A recent sunny Saturday (notice I did not say warm), I decided to take a walk in Battery Park City. I rarely make it over to the west side of Manhattan, and it was refreshing to get a change of scenery as well as some “sea air,” if I’m being generous. Or at least a little sunlight away from my computer.
I first visited the Irish Hunger Memorial, which is a surprisingly rural sight after walking through the financial district. The monument in memory of famine combines a 19th century Irish cottage and a blighted potato field, with every stone and plant in the memorial coming directly from Ireland. (You can read a full description on this entry I did for Atlas Obscura.)
The Irish Hunger Memorial remembers the over one million Irish who died during the Great Famine, as well as those people who continue to suffer from hunger around the world. The memorial was incredibly tranquil and transporting, one of those New York places where you forget you’re in North America, or even the 21st century.
From the top of the memorial, you can look out at the Hudson River and beyond to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the first stop for millions of Irish and other immigrants in the United States, many coming due to famine and other incredible hardships.
Further north in Battery Park City, and I came upon some sculptures by Tom Otterness, best known for the little metal people that populate the 8th Avenue station. Like those, these had a money theme, although I liked this stalking metal cat with the bird the best. There were also metal footprints and a metal chess set nearby, then it “got weirder” as a little girl accurately said, with a confusing tower involving pennies.
Battery Park City is north of Battery Park, the park on the southern tip of Manhattan. The planned community was constructed on dirt and rocks exhumed during the construction of the World Trade Center and other big construction projects. Outside the World Financial Center, there is this fence with Walt Whitman’s poetry. The above is from “City of Ships,” one of his poems about New York: City of ships!/(O the black ships! O the fierce ships!/O the beautiful, sharp-bow’d steam-ships and sail-ships!)/City of the world! (for all races are here;/All the lands of the earth make contributions here;)/City of the sea! city of hurried and glittering tides!…
There were signs of spring outside the Jewish Heritage Museum, where green buds were sprouting on willow trees and crocus flowers were pointing purple from the earth.
I walked all the way south to Battery Park and then got the train back to Brooklyn, refreshed by the new landscape and promise of spring. Although since I just saw we have a forecast for snow this week, it may still be a ways off!