02.25.2012 - 02.25.2012
Saturday morning we treated ourselves to a "sleep in". Once we were up, we got ready for the day and took advantage of the complimentary breakfast at the hotel.
Stepping onto Broadway, we hailed one of the hundreds of yellow cabs that dominate the city streets and asked him to take us to the Museum of the City of New York at the north end of Central Park. The various displays document the development of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs from the time the Dutch settled the area in the 1600's through modern times. This year is a landmark year marking the 100th anniversary of adopting "the grid", the evenly plotted lots and streets that pattern Manhattan from near the southern tip up to Harlem and the neighborhoods north of Central Park. Many lithographs and photos that are displayed mark the progress of changing Manhattan Island from hilly and rocky forests and farms criss-crossed with Indian trails and wagon paths to a level and orderly grid work of city blocks dissected by streets that formed 1836 intersections.
Having started a day learning the history of NYC, we decided to stay on that track by visiting the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. The museum itself is located at 97 Orchard Street and is an actual tenement building built in 1863. "Tenement" was defined as an apartment building that was designed to house at least six households. Most of them were built to minimum standards with no plumbing, only one window, and only two or three small rooms. The units at 97 Orchard were four to a floor with five floors– and each had one bedroom, one kitchen and one parlor within 300 sq. ft.
Visitors to the museum can choose to visit one of several apartments recreating a real family that lived in it during its years in service. We opted for the home of the Irish family (surprise!). The family moved up from the Five Corners area (a much dirtier and violent neighborhood that was
predominately Irish) in 1869, likely in the hopes that their new, but sickly, daughter's health would improve. Unfortunately, it did not and the parlor today is recreated in the manner of an Irish wake. The entire experience was insightful, as our guide encouraged us to compare and contrast immigration issues then and now.
Lunch was supposed to be at Katz Deli (does anyone remember the movie When Harry Met Sally), but the wait was hours long. Wandering back toward Houston Street, we came upon Donnybrook's Pub...yes, there is a definite theme here...and they were still serving a great brunch and a brew. Afterward, we found a cab and headed back to the hotel to get our bags.
The taxi ride to JFK got us there before we could even check in, so we had a snack and watched a movie on the laptop. By the time the movie was over, we were able to check in, go through security...and wait some more...for hours and hours...playing cards and calling the folks back home. High winds earlier in the day had delayed the flight schedules across the board, but we were in the air before midnight on a Turkish Air 777 on our way to Istanbul, Turkey, and then to Kenya—on our last continent!