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Here’s my latest recap of our great Gotham getaway. This one captures the events of Day Three, which took place on June 26th. It wasn’t any old day, though. I got to visit the 9/11 Memorial, Battery Park and Brooklyn all for the first time. And it was my sixth (!) anniversary with Andrew. (Time flies, right?!) Sure we’ve had our ups and downs, but he remains the love of my life. I am a lucky woman.

October 2007: the two of us at an event about four months into our relationship. (Why does Andrew look just slightly bemused?)

Six years later, we’re still stuck together. In the lobby of our hotel before venturing out for some sightseeing.

Reflections at the 9/11 Memorial

After breakfast at the hotel, we jumped on the subway to Lower Manhattan. Noisy and nonstop construction surrounded us as we emerged onto the street at Fulton. The cranes and jack hammers actually created a stirring backdrop—proud reminders that gleaming skyscrapers and new landmarks are being built.

Looking up at One World Trade Center (a.k.a. Freedom Tower). The 104-story skyscraper will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. It is 1,776 feet tall, a symbolic reference to the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.

The 9/11 Memorial was peaceful and not too crowded. It features twin reflecting pools that “sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood.” Each pool is nearly an acre in size with “the largest man-made waterfalls in North America.”

Tickets and brochure for the 9/11 Memorial.

Even though the sun was sparkling on the water and the site was serene, I wasn’t inspired to take a bunch of photos. It sounds corny but I put away my iPhone and thought about where I was on September 11, 2001. I was working at Morgan Stanley’s branch office right near the FBI Building in downtown DC. My boss and I were watching CNBC in his office when the Today Show cut in with reports of a plane flying into the North Tower. I remember saying, “That poor pilot must have had a heart attack.” Then we saw the second plane crash into the South Tower. We had several colleagues who happened to be in New York for training at our firm’s offices in that building. (Morgan Stanley was one of the World Trade Center’s largest tenants, occupying 25 floors. Our co-workers thankfully all survived, due in large part to the heroics of Rick Rescorla.) The panic really set in after we saw the Pentagon on fire. We were convinced that the White House or the Capitol was next, and our office was right between the two.

“The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools.”

Battery Park

From the World Trade Center site, we walked down West Street to Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. With a light breeze blowing, it was relaxing to stroll near the water.

Panoramic view towards the Statue of Liberty and New Jersey.

Zooming in on the Statue of Liberty.

Andrew is an overzealous shutterbug, and I am his reluctant muse.

Distraction over head: at the Esplanade near the South Cove.

My outfit matches the trees. (Yes, it’s the J.Crew green shorts again.)

Framing Lady Liberty from Castle Clinton, a sandstone fort built in 1808. It was America’s first immigration station (before Ellis Island) where more than 8 million people arrived in the U.S. from 1855 to 1890.

Brooklyn Museum

Next, we crossed the river and headed to the Brooklyn Museum for lunch and three memorable art exhibitions.

The museum’s admission tag.

Wayfinding signage for art. (It looks 3D but is actually printed on a flat wall.)

The two main exhibitions that drew us to Brooklyn.

Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui

This was the first solo exhibition in a New York museum by renowned Ghanaian artist El Anatsui. My friend Marilynn first told me about him during the 2007 Venice Biennale. He had turned a bag of trash—liquor bottle caps discarded from a local distillery—into the most stunning tapestryVogue magazine described it as “both entrancingly beautiful and historically complex, transforming the refuse of an impoverished continent into something uniquely luxurious. It seemed at once ancient and worn, yet also opulent and radically new.”

Well, I had to see El Anatsui’s work for myself. Behold these monumental masterpieces:

Astonishing ethereal beauty.

“Drifting Continents,” 2009, aluminum and copper wire. According to author Susan Vogel, “themes of exile and loss are woven through his work, but also art’s alchemical powers of transformation.”

Close-up detail. The artist and his team have apparently created more than 30 different types of patterned “fabrics.”

One of my favorites pieces. “Ink Splash,” 2010, aluminum and copper wire.

“Waste Paper Bags,” 2004-10, aluminum printing plates, paint, copper wire.

This showstopper looks like Kente cloth.

From scraps to the sublime: “Black Block,” 2010, aluminum and copper wire.

“Peak,” 2010, tin and copper wire. This sculpture is made from stringing together the tops of milk cans.

John Singer Sargent Watercolors

My high school art teacher Mr. Li always said, “Watercolor is the most difficult medium because you can’t cover up your mistakes.” It’s true: no matter how much you saturate your paper with water and then try to soak it up to get rid of a brush stroke that’s not quite right, the mark will remain. So you can understand my deep appreciation for these Sargent paintings. And since the process behind any product fascinates me, I loved the part of the show that scientifically revealed his pigments, underdrawings and paper preparation.

“Bedouins,” circa 1905-06, opaque and translucent watercolor. This photo doesn’t begin to capture the richness of color and brilliant technique.

The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago

I had been dying of curiosity to see this iconic installation ever since Marilynn mentioned it to me eight years ago. (Like an elephant, I don’t forget.) It “comprises a massive ceremonial banquet, arranged on a triangular table with…thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from history.” The names of another 999 women are inscribed on 2,304 hand-cast and gilded porcelain floor tiles.

My reaction at finally seeing it for the first time? [Speechless.]

“The Dinner Party,” 1974-79, mixed media.

The Dinner Party is obviously ripe with symbolism and significance. It celebrates traditional female accomplishments such as weaving and embroidery which had been devalued as “craft” versus “fine arts.” The table’s triangular shape represents the female. The thirty-nine final women are arranged in “three groups of thirteen… Thirteen represents the number of [men] who were present at the Last Supper.” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Many of the plates feature “a butterfly- or flower-like sculpture as a vulva symbol.” The completed Dinner Party took several years to complete. More than 400 people, mostly volunteers, contributed to its creation.

Selfies at Prospect Park

In the late afternoon, we visited nearby Prospect Park for some fresh air. We sat down at a bench overlooking the Long Meadow and took some silly selfies:

Funny face: Andrew being arch.

The lighting makes Andrew look like he shaved half his head.

Anniversary Dinner

We were tired and hungry pups by dinnertime but still wanted to celebrate at a cool restaurant near our hotel. Brasserie, located in the Seagram Building, fit the bill perfectly. We were in “starchitect” heaven! The building was of course designed by Mies van der RohePhilip Johnson designed the original restaurant, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro later redesigned it after a fire.

The current incarnation of Brasserie. Photo by Michael Moran via arcspace.com

Even without a reservation, we were seated promptly and opted for the prix fixe menu (a very reasonable $35). Andrew ordered their famous onion soup, hangar steak with fries, and goat cheese cheesecake with poached pears. I had the soup, barramundi with cauliflower puree, and chocolate sampler. The food was divine, and the atmosphere was fun and surprisingly unpretentious. Overall, a wonderful evening :)

Sorry to disappoint. We didn’t take photos of our food and didn’t ask our waiter to capture the moment. Consolation prize? A lame shot of the restaurant’s business card and sugar packet.

Info:

The 9/11 Memorial | 212.266.5211 | 911memorial.org

Brooklyn Museum | 200 Eastern Parkway | Brooklyn, NY | 11238 | 718.638.5000 | brooklynmuseum.org

Brasserie | Seagram Building | 100 East 53rd Street (between Park & Lexington) |  New York, NY | 10022 | 212.751.4840 | patinagroup.com | Yelp review

 

Up next: Thursday in Soho!

Previous posts: 

Monday in Midtown

Tuesday on the Upper East Side