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Loyalty Traveler walks to Wall Street and finds democracy past and present

The choice of where to spend my final day staying in Manhattan last month was a toss up. Harlem or Wall Street?

The fact that SPG American Express paid for my trips to New York for the US Open tennis where I saw Serena Williams play (Sep 10 post) with a stay at the Westin New York Times Square (Sep 12 post) and then another trip the following week for the New York Fashion Week kind of tipped the scales towards Wall Street.

After all, I was staying in a $650 per night room for free. This Californian was not exactly slumming it in Manhattan for my New York stay.

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W New York Union Square – Loyalty Traveler hotel review (Oct 5)

The SPG Amex Stars gig is kind of like corporate welfare for social media white collar entrepreneurs like me. They don’t pay me in cash or points. Instead, I get a few free trips to places. Well, actually, turns out that I do get points for the Starwood Hotel stays based on the rates being paid by someone other than me.

In return, I blog about the hotels and events I see. I still have 135,000 Starpoints in three giveaways left to distribute to readers. Those will happen on other days. No giveaways are associated with this New York story blog post.

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Also, the fact that I could walk to Wall Street from the W New York Union Square rather than spend an hour or two riding the subway to the other side of Manhattan favored a downtown walk to Wall Street over an uptown train ride to Harlem.

Walking to Wall Street

New York is far more interesting to me when walking on the outside.

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Union Square Park

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Farmer’s Market in full swing at Union Square on a mid-morning Friday.

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Jefferson Market Courthouse (1877, architects Frederick Clarke Withers and Calvert Vaux) was a women’s court until 1945 before its current function as Jefferson Market Library.

Behind the Jefferson Market Library building is a beautiful garden, enriched in late summer splendor.

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Jefferson Market Garden – September 13, 2012.

Parks and gardens exude the character of the Village. There seems to be so many places to relax outside for free and reflect on the city and the soul.

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Golden Swan Garden (West Fourth St. and Sixth Ave.) is a small park marking the site of the Golden Swan Cafe, also known as the Hell Hole. Golden Swan was frequented by author Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953), Nobel Prize in literature (1936) and the bar was inspiration for his play, The Iceman Cometh (1939) set in Greenwich Village saloon 1912. Never read the play, but I watched the entire four hour 1973 movie a couple of times as a teenager. Kind of made me never want to live life in a bar.

Seems fitting the location is now an outdoor corner park in the Village.

“Stop the Violence – Keep the spirit of the sixties alive. For it is the true love and peace of paradise.” Artist Rico Fonseca (1999). Mural on West Third Street at Blue Note Jazz Club.

Literature, art and music pervade Greenwich Village. I was walking the streets of Manhattan without looking at a map and like a magnet I found myself once again at Café Wha?  Dylan, Hendrix, Velvet Underground and Bruce Springsteen are past legends who played here.

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Café Wha? – MacDougal Street, The Village, New York City

I was walking in circles and decided to fast track my way downtown.

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The Tower.

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The James is a hotel I noticed. Looked stylish and I liked the juxtaposition of the new architecture of The James with the adjacent older apartments. Apparently I was in SoHo and walking to Tribeca according to the hotels I saw along the way.

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1776 Tower rising up as 1 World Trade Center.

St. Paul’s Chapel (1766), an Episcopal Church, remains the only colonial-era church in Manhattan. George Washington prayed here in 1789 after his inauguration as President of the United States. St. Paul’s Chapel was a focal point for community solace in the wake of the tragedy September 11, 2001.

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Joie de Vivre, artist Mark di Suvero at the corner of Zuccotti Park.

Signs of the Occupy Wall Street movement were now appearing along the sidewalks as I approached Trinity Church and Wall Street.

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Occupy Wall Street at Trinity Church – History Starts Here.

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Occupy literature outside Trinity Church at Wall Street and Broadway.

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New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street …

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NYSE behind the barricades. Trinity Church, under wraps, in the distance. There were plenty of police around. I avoid taking photos of police carrying guns.

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“But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word ‘Fascism’ and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty.” It Can’t Happen Here (1935) – Sinclair Lewis (Nobel Prize 1930).

On one corner of Wall Street and Broad Street stands the New York Stock Exchange. On another corner stands the J.P. Morgan Building.

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And across Wall Street from these two centers of capitalism stands the Federal Hall National Memorial.

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Federal Hall National Memorial (1842) is the site of the former Federal Hall (1700) built as New York’s first City Hall. The original building also served as the United States first Capitol Building. Federal Hall was the site of George Washington’s inauguration as the first President of the United States April 30, 1789. The original building was demolished in 1812.

The current building built in 1842 served as the Customs House. In 1862 the building became the U.S. Sub-Treasury and stored gold and silver in its basement vaults until the Federal Reserve bank was established in 1920. The building is now operated by the National Park Service as a memorial to George Washington’s Inauguration.

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United States Bill of Rights was adopted September 25, 1789 in Federal Hall New York.

First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

More Loyalty Traveler New York posts and photos:

Manhattan Upper West Side Stories (Sep 10)

Hot Summer in Fun New York (Sep 11)

Circumnavigating Manhattan Island on Circle Line Cruise (Sep 15)

Circumnavigating Manhattan – Part 2 (Sep 16)

Loyalty Traveler disclosure:The two trips I made to New York in September 2012 were sponsored by SPG American Express to take part in the US Open tennis and New York Fashion Week with two nights each at Westin Times Square and W Union Square. Airfare and hotels stays were complimentary. As usual, thoughts and words are my own.

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.


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  • Martin October 20, 2012

    Hi Ric,
    I like your stories about New York a lot … and I’m wondering if for you as an American, the contrasts between an East Coast city like N.Y. to a Californian city are similar to those for an European in America?
    I mean, you’ve been in Barcelona lately, so I guess the contrasts there are more obvious. But I would like to know about what you were not familiar with?
    Thanks, Martin

  • Shirley McKinney October 20, 2012

    Hi Ric,

    I manage 7 National Parks in Manhattan (including Federal Hall)… Thanks so much for visiting with us! I do want to point out that during your walk from the Union Square area you were a stones throw away from Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthplace National Historic Site (28 E 23rd) and maybe you didn’t realize you walked past the African Burial Ground National Memorial (290 Broadway) let me know if you’d be interested in receiving more information on the National Parks in Manhattan and if you return to the area, I’d be pleased to tour you!

  • Ric Garrido October 23, 2012

    @Martin – I have traveled through 48 of the US states and I was a school teacher in three states of California, Maine, and Massachusetts. Even though this was really my first extended exposure to NYC, I have spent weeks of time in Washington D.C. and Boston.

    My experience has been to see there is a basic American culture that pervades all parts of the U.S. and I do not see anything near the cultural differences between U.S. cities in different parts of the country compared to leaving the U.S., even if just crossing the border to Canada.

    Aside from water towers and residential apartments with a doorman, I don’t think there was anything that really seemed unfamiliar or strikingly different in New York from San Francisco in terms of culture.

    I was primarily only in Manhattan. I think downtown San Francisco or a Silicon Valley town like Fremont has as much ethnic diversity as I saw in New York.

    30 miles to the east of Monterey I can go to towns where Spanish is more prevalent than English. In Fremont and Milpitas I can go to shopping malls where every business is an Asian store or restaurant. Oakland has a rich black culture that is probably kind of like a West Coast Harlem.

    There was not anything really that I can recall that seemed unfamiliar to me aside from the water towers on the buildings.

  • Ric Garrido October 23, 2012

    @Shirley McKinney – thanks for sharing and what a fabulous job in Manhattan.

    I don’t know when I will pass that way again, but if I do, I’ll be looking for more National Parks.

    Federal Hall was a totally unexpected pleasure of walking Wall Street. I should have mentioned other cool things about Federal hall like the George Washington Presidential Inauguration Bible is located there.

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