Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Spinster Travelogue

Hello chickens,

As promised, here is a special Spinster Travelogue for your enjoyment. The thing I like best about the idea of a Spinster Travelogue is that back in the Victorian era, women adventurers were not that uncommon. They'd hitch up their skirts and ride hot air balloons around the
world, like Nelly Bly. They even made a board game about it, which you can see if you go to the New-York Historical Society's gift shop. Tres fun.

The theme of my spinsterly wanderings this time round was the Lower East Side, its history and denizens. I visited the LES Tenement Museum and had a splendid time.

I learned about immigrants in the old timey days, and how they lived in cramped, tiny rooms and worked 8 jobs to survive, and had to rough it in a city that was tough on new immigrants.

Plus ca change.

Then I arranged an ad hoc walking tour with my most historical friend, and we used our spidey sense (spinster sense?) to find Five Points, with minimal maply instruction. It looks utterly different today, but gazing southward and squinting, one can sort of imagine what it looked
like in its heyday, bustling with gangsters and other roustabouts.

Continuing southward, we walked past City Hall (which incidentally has lovely gas lamps) and down Broadway, past Trinity Church and its ghostly 17th century gravestones (eerily lit by moonlight). Finally, we stopped at Fraunces Tavern for refreshment but were disappointed to find it boarded up (it was a Saturday night in January, so perhaps that's why – the very thing that makes Lower Manhattan so appealing after dark is the fact that it's so abandoned-feeling, which I guess is bad for business at George Washington's old watering hole). Luckily for us, though, there's a great, if tiny, historic district on Stone Street, and we were able to get some grub and booze there after admiring the cobblestone streets and well-preserved buildings.

The following evening we made our way to the Algonquin Hotel, where we met the cat greeter and sipped fancy, expensive cocktails in the Blue Lounge. I drank a Grapefruit Clarity, in the hopes that it would make me as witty as Miss Parker herself, but it failed to bring any clarity
whatsoever and on top of everything else, I left my umbrella behind.

A final note: we almost saw Prince Charles exiting the Harvard Club, but he failed to materialize even though we were told he was on his way out, and after about ten minutes of waiting we left because, well, it's Prince Charles.

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