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Three Tours of Sydney

Open-top bus tours of Sydney and Bondi Beach plus a cruise of the Harbour

all seasons in one day 24 °C
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With only a limited amount of time in Sydney (and having got the Blue Mountains out of the way), I signed up for 2 days of touring Sydney and Bondi Beach by bus followed by a cruise of Sydney Harbour. Unfortunately for the open-top bus tour of Sydney it was raining, not only making the top deck seats wet but also weighing down the branches of the trees causing them to sweep the top of the bus! Sometimes when it rained we braved the weather, sometimes we dived downstairs for cover.

Open-top double-decker bus tour of Sydney - in the rain!

Open-top double-decker bus tour of Sydney - in the rain!

The tour started from the currently being restored Sydney Town Hall just across the road from the very ornate Queen Victoria Building, built in 1898 and full of speciality shops. The first place of note awe passed as we got underway was Scruffy Murphys, an Irish Bar on the edge of Chinatown. When I returned later in the evening it turned out to be a very friendly but basic rough local with good Guinness and lots of impromptu Irish singing and dancing!

Sydney Town Hall being restored

Sydney Town Hall being restored


Inside the Queen Victoria Building on George Street

Inside the Queen Victoria Building on George Street


Scruffy Murphys - the most famous Irish Bar in Sydney

Scruffy Murphys - the most famous Irish Bar in Sydney

Hyde Park (named after the famous park of the same name in London) is the oldest public parkland in Australia and marks the eastern boundary of Sydney's Central Business District (CBD). The focal point of the park is the Archibald Fountain overlooking the Roman Catholic St Marys Cathedral. The spine of the park is a pretty impressive looking avenue of fig trees.

The Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park in Sydney

The Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park in Sydney


St Marys RC Cathedral with the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park in the foreground

St Marys RC Cathedral with the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park in the foreground


St Marys RC Cathedral (note the fleet of vintage Rolls-Royce cars outside awaiting a wedding party!)

St Marys RC Cathedral (note the fleet of vintage Rolls-Royce cars outside awaiting a wedding party!)


The fig tree lined avenue through the centre of Hyde Park in Sydney

The fig tree lined avenue through the centre of Hyde Park in Sydney

On the south side of Hyde Park is the ANZAC War Memorial and Lake of Reflections. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landed on Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915 during World War I and the day has been remembered as ANZAC Day in both countries ever since. Nearby there is a statue of Captain Cook to commemorate his discovery of the east coast of Australia in 1770 and there are also very good views of the 1,014 foot (309 metre) high Sydney Tower Eye amongst the city's skyline.

The ANZAC Memorial and Lake of Reflections in Hyde Park

The ANZAC Memorial and Lake of Reflections in Hyde Park


Inside the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park

Inside the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park


Captain Cook's Statue in Hyde Park with the Sydney Tower Eye  amongst the skyline in the background

Captain Cook's Statue in Hyde Park with the Sydney Tower Eye amongst the skyline in the background

Heading east out of the CBD we passed through Kings Cross, Sydney's red light district. It was originally named Queens Cross in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 but nearly everyone got it confused with Queens Square on Kings Street so it got renamed. Dominating the area is the iconic 42 feet (13 metre) high Coca Cola Billboard sign originally erected in 1974, it's apparently the largest billboard sign in the Southern Hemisphere but isn't heritage-listed as most people assume. Kings Cross itself surprised me with how narrow its tree lined streets were although as expected nearly every second building seemed to be a strip-club or bar touting for business!

The Coca Cola Sign at Kings Cross, the largest billboard in the Southern Hemisphere

The Coca Cola Sign at Kings Cross, the largest billboard in the Southern Hemisphere


Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross - Sydney's Red Light District

Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross - Sydney's Red Light District

Continuing north towards the Harbour, we passed the main east coast base of the Royal Australian Navy on the east side of Woolloomooloo Bay and also past a peculiar piece of street art of a car crushed by a large rock in the middle of the roundabout. We then caught our first sight of the two big Sydney iconic landmarks of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge although I was to get a much better view of both of these while on the Harbour Cruise the following afternoon.

HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Sydney moored up at the Naval Base on Woolloomooloo Bay

HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Sydney moored up at the Naval Base on Woolloomooloo Bay


Street art in Sydney

Street art in Sydney


The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

Close by where the Hyde Park Barracks, built with convict labour in 1819 and now a world heritage site. Between 1819 and 1850 over 50,000 convicts passed through these barracks on their arrival in Australia, including potentially one of my ancestors (I found 2 convicts sharing my surname amongst the database of former inmates!). I also found the gallery on the Irish orphan women particularly interesting because of it potential relevance to my own family history. In the walls of the barracks was the An Gorta Mar, Australia's national memorial to the Irish Famine of 1845 to 1852.

Sydney's Hyde Park Barracks where 50,000 convicts were landed between 1819 and 1850

Sydney's Hyde Park Barracks where 50,000 convicts were landed between 1819 and 1850


Convict uniform on display in Sydney's Hyde Park Barracks

Convict uniform on display in Sydney's Hyde Park Barracks


Convict hammocks at the Hyde Park Barracks

Convict hammocks at the Hyde Park Barracks


The Court Room at the Hyde Park Barracks

The Court Room at the Hyde Park Barracks


An Gorta Mor - Australia's National Memorial to the Irish Famine

An Gorta Mor - Australia's National Memorial to the Irish Famine

Moving back towards the city centre is the Circular Quay, Built by convict labour in the 1850s this was the original main port for Sydney. Today it is mega busy with tourists boarding ferries going to all the different parts of the harbour as well as being where the big cruise ships (such as the "Carnival Spirit" that arrived while I was there) moor up when they are in town.

The Circular Quay from the Sydney Opera House

The Circular Quay from the Sydney Opera House


The view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Circular Quay

The view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Circular Quay


Aboriginal Cultural Performers on the Circular Quay

Aboriginal Cultural Performers on the Circular Quay

By the following morning the weather had returned to normal for Sydney without a cloud in the sky so I was able to take the open-top bus tour to Bondi Beach, 4 miles (7 kilometres) to the east of the city and one of the most famous beaches in the world. After enjoying a stroll along the beach for a couple of hours I caught the bus back to Sydney, catching fleeting glimpses of the city views that are the reason why this area has some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

My first view of Bondi Beach

My first view of Bondi Beach

The Lifeguard Lookout and Pavilion on Bondi Beach

The Lifeguard Lookout and Pavilion on Bondi Beach


Me by the Lifeguard Lookout on Bondi Beach

Me by the Lifeguard Lookout on Bondi Beach

Lifeguards on duty on Bondi Beach

Lifeguards on duty on Bondi Beach


Millionaires Row view of Sydney on the way back from Bondi

Millionaires Row view of Sydney on the way back from Bondi

Once back in Sydney I boarded a catermaran in the Circular Quay to do the Sydney Harbour Cruise. The first stop was Fort Denison, a martello fort about kilometre offshore built in the mid 19th century to protect Sydney. From there we sailed onwards towards the ocean past the net-protected Sharks Beach in Vaucluse before reaching the affluent suburb of Watsons Bay.

Sydney's Circular Quay

Sydney's Circular Quay


Fort Denison in the middle of Sydney Harbour

Fort Denison in the middle of Sydney Harbour


Shark Beach protected by nets

Shark Beach protected by nets


Watson Bay

Watson Bay

Watsons Bay was the furthest we travelled east towards the open ocean before we turned around. The views of Sydney, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as we made our way back were stunning.

Looking beyond Watson Bay towards the Ocean

Looking beyond Watson Bay towards the Ocean


Looking towards Sydney on the way back from Watson Bay

Looking towards Sydney on the way back from Watson Bay


The replica of HMS Endeavour beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The replica of HMS Endeavour beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge


Me sailing past the Sydney Opera House

Me sailing past the Sydney Opera House


The 'Carnival Spirit' Cruise Ship berthed at the Circular Quay next to the Sydney Opera House

The 'Carnival Spirit' Cruise Ship berthed at the Circular Quay next to the Sydney Opera House

After brief stops at Taronga Zoo and the Circular Quay we passed under the Harbour Bridge and turned into Darling Harbour opened in 1988. The National Maritime Museum with its impressive fleet of historical ships (including a replica of Captain Cook's HMS Endeavour) occupies the west side of the harbour while the Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussaud's and more tourist boat jetties occupies the east side. Sydney also has a monorail which runs across Pyrmont Bridge at the bottom of Darling Harbour but this was due to close in June 2013 so I was probably one of the last to ride on it.

Replica of Captain Cook's HMS Endevour in Darling Harbour

Replica of Captain Cook's HMS Endevour in Darling Harbour


Darling Harbour and the fleet of historical ships of the National Maritime Museum from the Pyrmont Bridge

Darling Harbour and the fleet of historical ships of the National Maritime Museum from the Pyrmont Bridge

The Sydney Monorail coming into its Darling Harbour Station on Pyrmont Bridge

The Sydney Monorail coming into its Darling Harbour Station on Pyrmont Bridge


Pyrmont Bridge crossing Darling Harbour

Pyrmont Bridge crossing Darling Harbour

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Australia Tagged beaches bridges churches buildings trains sydney museums beer boat forts cruise_ships harbours city tour videos prisons monorail aborigine solo irish_famine warships war_memorials opera_houses Comments (0)

Lower Manhattan

A ferry ride to visit New York's Business and Financial District

sunny 27 °C
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It's the last Sunday of my around the world trip and time for the last big item on my bucket list - Lower Manhattan. I had already explored Mid Manhattan and the Empire State Building the week before and it was now time to explore New York's business and financial district at the southern most tip of the island. To get there we boarded one of the famous free orange coloured ferries from Staten Island, initially passing to seaward the double decked Verrazano-Narrows Suspension Bridge that links Brooklyn and Staten Island.

The Staten Island Ferry arriving to take us over to New York

The Staten Island Ferry arriving to take us over to New York


View of New York as we are about to leave Staten Island

View of New York as we are about to leave Staten Island


The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island

We then excitingly on the portside of the ferry got a close up view of the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island and Ellis Island where millions of immigrants to the US landed between 1892 and 1934. I would loved to have landed and visited them but unfortunately they were both still being repaired from damage they sustained during Hurricane Sandy on the 28th October 2012.

The Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry

The Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry


Ellis Island from the Staten Island Ferry

Ellis Island from the Staten Island Ferry

After a voyage of about 25 minutes across one of the largest natural harbours in the world we passed Castle Williams constructed between 1807-1811 on Governors Island on the starboard side before arriving at the Ferry Terminal on the southern most tip of Manhattan.

Castle Williams on Governor's Island from the Staten Island Ferry

Castle Williams on Governor's Island from the Staten Island Ferry


Our ferry closes in on Lower Manhattan

Our ferry closes in on Lower Manhattan


The Staten Island Ferry Terminal at the southern tip of Manhattan near Battery Park

The Staten Island Ferry Terminal at the southern tip of Manhattan near Battery Park

From the Ferry Terminal we made our way up to the Financial District a short distance away where the bronze Wall Street Bull was surrounded by tourists queuing up determined to have their picture taken holding its horns - most frustrating when you are trying to getting a clean picture and eventually I had to give up.

Tourists crowd around the Wall Street Bull

Tourists crowd around the Wall Street Bull

We then made our way up Lower Broadway, the famous "Canyon of Heroes" down which the famous ticker tape parades are held. They use to happen quite often (for instance for visiting heads of state) but are now quite rare and only held to celebrate great sporting occasions such as the NY Yankees winning Baseball's World Series or the NY Giants winning American Football's Super Bowl. They also now use shredded paper rather than outdated ticker tape!

Lower Broadway in the Financial District down which ticker tape parades are held

Lower Broadway in the Financial District down which ticker tape parades are held


Pavement plaque celebrating the ticker tape parade held on 5th March 1953 to honour the 50th anniversary of powered flight

Pavement plaque celebrating the ticker tape parade held on 5th March 1953 to honour the 50th anniversary of powered flight


Pavement plaque celebrating the ticker tape parade held on 21st October 1957 to honour a state visit by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh

Pavement plaque celebrating the ticker tape parade held on 21st October 1957 to honour a state visit by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh

Continuing up Lower Broadway we passed the back entrance to the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street, the largest stock exchange in the world. The main façade with its 6 corinthian columns was actually around the corner in Broad Street. Being a Sunday New York's Financial District was quite quiet. A bit further along we walked past St Paul's Chapel with One World Trade Center emerging behind it. Built in 1766, St Paul's is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan.

The back entrance to the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street

The back entrance to the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street


One World Trade Center under construction behind St Pauls Chapel on Lower Broadway

One World Trade Center under construction behind St Pauls Chapel on Lower Broadway

We had timed tickets for the National September 11 Memorial and as we were slightly early we managed to also visit the nearby Irish Hunger Memorial opened on 2002. During my trip I've also seen other memorials to the million people who died during the Irish Famine between 1845 and 1852 but the one in New York with its landscaped plot (using specially imported Irish soil, vegetation and stones) incorporating an authentic rebuilt 19th century Irish cottage (from Carradoogan in the parish of Attymass in County Mayo) is my favourite.

The Irish Hunger Memorial near North Cape, Battery Park

The Irish Hunger Memorial near North Cape, Battery Park


Close up of the cottage ruins at the centre of the Irish Hunger Memorial

Close up of the cottage ruins at the centre of the Irish Hunger Memorial


The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from North Cove, Battery Park

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from North Cove, Battery Park

The National September 11 Memorial itself is surrounded by building sites, the most advanced of which is the One World Trade Center. Its top floor is the same height as the North Tower destroyed by the terrorist attack on September 11th 2001 with its spire above making it's official height 1,776 feet, symbolic of the 1776 US Declaration of Independence.

One World Trade Center and other construction work underway around the National September 11 Memorial

One World Trade Center and other construction work underway around the National September 11 Memorial

Despite the queues, with our timed tickets we got through the airport style security to the memorial in less than 10 minutes (when all the rebuilding is complete there will be open access to the memorial from all sides). The memorial itself consists of two 30 feet deep square pools on the footprint of the twin towers with waterfalls cascading down their sides and feels a very fitting and surreal tribute to those who died.

Looking north across the South Pool of the National September 11 Memorial

Looking north across the South Pool of the National September 11 Memorial


Looking north across the North Pool of the National September 11 Memorial

Looking north across the North Pool of the National September 11 Memorial

The names of the 2,983 people who died in the 9/11 and 1993 attacks are inscribed on the bronze parapets around the perimeter of the two ponds with their names carefully arranged to be adjacent to people they knew and worked with. The day we went was also New York's 56th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade so in addition to lots of brightly dressed Puerto Ricans on the subway trains there were small Puerto Rican flags placed by the names of the 21 Puerto Rican victims.

Looking back across the National September 11 Memorial from its north west corner

Looking back across the National September 11 Memorial from its north west corner


Me stood by the South Pool

Me stood by the South Pool

All but one of the trees surrounding the ponds are swamp white oaks; the exception is a Callery pear tree known as the Survivor Tree, which was the only tree to survive from the original plaza. It was reduced to an 8 foot tall stump by the attack and has been carefully nursed back to health and is anchored to the ground to help it re-root.

The Survivor Tree at the National September 11 Memorial

The Survivor Tree at the National September 11 Memorial

We then stopped for a quick lunch at the Village Pizza on 8th Avenue in Greenwich Village; I'm not normally a pizza fanatic but the slice of thin crust pizza we got from this traditional small (i.e. two table) hole-in-the-wall restaurant/take-away was the most delicious I've ever tasted. I now know why so many people crave about New York pizza!

Suitably fed we walked a couple of blocks to the 14th Street entrance to the High Line, an abandoned elevated freight railway line originally built in 1934 to avoid the frequent accidents that occurred when the railroad ran at ground level and last used (for a train load of frozen turkeys!) in 1980. In 1999 a local residents group began campaigning for it to be "repurposed" into a 1.45 mile (2.33 kilometre) long public park 30 feet above the streets.

The 14th Street Stairs up to the High Line

The 14th Street Stairs up to the High Line


The High Line's urban theatre at 10th Avenue Square

The High Line's urban theatre at 10th Avenue Square


The High Line's Chelsea Grasslands above 18th Street

The High Line's Chelsea Grasslands above 18th Street

What an inspired idea! The first section of the park was opened in 2009 with the second section opened 2011 and has proved incredibly popular with New Yorkers. All along its length beside the path there are wildflowers, seating and specially commissioned art work. A third of the original rail tracks have been retained amongst the plants enhancing the park's unique urban character.

Old rail tracks amongst the wildflowers on the High Line

Old rail tracks amongst the wildflowers on the High Line


A piece of modern art from the 'Busted' collection on the High Line

A piece of modern art from the 'Busted' collection on the High Line


'Sailor kissing a Nurse' street art next to the High Line

'Sailor kissing a Nurse' street art next to the High Line

In addition to the views of the city skyline I was fascinated to see the elevated parking next to the High Line near West 18th Street where cars are positioned by a lift, it reminded me of the Multi Storey Boat Park I saw in Auckland. The final section of the High Line extending it from West 30th to West 34th Street is due to open in 2014.

The Empire State Building from the High Line

The Empire State Building from the High Line


The Elevated Parking next to the High Line near 18th Street

The Elevated Parking next to the High Line near 18th Street


The High Line's 23rd Street Lawn

The High Line's 23rd Street Lawn


The extension to the High Line at 30th Street under construction

The extension to the High Line at 30th Street under construction

From the High Line we made our way up West 23rd Street to Madison Square Park see the famous Flatiron Building. Built in 1902, the Flatiron Building was New York's first iron-frame high-rise and the world's tallest building until 1909.

The Flatiron Building by Madison Square Park

The Flatiron Building by Madison Square Park


Looking up 5th Avenue toward the Empire State Building from Madison Square Park

Looking up 5th Avenue toward the Empire State Building from Madison Square Park

Nearby we went to see the birthplace of Theodore ("Teddy") Roosevelt, the 26th US President (1901-1909). The original building was built in 1848, demolished in 1916 and then the lot was purchased and the house rebuilt in 1919 to recreate how it looked in 1865 when "Teddy" was just 7 years old; only in America!

Theodore Roosevelt's birthplace on East 20th Street

Theodore Roosevelt's birthplace on East 20th Street

It was then time to make our way back to catch the ferry back to Staten Island, with a minor detour to the Brooklyn Bridge after our subway train terminated early! The Brooklyn Bridge when it was completed in 1883 was the longest suspension bridge in the world and first one built using steel wire. It's one of the signature landmarks of city and walking across its pedestrian walkway above the automobile lanes is one of the "must do's" in New York.

The New York approach to the Brooklyn Bridge

The New York approach to the Brooklyn Bridge


The Brooklyn Bridge from the Staten Island Ferry as it leaves Lower Manhattan

The Brooklyn Bridge from the Staten Island Ferry as it leaves Lower Manhattan

We then re-boarded the New York Subway for a handful of stops and boarded the ferry back to Staten Island, buying the obligatory "I ♥ New York" T-Shirt from a street vendor on the way. Back in our car on the freeway on the other side we passed Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser Brewery which is such prominent landmark just outside Newark International Airport. I've seen it - but you wouldn't catch me drinking it!

My last view of New York from the Staten Island Ferry

My last view of New York from the Staten Island Ferry


Staten Island Ferries berthed up ready for the Monday morning rush hour

Staten Island Ferries berthed up ready for the Monday morning rush hour


The Budweiser Brewery next to Newark Airport

The Budweiser Brewery next to Newark Airport

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged buildings boats food new_york harbours city ferry videos breweries irish_famine us_presidents us_east_coast Comments (0)

Last stop in Philly

The last couple of days of my trip around the world

rain 28 °C
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My final full day on my trip around the world had arrived :(. It was tempting to have a day of rest but instead I decided to get the train to Philadelphia to finally visit the US Mint. It was my third attempt (!) as it had been closed last time I had been in town and I had been unable to book a tour of the mint's facility in Denver.

The US Mint in Philadelphia was established in 1792 and describes itself as "the largest coin factory in the world". Inside there was a small museum on the mezzanine before a self-guided tour above the vast shop floor where I saw machines blank, anneal and strike strips of copper and nickel turning them into coins. Unfortunately as with the Federal Bureau of Printing and Engraving I saw in Washington (who are responsible for printing US bank notes) photography was not allowed inside the Mint itself for security reasons.

The United States Mint in Philadelphia

The United States Mint in Philadelphia

My next stop was the National Constitution Center, a state-of-the-art museum devoted to the US Constitution and about the only place left I hadn't visited in Independence Park in downtown Philadelphia after my previous two visits. The tour started with a 17 minute multi-media theatre-in-the-round show called "Freedom Rising" before moving on to a ring of interactive exhibits explaining different facets of it and its history. Unfortunately photography was again forbidden apart from for the final exhibit called Signers' Hall which contained 42 bronze statues of the original signatories of the Constitution - the seated statue of Benjamin Franklin stole the show!

The National Constitution Center in Independence Park Philadelphia

The National Constitution Center in Independence Park Philadelphia


The Signers' Hall inside the National Constitution Center

The Signers' Hall inside the National Constitution Center


Benjamin Franklin's statue in Signers' Hall

Benjamin Franklin's statue in Signers' Hall


George Washington's statue standing behind the table in the Signers' Hall

George Washington's statue standing behind the table in the Signers' Hall

It was now time to brave the rather wet weather and make my way down to Penn's Landing on the River Delaware waterfront which is where Philadelphia's founder William Penn originally docked in 1682. Today it's a pretty bland area of concrete and car parks cut off from the city by the I-95 Freeway but it did include Philadelphia's Irish Memorial, a 30 foot long bronze opened to the public in 2003 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Irish Famine. The Scottish Immigrant Memorial was unveiled close by in 2011.

A rainy day at the Penn's Landing Viaduct

A rainy day at the Penn's Landing Viaduct


The Irish Famine Memorial at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia

The Irish Famine Memorial at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia


The Scottish Memorial at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia

The Scottish Memorial at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia


The Christopher Columbus Memorial at Penn's Landing

The Christopher Columbus Memorial at Penn's Landing

However what I really wanted to see at Penn's Landing was the historic ships at the Independence Seaport Museum. First up was the USS Becuna, an American World War II Balao-class submarine original built in 1944. She did 5 combat patrols before the end of the war during which she sank 2 Japanese tankers before being serving in the Atlantic during the Cold War and eventually being decommissioned in 1969.

The USS Becuna at the Independence Seaport Museum

The USS Becuna at the Independence Seaport Museum


The Forward Torpedo Room aboard the USS Becuna

The Forward Torpedo Room aboard the USS Becuna


The Ward Room aboard the USS Becuna

The Ward Room aboard the USS Becuna

In total there were 122 Balao-class submarines built, the largest class of submarines ever built for the US Navy. The USS Becuna is one of 8 Balao-class submarines distributed around the USA as museum ships and the third submarine I had been aboard during my trip; the others were the HMAS Ovens in Freemantle, Western Australia and the Soviet b-427 'Scorpion' in Long Beach, California, both of which were of Cold War vintage.

The Control Room aboard USS Becuna

The Control Room aboard USS Becuna


The Crew's Mess aboard the USS Becuna

The Crew's Mess aboard the USS Becuna


The Crew's Quarters aboard the USS Becuna

The Crew's Quarters aboard the USS Becuna


The Engine Room aboard the USS Becuna

The Engine Room aboard the USS Becuna

However pride of place at the Independence Seaport Museum goes to the USS Olympia which I could see across the River Delaware when I visited the USS New Jersey in Camden a fortnight before. Built in San Francisco and launched in 1892, the USS Olympia was famously Commodore George Dewey's flagship at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish American War of 1892 and is the oldest steel US warship still afloat.

The USS Becuna and USS Olympia at the Independence Seaport Museum

The USS Becuna and USS Olympia at the Independence Seaport Museum


The forward deck and 8 inch gun turret of the USS Olympia

The forward deck and 8 inch gun turret of the USS Olympia


The view of the USS New Jersey from the bridge of the USS Olympia

The view of the USS New Jersey from the bridge of the USS Olympia

The USS Olympia is painted in the US Navy's catchy pre-dreadnought peacetime colour scheme of a white hull with ochre superstructure. As a result of their colour scheme the US fleet of the time was often referred to as the 'Great White Fleet'; during wartime US warships were re-painted medium sea grey. The late 19th century was a time of rapid evolution in warship design and the small wooden wheelhouse with the majority of the guns being in casements below deck rather than rotating turrets above deck feels very antiquated when compared with only slightly later warships.

Inside the USS Olympia's Wheelhouse

Inside the USS Olympia's Wheelhouse


The USS Olympia's ship's bell

The USS Olympia's ship's bell


5 inch gun mounted in a casemate below deck

5 inch gun mounted in a casemate below deck


6-pounder (57 mm (2.24 in)) anti-torpedo-boat gun in a casement below deck

6-pounder (57 mm (2.24 in)) anti-torpedo-boat gun in a casement below deck

Below deck the USS Olympia was equally dated with the rear of the ship consisting of a wooden panelled central salon surrounded by 16 staterooms and ward room collectively known as 'Officer's Country'. Rank and file crew members slept in hammocks slung up amongst the working areas at the front of the ship with the big copper cooking pots used for cooking in the galley echoing a bygone age.

The Officer's Berth Deck - known as 'Officer's Country' - aboard the USS Olympia

The Officer's Berth Deck - known as 'Officer's Country' - aboard the USS Olympia


The Ward Room aboard the USS Olympia

The Ward Room aboard the USS Olympia


Crew hammocks below deck

Crew hammocks below deck


The galley aboard the USS Olympia where they did all the cooking

The galley aboard the USS Olympia where they did all the cooking

Docked in front of the USS Olympia is the Moshulu, a four-masted steel barque built on the River Clyde in Scotland in 1904. It's not part of the Independence Seaport Museum and is currently used as a floating restaurant.

The Moshulu moored up at Penn's Landing in front of the USS Olympia

The Moshulu moored up at Penn's Landing in front of the USS Olympia

Close by is Welcome Park, a concrete plaza opened in 1982 on the 300th anniversary of the founding of Pennsylvania by William Penn. The park sits on the site of William Penn's house between 1699-1701 and is named after the ship that brought him to America. In the centre of the plaza is a bronze scale model of his statue on top of Philadelphia's impressive Town Hall.

William Penn's Statue in Philadelphia's Welcome Park

William Penn's Statue in Philadelphia's Welcome Park


Close up of William Penn's Statue in Welcome Park

Close up of William Penn's Statue in Welcome Park

It was now time to catch the train back from Philadelphia's 30th Street Station. However this time instead of waiting in the impressive central waiting room used for AMTRAK trains (such as the one I caught to Washington the week before) I was catching the local SEPTA train to Trenton.

The waiting room at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station

The waiting room at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station


The 'Angel of the Resurrection' statue on the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station

The 'Angel of the Resurrection' statue on the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station


SEPTA Train in Philadelphia's 30th Street Station

SEPTA Train in Philadelphia's 30th Street Station

Back in Trenton we had time for one last excursion to Princeton to look around its famous university. Princeton University was founded in 1746 and is one of the eight members of the renowned 'Ivy League' along with Harvard and Yale. Although not as old, strolling amongst the old buildings on the campus reminded me of walking around the colleges of Oxford University back home. The centrepiece and oldest building on the campus is Nassau Hall built in 1756 which was briefly used by the US Congress and therefore served as the country's capitol for 4 months in 1783. Further buildings such as Chancellor Green and East Pyne Hall were added from the early 1800s.

Nassau Hall, the oldest building at Princeton University (built 1756)

Nassau Hall, the oldest building at Princeton University (built 1756)


The Chancellor Green Rotunda and East Pyne Hall at Princeton University

The Chancellor Green Rotunda and East Pyne Hall at Princeton University


The central court of East Pyne Hall at Princeton University

The central court of East Pyne Hall at Princeton University


The Whig and Clio Halls along Chapel Drive at Princeton University

The Whig and Clio Halls along Chapel Drive at Princeton University

The following day we visited Princeton again on the way to the airport for my final flight home hoping to get some more photographs but the campus was closed off because of a bomb scare!

My last view of New York from Newark International Airport before my flight back to London

My last view of New York from Newark International Airport before my flight back to London

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged trains museums philadelphia submarines universities solo irish_famine warships mints us_east_coast constitutions external_links Comments (0)

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