after a while. I much preferred listening to the presentations that were placed around the observatory. While the 9/11 Memorial (which we were not able to visit) may be more focussed on remembering specific events in our current history, the presentations at the observatory were more related to general trends in the past and present of New York. There was information about the physical geography of the city, immigration trends, and even live tweets about the city!
GOVERNORS ISLAND / website
Governors Island is a wonderful place where you can go to get away from the city without actually getting away from the city, and it’s only a short and cheap ferry ride away! The island is green and full of trees and if the sky is beautiful and blue, it really is very picturesque.
My parents and I rented a “surrey,” which was a bike/cart that fits 3-5 people. Two people pedal, one of those people steers, and the other person just gets to relax in the shade. (Very important for my mother. She needs her shade.) We biked around the island, exploring and enjoying the cool views of Manhattan.
Governors Island has played many roles in its past: army headquarters, army prison, Coast Guard community … and now it seems to be an environmental education hub for the city. There are playgrounds, huge hills (not sure what they’re for), and also a hammock grove! The hammocks were kind of hard and not super comfortable, though.
History is one of my favourite things, and I almost regret not spending more time learning about the role of Governors Island in supporting various army initiatives and activities. I was just having so much fun biking that we didn’t leave enough time to explore the army bases and buildings! The next time I go to Governors Island, I will make sure to spend more time at the forts and monuments. Even this kid learned something cool:
P.S. Here‘s the info on how to get to Governors Island, from Manhattan or Brooklyn.
TENEMENT MUSEUM / 103 Orchard Street, New York / website
The Tenement Museum was by far one of the coolest museums I’ve ever visited. Seriously, if I lived in New York, I’d be all up in the job postings here like nobody’s business. Our tour guide Nora was SO knowledgeable and I learned so much from her! She was really cool.
The museum offers several different tours, but we attended a building tour of 97 Orchard Street, which used to be a tenement building, where several immigrant families would live upon arriving in America. We went on the “Irish Outsiders” tour, learning about new Irish immigrants in 1860s New York. We learned about health, politics, and social tensions between the Irish immigrants, German immigrants (who were lucky enough to be part of the “in” crowd), and “native” New Yorkers. We toured their tiny apartments and looked at primary sources (like pictures, newspaper articles, and political cartoons) to learn more about how Irish immigrants were viewed in New York City. I especially found it interesting that stereotypes and beliefs about certain cultures were able to travel across the Atlantic Ocean from Britain to America; Irish people were discriminated against in Europe, and the discrimination continued even after they moved to North America.
Again, it seems that my favourite part about travelling is exploring the history of the place. I am such a nerd. Other interesting things that I did: a different sort of bus tour by way of The Ride, and I watched the musical “Waitress,” which was so amazing I bought the Original Cast Recording during intermission. Plus, the lobby smelled like a delicious pie.
There is so much to do in New York City; I have much more to explore the next time I go back!!!!!
P.S. What I ate in New York City!