After spending several hours nestled in the mesmerizing lullaby of the railroad, I descended into Penn Station and thus into the heart of Manhattan. I admit, anxiety nipped at my heart; although I spent a year here as a young and ambitious drama student, that experience was over twenty years ago. My youthful gumption was but a box of darkened cobwebs in my memory. I’m older and much more cautious now. I prayed that my naivete and apprehension is not reflected on my face, lest I become a target for unscrupulous taxi drivers and all the muggers and criminals that roam New York’s busy, chaotic streets (or so we Upstaters are taught to believe).
So after getting lost in Penn Station and finally emerging from the chaotic underground crowds, I walked up to 7th Avenue…. and walked… and walked… ! Check in time for my hotel was 3pm, and it was only 1pm. I figured I’d walk around in the area, and hopefully find Trinity Church, where Alexander Hamilton and his wife are buried.
I’d almost forgotten how really chaotic the streets are in the city. I tried to think of how I would describe the experience to my children when I returned home to tell the tale. The biggest cities they’ve experienced are Syracuse and Utica; how to compare? It’s like trying to compare Rhode Island to Texas. And it was just as hot as Texas, today, too.
So I walked…. and walked… and walked!! The heat as well as the traffic was totally stifling. On occasion, I saw a person (a foreigner– you could tell they were a foreigner because they dressed differently and were very short) roll a large red Igloo cooler down the street and park it on a street corner. Then they started yelling, “ONE DAH-RAR!!! ONE DAH_RAR!” in a very thick accent. Wha? What were they saying?? I passed by several such “ONE DAH-RAR” people…. I finally figured it out when I saw a tall blond lady with sunglasses trot over to the foreigner. She waved a dollar bill, which was promptly exchanged for a plastic bottle of water. WATER! I was terribly thirsty, having had nothing but a cup of coffee at 6:30 that morning. But all my “DAH-RARs” were packed tightly in my purse, which was packed tightly in my backpack… which was now permanently glued to my back with all the sweat from walking hours in 90 degree weather. :-p Maybe I could dig out my money when I could find a place to rest.
I kept walking; I was looking for Trinity Church, but stumbled upon St. Paul’s Chapel. I expected the chapel to be quiet and meditative, but was shocked to see it full of tourists!
There are several displays in the chapel. George Washington, as well as many other statesmen and families, sat for a service and took communion here, on the day of Washington’s inauguration as President of the United States.
This pew is where he sat. I wonder if even back then, historians surrounded the Chapel, scribbling notes for posterity, and making plans to preserve everything Washington touched??
That is the original Great Seal of the President of the United States.
Here is George Clinton’s pew.
The chapel itself is very unassuming, and rather small. It has a lovely balcony and I liked the architecture of the columns. I apologize for the quality of the photography– I’d packed my cheapo camera because I ‘d wanted to travel lightly. :-p Never skimp on the camera… I’ll never leave my nice one home again. The photos are disappointing.
It was hot and steamy in the chapel, and I saw no water dispensers anywhere. In fact, a small sign in the chapel stated, “No water available.”
I’d come to New York city on one of the hottest summer days of the year so far. It had been very cool in Upstate that week– temperatures barely reaching the 70s. I made the mistake of assuming that Downstate was going to have the same weather as Upstate. WHAT a mistake! So I peeled off my jacket and wandered back onto the streets, looking for one of those beverage vendors that glutted the streets near Penn Station, several hours ago. No one was around. Figures!
I continued to wander around, looking for Trinity Church. Two decades ago, I knew the general area well. But everything seemed different now… and there was a TON of construction everywhere that confused me. It was construction at Ground Zero, for the new World Trade Center.
I haven’t kept updated on what’s going on here. Apparently, they are building a new tower. I knew a memorial was going to go here… but I didn’t see one. Everything was closed off by 10-foot blue wooden fencing. Crowds and crowds of people clustered around the streets. Finally, I spotted a street vendor!!! I gingerly opened my purse (didn’t want to have someone come along and grab what was in there!) and quickly pulled out a dollar bill from the wad.
“I’ll take a bottle of cold water; how much?” I asked, expecting the vendor to say the customary “ONE DAH-RAR.”
“One-fifty?!? The other guys are selling it for $1!”
“What other guy?”
“Down the street, with a big cooler. One dollar!”
“oooookkk….” he grabs my dollar bill.
AHHH glorious water!
Moral of the story: always haggle with the vendors. You may get a good deal. 😀
After guzzling my precious water, I was energized enough to try to find Trinity Church. I’ll have that story in the next series.