Saturday, October 11, 2008

Walking 'Round Southern Manhattan

Looking at the above map, you can kind of follow the circuitous route that Pete & I took last night - one of our many "gosh, what's over here?" kind of walks, this time around southern Manhattan. I had finished work near the Northern tip of Battery Park and Pete met up with me there. (1) I showed him Tom Otterness' work in person, and then continued walking south.

We then went down Vesey Street and walked around, into, and on the Irish Hunger Memorial. (2) It refers to the Irish potato famine of 1845-52. I had seen it earlier in the day while waiting for Pete, and I knew I had to bring him over. It's a fantastic combination of public art, beauty, and sadness, but also a reminder of human survival. The work was created by artist Brian Tolle and was made to "encourage efforts to address the current and future hunger worldwide." The landscape is made of Irish limestone, Irish plants, and an actual Irish famine-era stack house painstakingly transported from Ireland and re-constructed here. In any event, it's really cool, and beautiful to walk on.

We then continued East on Vesey to the World Trade Center area. It's still a mess of construction, and we didn't feel necessarily ready to give our respects yet. However, Pete reminded me that the beautiful globe centrepiece which survived the attack is still in South Ferry, so a trip there will undoubtedly be in future plans.

Next, we happened upon St. Paul's Chapel (3), at 209 Broadway, which will be a definite TO DO once I figure out the open hours. It famously survived the 9/11 attacks, and has a history all its own reaching back to 1766. I took a few pictures, and was stunned by its antiquity.

Turning North, we walked by City Hall (4) and the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. We then found ourselves in what could double as the Justice League of America set, or the area where the courthouses are. Very beautiful, old, roman-esque buildings. We stopped near Thomas Paine Park (also called Foley Square) (5) between Lafayette and Centre Streets. There, we saw in person the booth for a really neat project Pete's told me about in the past: StoryCorps. This is, as it says on their website, "an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another's lives through listening." Booths (one here at the Thomas Paine Park, but there are also ones in San Francisco as well as Mobile units) are set up to record 45 minutes of conversation between two people, usually family members or loved ones. These conversations are then archived and copied, podcast, and/or broadcast on public radio or other audio-based venues. It is a really nice oral history project. I would love to take my parents individually into the booth when they visit :) And it's a great encapsulation project, to find out how generations communicate to each other differently and how values change (or do not!).

We then went North on Broadway and found ourselves in the middle of Chinatown. We passed by fisheries, jewelry stores, acupuncture/acupressure/massage parlors, restaurants, etc. Here's where my map version and our actual route might differ - we literally walked around and around blocks, just kind of pointing ourselves in the direction that looked interesting.

I took a picture of an "obey" poster that Pete & I both liked. I'll admit it - I photoshopped some graphitti off of this picture to make it look better (Pete's version of the original photo is seen here).

We turned a corner and crossed a few streets (I remember singing "And tell me what street/compares with Mott Street in July") until we found ourselves in Italy. Well, Little Italy area. (7) We debated a bit whether we should go to an Italian clam restaurant, but instead went for sushi around the corner (Pete hadn't been sushi eating in a while). So, we had a great meal and walked to Grand Street Station for the subway trip home.

Whew! Fun but exhausting night.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Hello from StoryCorps! Thanks so much for posting about us; we’re glad our booth caught your eye, and hope you will stop by again soon! If you’re interested in checking out what others have talked about during their interviews, Dave Isay will be hosting several book readings throughout New York in the next coming weeks, answering questions and sharing stories from the project. You can learn more here:

For your readers who are interested in recording their own stories, or that of a loved one, we are also launching a new initiative to make conducting these interviews easier. This November 28th, the day after Thanksgiving, StoryCorps is launching the first-ever National Day of Listening. We’re asking Americans to set aside an hour to record a conversation with a friend, family member, or loved one. We've launched a separate website ( with more tools and tips, a downloadable guide, and an instructional video for recording family and friends the day after Thanksgiving and beyond. Thanks again for helping us spread the word!