The stunning views were worth every bit of pain endured. We knew well in advance that this day of our itinerary would test our endurance and the comfort of our walking shoes. By day's end, we would cover nearly 9 miles on foot. We would also ride 2 subways, 3 boats, a bus and the fastest elevators in the United States.
Battery Park was about 20 minutes by subway from our hotel. There we boarded a boat to take us to the Statue of Liberty.
The boat sailed toward the statue as we watched the downtown skyline grow smaller behind us. One World Trade Center stands majestically as the recently completed giant among skyscrapers. We looked forward to visiting later in the day.
Lady Liberty was kind enough to pose in some pictures with us.
Looks like she photo bombed here:
Caleb tried to imitate her in the gift shop. Creepy.
The Statue Cruises move masses very efficiently and quickly. We didn't wait long to board the next boat to nearby Ellis Island.
Millions of immigrants arrived here through this port. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 40% of Americans can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island. A self-guided audio tour and informative movie helped us understand the difficult and unsettling process it would have been for those people who passed through this gateway. Some had to stay for extended periods of time in the dormitories (pictured below on right) before being cleared to officially enter our country.
We ate an overpriced, very subpar lunch at Ellis Island before taking another boat back to Battery Park.
Then we walked nearly a mile to arrive at One World Trade Center. Standing 1,776 feet, it's the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. I stood at the bottom and looked toward the sky. It seemed to go on forever.
Visiting the One World Observatory was at the top of my can't-wait-to-see list. I was not disappointed.
After going through security, we walked through tunnels of ancient Manhattan bedrock. Along the way are incredible stories of 9/11 and the building's construction.
Here's a short video of the elevator ride:
And that's just the beginning. Once on the 102nd floor, guests are taken into the See Forever Theatre. A short movie is shown on a wall and then the wall is retracted to reveal a floor-to-ceiling view of New York city so high the curvature of the earth can be seen.
Chills. Teary eyes. Applause accompanied by oohs and aahs. It takes your breath away.
My beautiful brown-eyed girl with all of Manhattan behind her:
See the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges?
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island looked so small:
Three floors of 360 degree views of the city. And the elevator ride back down was equally as entertaining as the ascent.
We then walked past the memorial pools to the 9/11 museum.
We'd managed to get free tickets to the museum, but had to have three different people order them due to limits on numbers that could be ordered by any one person. When we arrived to scan our electronic tickets, Grandma was unable to locate the tickets on her phone. It was stressful and there was a mini meltdown. Though four of the group didn't get to see as much of the museum as they would've liked, all in our family were eventually admitted.
It was a sobering place. Hard to see. Hard to relive. (Below on right are the "survivor stairs" an actual staircase used by many to escape to safety on 9/11.
Behind this wall (above) is a repository that contains unidentified remains. The tragedy that took place here is still unbelievably heart-wrenching, but the rebuilding of this space is inspiring and the museum is exceptionally well done.
We took a bus around the downtown tip of the city, past South Street Seaport, to a quirky, trendy restaurant located right under the Brooklyn Bridge. Cowgirl Seahorse served Natalie her favorite meal of the trip. She loved it so much she wanted me to take her picture:
And then it was time to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. The city is so beautiful at night.
By the time we reached the subway in Brooklyn, we were all thoroughly exhausted. Just look at these cute cousins though, still all smiles on the train back to the hotel.
I was all smiles, too. But I had to soak my aching feet before going to bed. We had no tub in our hotel room, so I made do with the sink. Lys thought I looked funny so she snapped a picture.
What views! What fun! What a day!