It has been cloudy / misty for most of the time we’ve been in New York, which hasn’t been ideal for sightseeing, but today the sky was blue all day so we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get out on the water again.
During the southern loop of New York that we took on the open top bus the other day, Tom told us that the queues for the Statue of Liberty ferry are almost always extremely long but that there are other ways to see it from up close without having to queue. So today we decided that we would check out the Staten Island Ferry.
But before that we had some sightseeing to do.
Whenever I travel I’m the sort of person who likes to visit places which give you stories to tell, and New York is no different. There are so many alternate sights that you can visit that are really interesting, but unique and off of the tourist trail. Today, we have a tour booked at one of those – the Gold Vaults of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
After booking our trip to New York I was looking for unusual things to do in the city and tours of the Federal Reserve Bank got my attention. Famous for being central to the plot of Die Hard 3, the Federal Reserve Bank holds more than $100 billion of gold bricks. But what is unusual is that you can take free tours of it, which of course I jumped at.
Our tour wasn’t until lunchtime so, while waiting for our booked slot, we visited another filming location which, for me at least, is just as iconic. The photo below shows one of the ventilation buildings for the Battery Tunnel, but it’s more famous around the world as the HQ for the Men in Black. I loved that movie when I was younger, so it was cool to see it up close even though it looks a lot smaller in person.
A tour of the Federal Reserve Bank is not for everybody, but I found it to be really interesting. They tell you about the history of both money, and the facility, before you’re taken deep underground to visit the vaults themselves. You don’t get to walk around the vault freely, but you do get to walk through the huge vault door into a small annexe area from which you can see the gold – and it’s incredible to see!
Unfortunately, photos are not allowed on the tour for security reasons but I was able to fit my little finger through the bars and touch one of the gold bricks. I wonder how much it was worth!
The tour lasted for about an hour, after which we made our way to the our final point of call before taking the ferry to Staten Island.
The World Trade Center visitor centre is an extensive, and moving, memorial to the tragic events of 9/11. It features artefacts from the day ranging from photos to 911 calls, and from pieces of the tower, to window frames of one of the two planes to hit. Even though it was almost 6 years ago, the events still feature strongly in the memory of this city and no visit to the city is complete without a visit to hear the stories of the day.
We spent an hour or so visiting the moving exhibits before making our way to the Staten Island ferry.
I highly recommend a trip on the Staten Island Ferry if you’re in New York. There isn’t much to do from a touristy point of view on the island, although it is a nice place to explore, but it gives some of the best views both of the Statue of Liberty and of the New York skyline.
We spent around an hour on the island checking out the area near the ferry terminal which included a baseball stadium, some nice parks, and the Staten Island 9/11 memorial which I believe is built under the flightpath that one of the planes took that fateful day, and which points directly to where the World Trade Center once stood. It’s a moving location, and very quiet, which is rare anywhere near New York City.
After making our way back to Manhattan there was time for one final visit to Central Park, and some shopping, before coming back to the hotel for an early night in advance of our flight to Boston in the morning.