New York day 4: Both Sides of Brooklyn Bridge

Once I had finished my tour of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, I took the free Downtown Connection from Battery Park to Wall Street.

Wall Street

Click on the photos for enlargements
Looking down Wall Street (with Trinity Church visible at the end) and the foot of the Trump Building

Wall Street runs through the heart of the Financial District in Lower Manhattan.  I expected more flash and evidence of the grinding wheels of capitalism but Wall Street is a rather ordinary looking street.

On the other hand, The New York Stock Exchange is anything but ordinary looking.  Majestic was the word that came to mind!


The New York Stock Exchange

This was such a big, grand building and I just couldn’t manage to fit the whole building in the frame!  I loved the detail on the building and would have loved to have gone inside but apparently they don’t allow members of the public anymore.

The Federal Hall National Memorial

Across the road from the New York Stock Exchange is the Federal Hall National Memorial.  The Federal Hall was the first Capitol of the USA and the Bill of Rights was passed there.  It is free to get into the Memorial and they are open weekdays from 9am to 5pm.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realise the significance of the building at the time and didn’t go inside.  I will have to go back there one day!

South Street Seaport

From Wall Street, I took a walk up to the historic South Street Seaport District.  This is the most exquisite and old area where the streets have cobblestones and the area has been around since the 17th century.  Some of the restored buildings are from the 18th and 19th century!

South Street Seaport

You can visit the South Street Seaport Museum for $10 and it looks really worth it but I was a little wet (see the rain in the photo above) and a little hungry so I got on the subway and went to Brooklyn.


The Brooklyn US Post Office in Cadman Plaza

My immediate impression of Brooklyn is that there is a lot more open space and room to move than Manhattan.  Manhattan is exhilarating and exciting but I imagine a lot of people might prefer the space in Brooklyn.

Cadman Plaza Park and the Brooklyn War Memorial

The inscription on the Brooklyn War Memorial reads:

This memorial is dedicated
to the heroic men and women of the Borough of Brooklyn
who fought for liberty in the Second World War 1941-1945
and especially those who suffered and died.
May their sacrifice inspire future generations
and lead to universal peace.

Eventually, I found my way to Grimaldi's Pizzeria under the Brooklyn Bridge where you can find the best pizza on Earth in New York according to Zagat.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria under the Brooklyn Bridge

I had an anchovy, capers and black olive pizza.  A word to the wise, the pizzas are huge, you can’t ask for slices and they are moderately pricey so I would absolutely recommend going to the pizzeria in a group so that you can share.  They don’t accept credit cards either so make sure you have cash.  But yes, the pizza that was Frank Sinatra’s favourite was indeed absolutely amazing and the homeless man I gave my leftovers to called me an angel from heaven when I told him it was Grimaldi’s pizza.

Unfortunately, it was absolutely pouring with rain when I got out of the pizzeria and I got soaked through!

The Brooklyn Bridge and the Tobacco Warehouse

I stood in a door way for a while willing myself to find a way up to the top of the bridge.  This particular area of Brooklyn is known as “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Underpass” or DUMBO for short and if you’d like to learn more about this historic and beautiful area, visit the Dumbo, NYC blog.

The Tobacco Warehouse

I left the shelter of the doorway and then a kind man let me stand in his parking garage for quite some time as the rain came pounding down.  I eventually left the garage with the intention of finding the steps up to the top of the bridge but then just asked for directions to the subway and decided to make my way to my evening’s destination.  I was too wet and bedraggled by that stage to do much else!

I still  can’t quite believe that I went all the way to New York and to Brooklyn and that I didn’t walk back along the Brooklyn Bridge. 

I definitely have to visit this city again and my husband recently said that the first thing we would do when he got his British passport would be to visit New York! Could it be that I’ll be writing posts about our visit at Christmas 2010?  I hope so.

London: The City, the Monument & the Bridge

Last year I took a rather hectic course in Health and Safety and I promised myself that I would reward myself with a photography course when it was all over.  Of course, that was followed by a rather hectic nine months (some of which you can read about here) and suddenly it was August and I hadn’t done anything about it!  Well, luckily I found out about The Photo School through  The Photo School offers an introductory composition workshop which is currently only £20 for three hours. 

I attended the workshop on Saturday and I found it to be massively informative and helpful.  The class was a nice mix of people who ranged from absolute beginners to a portrait photographer.  There were only two of us with “point and click” cameras and everyone else had SLRs. 

We met at The Crosse Keys Pub in Bank which is across the road from the old Victorian Leadenhall Market.  What an amazing place!

Click on any of the photos below for an enlargement.

Interior of the Crosse Keys Pub

The Crosse Keys Pub is exquisite.  I am starting to think that I need to go on an introductory architecture course or something as I would love to place the styles inside the pub.

Leadenhall Market, London

One of the things they told us about on the workshop were lines and perspectives.  The Leadenhall Market was great for that.


As I left the market, I came upon the ugliest building I have ever seen in my life.

This is the Lloyds Building, also known as the “Inside Out Building”.  I’m not entirely sure the building has any redeeming qualities to be honest and I am a huge lover of architecture of all types and styles.  I was trying to play with perspective again in this photo and using my corners.

I thought it looked quite nice reflected off the Willis Building though.

I found a British flag!!  I might have to ask Lloyd’s of London why it was flying at half mast though.  (In case you’re confused, we were talking about flags in this post).

St Andrew Undershaft Church contrasted against "The Gherkin"

We learnt about contrasting old and new in the course and I just love this photo.  The proper name for “The Gherkin” is 30 St Mary Axe

We also learned about the rule of thirds.  This couple was having their wedding photos taken at the foot of “The Gherkin”.

I thought this was the archetypal London photo!  I liked the flags too.

The Crosse Keys Pub from the outside

More flags!  We all agreed this photo would have been better if the car were further on into the photo. 

Our teacher liked this photo.  It made me want a better camera so that I could get the depth of field right.  I promised myself that I would learn to use my camera first before I got a new SLR camera though.

After the workshop, I decided to walk to London Bridge station.  It is approximately a fifteen minute walk.  I got to see The Monument with my own eyes for the very first time!

The Monument was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built to commemorate the lives that were lost in the Great Fire of London in 1666.  It was built between 1671 and 1677 and was a celebration of the rebuilding of the City.

It is lovely and I would certainly like to go back one day when it is open.  They have an observation deck at the top which only costs £3 for adults and £2 for children.  Can you imagine how beautiful the view must be of the grand old City of London?  Oh look!  You can see a webcam of the view!


How beautiful is that detail?

It was just a short walk further until I arrived at the Thames.


That is the Southwark Cathedral you can see there in the distance.  I have a real soft spot for the cathedral as I photographed it on the day I first interviewed for my job in 2007.  I got the job and in fact, started there two years ago today.  The cathedral is therefore a sort of good luck charm for me.


I walked under London Bridge and took one last photo of Southwark Cathedral before taking a little corridor back up to the top of London Bridge.

Creepy ancient corridor and Southwark Cathedral


London has such beautiful structures and buildings and I was glad to have a chance to appreciate it.  Despite my insistence that I work in central London, I still find myself taking a lot for granted.  This little excursion on the weekend really opened my eyes again and I can’t wait to go on my next adventure.

Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast (peeking out behind the cruise liner) and the Mayor's Office

I wonder if the day will ever come when I tire of taking photos of Tower Bridge?  I doubt it and I certainly hope not!

New York day 4: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

I got up bright and early on the Wednesday morning and made my way down to Battery Park.  Despite my tired and jetlagged state, I still managed to notice how pretty it is down there.

I got onto one of the first ferries of the day and we set off for Liberty Island.

[Click on the photos for larger images]

Battery Park City

As you can see, it was a lovely sunny day with clear blue skies.  Not.  I’d been pretty upbeat about the cloudy skies up to that point but was really wishing for some sunshine!  Thankfully, the clouds began to part as I got onto Liberty Island and I decided to take a self-portrait of sorts.

You enter Liberty Island to the back of the Statue of Liberty.  On my way around to the front, I came across this interesting set of statuettes of people that were of importance to the Statue in some way.

Édouard de Laboulaye, Frédéric Bartholdi, Alexandre Eiffel, Joseph Pulitzer and Emma Lazarus

  • Édouard de Laboulaye conceived of the idea of the statue of “Liberty Enlightening the World”, which is the official name of the Statue of Liberty.
  • Frédéric Bartholdi was the sculptor who designed and sculpted the statue.
  • Alexandre Eiffel built the iron skeleton that supports the statue.  (Of course,  he is most famous for the Eiffel Tower in Paris).
  • Joseph Pulitzer popularised the project and raised money for the pedestal in the American Pedestal Fund campaign.
  • Emma Lazarus is famous for writing “The New Colossus”, the final lines of which are engraved on a plaque on the pedestal of the Statue.  The sonnet was commissioned as part of the efforts to raise money for the pedestal and you are sure to recognise parts of it: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.

As I walked around to the front of the statue, the clouds parted and there was a burst of sunshine.  I was so pleased!  It didn’t last long but I was happy with the photos I got.

I learned quite a few interesting points about the Statue.  She is made of copper and weathering has turned her the green colour she is today.  There are 310 pieces of shaped copper that make up her body and the copper sheets are only as thin as two pennies.  Her torch represents enlightenment and the notion that law and reason develop through scholarly pursuits in democratic society. 

The seven spikes on her crown represent the seven continents and she gazes towards the old world, the world of emperors and kings.  The inscription on her tablet reads “July IV, MDCCLXXVI” which is the date the declaration of independence was signed (July 4th, 1776).

The cloak of the statue was meant to bring to mind the Roman goddess of liberty, Libertas.  Her feet are actually stepping forwards as if she might step off the pedestal.  This is to represent the idea of progress, moving forward, breaking the shackles.  Finally, her facial features show strength and determination.  Shoo!  I will never take the Statue for granted again!  This is such a rich source of idealism and symbolism – it really is amazing!

I then hopped onto the ferry again and went off to Ellis Island.

Ellis Island was one of the best experiences of my whole trip by far.  Ellis Island is “the symbol of American immigration and the immigration experience” according to their website and while the Statue would have been the first thing immigrants saw as they entered new York harbour, they would have spent the most important part of their immigration experience at Ellis Island.

I spent a long time going through the full exhibition at Ellis Island, reading up on the immigrants’ experiences and the psychological and physical tests that they would have taken. 

Actual immigrants' luggage

As I walked up the stairs and into the Registry Room, I was quite awed and almost had tears in my eyes.  It was a strangely touching experience which was greatly enhanced by taking the audio tour that came free with my CityPass ticket.  By the way, if you ever have the opportunity, I’d always recommend taking audio tours.  You don’t have to listen to them if they are bad but they are often really informative. 

The Registry Room

The Hearing Room and samples of foreign currency that the immigrants brought with them

All told, the exhibition at Ellis Island is fantastic with loads of artefacts and pieces of real New York history.  They stopped using Ellis Island as the main facility for immigrants entering the US in 1954 but visiting Ellis Island makes it all seem so real. Don’t be tempted to miss it out!