Sometimes I have to remind John that he is 5’10” tall and I am 9½ inches from toe to back which by my calculations makes him 7 times higher than me, causing things in my world appear 7 times bigger. It makes sense to me ok! So when he suggested a trip to the top of the Rockefeller I hope he appreciated just how brave and dare I say heroic I had to be! Luckily I had inspiration from the Greek legend Prometheus who took the form of a bronze gilded statue in the plaza close to the entrance beside an inscription that read “… Prometheus, teacher in every art, brought the fire that hath proved to mortals a means to mighty ends …” On the way up to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck my ears popped which I found alarming but as no one else in the lift (or elevator to use the American term) reacted, I decided to hold my nerve steady and walked resolutely on to the Observation Deck with my tail proudly in the vertical position. Seventy floors up, the viewing area provides a 360-degree panoramic view of New York City and is the setting for a famous photograph that was taken in 1932 during construction of a group of workers sitting on a steel beam without safety harness eating lunch with an 840 feet drop to the ground below them.
From that great height the New York skyline comprised endless rows of concrete peaks until I spotted a huge green patch of trees which I discovered was Central Park. It was a relief to find a morsel of nature amongst all the buildings and lights of Times Square and Broadway so I was delighted when John and I took a stroll along some of the many paths that zigzag across the Park. There were joggers and cyclists enjoying the fume-free air, twitchers with binoculars bragging about the red-breasted nuthatch they had just seen on a branch, and people with dogs of all shapes and sizes trotting obediently beside them. Hidden within this woodland wonder was Belvedere Castle, an architectural mix of Gothic and Romanesque styles intended to be a Victorian Folly, with parapet walls and a traditional corner tower topped with a cone-shaped cap. A beautiful lawn stretched out below and there was a large pond full of turtles swimming casually in the water and sunbathing on the rocks.
Central Park was my favourite park closely followed by Battery Park located at the Southern tip of Manhattan Island. Due to its strategic location where the Hudson and East Rivers meet, The Battery became an area of military importance where canons and fortifications were erected to defend the city back in the days when the area was first settled by the Dutch. Now it’s a picturesque waterfront preserved as a green space to promote conservation and biodiversity. I strongly support this concept although I did object to the wasp that chased me all the way from the Castle Clinton national monument to the bench opposite the wild flowers which thankfully drew its attention. I thought one of the red squirrels sniggered as I scampered past him but John assured me that it was a cough! Still I was a little miffed and suggested we head to the 9/11 memorial site which was close by. There, set within the footprints of the original twin towers, were two mesmerising cascades of water that flowed into the earth surrounded by hundreds of oak trees. The name of every person who died was etched in bronze around the memorial pools and it was exquisite yet understated, a fitting tribute to the events of that day.