Twelve years ago I was living in St. Louis working for the St. Louis Post Dispatch. I was single with two dogs and a parrot, and spent my free time going to bars and listening to music and watching sporting events with family and friends. I hadn’t even met Chris at that point.
Now, 12 years later I work for myself, live in Michigan, and just cerebrated my 9-year wedding anniversary. In the last 12 years I have gained two step kids, three nieces, a nephew, a brother-in-law, a sister-in-law, and a whole new set of pets. Much has changed over 12 years. It almost feels like a different life. So, when Chris said he wanted to visit the 9/11 site when we go to New York, I told him that would be fine, but I wasn’t really all that interested. After all, it’s been 12 years since 9/11, it was in New York, not in my hometown, and it no longer evoked the feelings I felt 12 years ago.
This was my first real visit to New York City. Chris’s son lives there now so it was a great excuse to finally visit. Although Chris and I received many recommendations of where we should go and what we should see, we are the explorer type of travelers and prefer more to discover than plan. We had four days in New York City and we made the most of it.
We walked no less than 6 miles a day. We mastered the subway. We ate Thai food, Indian food, Middle Eastern food, Italian food, Chinese food, and Latin food. We ate when we were hungry even if it was midnight before we got around to sitting down for a meal. We dined alfresco, eating street food from carts in the park and in open-air cafes.
We think the woman in the middle might be a vampire: no reflection!
Jackson Heights, Queens
We explored the parks we passed as we walked from place to place, from the Peter Detmold Park where the dogs outnumbered the people to vast green spaces of Central Park. We watched old Chinese men play unfamiliar instruments in Columbus Park and a young man playing a grand piano in Washington Square Park. We watched artists create works on the Chelsea Highline and photographers make the most of the view from the Brooklyn Bridge Park.
These next three images were taken within 15 minutes of each other in the fabulous Washington Square Park:
What? A hawk can’t enjoy some live jazz in the park?
This dude actually rolled a piano into the park
Art viewed from the Chelsea Highline
We wandered the streets soaking in everything the city had to offer from the old European style buildings in lower Manhattan to the completely over-the-top video displays, billboards, and multiple story high advertisements of Times Square.
We had the best cup of coffee in the West Village and a yummy organic IPA in Brooklyn Heights. We drank rye on the rocks in a rooftop bar and a jalapeno cilantro margarita in Bedford. Moonshine in Astoria, wine in Queens, and lemonade in Chelsea.
Chris and Laura Conaway in a market in Jackson Heights, Queens
30 Rock from Rockefeller Plaza
Rockefeller Plaza, home of the $12 pint of beer
As a dog person I couldn’t resist the dogs. I had to pet each one I passed including a quick stop to Mood in the garment district to pet and photograph the now-famous (thanks to Project Runway) Swatch.
We talked to the people we met on the streets and in the subway and while we dined. We met many New Yorkers, and incredibly diverse group of Americans, and they were all lovely, personable people who also loved their city. When asked what we thought of New York City, we always said that we adored it and they always seemed delighted and proud that their city had charmed us.
An artist fills the subway with awesome beats on Saturday night
Avant garde art in the subway by Kalan Sherrard
Performance artist Kalan Sherrard
As a mid-westerner I generally think of large cities as cold, impersonal, and rushed. Maybe I felt that a tragedy in a large city is just a little less tragic. But I’m wrong, especially when it comes to New York City. In the 96 hours I spent exploring NYC, I learned that cold, impersonal, and rushed is not what I saw or felt. New Yorkers identify strongly with their city, even more so than I identify with the beautiful, quaint, small town of Dexter where I live.
Manhattan skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge
Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge
We walked around the site of 9/11 and looked at the buildings and streets and businesses that surrounded the area. This tragedy was enormous and covered such a large area. I’d be surprised if there was a New Yorker who wasn’t affected by the destruction of 9/11 in some way.
The Freedom Tower
I was devastated after 9/11 twelve years ago, but that feeling had faded for me after all this time. But, today, I feel that devastation again in a way that can’t be felt from watching the anniversary on television. I feel sadness for New Yorkers after having met many of them and exploring their city, and I completely understand why the scars of 9/11 are still ever-present. Today I remember with you.
Drinks on the roof of our hotel on our last night in NYC
The view from the top of our hotel
[Note from Chris: while we were in New York, we were privileged to watch The Rachel Maddow Show being broadcast live in the studio and to chat with Rachel and our good friend and TRMS producer Laura Conaway. Here are a couple of shots from that.]
Chris pretending he’s all that
Laura Conaway, Chris (Eclectablog), Rachel Maddow, and Anne, photo by Steve Kornacki