April 24, 2012

A Patriotic Staycation: Grant's Tomb, Riverside Park, and Seinfeld's Diner

Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?

Nobody. Just two caskets (Ulysses S Grant and his wife) in the center of a large, domed monument in Manhattan's Riverside Park at 122nd St. Now that that's out of the way, let's revisit our ultra patriotic American staycation:

My friend Melinda is a National Park buff and loves to fill up her park passport book with stamps. The Ulysses S Grant Memorial was on her list so she suggested Savvy and I join her.

I prepped Savvy the day before, telling her that we were going to take the bus to see statues. Savannah has a funny fascination with "datchoos" since I'm always pointing them out to her so this journey was very exciting to her.

In fact, the actual journey itself was exciting thanks to our toddler entertainment act: From the way she carried her purse with fist raised high in the air, squealed "HIII" to the bus driver, to how she intertwines her fingers and folds her hands in her lap on the subway (the "choo choo"); The juggling of all our gear (Savvy in and out of the Ergo, Starbucks coffees and breakfast, purses, Savvy's bag of snacks) was also a bit comical in its challenge -- but I was lucky to have a competent travel partner in Melinda :)

Luckily the 1 Train didn't stop short during this photo opp ;)

After taking the M86 to Broadway, we took the 1 train up to 125th Street and walked west to Riverside Drive. From there it was just a 2 block walk to the monument.

Melinda and Savvy

The back side of the monument houses a series of mosaic benches, "The Rolling Bench", that reminded us of Gaudi's Park Guell in Barcelona:

The front of the mausoleum is a beautiful sight, especially adorned with flags as it was the day of our visit. We had no idea what to expect before our arrival - the size of the monument was shockingly large.

The tomb is open every other hour during the day. During alternate hours, the nearby visitor's center opens. We arrived a little after 9am and had nearly an hour to spare before being able to enter, so we went to a nearby park and playground, ate breakfast, ogled a statue, and pushed Savvy on the swings next to an UWS bilingual cutie. After talking with us, the father remarked "A trip to the Upper West Side side is a vacation for East Siders just like a trip to the East Side is for us." Simple, yet astute observation.

When we made it into the tomb, we were the only people there at first. It was predominantly a wide open space, so Savvy had free reign to explore. It wasn't a museum with valuable items off limits to grubby toddler hands. All of the artifacts were either behind glass or out of her reach. I tried to convince Savvy to touch this guy's nose but to no avail, haha:

We climbed the stairs, counted statues, touched the cold marble walls and marveled at the giant caskets. We had way too much fun in a place that houses human remains...We prrrrrobably didn't do much to honor the dead, but Melinda got her National Park Stamp and one for Savvy, so our mission was accomplished.

Beautiful domed ceiling - Grant's Tomb

Savannah admiring her name.

This trip was Savvy's first true patriotic experience. Melinda sang "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and I recited the "Pledge of Allegiance" for full effect.

Young Savvy. Old flag.
After walking in circles counting statues (see video below) we decided to leave. We hit up a nearby playground where Savvy played in the sand, taught Savvy about columns, and chased a stray black cat.

"Mom, I'm touching the column like you said, but can we stop staring at the sun please???"

Shade. That's better!

By 11:45 we were ready for lunch. I suggested Tom's Restaurant on Broadway and 112th Street to round out our morning history experience. The facade of Tom's is famous from being shown in just about every episode of Seinfeld. It's just an average diner, but I felt more of a patriotic reverence here than at Grant's Tomb. Definitely a place that every Seinfeld fan needs to visit once.

Tom's Restaurant Seinfeld

Interested in visiting Grant's Tomb? Every year on Ulysses S. Grant's birthday, April 27th, there is a special ceremony on the monument's plaza. That's this weekend! Learn more here: http://www.nps.gov/gegr/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=264403-232573

1 comment:

Sarah @ made in usa challenge said...

Thanks for the heads-up on thsi awesome patriotic post, Missa! Looks like your blog is really taking off, that is very exciting. Love everything that you are teaching Savvy and exposing her to; she will undoubtedly be one cultured little lady! Can't wait to read about all of your continued adventures.

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