LIZ SMITH Rides Around New York City.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara
Liz Travels! Well, Liz Rides Around New York City. And That Was Pretty Great.
Liz with her travel necessities.
THE more I travel across the gravel
The more I sail the sea
The more I feel convinced to the fact
New York’s the town for me
So begins Cole Porter’s “Take Me Back To Manhattan” from “Anything Goes.”
Cole Porter photographed by Horst in 1934, the year he wrote “Anything Goes.”
HAVE you been down to Wall Street to see the Fearless Girl statue facing the big bronze Bull on Wall Street? Well, if you haven’t been physically able to see this — the display of Art versus money manipulations, well you’ve missed a lot.
So, the only way I could go was to let my pal, Suzanne Goodson, take me in a hired car driven by a native of lower Manhattan, one Jason. We luxuriated in comfort as Jason edged us into lines and past gangs of onlookers, gawkers and tourists.
“Fearless Girl” staring down Wall Street’s “Charging Bull.”
True, not everyone can take our expensive recommendation. But save your subway fare and get a car and driver. We crept along and were eventually alongside the Girl and were in “selfie” range. The Bull itself gets quite a workout. Every minute another human being vaults up onto it’s back. (Suzanne and Liz are quite past “standing in lines” or “vaulting up on objects,” or even braving the subway.)
If I can find it, we’ll show you a photo of us in our heyday. And Suzanne may still be in hers as she is 30 years younger than I am.
Fearless girls Suzanne and Liz.
Back to the hired car and our driver friend Jason, who grew up in Manhattan and knows all its urban immigrant neighborhoods. He was a great guide and expressed himself in deploring the loss of how it all “used to be” when tenements and dialects abounded and nobody ever heard of even a rich person working in tall buildings with each floor worth billions.
We crawled along in the car. But edging away from the lines we entered into the seemingly vast manifestations of the World Trade Center and its beautiful clearings. But, you will head uptown along the Hudson River. It is always wonderful to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty about in the harbor.
With Hoboken looming across the Hudson, it is still surprising what grand skyscrapers have risen, even in New Jersey, when maybe you weren’t looking.
Looking up at the financial district.
The new financial district.
The New Jersey skyline.
As you pass up along the Hudson River Drive to the right more tall buildings are rising. And the old lower Manhattan is melting away, but — wait — here come a few fascinating Oldies and THIS is the glorious Meatpacking District. Most of it has already gone; its little stores and businesses put out of their delightful misery. Only the last of the big meat suppliers are still parked here, in front of small old-fashioned buildings. Enormous structures will soon wipe out this area.
Memories — Gansevoort Street in 1985. © Brian Rose
Today’s Gansevoort Market.
Soon you merge from that into the crowded site of the magnificent new Whitney Museum. It’s set in a neighborhood of little cafes, more posh eateries and the hum of all things up for grabs. It’s called progress. This is an “art is everything” neighborhood.
Driving by the new Whitney.
When we move on from the Whitney, we’ll get to what I think is the new heart of downtown — 14th Street where you can shop high or low. Here you can’t miss Diane von Furstenberg’s building on 14th Street, where this divine diva happens to live upstairs over her elegant store.
And you might pause briefly to consider Diane and her famous husband Barry Diller’s “baby” — The High Line, which their influential money and the money of others made a dramatic rescue of old abandoned railroad tracks that now everybody can walk on for free. From the street The High Line is nothing to see but it has changed New York. It is a youthful destination from SoHo and Tribeca and Greenwich Village. And it has given downtown a new life.
Barry Diller has planned a park to be built over the Hudson River. This is an idea whose time has come.
From this …
New York is the only water surrounded metropolitan city in the world that hasn’t utilized its many miles of waterfront for the informal use of cafes and business and people along the water. That’s about to change, I believe.
We continue uptown and pass through the west side of dingy Manhattan in the mid-forties. Just before 42nd street and the theatre district. We pass Mexican cafes and other exotic food shops. This used to be called Hell’s Kitchen. But the City in its craze to sanitize and upscale everything has renamed it Clinton.
Hopefully, an invite awaits for our next visit to Hell’s Kitchen.
No, not for Bill and Hillary but for DeWitt. I think most people still call it Hell’s Kitchen, even though it is being gentrified every day.
Soon enough Suzanne and I were back to the East 60s already planning our next excursion. We’re saving our money to hire Jason to take us through Harlem at night. We know it’s not like the old days of Lady Day and Lena Horne at the Cotton Club. But we’ll bet it surprises us. Everything still does!