On Memorial Day Weekend: A West Side Walk to the Intrepid, and Memorials to New Yorkers at War

(updated) While many neighborhoods of Manhattan looked decidedly sleepy over the Memorial Day weekend, anyone in search of company need only to head to the west side. Find your way to any street in the West 40s and walk west through Hell's Kitchen to the piers along the Hudson River. You'll soon be joined by many others. I highly recommend taking W. 43rd Street, if only for the novelty of not walking down 42nd Street, but mainly for the splendid roadside architecture of the Market Diner (at 11th Ave. CLOSED). A holiday weekend may require an oversize breakfast of eggs, bacon, and pancakes with syrup and butter, so stopping here at this nostalgic 1963-1964 era diner may be the perfect thing. Since this walk maps out to 3.19 miles, you may as well indulge.

Market Diner, Hell's Kitchen
Market Diner, 11th Avenue and W. 43rd St. (CLOSED)

The star attractions on these piers are the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum on W. 46th and 12 Avenue at Pier 86, where everyone gawks at the ships, and the popular Circle Line Sightseeing tours that depart from Pier 83 to the south. While visiting the sites yesterday, I entertained the fleeting fantasy of circumnavigating Manhattan aboard the Intrepid, but I figured that the enormous aircraft carrier could get itself stuck under one of the northern bridges. At any rate, it was fun seeing the Intrepid and other boats from the perspective of the Hudson River Park recreational pier next to it. Also worthy of attention were several locals who had stripped down to essentials for sunbathing on the pier, and many Hollywood-worthy sailors in their crisp midi uniforms. Obviously, sightseeing in New York does not only include buildings and monuments.

Hudson River Park, next to the Intrepid
Hudson River Park, next to the Intrepid

At the Intrepid Museum
Trees and aircraft carrier

At the Intrepid Museum
I said it was an aircraft carrier.

The Intrepid Museum serves a the focal point for New York City's Fleet Week events, and the usual ship tours are augmented by performances and special events. The tall ships are a big attraction, being more romantic-looking than our contemporary battleships, so hundreds of people lined up to board the GUAYAS, a 257' tall ship in service to the Ecuadorian Naval Academy. Fleet Week activities conclude May 29, 2012.

At the Intrepid Museum
The tall ship, GUAYAS, from Ecuador, ready for visitations at the Intrepid Museum

Memorial Day in New York is marked by many events, with the largest at the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument on W. 86th and Riverside Drive on Monday morning. Yet, the city is full of monuments to New York at war. Just think of any World War II movie, and there's always that one wisecracking guy from Brooklyn. In an historically large and important city, many New Yorkers have lost their lives in wars, and speaking of Brooklyn, one of the most moving memorials is the Brooklyn War Memorial in Cadman Plaza. On this walk, however, you can visit a memorial dedicated to the local neighborhood "doughboys" who died in World War I. The work by sculptor Burt W. Johnson (1890–1927) and architect Harvey Wiley Corbett (1873-1954) in DeWitt Clinton Park features a doughboy with his rifle on his left shoulder and carrying poppies in his right hand. There are nine such statues in neighborhoods around the city.

WWI memorial, DeWitt Clinton Park
Clinton War Memorial in DeWitt Clinton Park

WWI memorial, DeWitt Clinton Park
Clinton War Memorial in DeWitt Clinton Park

A walk back toward the city center leads to Times Square. For this holiday weekend, the square looked less crowded than usual. I suppose you have to live in the city for a long time to evaluate the crowd size.

Winter Garden, Paramount Plaza
view of the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway, between 50th and 51st Streets

But here, too, from the vantage point of the top of the TKTS booth's red bleachers, you can clearly see another memorial to a New Yorker in war. It's the monument remembering Lieutenant Colonel Francis P. Duffy (1871-1932), a solider, Catholic priest and chaplain of the "Fighting 69th," a regiment made up of New York Irish immigrants. After World War I, Father Duffy became the Rector and then Pastor of nearby Holy Cross Church until his death in 1932. This northern part of Times Square is named Duffy Square.

Duffy Memorial, Times Square
Duffy Square, Times Square, with memorial to Father Duffy

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from May 27, 2012.

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