When I decided to go down to Battery Park it was with the intention of taking Sandeman’s free tour. I ended up getting in too late and missing the tour only to realize there is so much to do down in this area it would take a few trips down to even begin to experience it for all it was worth.
It turns out that Battery Park is the gateway to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty for New York City. You can get to it by driving to New Jersey as well, although I would never want to drive to Jersey if I don’t have to.
Battery Park is a really nice green space at the end of Manhattan. It is literally the tip of the city. Next stop Brooklyn. You almost feel as if you have reached the end of the world,if it wasn’t for all those pesky skyscrapers. It is where ton’s of ferries leave from and it has amazing views of the statue of liberty. The park is really beautiful. Overlooking the water and filled with interesting art work and statues of its own. They even have a community garden. A really nice thing in a concrete jungle like New York.
Tons of food and ice cream vendors dot the street surrounding the park. Inside they have their very own beer garden or a few kiosks that sell snacks. You can sit in the park and people watch.Or enjoy the views of ferries coming and going to Ellis Island and beyond.
I decided to take in a few museums in the area and then just wander. First I went to the Jewish Heritage Museum. It is located in the Northwest Corner of Batter Park. From the top floor you get a pretty lovely view of the Statue of Liberty. The museum is only 12 dollars and it takes a few hours to get the full experience.
The main floor is all about Jewish history and customs. The second floor takes you on a time line through World War II and the Holocaust. It was a really moving tribute to the lives lost. There is a room with small photos on every wall of people who perished at the camps. Written on the wall it says that the Nazi’s tried to destroy the memory of these people and by displaying these pictures it defies what they tried to do. I tried to hold back tears so the people around me couldn’t see I was welling up.
Keeping up with museum visits, I decided to head to the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian. Located at 1 Bowling Green Ave, the subway lets you out on its door stop( then its just a short walk up to the Jewish Heritage Museum).
The building is so massive it takes up several blocks but once you are inside the displays are not quite so overwhelming. Each region of Native’s get its own section and display of a variety of items used/worn by them. The clothing and day to day items are interesting and the museum does a good job of explaining what made each group so unique. Best Part? The museum is free making it totally worth exploring especially if you are at all interested in the history of the American Indian
Though it does leave out what happened to them and why they are no longer around. An unfortunate characteristic of American history. We tend to gloss over the terrible things we have done and only remember the good. We did destroy an entire population of people because we wanted their land. That’s why museums like this have to exist. Instead of stating that fact it just simply explains a few battles here and there then moves on. Never really taking ownership of what happened to these people.
Other countries own up to what they did. Try going to a concentration camp in Germany or a any remembrance site in Cambodia and seeing them gloss over the past. It simply won’t happen.
Something I always wish would change when it comes to America owning up to things they do but I digress.
Both museums were worth the visit and a great way to spend a day escaping from the often unbearable New York City heat.
Do you have a favorite NYC museum? Give me some suggestions to check out!