Words + photos by Jady Ojiri
It has been a dream of mine to travel to the grand city of New York ever since I was a little girl. I would watch movies like, “Sleepless in Seattle,” and, “You’ve Got Mail,” and I would be so fascinated by the bright lights, the hustle and bustle, and the way the city seemed to be alive. Being able to travel to the Big Apple was an absolute dream, and as cliché as it sounds, it was everything I had imagined it to be and more.
The first stop was, of course, the Empire State Building. Coming from the small island of O’ahu, where there’s not a skyscraper in sight, this massive structure was definitely a lot to take in. At the eighty-third floor, it seemed as if I could see for miles on end and all of a sudden the city looked so much smaller, yet larger all at once. If the view could speak, I’m pretty sure it would’ve told me that New York was just as pretty as it was in the movies and that I would have a boat load of walking to do for the remainder of the trip.
That takes us to our next stop: Ground Zero. This, by far, had to be the most awe inspiring moment of the trip for me. The feeling I got as I walked around the perimeter of the site and read each name of the victims from that unforgotten day laid very heavily on my heart. Even today, fifteen years later, I saw people embracing each other as they cried for the 9/11 victims and others simply stood in silence as they remembered that frightful day.
I was only two at the time of the attacks, but as I made my way through the 9/11 memorial museum, the reality sunk in. There were several artifacts that were preserved from the original site, including a New York fire truck that had been crushed during the uproar of the attacks. The sheer damage to the fire truck was more than enough to make me stop and think about how afraid those people were, and how much bravery it took to go straight into imminent danger like those firefighters had. It was one of those rare moments where I actually put my phone down to really soak in the moment. I’m definitely glad I did.
From there, my dad and I ventured to the Statue of Liberty on the New York Harbor. It was a bit overcast and the seagulls on Liberty Island got a little too close for comfort – by this, I mean you should protect your food from these suckers if you make a visit here – but Lady Liberty was absolutely stunning. To be able to see all of the intricate detail of the statue and her monumental size was completely surreal.
Then, we made a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum, also known as two of some of the coolest art museums to have ever existed. The MET was tremendously large and if I had the chance, I would probably take a stroll through the exhibits every week. Every room connected to the next and I was transported between every form of art imaginable, and for an art lover like myself, it was a bit overwhelming.
The Guggenheim, on the other hand, had an unique, spiral architectural style that allowed each floor of the museum to seamlessly transition to the next. At the time of my visit, the Guggenheim was showcasing the work of the talented artist Agnes Martin. From the top of the building, I walked down the spiral walkway as I admired Martin’s clean lines, geometric patterns, and the simplicity of her style.
The final stop of my trip was my visit to the New York University grounds and Washington Square Park. It was the University’s open house, so it was basically a huge congregation of students like myself who were interested in touring the campus. There was an array of all sorts of food, live jazz music being played in Washington Square, and so many people conversing and moving around.
From Times Square to Central Park, I tried to pack in as much of it as possible into my visit to the lovely city of New York. I’m not sure if it was on the subway or the top of the Empire State Building, but I definitely left my heart there in the middle of it all. Maybe one day I will find my way back to it, but until then, these photos on my phone will have to suffice.