Kacy and I walked around Liberty Park yesterday, which is about 3 blocks from her apartment. Liberty Park is a national monument and has the most spectacular views of lower Manhattan across the Hudson River. Historically, it's where the immigrants came after being processed through Ellis Island to catch the trains to their new lives. The old train station is still there, and while the tracks are gone, the sidings where they were remain, overgrown now with weeds and fenced off. Several lines serviced the area, ready to take the new Americans to their waiting homes across the country. If you stand still, you can still feel the energy - excitement, resignation, worry, fear - everything that might exist when you're beginning a new and unknown live. Compared to them, my hardships will be few - I'll be able to Skype friends and family from Macedonia, call them on the cell phone, and if need be, fly back for emergencies. Most of the folks passing through Liberty Station would never speak or see their friends and family again, but still they came. Matt's grandparents, Mathias and Ingeborg Wiggum from Norway, came through, as well as my friend Bob Bruna's family from the Czech Republic. Ellis Island represented a new policy toward immigrants - still welcomed, but screened for physical and mental illness. For the most part they were treated well on the Island. We've certainly morphed since then to be less welcoming.
We also saw the back side of the Statue of Liberty, which still brings shivers to me. We returned from Europe in Dec. of 1957. It was rough seas crossing the north Atlantic, and I was seasick most of the time. I remember standing on deck passing the Statue and knowing we were home and soon would be on land again. Even at eleven, it was an emotional time.
Today I'm off to the City to walk the new High Line trail - right in the middle of the West Side. Take care, all.