Friday, July 9, 2010

Bowling Green and Battery Park

If you read yesterdays post about Bowling Green park, I said I would be going there today to remember the historical events that happened 234 years ago. I went, and sat there, among lots of tourists who had no way of knowing that today was important for any other reason than that they got to take a crowded boat to the Statue of Liberty. I tried to get into my "reflecting on historic moments" mindset, but it just wouldn't happen. During the day it is just too full of people and noise to really reflect on anything other than the fact that I really don't like tourists. I'm sure I would like them if they were in their own cities, but for the most part they have no idea that they are missing out on lots of interesting places and things that are right in front of them. To emphasize this, I took a picture:

In the foreground is one of my favorite things in NY, the fence surrounding Bowling Green. Like I said in my last post, it was installed in 1773. It is still there. But do the tourists find it at all interesting? I'm sure some do, but most of them want to look at the ugly bull statue as you can see by the group of people standing around it in the background. And it's amusing that there is a British flag flying alongside the American flag. Considering the reason I went there today was to remember when Washington's troops tore down a statue of the King of England.

Here are some other things that have changed. I posted this painting yesterday and took a picture today that is in the same place more or less. What a difference. I can't complain that it's different but it's interesting to see what has changed. Here is another one, which shows that most of Battery Park is landfill.

Herman Melville wrote of this area in Moby Dick;

"Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme down-town is the Battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there."
I looked at them. They were all waiting in lines for things. There was a man wearing an umbrella hat playing steel drums and another man holding a radio playing music and expecting tips. And hundreds of people selling photos of famous New York attractions, or caricatures or Jonas Brothers pictures. I sat and watched people until it got too hot and I went back to Bowling Green and sat in the shade for a while till it was time to go. I watched a whole group of tourists walk through the park, not even noticing the plaque out front telling about the fence and the park. They walked directly to the bull.

I could go on for days about comparing the bull to the statue of the King that was torn down 234 years ago today, and say things about the government and the economy but I already typed it all and read it and I sounded too preachy so I deleted it. You're welcome.

So I'll leave you all with a Melville fact. He worked at the Customs House for years, which is directly across from Bowling Green. I bet he used to sit there on his lunch break. Here is a picture of the building, which is now a Native American museum.
There were no stinky nerds wearing 18th century military dress. I was the only stinky nerd. I had a nice day walking around and I hope the next time I go there it will be 3 a.m. which is my favorite time to hang out in the financial district. Because I'm the only one there. And maybe some ghosts.

Happy July 9th everyone.

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