My first stop was to the museum where I spent a couple of hours wandering through the expansive exhibit galleries. The major collections I checked out were the Adirondack Wilderness, Minerals of New York, Native People of New York, The World Trade Center: Rescue, Recovery, Response, Metropolis Hall (History of New York CIty), and Fire Engine Hall
. One section focused on the Fresh Kills landfill operation where many workers dedicated approximately 1.7 million worker hours to sorting through 1.8 million tons of debris from the World Trade Center over the course of almost a year. Some facts and figures of what was recovered: 4,257 human remains, 54,000 personal effects (mostly belonging to survivors) including 610 pieces of jewelry, $76,318.47 in cash, 4,000 photographs, 1,358 destroyed vehicles, hundreds of airplane parts, pieces of sculptures made by Auguste Rodin (sculptor of The Thinker), six kilograms of narcotics, and thousands of rounds of unused ammunition; however, the searchers were never able to locate the black boxes of either jet or anything at all related to the hijackers of the aircraft.
After leaving the museum, I crossed the plaza to the state house. Upon entering, a very large and cheerful security guard welcomed me and gave me a rundown of the building's layout. He had a brother in the Marines and asked me what I did in the Marines, where I was from, and where else I was traveling to. After chatting with him for a while, I proceeded to explore the large structure, taking plenty of photos while I ascended and descended the various staircases, each having their own unique style. One of them was under restoration, but the main one was constructed from carved sandstone and was simply breathtaking. I attempted to visit the senate chambers but found them locked and made my way over to the house chambers
. The doors there were closed, so I was setting up to take a shot through the glass of the door when a woman came around the corner. Since there was nowhere else she could have been going, I moved out of the way to let her through the door and she invited me to come on inside to take my picture. I accepted the invitation and followed her through the door. She continued through a door in the back of the room, and I began to set up my shot. Not ten seconds had gone by when an older man burst through the same door in the back and started calling out, asking who I was. I explained that I was just visiting and taking a photo of the chamber. He quickly shot out that I wasn't allowed to be in the chambers, and I told him that the woman he undoubtedly passed in the hall back there had told me I could come in to take my shot, so I planned to take one photo and be on my way. Then the man demanded to see some identification. Considering he had no badge, no uniform, and a bad attitude, I could have just told him to shove it and asked my buddy, the security guard, to work it out for me; however, it seemed simpler just to oblige the grouch. I opened up my wallet and displayed my military I.D. to which he responded, "Welll, alllright," and went back out the way he came in. I guess I successfully convinced another citizen that I am not a terrorist out to create a catalog of government capitol buildings.
After leaving the capitol building, I slipped south to Suffern, NY for the night.
I spent today visiting the center of New York's government. The grand state house, four identical thin towering government buildings, the state museum, and the center for the performing arts (The Egg) are all situated around a large open plaza that is taken up by a shallow rectangular pool surrounded by paving blocks. What greenery exists seems to be tightly controlled with squared off shrubbery lining the area. There are a few modern (read: strange) sculptures placed around the area. I guess my mind just isn't enlightened enough to appreciate certain pieces of "art" but most of them seemed like a waste of materials. The entire area, known as the Empire State Plaza, was very futuristic looking and presented a scene that would have been very at home in a Star Wars film.