Day 14: October 12, 2015--The Statue of Liberty, NYC

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It is my sincerest hope that soon I will post a
map of the day's wanderings; please be patient!

We spent another day in Manhattan--mostly: although we did manage to get off the island, we never actually lost sight of it. We had but two major goals today: To see an old lady that we'd only seen in pictures, and to meet an old friend for dinner.

The kindly bus driver; I've blurred his badge number to protect his identity. (Photo by Lila)

By 11:00 or so we were boarding a bus, and got a nice surprise: we didn't have exact change, so the driver just waved us on and waived the fare. Who says New Yorkers aren't friendly?

The bus we were on was headed down 2nd Avenue to the "South Ferry Bus Loop" at Battery Park; from there we walked along the waterfront to today's Main Goal Number One: the Statue of Liberty.

I wish there were some way to write that with reverb. "The Statue of Liberty... y... y..." It's such an icon, globally, and it means so much to so many, it's too bad that it can so easily become a cliché. But damn! I feel the importance, having lived in a country where our statue was the inspiration for a group of students to build the "Goddess of Democracy and Freedom," and get massacred for their trouble.

Anyway, today's ticketing-and-lining-up was reminiscent of that at the Empire State Building two days earlier; even though this was a Monday, it was also the Columbus Day Holiday.

Click to enlarge (slightly)

We purchased our tickets on the grounds of Castle Clinton, a War-of-1812 era fort. Once called the West Battery, it lends its name to Battery Park, though it was renamed after New York City Mayor (and later State Governor) DeWitt Clinton as early as 1815. It has been a beer garden and restaurant, an opera house and a theater. "Swedish Nightingale" Jenny Lind sang her first American performance here in 1850. Pseudo-Spanish (but actually Irish) dancer Lola Montez (nee Marie Gilbert) did her erotic Tarantula Dance here a year later.

(Photo by Lila)
The building also served as an "Emigrant Landing Depot" before Ellis Island was opened. Prominent people who arrived here include Mother Cabrini, Harry Houdini, Carl Laemmle, Typhoid Mary, William Morris (he of the Agency), Joseph Pulitzer, Nikola Tesla, Sophie Tucker, Andrew Carnegie, and--gods help us--Frederick Trump, grandfather of #45.

From 1896 to 1941, it was the New York City Aquarium. Today, it was just a bunch of "fish" buying overpriced tickets.

$36 lighter (admission for two) and not much wiser, we boarded the ferry with the triangular route: home, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, home again. (Believe me, security was tight, yo.) Soon we were standing at her feet--figuratively, of course, because we hadn't reserved ahead for "Pedestal Access." No charge for that, but the far-off dream of "Crown Access" only costs three more dollars. Vagabonds like us, with no advance planning, only get to stand down on the sidewalk.

Which was grand by us.

We bought some overpriced food in the "Statue of Liberty Crown Cafe" and shopped a little in the "Liberty Island Bookstore" (but skipping the "Statue of Liberty Museum Store"); then we waited interminably in line and boarded the next ferry. Checking the time (around 2:30) and noting the huge line for people wanting to get back on the ferry at Ellis Island, and thinking about our dinner date, we decided regretfully that getting off was a bad idea. Next time, maybe.

So we got off the ferry back at "home base," wandered further through Battery Park, hit a deli in a nearby neighborhood, and walked to the 911 Memorial at the site of the former World Trade Center. What can I say about that?

St. Paul's Churchyard
From there we walked over to Chambers Street Station (taking a quick peek through the fence at St. Paul's Churchyard, one of the nation's oldest) and took the E Train (our first ride on a jen-yoo-wine New York subway!) to West 4 Street Washington Square Station. After enjoying the activity in Washington Square Park (having a moment of silence for Henry James) and shooting the iconic Arch, we took time out for a little personal pilgrimage.

I have long been a devotee of Joseph Campbell, and I knew he had lived somewhere in Greenwich Village. Having done a little research, I headed to what I was sure was the right intersection, and after asking around a bit, ended up at The Waverly. In a New York Times article from December 18, 1983, Campbell had said, "We lived in the same apartment on Waverly Place more than 45 years." I also read that they had lived on the 14th floor, and that the cross street was Gay Street. The Waverly, at Waverly and 6th Avenue, was the only building in the area tall enough to have a 14th floor. Boldly ringing the bell, I asked the doorman if I had the right place. He confirmed that I did, and although he had some facts wrong regarding Campbell's biography, I am going with his confirmation. I was there. He even said Mrs. Campbell (also known as the dancer and choreographer Jean Erdman) still rented the apartment, though she was in Hawaii at the moment. As I write this in October of 2017, she's still alive--at 101!

Washington Square Park (Photo by Lila)

I'm pretty sure we got back on at the same subway stop and trained (F Train? M?) to 23rd Street, where we walked the less-than-a-mile to 3rd Avenue between 28th and 29th for dinner at Vatan, the Indian restaurant chosen by the "old friend" mentioned above.

I couldn't wait for Heather Menzies Urich to meet Lila, but since we're usually in Asia, and Heather hasn't lived full-time in L.A. since Lila and I married, it never worked out. This was it.

As a bonus blessing, she brought her sweet daughter Emily (now an R.N.) along, and we had a great time. I know it's corny, but you know how with some friends you can go years between meetings, and when you see them again it's like you just talked with them yesterday? Yeah, it was like that.

Outside Vatan; for the life of me, I can't find the original of this shot.
This is the one I posted at the time on Facebook, hence the poor quality.

I won't go into all that Heather and her family mean to me; instead, I'll share something I wrote over five years ago; have a look if you're so inclined.

After dinner, we all walked together to Park and 28th where we got on the #6 train. Heather and Em changed trains somewhere along the way; I don't remember exactly where, but we bid them goodbye before they jumped out. We rode on up to 51st Street, and walked just a block and a half to our hotel.

Another big, satisfying day in the Big Apple. But we never did "Take the A Train."

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