Exploring downtown

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I have always found the idea of referring to a downtown area of a city a bit strange. In most cities including my home town of Copenhagen down town just doesn’t make sense. Most cities have grown in circles outward from a center. So down town in Copenhagen would be a suburb south of the town and uptown would be another suburb north of town. But here in New York it makes sense – down town may not be the southern part of New York City since it would be Staten Island and up town might not be the northern point in New York City since it is the Bronx. But I guess when you refer to the city of New York most people will only think of Manhattan and not the other boroughs. And when you are on Manhattan downtown is indeed the southern bit and uptown is the northern part of the island.

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We get off the subway at the very southern part of Manhattan and go to the old fort in Battery Park which is now a national heritage and the spot from where you can buy your ticket to go on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We get the tickets and then go to the long line for the ferry – we wait for a while and then the line moves closer to the water edge. When we get closer to the water we can see the wind we have been feeling all morning do make some waves so even though the area around New York harbor is partly sheltered the sail to the statue might be a bit rough today. So we decide to give up on our spot in the queue and instead return tomorrow morning since the ticket is valid for three days.

We walk back across Battery Park and go across the road – on the other side of road is the big old Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House which has now been transformed to a museum of the American Indians. The museum is a part of the Smithsonian museum which is a great advantage since it means the entrance to the museum is free. We go in and have a look around the museum the first thing we get to see is a large hall which is very impressive – the exhibition in the hall isn’t all that impressive since it is only posters about native Americans in the us army during the last couple of centuries. In general we find the building more interesting than the exhibition so we only spend a short time inside the museum before we go back outside and start walking up Broadway.

We walk a bit to the place the old Dutch town of New Amsterdam ended and there was a wall protecting the small town – today this is the financial center of North America and many financial institutions call Wall Street their home. There is a lot of construction going on at the corner of wall street and Broadway and so the view of the area is a bit obscured – I am not sure if this is only temporary or if some of the fencing off is actually more permanent as part of some sort of security of the area. In the middle of Wall Street is an old building. It is the old Federal Hall which is very important place in US history. Back on the 30th of April 1789 this is where George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the newly formed country of the United States of America.

We walk from the Federal Hall back across Broadway to another important place in US and world history. Here is the memorial for the victims killed at the World Trade Center in 2001. I find the memorial a bit strange since it is basically a big hole in ground with a fountain running down into the hole. The grounds of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center is among the most valuable property on Manhattan so I guess it is no surprise they would dedicate the entire area to the memorial and instead build the 1776 feet tall Freedom Tower. The height of the tower is no coincidence the height has been set to the same as the year of the declaration of independence which was signed in 1776.

We continue our walk across lower Manhattan by going to the City Hall which is located right next to one of the many parks in New York. There are a lot of squirrels running around in the park. It is actually astonishing just how many squirrels they have in New York – there are just a bunch of squirrels in every park in the city. Close to the City Hall is a small memorial for the Black Slaves who has been buried at this spot. I have always thought of slaves in America as a thing for the southern states – but at the early start of the American colonies slavery was actually present in all the colonies.

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From the memorial we head to China town to see the different Chinese shops and the temples of this area of New York. Before I went to Asia I might have found this part of the city interesting but now I have seen different china towns in Asia like Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore – so this tiny china town with the minuscule temples just doesn’t cut it anymore. New York might be a melting pot of different neighborhoods representing the different cultures of the world – but the individual neighborhood is pretty small so if you have been to those countries they are not that interesting to see.

We leave Asia behind and head back to New York – we go to Union Square which is home to a large farmers market in the middle of New York. A lot of trucks come into the city to sell their produce grown upstate New York or New Jersey to the people down town New York. We are not cooking tonight so we leave the vegetable shopping to the people actually cooking and instead we continue the walk along Broadway until we reach Madison Square Park. Right at the park is one of the most notable buildings in Manhattan – the Flatiron Building I guess most people have seen this triangular building in movies or television series from New York so it just feels very familiar even if it is the first time you ever see it. We go to the park to rest for a while – we are going for an early dinner tonight but it is still not time for eating. And the restaurant is really close to the park so we just hang around the park for a while looking at the Shake Shack where people go for shakes and a burger. When it is time for our reservation we walk out the park and head to number 11 on Madison Avenue.

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