One of my (many) fave photos from the trip: Ben, left, and Sam with the Charging Bull on Wall Street in the financial district. It appears that the bull is trying to photo bomb, but reality is the iconic sculpture draws a large crowd and the boys had only a moment for me to capture the image. YES, there are crowds everywhere but without a single exception, everyone we encountered was polite, kind and cooperative.
Not only is a trip to New York City big, it’s too big to summarize in one small blog post. It's downright BIGLY! So let’s do this in four parts.
Some background. Over the past few years, some combination of our immediate family members have attended Indianapolis Colts away games to see match-ups with the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, and Minnesota Vikings. So when the season schedule came out this summer, Brian asked our crew where they wanted to go. The kids said New York City.
And if we’re doing The Big Apple, let’s do it right. But how do you narrow a NYC wish list? We started with what we wanted to see and do most. Everyone had a say: Colts and Jets on Sunday was the starting point. Then came Ground Zero with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum; a Broadway show; Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island and Ellis Island; Empire State Building and Katz’s Deli in Queens.
Nice start. Now, where to stay? I knew that the Art Association of Henry County folks take an annual Broadway tour every summer and always stay in Hotel Edison steps from Times Square. My friend and book-cover designer Marilyn Witt confirmed that it’s ideal. Done.
Of course this wasn’t just any old trip. This after all was THE BIG APPLE! It would also be a way to do up big my 60th birthday and Brian and my 40th wedding anniversary along with Sam and Allison’s sixth wedding anniversary.
So the process began of piecing together an agenda. We started early in the summer with reservations at Hotel Edison, a 1931 Art Deco establishment with modern amenities but the feel of old NYC. None other than Thomas Edison turned on the lights to open the place! We chose a family suite which worked out well for our tribe of five.
Sam got online and ordered our Sunday Colts/Jets tickets. We voted on seeing Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre on Saturday night, doing the Statue and Ellis Island Monday, 9/11 sites on Friday and Empire State Building Saturday morning. That was close to the order in which we secured reservations and tickets online. Word to the wise: Early! Get your tickets early as there are sellouts if you wait.
With our top picks secured, we filled in the schedule over the next few months. For example, our kids discovered that the New York Wine and Food Festival is the Saturday we’re there and they wanted to go. Sam and Allison enjoy cooking and learning about food culture so they planned our meal stops. Allison researched our logistics -- which helped like crazy.
We’re happy for a solid agenda. There’s so much to see and do with distractions every step of the way that a plan is essential to get in what you want most and still experience surprises along the way.
We took an early flight (two hours) and landed at LaGuardia. We went to the cab line only to be told there was a long delay. Ben hopped on his Uber app and we had a ride within minutes. We were headed for Manhattan.
Less than an hour later we arrived at Hotel Edison in Midtown and stashed our bags in holding as our room wasn't ready. First stop: lunch at O’Hara’s Pub. The restaurant is at Ground Zero, steps from a fire station. After 9/11, this small eatery became a spontaneous tribute site where first responders from all over not only the U.S. but the world arrive and place their patches on the walls and doors in a unique show of solidarity with their brothers and sisters who lost their lives on that fateful day in 2001. It is an inspiring tribute.
After our meal we toured the memorial, which is in two parts – one for each tower that went down that day. Water falls into big square holes in the center. Around the edges are engraved names of those who perished in those towers. Each name, a life.
Steps away we entered the museum. It was packed with people and all around, as with everywhere you go in NYC, you hear people of every race and nation speaking in their native tongues as they go about their business. You realize that you are in an international, not only a national city. It's an awesome experience just to look and listen.
The museum holds displays of emergency vehicles from that day, artifacts of everyday life found on the street, snippets of messages left on answering machines from people in the towers from that morning, photos, news clips and art. One major piece of art is a wall of blue squares depicting the blues of the perfect sky that day. There is this quote in the midst of the blue: NO DAY SHALL ERASE YOU FROM THE MEMORY OF TIME. This is a translation of the original Latin of "The Aeneid."
It occurs that not only is this museum packed on the random day we visited, but every day, and you hear people talking about where they were when they heard of the horrific attacks. Fifty or perhaps 100 years from now, this museum shall still be packed with people as the people who remember the day are few, then none, but time’s memory remains.
From there, we hoofed it to Wall Street where the boys were able to squeeze in long enough for a photo with the iconic Charging Bull, in "pasture" there only since 1989, which surprised me.
Brian and Ben paused for a shot of them at Federal Hall, the site where the colonial Stamp Act Congress met to draft a message to King George III protesting “taxation without representation.” The building isn’t original but the lower Manhattan location is, overseen now by a statue of George Washington.
Then it was a Subway ride back to our hotel. As if on cue, we arrived at complimentary cocktail-and- appetizer hour in the lobby where live music performed – you guessed it – New York, New York.
After seeing our rooms and claiming our beds, everyone was in the mood for pizza so we found Pazeria Family & Friends Italian Restaurant & Bar and enjoyed a couple of authentic NYC pies. Leftovers would serve Brian and me well for Saturday lunch while the kids hit up the wine and food festival.
By the time we hit the sheets, we had walked 9.6 miles.
Next: Day 2: CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS.