Standing on the prow of the Zephyr - a cruise ship ferrying us down the East River past Ellis Island toward that looming statue that personified acceptance to my grandfather before me, it occurred to me how much New York had changed since the last time that I had been here. Juliani had done a bang up job. Times Square was no longer that lewd man in a trenchcoat that said, "Come here, I've got something to show you." The Big Apple had cleaned up its act. It no longer was the city Mick and the boys sung about in "Shattered":
Dont you know the crime rate is going up, up, up, up, up
To live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough!
You got rats on the west side
Bed bugs uptown
What a mess this towns in tatters Ive been shattered
My brains been battered, splattered all over Manhattan
Uh-huh, this towns full of money grabbers
Go ahead, bite the big apple, dont mind the maggots, huh
Shadoobie, my brains been battered
My friends they come around they
Flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter, flatter
Pile it up, pile it high on the platter
Talk about a changeling - I was amazed at the transformation. Hopping on and off the tour bus I couldn't help but note the change. It might still be full of money-grabbers, but it had a different overall feel. The kids enjoyed the vacation soaking in the tour-guide information and sights and sounds like that child at the candy-store or should I say M&M's store. They posed with the wax figures at Madame Toussaud and ate in Little Italy's restos. They shopped on Canal Street and took in a Broadway show and didn't skip a beat. The only thing they complained about on the trip was that it was over too soon and that Montreal seemed slow-paced in comparison. Even my wife was excited during the stay and wants to revisit a revamped Gotham City.
It got me thinking - what must have been going through my grandfather's mind as he got off the ship on Ellis Island and looked over his shoulder at the figure that had travelled from France to grace North American shores.