Great Guest post from Shobha George. Here’s another one.
Family Travel in Lower Manhattan
In a city that never stands still, I find it ironic that the oldest part of Manhattan inhabited by European settlers is also the part that has some of the newest land mass. In the early 17th century, the Dutch settled the tip of Manhattan and set up a battery of cannons to protect their colony. This area came to be known as the Battery. From the 19th century though, the original shoreline of Manhattan harbour was extended by many acres as landfill began to be deposited in the area gobbling up bits of the East River like a diabetic in a candy store.
The World Financial Centre
The original construction of the Twin Towers provided a huge quantity of that landfill. On the landfill, the World Financial Centre was built in the 1980’s. After the destruction of the 9/11, the area had to be revamped again. The World Financial Centre is now the recently opened swanky shopping and office space, Brookfield Place. When we visited at the end of 2015, Brookfield Place was full of life as the centrepiece for holiday festivities in the area and a fabulous new ice skating rink. Brookfield Place is also a foodie destination with both cafes and restaurants upstairs and Le District (a French-style shopping street) downstairs.
The Battery Conservancy
Along with the re-emergence of the area around the Twin Towers, the Battery Conservancy is revamping the whole 25 acres of the Battery Park area nearby. When the park is finished, it will have bike paths, pedestrian walkways, playgrounds and gardens. This revamp will restore the area to its 19th century prominence when Manhattan harbour was a popular promenade location. You can see the restoration process of some original monuments are still underway because they are covered in scaffolding.
The Seaglass Carousel
The Seaglass Carousel
is a new attraction in Battery Park. Opened in August of 2015, the carousel is a reminder of the New York Aquarium which was located nearby during the early part of the 20th
century. The mechanised fish that are the rides look like they are made of seaglass. They shimmer and shine as if you are underwater. My children were completely charmed by the gentle ride. One unusual feature of the carousel is that the mechanical parts are built underneath the floor so that it really looks like the fish are gliding around in a luminescent bowl. It costs $5 for about a 3 minute ride. [sc name=”booking”]
Toys “R” Us
(On a side note, the 60 foot ferris wheel at Toys ‘R’ Us (and the store itself) at Times Square closed down after 14 years of delighting children. I remember my daughter’s first time on the ferris wheel when she was 3 years old. She was screaming her head off because she thought it went so high. The Seaglass Carousel would have been a much better alternative for her if it had been around back then).
The Seaglass Carousel took almost a decade to build and cost $16 million. That price, however, is merely a drop in the bucket though if you are looking at the Path Station
designed by Spanish starchitect, Santiago Calatrava. Only parts of the station have been opened even though the whole thing was supposed to have been finished in 2007. Originally intended to cost $2 billion, the project is now at $4 billion. When the station is finally finished, it will be the most expensive train station in the world.
When we visited in December, construction on the Calatrava station was still a work in progress. The finished parts that are visible are stunning. A spined arc of steel spikes pierce the blue sky in sharp relief against the surrounding skyscrapers . I can see the vision that Calatrava intended
– a bird with its wings ready to take flight – a moment of transition caught for eternity. He probably intended a phoenix rising from the ashes of 9/11 but in New York City, you know it’s got to be a pigeon.
Battery Park City
You can get a bird’s eye view of the changes in Lower Manhattan’s shoreline and the regeneration of the Battery with a helicopter tour. We took a half hour tour with Helicopter Flight Services
located next to the Staten Island ferry terminal. Our helicopter pilot pointed out lots of new parts of Manhattan in addition to Battery Park City. For example, only part of Governor’s Island in New York harbour is original and the rest is landfill.
The Early Dutch settlers would not recognise the shoreline of the Manhattan island they had settled. Yet, they would definitely recognise the hustle and bustle of the residential and commercial spirit that has been the life blood of the area. As the French say, plus ça change, plus
c’est la même chose.
If you need a recommendation on a hotel stay, Shobha and her family stayed at the W Downtown
during her visit in lower Manhattan, which is walking distance from all the attractions above.
Shobha George’s brief bio: My family and I love to travel, to learn more about different countries and to experience new cultures. We also like our hotels, good food, and other comforts. Join us on our adventures! Also follow Shobha and her family on her blog: JustGoPlaces, Instagram, and Facebook.