In July I went to New York City for the very first time and discovered lots of history that I never knew about. I went for the Romance Writers of America conference but I crammed in some sightseeing as well.
On Saturday before I flew home Sunday, I booked a walking tour of the financial district, never knowing that I’d learn so much. I met my guide early that morning in front of the NY Stock Exchange. It was nice to see the building where transactions were made that could make a poor man rich or vice versa. *sigh* I still came home poor. I found out the stock exchange began under a tree between two men on the same site where it is today. Others heard and it became the spot to go if you wished to buy or trade. Over time, they built the financial institution that is there today.
Just a short distance from there I stood in awe before the building where George Washington took his first oath of office as president of the United States. I never knew that happened in New York City. A really nice statue of him in front.
I visited Trinity Church from 1697 and saw the grave of the man whose picture is on our $10 bill—Alexander Hamilton. For those who don’t know, he was killed during a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr. The scoundrel! Robert Fulton, the father of the steam engine, is buried next to Hamilton. Because the church was one of the few undamaged places in the area after the twin towers went down on 9/11, that’s where they set up a triage and brought the injured and dying.
Next we walked past a building which was the site of the first act of terrorism in America. The event happened in 1920. Someone parked a wagon in front of the JP Morgan bank on Wall Street and detonated its load of explosives. It killed 38 people and wounded hundreds. They never caught the man. The building’s scars from the projectiles were left as a reminder of the incident.
Farther toward New York Harbor, we passed Bowling Green Park. It seems a tall statue of King George III once stood there. It seems in 1776 patriots marched down the street and tore the statue down. Then they made bullets from it and used them to defeat the British army. It was quite a story.
From there I visited the 9/11 memorial. I got very emotional, remembering how I watched the planes hit the towers on that dreadful morning and witnessed the horror. I found it remarkable how everyone spoke in hushed voices and no one used their cell phones. I felt as though I stood on hallowed ground for surely it was bought with the lives of everyone who died. It was the one place I vowed to see before I left for my trip and I was glad I did.
The other must-see place was Liberty Island. I had to see Lady Liberty. She was truly awe-inspiring. On the ferry ride over, I was struck with something I’d never considered. There were so many different nationalities on the ferry all speaking in various languages, but when we got about halfway there they all crowded the rail and a chorus of ooh’s and ahhs went up along with pointing. At that moment, I realized that Lady Liberty doesn’t belong to just the United States. She belongs to the whole world. To everyone who thirsts for freedom and a better life. My fellow passengers were as overcome with emotion as I was. It was enlightenment for me.
Have you ever experienced a deeper emotion than you thought you would when you visited somewhere?