Although I've been to New York City dozens of times…done dozens of things…taken dozens of tours…I called this my "First Time Ever" trip. This time was going to be different. This time I would do things…and go places…I've never experienced before in The Big Apple.
GROUND ZERO MEMORIAL: Without a doubt, number one on my "First Time Ever" list had to be a visit to the Ground Zero Memorial. I had been to Ground Zero shortly after 9/11/2001, when I tearfully tossed a white rose into a muddy hole in the ground. However, it was now time to see how the indomitable spirit of America had survived.
GROUND ZERO IN 2001
The Ground Zero Memorial is a tribute of remembrance to the tragedy and heroism of the terror attacks of 9/11/2001, and to that of the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. The largest man-made waterfalls in North America surround twin reflecting pools, each nearly an acre in size, that are set within the footprints of where the Twin Towers once stood. Bronze panels, edging the Memorial pools, are inscribed with the names of the victims who died in the two attacks. More than 400 swamp white oak trees surrounding the reflecting pools convey a spirit of hope and renewal.
GROUND ZERO IN 2014
The 9/11 Memorial Museum presents stories of loss and recovery and displays artifacts associated with the events of 9/11. The memorial exhibition honors the victims of the attacks of 2001 and 1993. Portraits of the nearly 3,000 men, women, and children who were killed in the attacks convey the scope and scale of loss. In a quiet chamber, profiles of individual victims invite visitors to bear witness, and serve as a reminder that we are all diminished when any one of us suffers the loss of a loved one through a senseless act of terrorism.
9/11 MEMORIAL MUSEUM
DYLAN'S CANDY BAR: After such a solemn day, what could be better than a sugar rush to pick up my spirits? My visit to Dylan's Candy Bar seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.
THE LINE FORMS TO THE REAR AT DYLAN'S CANDY BAR
Dylan Lauren, daughter of famous fashion designer Ralph Lauren, merged the worlds of art, fashion and pop culture with candy, when she created the world's largest confectionary emporium. Entering Dylan's Candy Bar you might feel you are being transported to Willy Wonka's factory. Dylan's Candy Bar houses over 7,000 confections, the largest, unparalleled selection of candies and candy-related gifts from around the world
Dylan's New York flagship store has remained on the Top 10 List of NYC tourist attractions since its inception. Over-sized lollipop trees, candy cane columns, dripping chocolate shelves, kaleidoscopic candy wallpaper and candy-embedded staircases welcome over 2.5 million visitors per year to the shop. Those visitors include the likes of Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Madonna, Janet Jackson, David Beckham, Steven Spielberg, Al Pacino, Hugh Jackman, and Tom Cruise.
LOLLIPOP TREE AT DYLAN'S CANDY BAR
EMPIRE STATE BUILDING: Recharged by the dark chocolate nuts and raisins I purchased at Dylan's Candy Bar, I now had renewed energy to head to the 86th floor Observation Deck of the Empire State Building. Though the staff may tell you it is a short wait to reach the Observation Deck, don't believe them. Trust me, you are lead through a long maze of lines, corridors, and elevators, until you finally reach your destination. But the spectacular view, from this most famous skyscraper in the world, is worth the time and the cost.
EMPIRE STATE BUILDING
From its completion in early 1931 until the topping out of the original World Trade Center's North Tower in late 1970, this iconic 103-story Art Deco landmark stood as the world's tallest building. Designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986, it was ranked number one on the AIA's List of America's Favorite Architecture in 2007.
I shed many a tear watching, and re-watching, "An Affair to Remember", the romantic drama in which Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr's plans to rendezvous atop the Empire State Building were thwarted by an automobile accident. Then there was "Sleepless in Seattle", where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan starred in the movie inspired by An Affair to Remember".
And who can ever forget "King Kong", the 1933 drama that tells the story of an island-dwelling ape who was shot down from the top of the Empire State Building where he had climbed in what he thought was his way to protect the beautiful Ann Darrow, played by Fay Wray? If you don't want to forget Kong, you can buy a fuzzy black "Screaming Gorilla" for $15.95 in the 86th floor gift shop.
KING KONG STILL REIGNS SUPREME ATOP THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING
BROOKLYN: Last but not least, I set out on a tour of Brooklyn, the most populous borough of New York City. If Brooklyn were an independent city, it would have the fourth largest population in the U.S., ranking only behind Los Angeles, Chicago, and the other four boroughs of New York combined. Brooklyn has always been made up of dozens of distinct ethnic neighborhoods. However, gentrification is mixing it up a bit.
From the moment we began crossing the East River on the Manhattan Bridge, the excitement began. To our right were the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline. Beneath us, in Brooklyn Bridge Park, was Jane's Carousel housed in a glass pavilion designed by Pritzker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel.
Jane's Carousel, a classic 3-row confection with 48 beautifully carved horses, was built in 1922 for Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio. It had fallen into disrepair and was put up for auction in 1984 when it was purchased and donated to the park by Jane and David Walentas. Jane had it moved to her studio in DUMBO (an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) where she removed six decades of park paint, restored, repainted and re-leafed it to look as it did in 1922. The carousel went back into operation on September 16, 2011.
JANE'S CAROUSEL IN BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK
Barclays Center is Brooklyn's state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena that opened in 2012. Three latticework exterior bands are composed of 12,000 rust-like panels that are meant to connote Brooklyn's brownstones.
Grand Army Plaza, at the main entrance to Prospect Park, includes the Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch dedicated "To the Defenders of the Union, 1861-1865". The Brooklyn Public Library, facing Grand Army Plaza, is a landmark building that contains over a million cataloged books, magazines, and multimedia materials. More than a million people visit the library every year.
BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY
Unlike the metaphorical single Tree of Heaven in the 1943 novel "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", there are many trees growing in this once gritty borough that is becoming increasingly gentrified.
TREES GROW IN BROOKLYN
I've been on a high ever since I returned from my "First Time Ever" trip to NYC. I am eagerly awaiting my next "first time ever" trip to NYC. As Billy Joel wrote: "I'm in a New York State of Mind".
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer, International Travel Consultant, and winner of 40 national Travel Writing Awards.