Day 12, after a restful night and a good breakfast it was time for our included tour of NYC!
Did I tell you we had a view of The Empire State building from our bedroom window?
Our first stop on the tour was the World Trade Centre
site, 9/11 Memorial. The One World Trade Center
(previously coined the "Freedom Tower" by Governor Pataki) is the
centerpiece of Libeskind's design. The building rises to 1,368 feet
(417 m), the height of the original World Trade Center north tower, and
its antenna rises to the symbolic height of 1,776 feet (541 m). This
height refers to 1776, the year in which the United States Declaration of Independence was signed.
As I am sure you already know on the morning of 11th September, 2001, two hijacked planes bound for Los Angeles
were intentionally crashed into the two towers of the World Trade
Center. The towers collapsed within two hours of the collisions. Islamic terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda
organized and executed the attacks. Nearly 3,000 people died. After the
attacks, hospital workers and police officers began referring to the
World Trade Center site as "Ground Zero"
We stopped at the fire station, where we saw the wall of names of firefighters who lost their lives in the rescue.
A memorial called "Reflecting Absence
" honors the victims of the September 11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The memorial, designed by Peter Walker and Israeli-American architect Michael Arad,
consists of a field of trees interrupted by the footprints of the twin
towers. Pools of water fill the footprints, underneath which sits a
memorial space whose walls bear the names of the victims.
It is a beautiful and intensely moving memorial and I am not ashamed to say we both cried, unashamedly, as we reflected on what happened and thought about the people who lost their lives there. May they all Rest In Peace.
We marvelled at the 'Survivor Tree'. A Callery Pear tree which endured
the September 11, attacks.
October 2001, the tree was discovered at Ground Zero severely damaged,
with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. The tree was removed
from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department
of Parks and Recreation. After its recovery and rehabilitation, the tree
was returned to the Memorial in 2010. New, smooth limbs extended from
the gnarled stumps, creating a visible demarcation between the tree’s
past and present. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of
resilience, survival and rebirth.
On the morning we were there a large group of cadet students from West Point were taking part in the 13th annual Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Run.
9/11, 34-year-old F.F. Stephen Siller had
the day off. When he heard the first plane had hit the World Trade
Center, he raced to his firehouse, threw on 60 pounds of equipment and
drove to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel which he ran through on foot. He
was last seen on West Street and like so many others, never made it
home. Stephen’s siblings started the Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk
as a memorial tribute to his heroism. Funds raised through the
T2T support the NYC Firefighter Burn Center, scholarship programs for
children who have lost parents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the
construction of Smart Homes for military returning home with devastating injuries, as well as several other charities. We applaud them!
It was time to continue our tour of NY so we boarded the coach and headed off to see the 'Strawberry Fields
The Central Park memorial was designed by Bruce Kelly, the chief landscape architect for the Central Park Conservancy. Strawberry Fields was dedicated on what would have been Lennon's 45th birthday, 9thOctober, 1985, by New York Mayor Ed Koch and Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, who had underwritten the project. The entrance to the memorial is located on Central Park West at West 72nd Street, directly across from the Dakota Apartments, where Lennon had lived for the later part of his life, and where he was murdered
in 1980. The memorial is a triangular piece of land falling away on the
two sides of the park, and its focal point is a circular pathway mosaic of inlaid stones, with a single word, the title of Lennon's famous song: "Imagine". This was a gift from the city of Naples, Italy.
We could see the apartment where John lived and where Yoko Ono still lives.
Of course we had to cross the road to visit the Dakota Buildings to see where our fellow Englishman and favourite Beatle lost his life.
Back on the road to the other side of Central Park for a leisurely walk,where we saw people fishing,
the French and Italian gardens,
We even saw someone taking two turtles for a swim in one of the fountains!
Then it was back to the hotel with time for a quick lunch before we had to meet up with our tour guide again for a trip on the subway to where we were going for our next exciting ride - on a helicoptor! We took lots of photos, here's just a selection.
We also took a video from the helicoptor, this is just an extract to give you the bird's eye view we enjoyed. I suggest you turn off your sound before watching the video, as you might imagine it is very loud.
After the helicoptor ride we headed back up to Times Square, where we purchased discount tickets to see a Broadway show, before going to Red Lobster for something to eat, then onto the show at the Helen Hayes theatre.
What a fantastic show, we can really recommend it.
As you might imagine we were, by now, exhausted but it wasn't too late so we found an Irish Pub just around the corner from our hotel, where we enjoyed a couple of beers before heading for our bed.
I hope you'll join me for Part 11 and the Circle Cruise.