nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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A fitting tribute

Roosevelt Island lies between the east side of Manhattan and Queens. It is a long strip of land only accessible from Manhattan by tramway, a bright red cable car that takes you from 59th Street and 2nd Avenue across the East River, alongside Ed Koch bridge and deposits you safely on to Roosevelt Island. We’ve been curious about Roosevelt Island since we arrived here as we can see it from our apartment and can just about see the cable cars making their way high up in the sky. So on a glorious sunny day, with blue skies and my new sunglasses (looking good) we ventured to the island.

The island was originally called Welfare Island but renamed in the 1960s as a tribute to FDR who was Governor of New York from 1929 until he was elected President in 1932. This is not your typical tourist destination and it’s unlikely you’ll find it in the top ten of things to do in New York, but it does now host the newly opened Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park. FDR died in 1945 but this memorial didn’t open until October 2012 after a decades long history of failure to develop the land and get the financing in place. However now it is open and it is glorious. It’s a beautiful simple grey stone development at the southern end of the island. When you reach the edge of the site you stare down the East River, with the Manhattan skyline on your right, the United Nations building standing proud and the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building peeking through the crowded parts of midtown Manhattan. It is a simple and fitting memorial to a great man and over time will become more well known and popular. It is free to visit and with a ride on the tramway there’s a real incentive to go there and get a different view of  New York.


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I’ve been Elmo-ed

Sesame Street wasn’t that big a part of my childhood. I saw the Muppet Show in the 70s and can remember Debbie Harry featuring in one show and it being a huge thing. Here in the US, Sesame Street is still huge, even though it has been around since 1969. I read somewhere that 95 per cent of all preschoolers in the US had seen Sesame Street by the time they were three. Sesame Street characters appear on boxes of biscuits aimed at toddlers, I don’t know who they are so I have to read the small print as it’s assumed you already know. I took a look at a box of cards that someone had in a local play space which featured Sesame Street. They are big on the alphabet but I recoiled at the American spellings and rather insensitively gave them back with a ‘but I want J to learn to spell the British way’. Not a good way to make friends. Anyway, the reason for all this Sesame Street talk is because today I was accosted by Elmo. We did a real tourist thing and walked through Times Square, which was bitterly cold but didn’t stop us gawping at the bright lights and neon advertising. Passing a major toy store, there were a lot of people dressed up as cartoon characters, which is a massive magnet for any toddler. Next thing I know I have Elmo on one side (he’s bright red and very furry) and Minnie Mouse on the other, both of whom have their arms around my waist and are encouraging R to take a picture of me, J and E. E bursts into tears at this point, overwhelmed by the proximity of these characters and I can’t escape. A swift exit via a few bucks and we are let go. I had no idea Elmo was so mercenary!