The gem by the Statue of Liberty

Around 7000 to 8000 people visit Battery Park at the South end of Manhattan every day, to visit the Statue Of Liberty. Only very few come to Bowling Green, just across Broadway. It’s our city’s oldest park, here since 1738.

Back in 1770 city officials decided to erect an iron fence, painted gold, around Bowling Green. And to commission and install a 2-ton statue of the the king of England at the time, George III. That statue lasted only 6 years.

The Declaration Of Independence, the document by which Americans date the beginning of our nation, was signed on July 4, 1776.

Here’s my photo of an earlier version that was voted down on July 2, because it guaranteed freedom to enslaved people. If only.

The July 4 version was brought here by horse courier over five days and nights. It was read aloud at City Hall up on Wall Street. Then a troop of Army men went down to Bowling Green and destroyed the king’s statue. Its takedown was for 2 reasons:

One, the Sons of Liberty hated the king.

Two, the statue was made of lead. Bullets are made of lead, too. That lead was later melted down into 40,088 musketballs for the Revolution.

The British Tour, from Isle Of New York Tours, stops at Bowling Green so that guests can have a moment to actually touch history. Look at this!

Here’s a similar iron fence of the same era as Bowling Green’s. It’s at the Palace of Versailles! I photographed it realizing that the Bowling Green fence must have looked very similar in 1770–1776. The thicker fenceposts are topped with royal crowns. All of this has been gilded, painted gold.

Bowling Green fence was also originally gilded. And it was originally topped with crowns of lead. See how the iron legs holding up the oil lamp are bowed outwards? That was to allow room for the crown that was once there.

On the night of July 9, 1776, all the lead crowns were cut down as well, to add into the musketball supply. Lead is a soft metal, so the revolutionaries were able to saw the crowns off, all 100 of them.

Why should YOU visit Bowling Green? For one thing, it has plenty of seats after you’ve spent 4 hours standing in the ferry, standing at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and standing in the boat again. You need to rest.

For another, you are TOTALLY surrounded with American history. Buildings to the west were major ocean liner companies before jetliners replaced them. The building on the east was the oil company that supplied all those ocean liners. The building to the South is the old Customs House named for Alexander Hamilton, and the National Museum of the American Indian is inside.

The fenceposts surrounding the park are available for you to actually feel marks of the saws that worked to take off those crowns back on July 9, 1776!

We Will Keep Teaching About 9/11

In 2001, September 11 was considered the great tragedy of the modern world. And so it remained right up until 2020.
The 9/11 story has to remain a part of our curriculum, although it pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of deaths in the US, and the millions worldwide, this year.


There’s a significant difference. The deaths of Covid destroyed families and ways of life, but not physical things.  September 11 destroyed the neighbourhood around the twin towers. It engendered the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. The upscaling of the US military. Years of anti-Iraq propaganda which led to general anti-Muslim hysteria and bigotry.

American kids assume that the hero worship and veneration of the military that they’ve grown up with are normal. They actually are outgrowths of the buildup of popular military support in the run-up to a war that went on for years.

Towns and cities nationwide have had generations of statues and memorials for military heroes. It was not until 2020 that the heroism of healthcare workers has been recognized and applauded to at least the same degree. It’s time they, as well, are venerated with statues.

Just a few blocks away from the National September 11 Memorial is Fraunces Tavern. It was there that General Washington held a farewell dinner after the Revolution as the military was disbanded. America therefore has gone from a nation that got rid of its military after war, to one that keeps a strong military.

Kids need to have this historical context to make sense of their lives up until this point. And to go forward, soon taking their places as adults in United States culture, and changing the culture by voting at each election.

So yes, New York City tourguides will keep bringing middle- and high-school students to the memorial, and giving them all this necessary background.