Chaotic, loud, and blindingly bright, Times Square surely would jolt us from the afternoon reverie of tea at the plaza. However, we opted for a more gradual awakening from our scone-filled dream.
First, we wandered across Rockefeller Plaza to the famous 30 Rock. This GE building is also the scene of the NBC show bearing its name. I half expected Tina Fey to emerge from the revolving door, on a mission to dump a copy of "The Rural Juror" in a public trash can.
As it was the Friday after Easter, the collection of Fabergé eggs was still on display in Rockefeller Plaza. On Easter Sunday, New York City had a city-wide egg hunt, where various public figures or celebrities went on search of a large Fabergé egg that was decorated by local artists. After the egg hunt, the city displayed each of the eggs on a pedestal in the Rockefeller Plaza. Some eggs were intricately decorated, others were more abstract, and still others represented the iconic aspects of New York life.
From the Rockefeller Plaza, we paid a visit to St. Patrick’s cathedral. As graduates of St. Patrick’s catholic grade school, we felt we had to pay homage to something that bore the name of our former stomping grounds.
That’s when we decided to venture into the heart of the city that never sleeps. Brigid was right in her warnings about Times Square—it is pure madness. Flashing electronic billboards wrestled for your attention, yellow cabs threatened to run you over, and the crème-de-la-crème of street entertainers (read: the naked cowboy) paced their street corners, hoping to catch your eye.
In the name of documentation, we snapped a quick selfie, laughing later at the disapproving business man that is scowling in the background.
Brigid had the great idea of catching the metro from Grand Central Terminal so that I could see that iconic New York landmark as well. Miss Museum Studies filled me in on the history behind the ceiling restoration work from the 1980s. For Grand Central Terminal, years of cigarette smoke had covered the ceiling in a black film, so much so that passersby couldn't make out the celestial painting underneath. Brigid told me that preservationists often leave a trace of the "old" when restoring a landmark. For the ceiling, this means that they left a small dark patch of black grime on the ceiling
From Grand Central Terminal, we caught the metro back to Brigid’s apartment, for the third wardrobe change of the day. After stepping into more comfortable attire, we walked to something that I really wanted to see, Ground Zero. I remember the media coverage of George W. Bush, atop a pile of rubble, making these historic remarks. It still gives me chills.
Today, the site looks like this, and is incredibly emotional. Deliberate and symbolic, it speaks of a resilient nation that will never forget the lives that were so mercilessly lost. The memorial is a pool, set in the exact spot of the World Trade Center that came before it. Water cascades down about 10 feet from the perimeter into a reflecting pool. Once in the reflecting pool, the water moves toward the center where it falls again, down a black hole with seemingly no bottom. It was purposely designed that way, so observers can never see where the water goes.
The names are cut into the metal sheets that surround the waterfalls, and light shines through the names at night. Visits leave behind items, like the flower below, or lay paper on top of the grooves to trace a name with a pencil.
We had to buy visitor passes to view the memorial; however, per the 9/11 Memorial & Museum website, this is no longer required. The 9/11 Memorial Museum, directly underneath the memorial pools in the plaza, had not yet been opened to the public at the time of my visit. Brigid was able to fill me in on some of the things to expect--boxes of Kleenex available to visitors, the tridents of the north tower still in place, video interviews of loved ones left behind, even emergency exits if it gets to be too much.
I will have to come back. I very much want to see that museum when it opens.
Of possible interest: