Wall Street was every bit as horrible as you might imagine. But we’ll get to that.
Brooklyn Bridge is one of the many landmarks in this city that the mind refuses to accept you haven’t visited already. Rounding the corner by City Hall to see the world’s oldest suspension bridge stretched across the Hudson caused no dropping of the stomach or shock of awe. All I felt was a faint cousin of familiarity and a vague feeling the Matrix had glitched. Not that it wasn’t impressive. It’s quite the beauty in fact, the stone support towers and swooping lengths of wire looking every bit like the remnants of the Old World they are, but it was like seeing Big Ben after living in London for 3 years; extremely impressive, but nothing new.
It’s length was duly walked, then walked again the following morning when my camera could actually see the damn thing. This time I was heading from my new hostel in Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan, home of suicidal bankers, obese corporate headquarters and every tourist on the planet. Wall Street was horrible, a swollen bastion for the super rich and their cronies and all I got from my brief stay was an engorged respect for Rage Against the Machine. I didn’t even feel like taking photos of the place, something akin to a leopard adopting an antelope in terms of general likelihood.
Moving quickly on as I did, Battery Park was the opposite of the cloistered walls of The Street; open, green, relaxed and full of what appeared to be genuinely happy people. The Statue of Liberty was there too, in the distance at least. A free trip on the Staten Island Ferry meant I didn’t have to pay a dime to get a big old close-up of her massive, grumpy face. She ain’t famous for her looks, that’s for sure.
9/11 is something every tourist has at the back of their mind when visiting New York, either as a memory of where they were when they heard (standing by the bus-stop outside Sixth Form College) or as a sense of camaraderie with the cops and firemen who constantly patrol the city streets. It’s strange that the the former Ground Zero is now a tourist attraction, but no more than the Holocaust Memorial at Auchwitz or the Peace Park in Nagasaki. Annoyingly enough, it seems you need to reserve a timeslot to visit the actual memorial, something I neglected to do, but the new towers rapidly rising from the metaphorical ashes (thankfully no longer referred to as Freedom Towers) are as impressive as all hell.
So here I am now, in a deli not 200 metres from those buildings. It’s surreal to be sat here, typing away on my pretentious little iPad/keyboard setup and eating the best cheesecake I’ve ever had in my life, knowing full well these are the streets made famous by images of ghostly figures plunging headlong into the unknown to escape the falling seats of capitalism. Surreal and utterly
PS: It’s not ten minutes since I wrote all that and I’m still eating this cheesecake. It is/was as big as a baby. Fake-edit: Finished. Feel like a snake, post goat-swallowing.
PPS: Just tried to connect to wi-fi. One of the available networks is fuckwallstreet. Quite.