Sep 11, 2019

Exploring Downtown NYC

The last time I was in NYC I discover the Downtown Connection, a
free bus that goes from Southstreet Seaport to City Hall. It makes many stops but you can pull the cord for an unscheduled stop.  The shuttle bus runs seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The sign can be easy to miss but it is on the same pole as the bus signs and just says “Downtown Connection.” Most visitors to NYC don’t know about; and, it is handicap accessible.  There are many interesting stops along the way.  I used it on my last two trips to NYC.

There is a lot to learn in the Downtown area about the diversity of NYC; and many of the places are free. On a previous trip I took the bus to the last stop on the West Side where I visited the African Burial Ground.  During the construction of a federal office tower more the 15,000 intact skeletal remains of enslaved and free Africans who lived and worked in colonial New York were unearthed. The Burial Ground dates from the middle 1630s to 1795. Currently, the Burial Ground
is the nation’s earliest and largest African burial ground rediscovered in the United States. Today the site is a National Park with an area called the Ancestral Chamber created to bring to mind a slave ship; plus graves with the remains and artifacts of 419 Africans. There is an indoor visitor center but it was closed when I was there but the Outdoor Memorial is always open and free.  

On my most recent trip I took the Downtown Shuttle to the free Irish Hunger Memorial. The memorial is designed to represent the rural Irish landscape with an abandoned stone cottage with stone walls much like it must have been when so many left Ireland to immigrate to the New World and escape the Great Irish Famine. There is a fallow potato field and
flowers from the Connacht wetlands.   There are stones for all 32 counties. An app helped me locate the stone from County Galway where my husband’s parents came from and where his cousins still live.  On the outside of the memorial there are stones inscribed with words that tell about the history of the famine and about world hunger today.  However, I found them hard to follow.  The view from the top is great. 

Another stop on the Downtown Shuttle is the National Museum of the American Indian, which is part of the Smithsonian so it; too, is free.  It is located in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Customs House. The museum is extensive with hundreds of permanent objects on display, multi-media exhibits, live presentations, and much more.  Current holdings include all major
culture areas of the Western Hemisphere, representing virtually all tribes in the United States, most of those of Canada, and a significant number of cultures from Middle and South America and the Caribbean. 

 On my way to South Street Seaport to buy theater tickets I passed the Museum of Jewish Heritage.  It is a memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust. I didn’t know about it; had I, I would have made plans to visit. Next time! There is a fee. 

South Street Seaport is good place for lunch and where I like to buy half-price Broadway theater tickets because there is usually no line and I can get them a day ahead time which has not been the case with TKS in Times Square. Saw one of my favorites plays - “Chicago.”