Tag: New York

Along the Way: Riverside Church, New York City

Along the Way: Riverside Church, New York City

We had no intention of visiting Riverside Church in New York. We hadn’t even heard of it before. But when we left the General Grant Memorial, we were drawn by its impressive architecture. Finding the ornate doors open, we wandered inside.

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The church was conceived by industrialist, financier, and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and minister Harry Emerson Fosdick as a large, interdenominational church, open to all who profess faith in Christ. Today, its congregation includes more than forty ethnic groups.

Over the years the church has hosted many notable speakers. Martin Luther King Jr. voiced his opposition to the Vietnam War at Riverside on April 4, 1967. That is also known as his Riverside Church speech. The Rev. Jesse Jackson gave the eulogy at Jackie Robinson’s funeral service in 1972. Former President Bill Clinton spoke at Riverside Church on August 29, 2004. Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan spoke there after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Cesar Chavez, Desmond Tutu, Fidel Castro, Arundhati Roy and Nelson Mandela have all spoken at Riverside Church.

It is stunning, inside and out. It is the tallest church in the United States. The bell tower alone is built on a frame that is 22 stories high.

As soon as you step foot inside the church you forget that you are in New York City because it feels so much more like a centuries-old European cathedral.

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A feeling that is echoed again inside the sanctuary:

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And the stained glass windows are beautiful as well.  Here is a close up that shows Eve, forbidden fruit still in her hand:

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The gardens outside were quite beautiful too.

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We took our time and were able to wander through the church at our leisure. It was a lovely diversion and I’m so glad we decided to stop there! That’s why it’s important to leave a little wiggle room in your sightseeing plans for things that you find along the way.

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The Riverside Church is located at 490 Riverside Drive, New York, New York 10027, one block from the General Grant Memorial.  Telephone 212-870-6700.  Guided tours are available for a fee of $10 per adult (seniors and students, $5).  Call or visit website for more information.

 

Who is Buried in Grant’s Tomb?

Who is Buried in Grant’s Tomb?

The answer, of course, is no one. The body of former US President and Civil War general Ulysses S Grant and that of his wife, Julia, are both interred at Grant’s Tomb (more properly called the General Grant National Memorial), but neither was buried.

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I know. It’s a technicality.

Anyway, when Hubs and I took a trip to New York City, we did so with very limited spending money. We determined we would see as many free attractions as possible. And due to the age-old riddle above, Grant’s Tomb made our short list of places to visit.

I was surprised to see how big it was:

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I had no idea US Grant was such a big deal. The fact that it’s called the General Grant Memorial and not the President Grant Memorial gives some insight into why the citizens of this country thought highly enough of him to create a memorial in his honor. He served as a Union general in the Civil War and definitively made his mark on US history as he led the Union army to victory over the Confederate states. At the time, it was said that his initials (US) stood for Unconditional Surrender.

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Interestingly, as you can see from the photo above, he cared deeply about peace. In fact, he said:

Although a soldier by profession, I have never felt any sort of fondness for war, and I have never advocated it, except as a means of peace.

The tomb was finished a mere twelve years after his death. It is the largest mausoleum in North America.

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I can think of few historical figures who are remembered for equal measures of good and bad as Grant is. The consensus seems to be that he was a brilliant general but a poor President.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Grant implemented Congressional Reconstruction, often at odds with Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson. Twice elected president, Grant led the Republicans in their effort to remove the vestiges of Confederate nationalism and slavery, protect African-American citizenship, and support economic prosperity nationwide. On the other hand, his presidency has often come under criticism for protecting corrupt associates and, in his second term, leading the nation into a severe economic depression.

The Visitors Center at the General Grant Memorial is full of information about Ulysses Grant – his military career, presidency, and his death. I recommend spending some time there if you would like to learn more about this enigmatic man.

The General Grant Memorial is located at 122nd Street and Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10027. Telephone 212-666-1640. The mausoleum and visitor center is open Wednesday through Sunday, with varying hours. See website for full details as it’s a bit confusing.

Top of the Rock Observation Deck, NYC

Top of the Rock Observation Deck, NYC

I think part of the reason that humans have this somewhat crazy desire to fly is because we want to see everything from above. On the ground, we may feel small and insignificant, but from up above, everything shrinks and seems smaller than us. Our perspectives change and we feel bigger, more confident, more god-like.

At least, that’s the only reason I can think of why I parted with $64 so my son and I could go to the top of Rockefeller Center and look at the view.

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I’m not saying it wasn’t worth it (it was), just that it was expensive (it was). The view was nothing short of magnificent and the added bonus was that it was a beautiful day – clear blue sky, sunny, not too hot.

We looked out at Central Park and realized just how big it is. Then we looked out from a different side and saw the Empire State Building.

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It was pretty amazing!

Top of the Rock is located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. The entrance is on 50th Street
between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Telephone 212-698-2000. Hours are 8:00 am to midnight daily, making this a great thing to do either before the usual attractions are open or after they are closed.

Central Park: Urban Oasis

Central Park: Urban Oasis

A few years ago, I took my son on a bus trip to New York City for his birthday. We had one must-see destination, and not a lot of extra cash.

The must-see destination was the Museum of Modern Art, which I will write about in a separate post. The main point is that I did not have a lot of cash to spend on sightseeing. The bus let us off at Central Park, so we decided to do a little exploring before heading to the museum. What we could see of the park at first glance was very pretty, and after all, it was free. That was a magic word in a city so expensive it’s a wonder they don’t charge you to breathe.

The park occupies quite a big space in Manhattan – 843 acres, to be exact. In a city where space is obviously at a premium, it’s a wonder that the park hasn’t been scaled back and encroached upon. But ever since it was established as a park in 1857, it has held on to that mass of land in the middle of the island. And thank goodness!

Take a look at this picture I took of Central Park from the sidewalk.

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You can’t even tell that it’s in the middle of a bustling metropolis. In other locations throughout the park, the city is more visible, providing an interesting contrast between the bucolic and the urban:

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But it’s more than just trees and water. Here are just a few of the things you can see in Central Park:

  • 29 sculptures by noted artists, including Balto and Alice in Wonderland
  • Cleopatra’s Needle, one of three obelisks dating from around 1450 BC that were originally erected at the Temple of Ra in ancient Egypt (the other two are in Paris and London)
  • Strawberry Fields, a section of the park dedicated to the memory of former Beatle John Lennon
  • A carousel with 58 hand carved horses
  • The Central Park Zoo
  • 21 different playgrounds for children
  • Tavern on the Green restaurant
  • 2 ice skating rinks
  • Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre
  • Free music concerts and dramatic presentations
  • Multiple rock outcroppings like the one below:

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The park really is one of the most impressive things you can see in New York City, and that is a very long list! The temptation when visiting NYC is to hit all of the big city sights – Times Square, The Met, Empire State Building, MoMA, Guggenheim, Radio City, etc. – but I really recommend taking some time to visit the park too. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place for a much-needed time out.

Central Park is centrally located in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, NY. Telephone 212.310.6600. You may obtain a map of the park online or at any of their visitor centers.