On May 30th we flew to New York City to attend the IPPY Awards ceremony. “Be Still the Water” was awarded a Silver medal in the Canada West – Fiction category.
This is the sign that greeted us a La Guardia airport.
We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel just a few blocks from Time Square. The awards were held at the Copacabana Night Club. The invitation said: “Hors d’oeuvres, buffet stations and an open bar.” Don’t tell Canadians there is an open bar if you don’t want them to come! Selfie with Ian and Cheryl Blyth who joined me and Harold.
I was given a shiny medal to bring home.
The next few days were spent touring the city on the hop-on, hop-off bus. I thought this interesting – it looks as if an outline was drawn and painters are hand painting this mural on the side of a building. Everything in New York is done in a big way.
The architecture is pretty spectacular. We saw many old buildings like this. Didn’t catch the name of it as this photo was taken from the top deck of the bus.
Can you guess what building this is?
We hopped off the bus and went inside the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.
Saint John the Divine was conceived as a truly American Cathedral, affirming common ground between political ideals and the Gospel message. It was chartered as, “A house of prayer for all people, and a unifying center of intellectual light and leadership.”
In the nave, there are displays and artifacts that honour the military, medicine, missionaries, crusaders, educators, sports, arts and law. The poet’s corner salutes America’s literary greats whose names are inscribed on stone plaques.
Central Park is different than I imagined. I expected a heavily treed area with paved paths, but it is so much more than that. It is pretty huge. There is a small lake, amusement park and zoo and way more people than I thought. Also, New Yorkers really love their dogs, so we saw dogs everywhere. Pictured in the background here is Beresford castle. Our tour guide told us that comedian Jerry Seinfeld lives in the penthouse suite.
We were told this is the fountain from the opening credits on the sitcom “Friends” so we acted like goofballs for this pic. As it turns out, the Friends fountain is actually located on the Warner Bros. Ranch back lot in Burbank, California.
John Lennon was shot in the street in front of his apartment building across from Central Park in December 1980. His wife, Yoko Ono, scattered his ashes in Central Park, where the Strawberry Fields memorial was later created. It is quite amazing that 37 years later there are still fresh flowers and people with guitars singing his songs at the memorial. Some feel compelled to leave bell peppers – maybe there are diamonds there, too.
We thought it would be fun to stop at the Plaza Hotel where Kevin from the movie Home Alone racked up a huge bill. Those are fresh cut lilies on the lobby table so the whole area smelled beautiful. Below the hotel is a food court so we decided to check that out next.
The nicest food court I’ve ever seen and it was huge (this is just one small part). All types of foods and desserts at less than sit down restaurant prices.
The guys were thirsty so we stopped at this little French restaurant in the food court for a drink.
There is no Canadian beer in New York, at least not that we found. I felt sorry for Harold who thought he’d try a Pale Ale, but couldn’t stomach it, so I switched with him. I’m not a beer drinker, but I didn’t mind this at all. I guess because it didn’t taste like beer!
And a nice treat in a fancy take-out box for later.
New York City is surprisingly clean and quieter than you’d imagine given the amount of traffic and people, but public washrooms are scarce. This is the nicest food court bathroom I’ve ever seen – all in marble.
The view of lower Manhattan from the bay.
We saw the Statue of Liberty and in this photo, Ellis Island.
I’ve heard that the pizza in New York is the best in the world. Based on what I ate that afternoon, I have to agree. We walked into a little shop for lunch the day we went to visit the World Trade Center Museum. The pizzeria was just two blocks from where the twin towers once stood.
The new Freedom Tower, built close to the Twin Tower site. We met a man named Jose selling photo books of the 911 tragedy. He was a volunteer with the Red Cross and one of the first relief workers to arrive at the site and helped people get out of the building (there were photos of him in the book). He now devotes his life to selling these books and talking about 911, so that people will never forget. We told him we were from Canada and he shook our hands, thanking us for the part our country did that horrible day. He was a pretty sincere guy (not your typical street huckster) and I was glad to have met him.
An infinity fountain was built over each Twin Tower base and the names of everyone who died is engraved around the top edge. Looking into the fountain, and hearing the flowing water, gave me an eerie sense of falling into a dark nothingness. There were hundreds of people standing around the edges but not a word was spoken. It was incredibly sobering.
The Museum was astounding. There were hundreds of people viewing the exhibits at the same time as us but it was incredibly quiet as few people spoke and when they did it was in a whisper. The only sound I remember were the voice overs—relatives of the deceased telling their remembrances of that day, and the sobs and sniffles as people listened and wiped their eyes. New York City did a tremendous job putting together a memorial that is respectful and touching by merging together people’s stories and memorabilia with salvage from the Twin Towers. The museum is built within the base of the buildings within parts of the foundation that still remained. During the salvage operation that took two years to complete, these stairs were found in the rubble and with painstaking research, they were able to determine which stairwell they came from and placed them geographically in the same location. Thousands of people came down these stairs and survived, while the firefighters who went up, all lost their lives.
Ladder Company 3 received some of the heaviest casualties of any fire company in the FDNY, losing most of its men in the September 11 attacks. The company reported to the North Tower of the World Trade Center, where Captain Patrick “Paddy” Brown and his men were last known to be on the 40th floor of the tower. The company arrived at the WTC running “heavy,” meaning that they carried more men than would actually be on a shift, as the attacks came during a shift change, and both shifts remained on duty. Chief Brown wasn’t wearing his usual helmet that day as it had been repaired and was in his personal truck. His family donated it to the museum. In total, 343 firefighters died instantly when the Twin Towers collapsed, along with 60 police officers and eight paramedics. During the September 11 attacks, 2,996 people were killed and more than 6,000 others wounded. These immediate deaths included 265 on the four planes (including the 19 terrorists), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. Had the attack on the towers been later that morning, (the first plane hit at 8:46 a.m. before everyone was at work) experts predict the death toll would have been much higher as there were only about 17,000 people in the buildings which saw between 50,000 – 70,000 people pass through its doors daily. This museum was truly awe inspiring.
I’d like to finish this post where it began – at the airport. This is the newest innovation for travelers that we saw at both the Toronto and La Guardia airports. iPads that travelers can use for as long as they want, situated at tables throughout the airport. You can surf the web, watch for flight updates, check email, order food and pay for it with your credit or debit card and within a few minutes, it arrives. Very cool. I’d go back to New York City in a minute. There is so much more left to see and do – all I need now is win another award to give us the excuse to go. Who wants to come along?