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Day 6 in NYC: Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Hamilton

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For some reason I woke up around 2:30am and it was clear pretty quickly I wasn’t going back to sleep so I made some coffee and started working on the blog (what else?). I made my way out for breakfast around 7:30am.

Entrance to The Franklin, door opening at an angle on the corner, tables outside
The Franklin was just a few blocks from the house where I’m staying.
Insde the restaurant. Lots of wood, warm looking
They’ve only been open about 2 months. I was the only customer the whole time I was there.
Breafkast: scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, sourdough toast
Simple but it worked. They had much fancier options I just wasn’t feeling very adventurous.

I had 9am reservations for the Statue of Liberty ferry and took a Lyft from the restaurant back over to Liberty State Park. You can get to the Statue from either here or Battery Park in New York. Since I’d already known I was staying on the Jersey side when I bought the ticket in February, this made much more sense.

Entering the train station from the outside
The Liberty State Park ticketing area is an old train station which immigrants used to get wherever they were going. It was then used for commuters for awhile. It’s now a museum.
Inside the train station. Big room open to the second level with a balcony along the perimeter
Inside the train station. Tickets and Will Call on the left.

The ferry ride to Ellis Island was pretty quick; 10 minutes maybe? I wasn’t really paying attention. For some reason in planning this it never occurred to me that I’d go to Ellis Island. You didn’t have to get off the ferry here, I could have stayed on and gone directly to the Statue. But I figured, well I’m here, might as well.

Entrance to Ellis Island Immigration Museum
Entrance to Ellis Island Immigration Museum
Two signs at the dock: one pointing left for New York, one pointing right for Statue of LIberty and New Jersey
When I saw these signs I thought: Hmm, maybe that’s how I get to New York instead of taking the bus.

I asked one of the attendants and sure enough: they don’t care how you got there or where you go next as long as you have a ticket. So when I was done I was able to take the ferry over to New York rather than back to NJ, and then a Lyft and a 30 minute bus ride back over the Hudson. I was pretty excited about that little development! So much simpler and quicker.

A display of trunks, probably 12 feet wide, with a black and white photo of immigrants lined up with their luggage above it
This was one of the first displays as you walked in.

This was a full on museum which I wasn’t expecting for some reason. I wasn’t really in the mood but felt like I should at least check it out. They had a research center where I did try to see if I could find records of my grandmother coming over from Austria, which I know she did in 1912. Her name didn’t come up – maybe because she was only 2 years old at the time? – and I couldn’t remember her mother’s name (it finally came to me this morning, of course!) so I gave up after awhile. You had to have a name unfortunately; if they had allowed a search by boat and year I probably could have found them.

There were 2 movies about the immigration experience, I went to just one of them, about 30 minutes. It was good, gives you a lot to think about, especially how much we take for granted. One of the displays gave the history of the Americas which started with: “Despite the myth that North America lay ’empty’ and available for the taking, European explorers encountered over 200 different cultures whose ancestors had lived on this continent for thousands of years. Through armed conflict, Europeans seized the land and claimed it for themselves. This often entailed enslaving, subjugating, or removing native peoples to reservations against their will. Disease was an unintended instrument of conquest – millions of Native Americans died from foreign viruses to which they had no resistance.”

I was ready to go about 11am. There was a ferry over to the Statue at 11:05. My timing all day worked just like magic that way.

The Status of Liberty from the ferry, including the entire star base
What I like about this photo is the tiny people circling at the bottom and on the star platform. Gives you a nice sense of the size of this thing.

This was taken from the ferry, obviously. It circled around to the left side of this shot and docked.

The statue from the back
I liked this shot for some reason. Notice the blue sky, that’s going to change here in a minute.

There are several levels of tickets you can buy: Island, Pedestal, Crown. I went for Crown. At the end of this walk to your left were lockers where you had to store your stuff – no bags allowed, especially if you were Crown because of the narrow spaces. It was a good call.

A small sign with a diagram of the statue showing you here you are on your way up, in this casee about 1/4 of the way. It reads: 67 steps to the top of the pedestal. At the bottom: Statue Fact - in very strong winds, the Statue of Liberty can sway three inches, while her torch can sway almost six inches
There were several of these all the way up to the pedestal. 195 steps total. I’ve done much worse.
Looking back at the very wide path I'd just walked up with a tall flag at the end of it
Looking back at where I took the photo a couple of entries above

Above and below were taken from the outside area of the Pedestal.

Downtown NYC and Jersey City under and overcast sky
The weather kept changing

After I got enough of that I went on up to the Crown. There are roughly 25,000 visitors per day to the island. Only 500 a day are allowed up to the Crown. Glad I got my ticket in February, I had no idea it was so limited.

A selfie with the steel spiral staircase going up over my head
It’s about this moment that I really got it: this is less statue, more building.

I’ve walked up many a steep spiral staircase in Europe. This rivaled any of them. Super steep, a very tight spiral. As you enter the guy said “I recommend you stop every 20 steps to rest even if you think you don’t need it.” And designed well – it’s actually 2 staircases, one for up, one for down.

Two guys at the top of the crown
These guys greeted you at the top.

They have 2 hours shifts only because it gets pretty hot up here.

About 10 panes of glass from the crown
It looks like all of these windows open – see the latch at the bottom. I would’ve opened them all. The guys said it’s typically 20 degrees hotter here than outside.
A tiny windwo latched open from the crown, with the World Trade Center in the center
Not the best view but you get the point. The panes were pretty dirty so you really couldn’t see much just looking through them.
Looking down over the spiral staircase. There's a square hole through which you can see people standing at the pedestal level
More of the inside on the way back down, looking down. You can see people through the opening at the pedestal level. I was afraid I was going to drop my phone!
Jersey City and NYC in the background, trees and grass in the foreground from the park
This was taken from the star base, which used to be Fort Wood. Portions of the island are park like as you can see here.
Selfie standing close to the pedestal looking forward, the statue looming over my head behind me
An illistrustration showing the steel frame on the inside
There’s a section of the pedestal dedicated to its construction. This illustration fit my “more building than statue” idea.
A lawn with people sitting all over
I loved that people were just hanging out there. The view to the left is of the city.
Stick selfie with the water behind me, World Trade Center to the far left of the photo with a ferry just under it
First use of the selfie stick on this trip
Selfie using the stick, full pedestal, statue, a bit of the star base behind me

It was about 12:15 when I decided I was done, and ready for lunch. Since I’d already decided to go to Battery Park from here, I thought Chinese sounded good since I knew Chinatown was an easy reach from there.

The dock to the ferry. Empty on the right immediately behind me, the line forms on the left
When I got in line it looked like there were hundreds of people waiting. I thought: No way do I make the next boat. They pulled the cord behind me. I was the last one on and was super happy about that.
Hoards of people getting on the ferry
This is what was in front of me at that point. It’s hard to believe I got on, there were So Many people in front of me. This is maybe 10% of what was there when I got in line.

From Battery Park I had an easy subway ride into Chinatown, a transfer with maybe 2 stops on either side. When I first got out it was clear I was in Chinatown. Then it got very confusing as suddenly there were Italian delis everywhere, yet where I was headed was still several blocks away.

Photo of a street with "Welcome to Little Italy" sign going across it
This was a very confusing neighborhood – Little Italy sort of surrounded by Chinatown.
Photo at intersection, all signs on building in Chinese
I was standing in the same place as the prior photo, just turned 180 degrees.
Sign above restaurant: #1 Wah Fung No. 1 Fast Food, Inc
This was where I was headed. But see that line? It goes on for another 10 feet probably. Plus it was just takeout and I was ready to sit.

I found the above on Yelp, and it was what got me into the neighborhood. It really was the #1 listing on Yelp for this area. I don’t know how or if that plays into the sign!

Sidewalk in Chinatown
Luckily there was a long line of restaurants on this block to choose from.
Sign above restaurant: Bite of Hong Kong
I ended up eating here, mostly because it wasn’t crowded and looked like it would have a menu in English, which not all of them did.
Inside the restaurant looking back towards the entrance; two empty tables and the front desk in between
The front wasn’t crowded but the back was full, all locals.
Braised pork and cabbage in a small pot, brown rice on the side
Braised pork and cabbage. The meat was amazingly tender. A little salty but the rice helped!

I was on 2nd Avenue in Lower Manhattan which is the east side of the island. I haven’t been this far east below 50th best I can remember so decided to just walk it to see what I could see. I went through the Bowery and the East Village, which I really liked. It was very diverse – there was one block where I spotted all of the following restaurants: Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian, Mediterranean. It was also great people watching.

A tree-lined side street
A random side street that to me looked so homey somehow. I loved the fire escapes on the far left. This felt like a great neighborhood to live in.

The above was somewhere in the East Village. Blocks of this kind of look on the left and right as I moved up 2nd Avenue. Definitely not very touristy; it also felt very livable.

Eventually I took the subway back into the theater district. I wasn’t terribly hungry but had a 7pm show and knew I should eat before I can’t for 3 more hours. I decided on a hole-in-the-wall Indian place I found on 46 St east of 7th Ave. Completely forgot to take a photo of the outside.

Their special for the day was the saag (that’s the spinach dish if you’re not familiar with Indian food) which I love so went for that. Added ginger chicken which was incredible, surprisingly moist and full of flavor, with a kick to it. As did the saag.

Times Square from 46th Street

Because you needed another Times Square photo in your life. This is the center of it at 46th Street.

Marquee for Hamilton at Richard Rodgers Theater
I got there just after 6pm and the line had already started for a 7pm show, sort of amusing for assigned seating

I cannot think of Broadway show that’s been more hyped, at least in the last 5 years, since Hamilton opened in 2015. With outrageous ticket prices to boot. I almost didn’t do it but, when I was planning this trip and buying show tickets in January, I decided if I’m going to do it I should see it here since, generally, Broadway productions have a reputation as being better than whatever is on tour. But I don’t do well with over-hyped things, they rarely live up to it in my experience so I was coming into this with pretty low expectations.

There was a mother and daughter (tween to early teens maybe) behind me in line and I chatted with them a bit. They were from a small, conservative town in Oregon and had come here for Pride and to see shows. They were fun to chat with, so happy to be among their own kind. The mother said “I’m pretty liberal if you couldn’t tell.” I guess she was referring to the very purple patch of hair amidst her otherwise blond head.

My view from G 21
My view from G 21
Full stage for Hamilton
Full stage for Hamilton

That couple being photographed were sitting behind me, at least initially; I noticed just before the show started there was suddenly a straight couple back there so I don’t know what happened to these guys. At any rate, the one on the right was Extremely Chatty. They live here, he went on and on about how often they do shows, it’s their therapy, this is his 3rd or 4th time seeing Hamilton and promised me it would change my life.

That’s like the surest way there is to get my mind set on not liking something and only added to the jaded view I came in with :0

Ceiling of the Richard Rodgers Theater
Ceiling of the Richard Rodgers Theater

So what’s the verdict?

I had a really hard time understanding what was happening at the beginning of the first act because the words were so difficult for me to make out. Several people had suggested I listen to the soundtrack before I see it but I’ve tried that before and it never works for me if I haven’t actually seen the show. (The mother behind me in line is the same way…) Although after the 2nd or 3rd song I was starting to regret that decision – something with written lyrics would have been lovely – and was starting to worry I was never going to get it.

I don’t remember when that left me, but certainly more than halfway through the first act I realized it had sometime before. The story line is essentially about the founding fathers, primarily Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, with Washington, Jefferson and Madison also prevalent. The hook is they are all played by African-American actors and much of it is in rap (which I didn’t know until my friends John and Sherry Walck told me just a week or so before I left). Know that what I usually say about “rap music” is that it’s an oxymoron. Had I known that back in January I might not have bought the ticket.

All that aside, I’m a sucker for good performances and these guys were amazing, especially the Aaron Burr guy. The guy who played Hamilton wast not too shabby either. And a fun, cheeky performance from the King George guy (who was the only white male in the cast). And not all of it was rap, much of it was quite understandable, or maybe I just got used to it. And some of the music was quite beautiful. I also appreciated the very clever writing, with lots of quotable stuff which of course I can’t remember 🙂

I doubt I need to see it again – maybe in 5 years when the prices come Way Down. But I’m glad I saw it and that it opened my 6 show run on this trip.

Cursed Child is today and I’m stupidly excited about that.

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