Times Square and other New York Oddities by The Old Fogies

Almost every visitor to New York will find themselves in Times Square which is the main entertainment centre and tourist destination in Midtown Manhattan at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. Americans with their natural modesty sometimes refer to Times Square as “the heart of The Great White Way”, “The Crossroads of the World” or “The Center of the Universe”. It is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions, attracting an estimated 50 million visitors annually.

The location was originally known as Longacre Square, Times Square was renamed in 1904 after The New York Times moved its headquarters there. It is not really a square but made up of a couple of triangles. For decades, the square had reputation as a dangerous and seedy neighbourhood until the area was cleaned up in the 1990s. It now has a large police presence all around the clock.

Times Square is a neon wonderland with lots of billboards and advertisements all around the area. It attracts a strange assortment of street performers who dress up in a variety of costumes. For some reason there is a large section of red stairs which leads to nowhere and seems to function as seating where people watch the thousands of people walking past.

Nearby is a statue of George M. Cohan of Yankee Doodle Dandy fame. There are a number of attractions like the ABC’s Times Square Studios, where Good Morning America is broadcast live and plenty of bars, restaurants and retail outlets.

Times Square is one of those places that you feel that you should visit but as soon as you have been there, you think why did I bother !

Away from the craziness of Times Square, we thought we would point you towards some other attractions that were much more enjoyable.

Grand Central Terminal or Grand Central is one of the most famous railway stations in the United States, its distinctive architecture attracts over 20 million visitors a year excluding train and subway passengers. The enormous Main Concourse is the centre of Grand Central and is 275 ft (84 m) long by 120 ft (37 m) wide by 125 ft (38 m) high.

The concourse has an elaborately decorated astronomical ceiling created in 1912, it features various constellations. Underneath the Main Concourse is the The Dining Concourse which has seating and lounge areas, surrounded by restaurants. The terminal has 44 platforms which means the station is always busy but well worth visiting.

Lincoln Center  for the Performing Arts is a large complex of buildings in the Lincoln Square area of Manhattan, the complex is home to the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet and the New York City Opera.

Whilst many people come to the many events, we were fascinated by the Lincoln Center Revson fountain. The original Revson Fountain was built in 1964 and when it was first built, it was the most technologically advanced fountain ever constructed in New York. It was updated in 2009 and provides one of the best free shows in New York, the jets are individually controlled and can create vertical water explosions from 6 inches and 40 feet in height. We sat near the fountain mesmerised by the various complex routines for ages, eating a tasty ice cream and enjoying the surroundings.

Across from the Lincoln Center was Hippo Ballerina, part of an art installation by Danish sculptor Bjørn Okholm Skaarup.

Annoyances

Like any major city, New York has its fair share of annoyances although the large police presence in Manhattan dispels many of the myths of it being a dangerous destination.

Generally near to the main tourist areas are groups of people trying to sell you bus tours or other attractions, they generally take no for an answer but by the twentieth time it gets a little tedious. Occasionally people do try sell you CDs or other things but a firm no is usually all you need to get rid of their attention.

If you like wandering around the streets, there is some ‘Good News’ and ‘Bad News’. The good news is that you are unlikely to get lost, the city had a grid system that means as long as you know the avenue and street you can pinpoint where you are. The bad news is that the grid systems means that you are forever crossing the road at the crossing areas. This becomes slow and laborious especially on a hot day and if you do not wait for go sign beware, the NYPD do have regular clampdowns on jay walkers.

New Yorkers have a reputation for being rude and brusque, we noticed this more on public transport where the staff were often less than helpful. Generally staff in various establishments were the same as many other large cities, although it did help to have a sense of humour because New Yorkers do like a joke at times.

An example of New Yorker’s sense of humour was a occasion when Mrs Nice was adjusting my trousers at the back, three workmen on the sidewalk shouted out ‘Get a room’ leaving Mrs Nice with a bright red face from the embarrassment.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

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The Old Fogies go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, otherwise known as “the Met” is the largest art museum in the United States. The main building which is on the eastern edge of Central Park attracts over 7 million visitors a year and was founded in 1870 and opened in 1872 for the purposes of opening a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. Since the museum opened it has been renovated many times and is 20 times bigger than the original building.

When you enter ‘the Met’ into the Great Hall, it is similar to the British Museum with an extensive collection of works from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt near the entrance.

With limited time available, we knew we could not see everything, so decided to follow the floor plan and see how far we could see.

Our first section was Egyptian Art and the museum’s extensive collection is full of mummies and artefacts, however the most impressive exhibit is The Temple of Dendur which was transported from the shores of the Nile in Egypt in the 1960s.

The American Wing features a number of highly decorated rooms from all over the United States and the rather strange Sara Berman’s Closet.

Medieval Art provides an extensive look at medieval art including stunning stain glass windows.

Arms and Armour provide a piece of Hollywood with flags flying but the armour is spectacular.

Modern and Contemporary Art features a wide range including Manet, Monet and ; a roomful of van Goghs.On the Second floor European Paintings 1250 -1800 include Velazquez, El Greco, Vermeer and around twenty Rembrandts.

There are also a wide range of Musical Instruments.

The Met has a number of cafes and restaurants (we had a break in the lovely courtyard) gift shops and bookstores. You really needed more time than we had to get the best out of a visit to the ‘Met’ but even in our short visit we enjoyed some of the delights of the museum. The only issue is the $25 for admission, for over a century, the museum had free admission and still does not really charge New Yorkers. Using overseas visitors to subsidise local use is not that rare in some museums but is fundamentally penalising people who travelled thousands of miles to visit your city. 

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies visit the Museum of Modern Art in New York City

One art museum, I was keen to visit in New York was The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) which located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

MoMA is considered one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world. The Museum’s origins go back to 1929 and were one of the first American museum’s devoted exclusively to modern art. Its early exhibitions included paintings by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Seurat.

The museum moved into its present location in 1939, although it has been renovated a number of times since and is undergoing a $450 million expansion. The entrance is not particularly striking but once you enter, the galleries are bright and airy.

One of the highlights of the museum is The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh and it was easy to find with groups of people near it.

Other highlights include Claude Monet’s Water Lilies triptych

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

 and Henri Matisse, The Dance.

American artists were represented by Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko and many more.

The museum has a number of unusual features like a large Louise Bourgeois spider, a full size helicopter and a very attractive Sculpture Garden with fountains that was an ideal place to relax after looking around the galleries.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is one of the great museums of modern art, however it is difficult to defend an admission fee of $25. Maybe we are spoilt in London where many of the major museums and art galleries are free but even those that do charge tend to ask for half the amount that MoMA ask for. The museum has around 3 million visitors a year but numbers have declined since they doubled the entrance fee from $12 to $25. 

Fortunately the New York Pass which we bought before arriving in the city included entrance to a number of museums which is great if you want to get a cultural fix when you are in New York.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

 

The Old Fogies go to the Guggenheim Museum in New York

Whilst in New York, I was keen to visit some of the famous art galleries and museum and fortunately the New York Pass gave us free entrance to a wide number of institutions. Although Mrs Nice enjoy art, she was not that keen to use valuable time running around art galleries, therefore a decision was made to limit it to three and I chose the Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum and The Museum of Modern Art.

The Guggenheim Museum or Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is located on Fifth Avenue on the corner of East 89th Street near Central Park.

We were curious to see the iconic building at close quarters and as we approached the building, it unmistakable form began to take shape. The museum was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and was developed as a cylindrical building with a large base, however the building is wider at the top than the bottom.

Its style is certainly unusual on the outside but it is unique ramp gallery that extends up from ground level in a long spiral up to the top of the building that is stunning. When we entered fully in the museum we are faced with large wooden boxes, at first we thought they were a strange installation but they were full of artworks that were being hanged for an exhibition.

The museum opened in 1959 to considerable acclaim, unfortunately Frank Lloyd Wright had died six months before the opening. Although now considered a masterpiece, at the time not everyone was happy with the building. Some people believed that the building would overshadow the museum’s artworks and artists questioned whether their works suffer from the lack of natural light.

Some of the highlights of the museum are Constantin Brancusi’s Adam and Eve and King of Kings

Pablo Picasso’s Woman with Yellow Hair

Édouard Manet’s Before the Mirror

Pablo Picasso’s Fernande with a Black Mantilla

and a set of Edgar Degas bronzes, Dancer Moving Forward, Arms Raised; Seated Woman, Wiping Her Left Side and Spanish Dance.

When you walk around inside the museum, you do tend to admire the building more than the artworks and there is often a lack of focus as you meander around the various levels. However, this is a fascinating space and it is difficult not to look upwards towards the light streaming through the top of the galleries.

As we slowly descended back to the entrance and back outside, we were both agreed that it is an incredible building and well worth the all too brief visit.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies visit Ellis Island in New York


Visitors to Liberty Island on the ferry, can use the ferry to visit the nearby Ellis Island.

Ellis Island is an important pilgrimage for many Americans because it was the gateway into the US for over 12 million immigrants. Ellis Island was the United States’ busiest immigrant inspection station for over 60 years from 1892 until 1954. Ellis Island  opened in 1892 on the site of what was known as Fort Gibson, the site had been used for defence since the early 19th century. After Ellis Island was closed,  the island was made part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965 and has had a museum of immigration since 1990.

Like many tourist sites in New York, since the September 11 attacks in 2001, security is taken very seriously  and if you want to just visit Ellis Island you will still go through the airport style security. 

Much of the island has been closed to the public since 1954 and visitors tend to congregate outside the main building. 

The station’s main Building which now houses the Immigration Museum, was originally opened in 1900 and is considered one of the most symbolically important structures in American history.

The museum that opened in 1990 includes exhibits such as the  Hearing Room, Peak Immigration Years, the Peopling of America, Restoring a Landmark, Silent Voices, Treasures from Home, and Ellis Island Chronicles. 

The processing of immigrants was done on an industrial scale and time spent on the Island could vary from hours to weeks.

It was estimated that around 2% were denied admission to the U.S. and sent back to their countries of origin for reasons such as having a chronic disease, criminal background, or insanity.

Initially many of the immigrants came from Northern Europe especially Scandinavia, Britain and Germany, over time immigrants from Southern Europe were attracted to the shores of the USA.

Walking through the exhibition, you cannot fail to be moved by the thought of how many people had given up everything to travel to the United States for an uncertain future in a strange land.

How many would look out of the window at the Statue of Liberty and wonder if they would be allowed to make a new life in America.

In a time when immigration is a hot topic around the world and especially in the USA, it is worth remembering that the modern United States was built by many of the immigrants that passed through the doors of Ellis Island.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies visit the Empire State Building in New York

New York City is a city full of skyscrapers with at least 113 buildings are taller than 600 feet (183 m). Of all the skyscrapers, there are relatively few that engage with the public imagination, an exception is the Empire State Building.

Therefore we decided that the Empire State Building would be high on our list of attractions to visit. Wandering around the streets of New York, the Empire State Building is one of the few skyscrapers that you instantly recognise and we took the short walk to the west side of Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets.

The Empire State Building is a 102-storey skyscraper which was completed in 1931, the building stands a total of 1,454 feet (443.2 m) tall, including its antenna.

The building is the 5th-tallest skyscraper in the United States, however when it was completed in 1931 to 1970 it was the world’s tallest building. It has been a popular tourist attraction since the building opened, with around 4 million visitors to the building’s 86th and 102nd floor observatories every year.

When you enter the building you pick up your ticket and make your way to the security section before eventually making your way to the entertaining lifts which shows a short film as you make you way up the building.

Visitors can visit the 86th and 102nd floor observatories for a different admission price, we were happy just to go to the 86th floor because it is the highest open air observatory in New York.

Once you get to the 86th floor, you can look at some of the infrastructure and look at the various posters including one that features the building in the famous version of King Kong was released in 1933.

Most visitors visit the Empire State Building for the spectacular views of Manhattan and beyond. It was a clear sunny day when we visited and we could enjoy clear views of New York and its environs. You could even see the Statue of Liberty in the distance and down into the streets of New York which seemed to be gridlocked most of the time with traffic.

Looking at the rows and rows of skyscrapers which seemed to have little character, it is easy to see why the Empire State Building is loved by most New Yorkers and the millions of visitors. The buildings art deco designs help to distinguish the building from the other skyscrapers that surround it.

After a enjoyable hour or two, it was time to make our way back down to ground level, on the way back to the entrance you can more of the art deco decor and buy a gift from the shop.

In a city full of high buildings, it is very difficult to get an idea of the city and where different buildings are in relation to each other. It is really only from the considerable height of the Empire State building or similar that you can see Manhattan and the surroundings in all its glory.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies go to Central Park in New York

Visitors to Manhattan soon realise that unlike many other major cities, there are very few green spaces amongst the skyscrapers. One notable exception is Central Park which is often known as New York’s ‘backyard’. The park spreads over 843 acres and is located between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, bounded by Fifth Avenue on the east, Central Park West (Eighth Avenue) on the west, Central Park South (59th Street) on the south, and Central Park North (110th Street) on the north.

Central Park took over 16 years to create in the mid-19th century and was one of the models for other urban parks around the world. However the political and financial uncertainties in New York City over the 20th century led to the park suffering severe decline especially in between the 1960s and 1980s when it was often considered a no – go area because of crime and anti-social behaviour. Since then millions of dollars have been spent on the restoration of the park and it is now the pride and joy of New York.

When you walk through the park it looks very natural, but it is almost entirely landscaped. The lakes and ponds have created artificially and the woods, meadows and lawns have been developed over the last 100 and so years.

Many of the buildings around the park have been made into visitor centres which give plenty of information about the unusual aspects of the park. 

One of the features you do not expect to find in a North American park is a castle, but in the middle of the park is Belvedere Castle. Calvert Vaux, co-designer of the Park, created the miniature castle in 1869 as a bit of a folly and it is now a visitor centre. Climbing the stairs inside the castle take you to a number of vantage points that give some of the best views of the Park and the surrounding cityscape.

Another feature of the park is the Bethesda Terrace and Bethesda Fountain with the Angel of the Waters statue on top. The fountain commemorates the water system, which first brought fresh water to New York City in 1842. Not to be missed under the terrace is the arcade that features a Minton tile ceiling, the ceiling is made up of  49 panels, the ceiling features with over 16,000 patterned tiles, handmade by Minton and Company in England.

The Sheep Meadow is a large expanse in the south of the park, if you think it is a fanciful name, you may be surprised to know that from 1864 to 1934, a flock of pedigree sheep grazed in the Meadow. From Sheep Meadow, we made a slight detour to the Dakota building which is Central Park West.

It was outside the Dakota building where Beatle John Lennon was murdered in 1981, a part of the park was created as a living memorial to the singer. Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono Lennon helped to create Strawberry Fields with a large mosaic created by Italian craftsmen bearing the word ‘ Imagine.’ It is now a popular tourist stop and after the 10th rendition of ‘Imagine’ by the buskers in the gardens we decided was time to leave and move back into the park.

Unfortunately we could not enter the Great Lawn area because there was an event taking place later in the week. We did walk over to the large wooden area called the Ramble and the Central Park Zoo.

Feeling peckish, we made our way to the Boathouse which has quite a large café and settled down for a refreshment break. It was here that Mrs Nice remarked that it was wonderful to escape the heat of the city streets and relax away from the fumes and noise. For many New Yorkers and visitors, Central Park is an important sanctuary away from the madness of the city and although people visit in large numbers, it never seems particularly crowded and it is easy to find that quiet corner to watch the world go by.

A couple of little known facts about Central Park, it receives approximately 35 million visitors annually, and is the most filmed location for movies in the world.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York

 Although there are many attractions in New York, one of the newest attractions remembers one of the darkest episodes of the city.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum which opened in 2014 is a memorial and museum in New York City commemorating the September 11, 2001 attacks, which killed 2,977 people, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six. The Memorial and the Museum are located at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan at Greenwich St.

It is always difficult to visit these kind of attractions, however it is important to recognise that such places illustrate the best and worst of human beings.

When you approach the museum, it is something of a surprise because the main part of the museum is below ground and visitors enter through a pavilion at ground level. Not surprisingly, there are considerable security checks before you enter into the museum.

Once you do enter the museum, you are able to understand some of the scale of the tragedy.  The main hall of the museum shows the Last Column standing in the centre  and the original Slurry Wall retaining wall which are part of the foundation of the Twin Towers.

The 9/11 Museum  tells the story of that fateful day with a multimedia approach with 40,000 images, 14,000 artefacts, more than 3,500 oral recordings, and over 500 hours of video.

Other Ground Zero artefacts include wrecked emergency vehicles (including a fire engine), pieces of metal from all seven World Trade Center buildings, recordings, pictures of the victims, photographs from the wreckage and other media detailing the destruction and clean up of the Twin Towers that were destroyed.

Visitors wander through the museum in a restrained manner showing respect for the many victims and the horror felt by the people of New York and the USA.

One of the most poignant parts of the museum is the Memorial exhibition which features photographs of the 2,983 victims of the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Visitors can learn more about each victim looking up individual profiles and listen to audio remembrances recorded by family members, friends and former colleagues.

People who do not enter museum can show their respects by visiting the striking memorial that surrounds the museum. Two 1-acre pools with the waterfalls have been created in the footprints of the Twin Towers, the names of 2,983 victims are inscribed on the outside of the memorial pools.

We came away from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum with mixed emotions, angry and sad at the needless waste of human life but admiring the tasteful and positive way that the victims of the tragedies are remembered.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies go to Alcatraz in San Francisco

One of San Francisco’s main attractions is the island of Alcatraz that sits in San Francisco Bay. To get to the island, visitors must take one of the tours that visit Alcatraz. The tours depart from Pier 33 located along San Francisco’s northern waterfront promenade near the Embarcadero, It advisable to arrive early as the queues begin to form to board the ferry and you need to go through airport style security. We booked the tour through the official Alcatraz Cruises website, if you thinking about going to Alcatraz be wary of tours that charge a large amount to go to Alcatraz and maybe a cruise around the harbour.

For some reason, swarms of flies descended on the ferry as we boarded and were unwelcome travellers all the way across to the Island. For most people, Alcatraz is associated with the prison but the Island has a long history of human habitation.

There is evidence that the first people to visit Alcatraz Island were indigenous people who arrived there between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago. 

The first lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States was built on Alcatraz and went into service in 1854. At roughly the same time a military fort was on the Island which during American Civil War became the largest American fort west of the Mississippi River.

It was during the American Civil War that the first convicts were sent to Alcatraz fort, gradually the fort became less known for its defence capabilities and more for its military prison.

The army transferred Alcatraz to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in 1934 and the BOP quickly converted the military prison into a maximum-security civilian penitentiary.  It is the period from 1934 to 1963 which is the focus of the tour when Alcatraz became one of the most famous federal prisons in United States history.

When you arrive on the Island, you are shown to shower room where you pick up the excellent audio tour which gives some background to the tour. The audio includes contributions from old inmates and warders from the prison and tells some of the stories about some of America’s most notorious offenders.

One of the reasons for Alcatraz’s reputation was that it was considered a prison that dealt with inmates that were sent from other federal prisons. “The Rock” was where the most troublesome prisoners were sent to be dealt with before they could be returned to a lower-security institution. 

Some of the most famous inmates were Al ‘Scarface’ Capone and Robert Stroud otherwise known as the ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’. Walking around the prison, you wander around the cells in the different parts of the prison and listen to some inmates describing the monotonous regime and how some tried to escape. Over the 29 years from 1934 to 1963, 36 men were involved in 14 separate escape attempts. Of these, 23 were caught, 6 were shot and killed during their escape, and 2 drowned. There is no evidence that anyone escaped the “Rock” and survived. One of the most notorious escapes was the “Battle of Alcatraz” in 1946.

Strangely, considering its reputation it was not the worst location in the world with the sights and sounds of San Francisco all around. Many prisoners remarked that this made their incarceration more unbearable.

After the tour of the prison, visitors can wander around the Island and see some of the buildings and structures from the different periods of occupation. Now and again you see signs related to when a group of Native American Indians claimed Alcatraz as Indian land in 1969, their occupancy was relatively short-lived when they were removed from the Island by Federal Marshals in 1971.

The tour of Alcatraz is a fascinating reminder of a particular chapter of United States history, it is a history in which fact and myths are interchangeable probably due to the many films and books that have been written about the “Rock”.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

 

The Old Fogies visit the Statue of Liberty in New York

Like many visitors to New York, we decided to visit some of the iconic sights of New York. Probably one of the most iconic is the Statue of Liberty which stands on Liberty Island, just off the southern tip of Manhattan.

On a warm and sunny day, we went on the subway system to take us from Midtown down to Battery Park where the ferries take the thousands of passengers to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Arriving in Battery Park, we were directed to Castle Clinton from where we could pick up our tickets for the ferry.

Although most people ignore Castle Clinton, it has a remarkable history.  Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton was previously known as Castle Garden, is a circular sandstone fort which was America’s first immigration station (it predates Ellis Island), where more than 8 million people arrived in the United States from 1855 to 1890. The original fort was built between 1808 and 1811 on a small artificial island just off shore. When Battery Park was extended the fort was incorporated into the mainland of Manhattan.

Liberty Island and Ellis Island are run by the National Park Service who use Statue Cruises as the official ferry boat service to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Memorial Museum. Like most of the major American attractions, once you have your ticket, you have to go through airport style security screening prior to boarding the vessel.

Depending on the time of day you may find large queues to board the ferries, however the ferries do run very frequently and eventually it was our time to board the crowded ferry. There is little doubt that the best way to approach the Statue of Liberty is from the water and many of the people on board had their camera’s ready for that iconic photograph.

The statue resides on Liberty Island, although the island was known Bedloe’s Island up to the 1950s.The Island is located nearly a couple of miles southwest of Battery Park, so the ferry ride is very short.

There is little doubt that the Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous statues in the world, however when you see it in real life, its size comes as a bit of a surprise. In all it stands over 300 feet high and towers over the small Liberty Island.

The Statue of Liberty or Liberty Enlightening the World which is the correct name was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated in 1886.

The statue quickly became an icon of New York and the United States, and was always a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving by sea.

You can get tickets to go inside the statue but we were quite contented to get an ice cream and wander around the statue. The island also gives great views of Manhattan, New Jersey and Brooklyn.

The statue’s location is interesting because in some ways it is influenced by the large statues of antiquity like the Colossus of Rhodes which stood in a harbour entrance. In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes over  3.5 million visitors each year.

As we made our way back to the ferry, we saw the crowds of excited visitors making their way to the statue. The Statue of Liberty has been attracting the crowds for over 100 years and is still as popular as ever.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.