Saturday, February 06, 2016

New York Day 2: Katz's Deli and the World Trade Center

The check-in lady at the Park Hyatt New York had asked which newspaper I preferred and it was waiting outside the door in the morning in this nice little carrying case. Finally our top engineers solved the age old problem of how to pick up a newspaper.

Carnegie Hall is right across from the hotel.

It would have been a crime to not visit Central Park as it was only a block from the hotel. It was a nice little stroll most notable for our visit to Strawberry Fields, a memorial to John Lennon who was shot across the street in front of his apartment.

The hotel loomed over the park. That place is so cool.

We went to my pick for lunch: Katz's Delicatessen. The place was pretty intense. Firstly as you walk in you're handed a little ticket and the punishment for losing it is $50. I thought that was a bit of a harsh welcome to the place, but it serves as your bill and it's such a madhouse it would be pretty easy to dine and dash. A pair of burly bouncer types were on hand to enforce the policy.

I read that the sign behind me was a mistake by the sign makers. When the owner was asked what he wanted the sign to read he replied, "Katz's. That's all."

There was a bit of a line but I welcomed the time to get my bearings and decide what to order. Lydia and I sort of went overboard on ordering but there were just so many things that we wanted to try. We got a reuben sandwich, a brisket sandwich, a bowl of matzo ball soup and one of split pea soup, and two kinds of pickles: one lightly pickled and spicy and the other fairly standard. I ordered a chocolate egg cream to drink. Everything was great, and the meat on the sandwiches was nice and juicy and cut thick. The only thing I didn't really care for was the split pea soup. Everything about it reminded me of baby food.

Surprisingly they even had some vegan options for Zoe to eat. New York seems pretty accommodating in that regard. She got a couple of blintzes. I want to say one was mashed potato and the other spinach.

Later on after researching the place I discovered that Katz's is the setting for the famous "I'll have what she's having" scene from When Harry Met Sally. I'd like to think that I, too, had what she was having.

We were impressed by the locals who could ride the subway without holding onto anything while we gripped the handles for dear life. The subway conductor had lots of announcements that I had no hope of deciphering. "The B and the G are closed from 4th to 8th... Omaha, Omaha, hut hut hike".

We never had any issues but there were some reminders that there are indeed issues to be had in the subway underworld.

I assume this is one of Jeff Koons' famous giant balloon animal sculptures. Which reminds me we saw his giant tulips sculpture at the Wynn casino in Las Vegas.

We visited the National September 11 Memorial.

Opposite the memorial was this building under construction that resembles a whale's skeleton.

We then had a very powerful visit to the National September 11 Museum. I think I even shed a tear or two and I don't generally "feel feelings". Especially painful to hear were the audio clips of people in the buildings on the phone with loved ones or pleading for help from emergency personnel. One was a guy leaving a voicemail for his mom telling her not to worry because it was the other tower that had been hit. He didn't make it out.

In the center are the ruins of an original staircase from the building.

Witnesses relived their accounts of all the shoes and luggage and burning office supplies raining down from the sky.

The damaged emergency vehicles on display were an enduring reminder of the sacrifices made. I was struck by how many of the faces on the memorial walls were those of firefighters and police officers.

I felt that the museum did a good job of not just plunging visitors into abject despair and leaving them there. The exhibits periodically harkened back to happier days at the twin towers, often to the extent that it felt like a love letter to the buildings themselves. They expressed the splendor of the place when first built. Visitors recalled being in the buildings on July 4th  and having to look down to watch the fireworks. The whole museum felt like watching a sad movie with happy flashbacks.

By the end I was emotionally exhausted and in wrath mode. How about some videos of predator drones laying waste to evil doers, or Bin Laden's ventilated skull in a nice glass case? No cigar.

The 1,776 feet tall One World Trade Center.

We ate dinner at an unpleasantly crowded sort of frou-frou place called By Chloe, then caught an improv show at UCB theater.

When we got back to the hotel I couldn't resist popping back over to Times Square to see more action.

I had no trouble sleeping on this trip.

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