May 9, 2016

Exploring Downtown Mahattan

Visiting NYC can be costly so I welcome any way to save money.  Hotels are especially expensive but luckily we had points that allowed us to stay at the Holiday Inn Express Wall Street for free. The hotel had a great location but the rooms are small – very small.  

From the hotel we walked to South Street Seaport’s TKTS kiosk for half-price Broadway show tickets (the line is shorter than at the Times Square TKTS kiosk). On the way we noticed a bright red Downtown Connection van which said it was free. The van runs every 10 minutes from South Street Seaport to Battery Park and up the West Side to near City Hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

There are plenty of places to visit along the route. We took the van
to Warren and Church St. where we walked a short distance to the African Burial Ground which has been advertised on a New York TV promo. It is part of the National Park Service.  The National Monument is free and basically outdoors.  From the 1690s until 1794, both free and enslaved Africans were buried in a 6.6-acre area in Lower Manhattan, outside the boundaries of the settlement of New Amsterdam, later known as New York. Lost to history due to landfill and
development, the grounds were rediscovered in 1991 as a consequence of the planned construction of a federal office building. We walked through the 24-foot Ancestral Libation Monument that led down past small waterfalls to the Circle of Diaspora where various symbols of peace are etched on the wall.  There are seven mounds that are the final burial site for 419 remains that were unearthed in the 90s. We were near City Hall so we walked through the gardens to a place where there was a view of the Brooklyn Bridge (you can walk across if you want) and happened on some street entertainment.  

Our next stop was the National Museum of the American Indian.  It
is an adjunct of the Smithsonian so it is free.  It is housed in the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House which is architecturally interesting - inside and out.  I thought it was going to focus on NYS native population but it covers 12,000 years of Native American art and artifacts. I have always been fascinated by “quipus” also known as talking knots.  Tying knots in strings was the way Incas kept records; some people think it was actually a writing method.  Regardless, they are interesting and not many have survived. 

 We also visited Fraunces Tavern & Museum, the oldest building in NYC and where George Washington said farewell to his troops. The lobby of Mexico High School has the complete mural called “La Guerre d’Independence.” The woodblocks to make the mural depicting the American Revolution were made in France.  I knew Fraunces Travel and the White House had some of the panels but the only complete mural is in Mexico, New York.  When I asked the docent where the mural was located he said there was no such thing at the museum!  There
is. It had been cut up and applied as wallpaper in the Clinton Room. I guess technically it can be called wallpaper. They didn’t know it was part of a mural.

We didn’t have enough time to visit the many other interesting places in Downtown Manhattan so we added it to our “gotta’ do” list.