In light of the COVID pandemic, our routines have been and continue to be radically changed. Much like Alice Through the Looking Glass, my world, as a travel writer, has shrunk to the confines of the Upper West Side of Manhattan…my home for the last 35 years. Rather than heading to the airport to catch an international flight or board a ship to sail the seven seas, I leave home daily(wearing my mask) for a 2-3 mile walk thru my “hometown” to get some urgently needed exercise and frankly just to get out of the apartment! Inadvertently, my daily “mental health” pilgrimage has introduced me to several local hidden gems, that until now either I overlooked or took for granted. All are unique and would warrant a visit next time you find your way to the Big Apple.
In that spirit, I invite you to reciprocate. Share something special or meaningful with us about your hometown, region, state, or country…something you would want us to experience if we were able to visit…maybe a park, a restaurant, a store, or local sights. Just a paragraph or two and several JEPG’s and we’ll post it. Travel is about people, not just places and we would love to hear about something you feel is special about your “hometown”. Here is to awakening the travel writer in YOU!
Not far from where I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, there is a lovely little park at West 106th Street and Broadway with a stylized bronze statue of a Victorian “nymph” overlooking a fountain with well-manicured flower beds. It was dedicated in memoriam to an elderly couple, Ida and Isador Straus. Co-founder of Macy’s and a US congressman, he and his wife perished together on the RMS Titanic in 1912. An inscription reads: “Lovely and pleasant were they in their lives and in their death they were not parted.” The passage refers to Ida’s choice to stay with her longtime, beloved husband, Isador rather than get safely into a lifeboat.
The Strauses lived in a house on Broadway, between west 105th and west 106th Streets, one block south of the location of the memorial. Dedicated in 1913, a year after the disaster, today The Friends of Straus Park fund maintenance and the planting of seasonal flowers each year. It is a calm oasis from city noise and depending upon the season, offers the visitor a variety of colorful blooms…and perhaps a touch of NYC grit with the occasional homeless person.
For me, it puts the historic disaster into a very personal and human perspective. Two people who cared deeply about each other and the loss to their family and community. Makes me think how we all must cope with surviving and the possible loss of friends and loved ones during our current disaster, COVID. Wear a mask, stay separated and we’ll get thru this…. together!
Image credit Luigi Novi / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)