From the Empire State Building,
we hightailed it to Circle Line Cruises
and only made it with 5 minutes to spare.
We boarded our boat,
and headed indoors to defrost
(this was a regular routine).
This was a two and a half hour cruise all around the island of Manhattan,
so in winter,
you would NOT want to choose seats outdoors.
(although I tortured myself frequently
and headed out to the bow of the ship
to take photos that were unobstructed by the windows).
First we cruised down the Hudson River,
and then across the Bay
catching a view of Ellis Island,
which was an immigration processing centre and hospital.
Next was the highlight of the cruise,
seeing the Statue of Liberty,
up close and in the flesh.
I was a little underwhelmed by the experience.
In the movies,
you get the impression that she is absolutely massive.
But she’s not.
She’s big, but she’s not huge.
Huge for a statue though.
Regardless, we took the mandatory photos
of each family member standing in front of the statue.
Of course, we were still excited about having seen the Statue of Liberty.
Before we left for our trip,
we’d read all about the making and gifting of the statue
so it was surreal to be seeing the ‘real’ thing.
(I highly recommend researching and studying your holiday destinations before visiting.
It’s the deluxe icing on the perfect cake!)
Leaving the statue,
our boat circled round,
and took us back towards Manhattan Island.
(No, hubby isn’t about to throw the kids in the bay,
they were all absolutely freezing
so they are huddling, shivering and telling me to hurry up
so they could get back to the warm interior.)
Here you can see Manhattan Island on the right,
the mouth of the Hudson River,
and Jersey City to the left.
Our cruise had bought us down through there,
then took us around the very bottom of Manhattan Island,
and headed up the East River,
on the other side of the Island.
(That orange ferry is the famous Straten Island Ferry.)
Oh and that very tall building,
is the new World Trade Centre building,
called the One World Trade Centre
or the Freedom Tower.
On this cruise,
which was excellently narrated,
we learned that the Freedom Tower
is 1776 ft tall.
Do you understand the significance?
1776 was the year the declaration was signed.
The date is also etched on the tablet that Lady Liberty holds.
It wasn’t until this tour,
and the information from the tour guide,
that I realised how badly New York was affected
by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
To be honest, I didn’t even know it was anywhere near New York,
and I can’t say I even gave it a second thought when I heard it on the news.
There were lives lost,
their subways and road tunnels were flooded,
the Stock Exchanged closed for two days,
there was extensive flooding around the island,
(particularly in the Financial District,
which is pictured below)
and the power went out (power generators are usually located in the basement of buildings).
It was a major disaster for the city.
The little building in this photo below
is the historic 1st Precinct police station,
(which at the time of the storm was the Police Museum)
This poor little building was inundated by storm surge waves,
varying from two to five metres high.
Its first floor was completely flooded
and its roof was ripped off in the hurricane
and the floors beneath it also ruined.
Looking at the picture, the water must have been up to and over
the height of that on-ramp in front of the building.
It’s hard to imagine.
But enough of bad news,
on to happier topics –
the great Brooklyn Bridge!
Have you read the story of the historic Brooklyn Bridge?
and our cruise took us under this mighty little bridge.
The Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world,
when it was first built
(considerably longer in fact!).
Can you imagine 21 elephants walking across this bridge?
Why were there elephants on the bridge?
Suspension bridges were new to the people of New York
and they were rather apprehensive about its stability.
A week after the bridge’s opening,
a woman tripped when crossing the bridge,
and the people around her panicked believing the bridge was collapsing.
The stampede killed twelve people.
So P. T. Barnum, a circus owner, decided to walk
21 elephants, 17 camels and also the famous Jumbo, an 6 tonne African elephant
across the Brooklyn Bridge.
This convinced the people of New York that the bridge was safe
(Personally I’d need more than a few elephants to prove a bridge was safe, if I had any concerns).
Cruising up the East River,
to circumnavigate the island,
we went under lots of bridges.
I believe there were 16 in all.
One of which could have prevented our trip around the island,
if we’d been just minutes closer to the highest tide mark.
One of the bridges even had to ‘open’ for us.
It was the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge,
a railway bridge between Manhattan and the Bronx.
Check out the wilderness views at the top end of the island.
Did you ever imagine to see so much nature this close to New York?
Our second favourite bridge
(yes there is such a thing as having a favourite bridge),
(although this next one was definitely hubby’s favourite),
was the George Washington Bridge.
What’s so special about the George Washington Bridge?
Well if you’ve read,
you will know.
This book saved the ‘real’ little red lighthouse.
It was due to be demolished,
after the bridge was built above it (making it obsolete),
but children who loved the book,
and hence the lighthouse,
wouldn’t let it happen.
So today, thankfully
the little red lighthouse still stands proudly
under the great grey bridge.
Seeing it was a highlight for us
as we read the book numerous times when the boys were small
and hubby continues to read it to his students at school.
As well as bridges,
we saw plenty of fascinating buildings.
We saw the United Nations building.
Did you know that it’s considered international territory?
Apparently it even has its own post office and postal stamp.
And there’s the Chrysler Building,
peeking through from the back.
Hubby got rather excited over this building.
But it’s just the Yankee Stadium.
Ho-hum. Busy yawning.
I found the Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital more interesting.
From 1856 to 1875,
this building was used as a quarantine hospital for smallpox victims.
(Later it was used as a training school for nurses).
Doesn’t it just look like a place of death.
This was just a few of the many fascinating locations we saw on our tour.
After two and a half hours,
we had circumnavigated the isle of Manhattan,
and were back at our starting point,
ready to dash off to our next location.
(We even got to take another taxi!)