Sunday, March 9, 2008
Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Circle Line Tour
Well, we did manage to get out to Staten Island to see Warren's elderly aunt which is always a treat. She is still pretty spry and has lots of stories from old although her short term memory is not doing so well. She lives in a ranch house in a lovely residential section of the Old Town area of Staten Island. It is hard to believe that such suburban looking areas exist as part of NYC.
I decided to take the 3 hour Circle Line tour my last day in New York City. I really like it so much better than the shorter trips as you get to see all of Manhattan and surroundings. The last time I took the trip was close to 25 years ago when the Statue of Liberty was clad in a metal brace while they were working on her. What a change there has been on the island of Manhattan since then!!! All for the better, I might add.
The tour guide said that they are putting up residential apartment buildings as fast as they can and are still not meeting the demand for living in the City! Hoboken and Jersey City right across the river are no longer grubby outposts but have been gentrified to take the overflow.
We decided to find Warren's father's tenement house one day. We knew it was in Brooklyn and had the address (thanks to Aunt Norma).
We had NO idea what kind of neighborhood it was now but got on the subway and headed out. I suspected it might not be too bad as it literally was next to the water looking onto Manhattan in Brooklyn. Well, turns out the neighborhood is Brooklyn Heights and is filled with those ridiculously expensive brownstones!! The tenement is still there but is now a nice apartment building! It is considered a historic district! His father would have gotten a big kick out of that! The family moved from Brooklyn to Staten Island when he was a teenager because a younger brother was thought to benefit from the fresh air of the "country".
Warren was born on Staten Island when it was still farmland and the only way to get there was by ferry. Times have obviously changed there as well! A recent look at his old address shows nothing but condos and small tightly built homes. Warren estimated there were probably 200 residences on the land his parents used to own! Now they made quite a bit when selling it, but what it must be worth now!!
This is the skyline of the financial district on Manhattan -- it looks so strange without the Towers which helped you to figure out where everything was.
This is a picture of Ellis Island where many of our ancestors first landed on American soil. I have at another time taken a tour of this island.