We would begin our most recent adventure (day one) at what had once been called “Ground Zero.” Elevators rise to this “top of the world” in a staggering 60 seconds while the occupants are treated to the formation and visual history of Manhattan starting below ground in a state of the art video. Three of the elevator’s walls display the remarkable simulated time-lapse sequentially from pre-history to the Native Americans, the Dutch, and 20th Century New York through to the present as the city grew literally into this new ziggurat of a structure. The ride is so fast that there is little time to adjust and for the record if you haven’t visited before stand with your back to the doors for the best view of this presentation. Another video follows after exiting the elevator to an IMAX size wall with a multi-medium experience that is spectacle for the eye and ear. The screen then rises to reveal the visual splendor of lower Manhattan in the present moment with an uninhibited almost reverential applause. It is a magnificent achievement and honor to behold. The best America has to offer.
Walking around the 360 degree observatory is a student of architecture’s dream. The view is that of a height only seen before through flight but with the luxury now of a stationary floor. The details, the distance and the sense of discovery are exhilarating. Buildings ranging from Gothic to Modern to Art Deco and Post Modern all in close proximity for view in both study and pleasure. The entirety of the Lower portions of the city; ferries, tugs, sails on the East River and the Hudson…exciting stuff!
We left the World Trade Center for Battery Park; it’s performers, artists and tourists. The festival consisted of break dancers, ballerinas, snake handlers, portrait sketch artists and human Statues of Liberty on stilts. One thousand and one things to see and participate in; all there within the park. We took a short walk on Wall Street where a crowd surrounded the Merrill Lynch Bull with kids lifted on it’s back posing happily and thrillingly for spectators as vendors sold bull replicas of all sizes and materials. We walked around the massive National Museum of the American Indian. The kids had their portraits done; ate ice cream and pretzels and drank plenty of water. This was while we waited for our twilight sea faring tour of Lower Manhattan by clipper ship.
Our first travel by sail was everything and possible a hundred times more than hoped for. We had the wonderful vantage of seeing the harbor from three distinct vantage points of lighting; daylight, twilight (sunset) and night. These multiple views of the city, The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were breath taking as we cruised in and around other vessels at multiple vantage points. The radiant sky stretched on for miles as the breeze gently propelled us forward. We talked with our fellow travelers and the sailors. We; within a very short time, fell in love with this civilized form of travel. The wind, the air, the sounds and rhythm of graceful motion won us over. The moment could have endured without end but tomorrow (day two) was for bicycles, Central Park, Park Ave. and possibly Time Square.