The New Colossus

We're back from New York! 4 days of winding our way around Manhattan, Brooklyn and Ellis Island. Planes, subways, a ferry and our trusty feet took us through the beautiful labyrinth of impossibly significant buildings and sites.

I will begin with the Statue of Liberty because that, along with the Natural History Museum was the only thing I KNEW I wanted to see before we even got there. And it didn't disappoint me.

Battery Park was warm and windy with rain threatening on the horizon. The ferry jumped the choppy waves and belched diesel fumes in the air as we headed out to Liberty Island. As you approach Liberty Island the statue looms closer and closer, revealing its full and awesome height. The face is beautiful, and calming, but what moves me most is her power. She is welcoming but very capable of resistance. Even someone like me with a glowering disgust of the government is moved to tears by this evidence of the passions of the past.

Ellis Island is even more touching. The festive facade of the buildings there belie the intense suffering that millions of immigrants experienced within them. Closed in 1854 and left to fall into neglect, the newly restored rooms look exactly as they did in the photos depicting the primitive"sorting" system used there by the government beginning in 1892 to admit or refuse the millions of families pouring through the doors.
On 3 floors of exhibits you find large photos of the people, and you can listen to their stories on audio phones.

It's eerie to think of all those lives crowded into those rooms, on the small island, waiting for a verdict of freedom or deportation. Waiting to see if a child would live or die. I felt extremely grateful to have escaped that painful experience.

The wind picked up when we left and my breath and quite nearly my hat were snatched away as I stood on the deck coming back to the city. The tip of Manhattan is lovely, and very small. It is packed with elegant, ancient Beaux-Arts buildings and lacy Plain trees loosing their leaves in the wind.

More New York stories to follow -- stay tuned to hear how The Valiant Arms stole Manhattan's heart!

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