Keep, Ancient Lands, Your Storied Pomp…

Manhattan as seen from the Verrazano Bridge.

Goodbye Brooklyn, and hello Catskills!  Man and cat have moved on from the City and are now parked at Jen’s brother’s house about 150 miles upstate. The weather is beautiful and we’re looking forward to staying put for a few days.

Before I change the subject from New York City, though, I have to tell one more brief story.  I’ve been coming to this town for years now. It really is like a second home.  This visit was a first for me, though. It was the first time I had ever driven across the Verrazano Narrows bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn.  I’m not sure why…  It’s just one of those things that I never had a reason or need to do.

“…I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” – Emma Lazarus

But driving across that bridge yesterday, traffic making for a slow crawl back to Staten Island, I had an opportunity to take in the breathtaking view.  With the vast expanse of ocean on one side, and New York Harbor on the other, it occurred to me that this must have been the very spot that Henry Hudson realized what he had discovered back in 1608, that natural “harbor on which a thousand ships might ride safe from wind and weather.”  He never found passage to the Orient for his Dutch customers, but he had truly discovered something much more valuable.

This was also the view about which F Scott Fitzgerald spoke in The Great Gatsby, the place at which “for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath”, the place where, for the last time in history, he was “face to face with something commensurate with his capacity for wonder.”

Ellis Island

But I was perhaps most moved when it occurred to me that I was looking down upon the very “air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame”, the harbor Emma Lazarus described so movingly in her famous poem. I was seeing it as it was seen by millions of Europe’s “wretched refuse”,  from the very point at which those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” would have first glimpsed a lonely statue.  Then, as they passed close by on their way to Ellis Island, they would realize it was a woman, a “mighty woman” who, to this day “lifts her lamp beside the golden door.”  Gotta say, it brought a tear to my eye…

I love New York.