The Great American History Tour: New York City

by Derrick G. Jeter

Friday, 27 June 2008


September 11, 2001, changed almost everything. Not everything . . . but enough.


The most obvious change is to the skyline itself: the twin towers are absent. From the Staten Island Ferry you can now see what once was obscured—the Empire State Building. A more subtle change, probably unnoticed by many, is the challenge to visit the Statue of Liberty. A few months before 9/11 I traveled to New York and walked up to a kiosk in Battery Park and purchased tickets for the ferry to Liberty Island. Once on the island, I climbed inside the statue and looked out of Liberty’s crown on the front door of America. Today, tickets must be bought online—at least weeks, if not months—in advance. And if you make it to Liberty Island, you can’t climb to the crown. You can only tour the pedestal. Regrettably, we didn’t get tickets to the Statue of Liberty—the one thing I wanted the kids to see while in New York—but we sailed close by on the Staten Island Ferry.


What hasn’t changed is the utter strangeness, busyness, and noisiness of the place. Dodging bodies on the sidewalks and cars in the crosswalks, we had a great time looking at towering buildings and an eclectic array of people, including the Naked Cowboy in Times Square.


The kids spent the day wide-eyed—people, taxies, horns honking, flashing neon lights, bands in the subway, trains speeding by, buildings, more people, more cars, more lights, more people. . . .


The highlight for me—aside from seeing my kids’ heads spinning in an attempt to take it all in—was having lunch with my cousin, Jete. He lives in Manhattan and through some fancy cell phone work we met up with him on the corner of 42nd and 8th.


After a cacophony of sight and sound in New York City, it was soul refreshing to sit quietly in a rocking chair on the porch and view the green and rolling tree-covered hills of Sagamore Hill—Theodore Roosevelt’s home on Long Island.


Check out some of the photos here.