A perfect place to watch the sunset over the Hudson River is from the tip of Manhattan, sitting on a stone bench on the Battery Park Esplanade (pictured above), a pretty, green, and leafy promenade which stretches for more than a mile along the riverside. It was built with granite extracted from the same Connecticut quarry used to build the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1886 – part of a multi-million-dollar overhaul of Battery Park.
Here you can also stroll through the lovely Gardens of Remembrance, 75,000 sq ft of gardens with hundreds of varieties of plants blooming all year long, a tribute in part to victims of 9/11, designed by world-renowned Dutch horticulturalist Piet Oudolf. It’s also a nod to the origins of the park: Dutch settlers in the 1600s built a low stone wall here with cannons and a battery to protect New Amsterdam from invaders.
Monuments and memorials
Battery Park pays tribute to many victims of war and suffering: a small memorial stands here for the wireless operators of the Titanic; victims of World War II and the Korean War are honored, as are merchant mariners lost at sea. Most poignantly, perhaps, an eternal flame burns next to The Sphere – Fritz Koenig’s huge bronze sculpture had stood for more than 30 years in the World Trade Center Plaza, and withstood the tons of metal and concrete crashing down on top of it.
In 2002, the battered globe was moved here and retitled An Icon of Hope, at the foot of a bed of roses called Hope Garden, and it is a fine spot for contemplation.
Just past the north end of the park is the Irish Hunger Memorial, a public artwork representing the Irish countryside with a stone cottage made from rocks from counties across Ireland – a tribute to victims of the potato famine there in the 19th century, and to all those who suffer from hunger today.
Staten Island Ferry
To get a great view of the Statue of Liberty from the water, avoid the long line-ups for the tourist ferries in Battery Park, and join New York commuters further south on the Staten Island ferry. The 25-minute cruise to Staten Island not only offers great views of the Statue of Liberty, the New York Harbor, and the city skyline, but it is also free, making it the best bargain in town (try to catch one of the old orange boats if you can as these have open decks).