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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Next, we crossed the river and headed to the Brooklyn Museum for lunch and three memorable art exhibitions.
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 tapestry! Vogue 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:
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.
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 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.
Selfies at Prospect Park
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 Rohe. Philip Johnson designed the original restaurant, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro later redesigned it after a fire.
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
The 9/11 Memorial | 212.266.5211 | 911memorial.org
Brooklyn Museum | 200 Eastern Parkway | Brooklyn, NY | 11238 | 718.638.5000 | brooklynmuseum.org
Up next: Thursday in Soho!