Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Post I Should've Written Yesterday

Though I had the courage and bravery to travel to New York with friends and many, many kids (1:2 adult:kid ratio) yesterday, I lacked the energy to more fully report on what we did.

Upon arriving in New York we walked from Penn Station to the Highline:

I've been inspired by the great children's book The Curious Garden to check out the Highline for sometime. The park meanders along an abandoned subway line for more than a mile. Approximately one railway gauge is set aside for foot traffic, the rest is dedicated to flowers. Occasionally there is an observation deck through which passersby can look down a street or . . .

up an avenue.

To me and my friends on the trip, it was stunning. The park meandered through tall apartment buildings, some new, some old. Occasionally, where there had been a siding or a station, there would be grass areas. It doesn't seem suitable for jogging. I think the awesomeness of it was lost on the kids. (However, awesomeness is often lost on kids. They're kids. At some point, they'll get how awesome of an experience they're having.

I never ventured into the area of town down near the southern terminus of the Highline. So I was surprised when we ended up at Chelsea Market. I guess one could call it an upscale, Manhattan version of the Reading Terminal Market. A New Yorker, however, would probably just curse at Philly's precious market. The men's bathrooms, I think, were built from old refrigerator rooms. They were really, really cool.

After a pit stop at Chelsea Market we made our way to the Lower East Side's Tenement Museum.

I was impressed by the Tenement Museum. I'll be back. Here's why: It's not a museum where one wanders looking at stuff. It's about telling stories. Stories that are parts of tours. We participated on one that was geared for kids. There are others about everyday living, shopkeeping, etc. But we decided to play it safe and take the "Meet Victoria" tour, where the kids got to interact with a first-person interpreter portraying a 13-year-old Greek in 1916 Manhattan. As a teacher and dad, I was impressed by the deliberate engagement of the proctor with the kids and the obvious attempts to make the kids feel like they were in a story. The acting was good. The history was very sound. The history nut in me appreciated sitting in a century-old tenement building, of sitting in a bed that was like the one that was shared by Victoria's two cousins. The history nut in me would've liked to have seen more stuff (i.e. just walk through the floor above) but . . .

The kids learned. The kids are likely to remember.

I'm a bit ticked they didn't permit photography inside. My only complaint.

I love this picture of me with the kids outside the museum.

Here's one of the whole brood we ushered through Manhattan.

It's at times nerve-rattling to shepherd kids through New York. I admit to being a bit uneasy near Penn Station, where there is so much pedestrian traffic as well as outside the Delancey station (the Lower East Side is still a bit rough around the edges). But I thrill off the rush of leading kids through such an incomprehensibly big thing like New York City. Our friends' children were, I think, a little bit amazed at the size of it all. And they didn't even get to the crown jewels like Empire State, Central Park, One Liberty Tower. In fact, we spent most of our time in areas of the city I had never touched before.

I'm eager to get up there again . . . with my family, with these friends, with other friends, with my dad. In fact, my dad and I spent some time today discussing his time in New York, when he was stationed on Staten Island in the early 1950s. One day he walked from the Battery all the way up to Times Square along Broad. That's more than four miles!

Sounds like a trip I ought to add to my bucket list. But I don't know if I'll do that with six kids. Even six kids who were as well behaved as these six were yesterday.

And that's the post I should've written last night.

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