Born in Park Slope, Brooklyn a little over thirty years ago, Manhattan had been my adventure land as a child. The summers when Governors Island was open to visitors to tour the US Coast Guard station there was a special treat for me. From my family’s brownstone on 12th Street, I spent many evenings peering at Manhattan’s skyline or what I could see of it over the elevated F train rails. The most impressive sight had been the Twin Towers whose steel structures rose above the elevated trains.
Downtown Manhattan had been my playground, then my workplace first employed at a retail shop in the concourse of the World Trade Center and later as an office manager. Through the ’80s and ’90s, there had been an Old World complexion about downtown evident in the art deco design of the Woolworth building, the colonial finish of Fraunces Tavern Museum, the row of tenements above the storefronts along Warren Street, and the neo-classical cut of City Hall. Though these buildings remain a part of downtown’s ambience, so many buildings surrounding them have been demolished and replaced with modern structures.
The South Street Ferry Terminal underwent a huge restoration after 9/11. No longer made of stone walls and wood floors with a turn of the century cornice crowning the shelter’s rooftop, the mostly glass building today which accommodates commuters traveling to and from Staten Island has a clean appearance with a 21st century sheen.
Adjacent to the terminal is Battery Park. Once canvassed in foliage and cement foot paths, the park is undergoing a major facelift converting its grassy lawns into a patchwork of urban gardens. At the top of Battery Place rests the large bronze globe, the last remain of the World Trade Center.
Moving north is Battery Park City dotted in lush parks and roomy walkways. The neighborhood is serviced by a free Downtown Connection bus that loops around Battery Park City and goes between City Hall and South Street Seaport.
South Street Seaport might be undergoing the largest restoration. A pedestrian promenade opened between Wall Street and Fulton Street with ample seating for the public. Along Water Street are pockets of public spaces with aesthetically pleasing landscaping and unobstructed views of Brooklyn’s waterfront.
New York City is reputed to be a metropolis in a constant state of flux evidenced by the closing of Pier 17 at South Street Seaport on September 11, 2013. Slated to replace the historical marketplace are luxury condos, demonstrating the city’s nature to continually change with the times.