Susan's Blog - New York City Christmas 2014 (Day 4)

Our last full day in NYC before heading south to New Jersey for the Christmas holiday, we mosey'd around in the morning and made our way again down to the lower part of Manhattan. Stone Street is part of the Stone Street Historic District and is named because of the cobbestone paving. Stone Street's stores and lofts were built for dry-goods merchants and importers, shortly after the Great Fire of 1835, which destroyed many remnants of New Amsterdam. After falling into a bad state, it is now one of Downtown's liveliest scenes. Restored buildings, granite paving, bluestone sidewalks and period street lights set the stage for the half dozen restaurants and cafes, whose outdoor tables are very popular on warm summer nights.

Tom tends to not eat pizza except once per year and this year, it was at Adrienne's Pizza Bar on Stone Street. We got their rectangular pizza pie (the round ones aren't available during lunch, and this is actually the only size available at lunch as well) and went with the traditional pepperoni. We did a good job with it, eating all but 2 pieces between the 2 of us!

More pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge in the fog and haze :-)

We walked down by the water's edge and just grabbed random pictures... Tom didn't realize that Brooklyn was so close!

Today's walking tour was about historical lower Manhattan. We started at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. It was built 1902–07 by the federal government to house the duty collection operations for the port of New York. The building is considered to be a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style. Sculpture was so crucial to the scheme that the figure groups had independent contracts. The major work across the front steps, The Continents, also called the Four Continents, of Asia, America, Europe, and Africa was contracted to French, with associate Adolph A. Weinman. Above the main cornice are standing sculptures representing the great seafaring nations, representing American seagoing commerce as the modern heir of the Phoenicians

I only took pictures of 2 of the 4 statues on the front, which are the 4 continents. The first one is America, which shows a woman with stalks of corn lying in her lap. This America is said to encompass both the traditions and values of both North and South America. Peering over the shoulder of America is an American Indian in headdress. On her right is an eagle, while on her left is said to be the figure of Labor rolling forward the wheel of progress. The second is Europe, you can see the woman sitting atop her throne. Located at the hem of Europe’s dress are royal crests in recognition of the long tradition of monarchy. To the right of Europe is the large bow of a ship in the form of a dragon which emphasizes her long thirst for discovery. Also on the right side of Europe’s throne is a frieze of the ancient Greek Parthenon. This frieze along with the book and globe resting under her left arm demonstrate Europe’s eternal quest for knowledge. Our tour guide mentioned there was a bit of controversy in the statues. For example, the Asia status has a woman in robes and a headdress with her eyes closed as if in meditation or prayer. Her feet are casually resting upon a series of three skulls. These skulls along with the chained figures to her are said to represent the country’s enslavement both literally and figuratively (via religious oppression). Africa is a semi-nude woman with her hair braided and sleeping atop, not a throne, but a rock. Each of these elements (semi-nude nature of the figure, the usage of a rock instead of a throne and the sleeping pose) are all said to demonstrate the perception of Africa at the time as a sleeping nation, and almost unnoticeable continent. The quiet figure in the corner, if you will. Africa’s right arm rests upon a sphinx head while her left arm is gently supported by a lion.

Fraunces Tavern played a prominent role in the American Revolution as well as the history before and after. It served as a headquarters for George Washington, a venue for peace negotiations with the British, and housing federal offices in the Early Republic. Before the Revolution, the building was one of the meeting places of the secret society, the Sons of Liberty. During the tea crisis caused by the British Parliament's passage of the Tea Act of 1765, the patriots forced a British naval captain who tried to bring tea to New York to give a public apology at the building. The patriots, disguised as American Indians (like those of the subsequent Boston Tea Party), then dumped the ship's tea cargo into New York Harbor.

Around the corner is the remains of Governor Lovelace's Tavern. The Lovelace Tavern was a bar owned by the then-governor of New York colony, Colonel Francis Lovelace. It was in business from 1670 until 1706 when it burned down.. The building's remains were found in 1979 while excavating for a new building. The original foundation walls can be seen today through glass set into the sidewalk. The outline of it and another building are also shown in the paving stones outside.

Here is Stone Street, which I mentioned ealier, and you can see the cobblestone pavers in the street. It is a fairly narrow street with alot of shops and restaurants. It is a pedestrian-only street and when it is warm, tables are placed in the streets making it one of the few places in New York City that allows for drinking in the streets.

The original Delmonico's Restaurant was opened in 1827 by a pair of brothers from Switzerland. It moved a couple times and settled in this building in 1837. When it opened here, New Yorkers were told that the columns by the entrance door had been imported from the ruins of Pompeii.

We then headed to Wall Street. First stop: Federal Hall. The original building was built in 1700, and had quite a history, including being the site of George Washington's inauguration as the first President, the home of the NY City govenment, and where the United States Bill of Rights was introduced in the First Congress. The current building dates from 1842 when this building was built as the US Custom House and is one of the best surviving examples of classical architecture in New York. It is constructed of Tuckahoe marble and took more than a decade to complete. The bronze statue of George Washington on the front steps marks the approximate site where he was inaugurated as President in the former structure.

This bible, printed in 1767, was used by George Washington during his inauguration at Federal Hall in 1789, as well as for the inaugurations for Harding (1921), Eisenhower (1953), Carter (1977) and Bush Sr (1989)

All across the city, you can see Christmas Trees and Menorah, many of them together like in this picture.

And no visit to Wall Street is complete without the NY Stock Exchange building. However, due to the increased security, you can't really get very close to the building do we can only look from the outside at a distance.

Trinity Church can be seen just at the end of Wall Street and some people say the location is meant to keep the people on Wall Street on the "moral path". This building is the third Trinity Church to be on this site, dating back to 1846. When it was completed, its 281-foot spire and cross was the highest point in New York until being surpassed in 1890 by the New York World Building. It is a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture. When consecrated on May 1, 1846, its soaring Neo-Gothic spire, surmounted by a gilded cross, dominated the skyline of lower Manhattan. Trinity was a welcoming beacon for ships sailing into New York Harbor.

The Trinity Churchyard, connected to the church has a number of famous people buried there, including Alexander Hamilton.

The interior is pretty impressive, with high vaults, stained glass, and statues behind the alter.

Trinity Church has three sets of impressive bronze doors conceived by Richard Morris Hunt. These date from 1893 and were produced by Karl Bitter (east door), J. Massey Rhind (south door) and Charles Henry Niehaus (north door). The doors were a gift from William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor in memory of John Jacob Astor III. The north and east door each consist of six panels from Church history or the Bible and the south door depicts the history of New York in its six panels.

Above the doors is a really nice frieze.

Another picture of the Freedom tower in the dense cloud-cover.

Next was a small little church called St. Paul's Chapel. This is one that we went by before but then it was on our walking tour. Upon completion in 1766, it was the tallest building in New York City. It stood in a field some distance from the growing port city to the south and was built as a "chapel-of-ease" for parishioners who thought the Mother Church inconvenient to access. Inside, the chapel's simple elegant hall has the pale colors, flat ceiling and cut glass chandeliers reminiscent of contemporary domestic interiors. The rear of St. Paul's Chapel faces Church Street, opposite the east side of the World Trade Center site. After the attack on September 11, 2001, which led to the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, St. Paul's Chapel served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site. The church survived without even a broken window. Church history declares it was spared by a miracle sycamore on the northwest corner of the property that was hit by debris. The Chapel now keeps many of the memorial banners around the sanctuary and has an extensive audio video history of the event.

After the walking tour, we relaxed a bit and then headed to Alder. This was the second restaurant for Chef Wylie Dufresne, although with the closure of WD-50, is now his only NYC restaurant. He is a leading American proponent of molecular gastronomy, the movement to incorporate science and new techniques in the preparation and presentation of food. This restaurant is a modern interpretation of a public house, offering casual food, well-crafted cocktails and an extensive selection of intriguing and affordable wines.

The menu comes on a piece of wood :-)

They have a set of "unique" cocktails. I had Dr. Dave's 'script pad, which had rye, yuzu, amaro, and smoked maple. Tom went with the Bartlett & Jaymes, which was Pimm's, pears, rum, and apple brandy.

The menu was more like tapas than anything else ... a set of smaller plates that get shared. The first was called Pub Cheese. It comes out looking like a blob of something purple smeared on a slab of slate, topped with some pistachios and chips. Not sure how they got cheese to be purple, but no matter, it was somewhat addictive.

Next was Pigs in a Blanket. Now, Tom and I both grew up with pigs in blankets although they were different things (mine being hot dogs in crescent rolls and his being pork wrapped in cabbage) and neither was what we had here! These were chinese sausages wrapped in a thin wrapper with japanese mustard and a sweet chili sauce.

Normally, we don't eat beets. Tom just says he doesn't like beets and for me, they are just a pain to handle (they get everything red). But we decided to try the pickled beets here, that came with a coconut ricotta and thai basil. The thai basil here, for me, was a bit of molecular gastronomy as the basil seemed almost freeze-dried. Gave a good textural aspect to the dish with the creamy ricotta and smooth beets.

We skipped past the frog legs, lamb tartare, and fried sweetbreads and next ordered the rye pasta with shaved pastrami. For me, this was the least successful although you could definitely taste the rye.

The French onion soup rings sounded interesting to us and ended up being lightly battered onion rings with melted gruyere cheese and a beef gravy dripped here and there.

Keeping with our holiday meal theme, we had dessert! I went with the Orange creamsicle pudding with cream soday and butterscotch candy, which came complete with 2 popsicle sticks. Tom had the honeycrisp apple tart with buttermilk ice cream and cinnamon granola.

We also decided to go with a dessert wine to top things off!

And there ends our 2014 Christmas Holiday trip. The next morning, we picked up a rental car as well as Tom's sister (who lives in the city) and drove down to New Jersey to spend the holidays with his family before heading back home.