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Day 16 in NYC: Museum of Jewish Heritage; Village wanderings

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Friday, July 12. Thankfully the rain had passed overnight and there was no more in the forecast. I got the blog up around 9am and made my way out.

I took a bus to Journal Square PATH, only made a huge rookie mistake, and got on the bus from the wrong side of the street, therefore going in the wrong direction. And I wasn’t paying attention so didn’t figure it out until my only option was to enjoy the ride until it made the complete loop! Oh well, good thing I wasn’t on a tight schedule.

subway selfie
Good morning! The subway was pretty crowded still for being after 10:30am.
Coming up off the escalators from the train underground, lots of people moving through exit stalls and going upstairs into the core of Oculus
I love the hustle and bustle of people moving through public transportation centers

I was very excited that the World Trade Center line ended underneath Oculus (a major transportation hub which I’ve mentioned in prior entries).

Inside oculus, showing the ribs of 'the bird"
I do love this building
Side veiw of Oculus from outside
My continued fascination with this building

I’d read somewhere that this was designed to look like a bird taking flight, which I can see from this angle.

a pretzel with salt
It was 11am, I’d been up since 5am and hadn’t eaten anything. I picked up a pretzel from a street vendor and ate it on my way to the museum, which was about a 12 minute walk from the train.

You had to buy tickets for specific times for the Museum of Jewish Heritage; now I was glad I had picked 11am! I would only be a few minutes late.

Entrance to the museum - two rows of black and white photos, each maybe 2x3 feet, above the doors, 9 per row
Entrance to the Museum of Jewish Heritage, a Living Memorial to the Holocaust
A train car from Auschwitz at the museum entrance
A train car from Auschwitz at the museum entrance

This museum was a late addition to my itinerary. One of the (many) guys I met at the Gay and Sober Men’s conference told me about it (I wish I could remember who now!), specifically that there was a special exhibit on Auschwitz. For those of you who have been around for the earlier Europe blogs (2013-15), you know I’ve sought out a lot of material on WW2, so I didn’t want to miss this opportunity while I was here.

quote on museum wall: It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere." Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi
It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere.” Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi

This was at the entrance to the exhibit.

Quote on the wall: The art of all truly great national leaders at all times consists in not dividing the attention of people, but in concentrating it upon a single foe. Adolf Hitler, 1925
Hmm.

The exhibit wasn’t just about Auschwitz, but the whole history of the Jewish struggle dating back to 70 CE. It also provided details of the creation of the Nazi party, starting after WW1 (which, as some of you have heard me say before, you can’t really talk about WW2 without talking about WW1). So it was an extensive, historical exhibit.

I decided early on not to take many photos. It was a crushing exhibit and I realized there was no way I could do it justice. If you have an opportunity, just go. What I did think about was how anyone can deny this happened in the face of overwhelming and soul sucking evidence.

About 30 black and white photographs, from the 30's and 40's, framed and displayed as a collage
Somehow these survived

This was one thing I wanted to remember for sure. These were photographs that people sent to Auschwitz had on them when they got there, even though everything else had been taken from them. These were somehow kept in administration files somewhere, and found years later when Auschwitz was being converted into a museum. It made me wonder: who kept them? A Nazi soldier who still had remnants of humanity left inside of him?

A patio from the 2nd level of the museum, Statue of Liberty in the background
A patio from the 2nd level of the museum, Statue of Liberty in the background

I was there about 2 hours. It was more than enough. I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon wandering the Village (Greenwich and West) again so made my way there via subway.

World Trade Center tower in the background with other buildings foreground
I took a lot of photos of the World Trade Center that morning but decided to include just this one.

On my way to the subway.

Entrance to the Hugh Carey Tunnel from a pedestrian bridge
Entrance to the Hugh Carey Tunnel from a pedestrian bridge

This used to be known as the Brooklyn-Battery bridge. It’s the longest span of underwater vehicular bridge in the country at just under two miles.

I got off the subway at 14th St and went in search of one last pizza stop for this trip.

outside of Village Pizza
Outside of Village Pizza

This was at 13th St and 8th Ave, in Google as a “small, nothing-fancy local pizzeria.” Perfect!

Counter with display case across the front, maybe 12 feet
This was the whole place. 3 tables.
slice of pizze and a diet coke in a plastic bottle
Pepperoni, bacon, ham. The pizza slice was $3. The diet coke was $3.75. That’s just wrong.

From here I really just wandered. I sort of made a point of going by every public park space I came across on the map as I did so.

Fountain in Jackson Square
Jackson Square, across 8th Ave from the pizza place
Entrance to the NYC LGBT Center on 13th St
Entrance to the NYC LGBT Center on 13th St

I had walked by this before from the other direction sometime last week, but hadn’t noticed what it was until Jonathan took me here after the meeting on Monday. Note the tree is covered in a rainbow sweater. And that both the flag and the sweater include brown and black stripes, expanding the diversity representation of the flag.

Hibiscus iced tea and a fig coconut bar
Hibiscus iced tea and a fig coconut bar

This is an amazing center with over 20 different support groups meeting here each day. There’s also a nice coffee shop, with both indoor and outdoor seating. I didn’t feel comfortable taking photos of the inside or outside since there was so many people about and that might not go over well. That fig bar, by the way, was a thing of beauty.

Park at the center of NYC AIDS Memorial
Park at the center of NYC AIDS Memorial

This is a park in a triangle formed by 12th St, 7th Ave, and Greenwich Ave.

4 posters on the sidewalk outside of the memorial park: AIDS in the old LOVE format (AI above DS); Silence=Death; I have AIDS, please hug me; Stop AIDS
4 posters on the sidewalk outside of the memorial park: AIDS in the old LOVE format; Silence=Death; I have AIDS, please hug me; Stop AIDS

These run alongside the Greenwich Ave section of the Memorial.

A white sculptured canopy at the NYC AIDS Memorial
A white sculptured canopy at the NYC AIDS Memorial

This is at the corner of Greenwich and 12th. This location was picked because it’s across from the old St. Vincent’s hospital, which was at the center of the early epidemic, as featured in “Angels in America”. That’s a lovely, soothing fountain in the middle. While not easy to see in this photo, the ground is fully inscribed with lines from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”

Abingdon Square
Abingdon Square, surrounded by Hudson Street (which is 9th Ave a few blocks north), 12th St, 8th Ave. Bleecker St starts just below this.
Statue on a pedestal in the park
This was erected in honor of those who died in “the world war.” Put up in 1921.

Bleecker Street starts just below Abingdon Square. Since I keep coming across it this trip, I decided to walk the whole thing. So glad I did. It might be the most interesting street I’ve come across in all of my travels. There was a wide variety of shops, many of them quirky, and incredible people watching opportunities as well. Just a few photos of the many I took.

Sandwich board on the sidewalk that says "yoga and meditation in our backyard" with a schedule.
This was in front of a jewelry store! So random.
Outside of a store entrance
This was a home decoration shop. Look closely at the writing on the right window.
Closeup of the window that says Haas Brothers Collaboration
In case you couldn’t make that out. I couldn’t resist.
Words etched on a store window
On the window of a clothing store: Remember that you are a mother f#*%ing superstar.
Fountain in Father Demo Square
Fountain in Father Demo Square

From nycgovparks.org: The popular West Village square is named for Father Antonio Demo, who was appointed the pastor of the nearby Our Lady of Pompeii church in 1900 and served the community for more than 30 years

A block jam-packed with restaurants
I’d never seen so many restaurants on one block, anywhere. Possible exception of Amsterdam.

This is MacDougal street where it intersects Bleecker. I’d never seen so many different kinds of restaurants in one place before. In just one block you could have: burgers, Italian, Ethiopian, Indian, Egyptian, a Berlin Doner (which is really sort of Turkish), playa bowls (fresh fruit, smoothies, etc.), crepes, Mexican, Vietnamese, pizza, and Japanese. One block. And those were just the ones I noticed.

My favorite? Insomnia Cookies. “Warm, fresh cookies delivered until 3am.” You really can get just about anything you want at any time in NYC.

It was now about 5:30pm. I’d thought about doing a number of things – seeing another off Broadway show, going up to “the top of the Rock” at Rockefeller Center as examples. In the end I was more in the mood to wind down, and realized I’ve “lived” in Jersey City for 2 weeks and had never been downtown. So that’s where I headed.

I picked up the PATH train at 9th Street and got off at Grove St in Jersey City.

A street fair just outside the train station
A street fair just outside the train station; the train exit was from under that green roof in the background.
Banner over the street says "Groove on Grove"
A very lively scene in downtown Jersey City just as I exited the train station

That banner says “Groove on Grove” announcing a music event along Grove Street, which is filled with restaurants and bars, and is running across the intersection in this photo so you can’t really see it.

Pedestrian area of Jersey City
Pedestrian area of Jersey City

There were several blocks of “pedestrian plaza” which I always appreciate, filled with a wide variety of nightlife and food.

Rooftop lounge of 626
Rooftop lounge of Six 26

This is a gay focused restaurant/lounge on the rooftop of 128 Christopher Columbus Street, which intersects Grove at the center of downtown. It is named Six 26 in honor of June 26, 2015, when the US Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.

Small tables against glass wall at end of the rooftop with orange umbrellas, and rainbow flag draped over the outside of the glass
Small tables against glass wall at end of the rooftop with orange umbrellas, and rainbow flag draped over the outside of the glass
Fish and chips with cole slaw
Fish and chips with cole slaw
selfie
Walking along Grove Street in Jersey City. Last selfie of the trip?

It was about 7:30pm and I was officially done. I took a Lyft back to the house because from this particular spot it would have taken 2 buses to get there. Luckily I had earned credits from prior Lyft rides and it only cost me the $2 tip!

I have to check out of here by Noon but my flight is at 6pm. What was I thinking? Good thing I will have lounge access. I will start – and hopefully finish! – my traditional “final thoughts” entry from there.

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