President’s Letter: April 2022

Monthly observations and insights from MAS President Elizabeth Goldstein

April 29, 2022

Several weeks ago, I went to the Statue of Liberty for the first time in several decades. I went with some family friends and their 13-year-old daughter.  She is a very smart only-child from Stockton, California—one of those teens who knows her mind but is still open to a little wonder.  No one in the family had been to New York before and she was focused on those kid-iconic things about the city.  She wanted to see Rockefeller Center because she has seen the Christmas tree lighting for most of her life, and of course, the Lego Store.

And she was interested in the Statue of Liberty.  It was lovely to see her drawn in by the wonder of the lady of the harbor.  I was, too.  It is such an unlikely project to have captured not just the eye of its benefactors, but of the public in its own time.  But for New Yorkers, it is easy to forget it is even there.

The National Park Service has opened a new museum there that is incredible.  Not only does it do an excellent job of telling the story but it is also straight-talking, as only the National Park Service can be.  The exhibits include the Statue of Liberty skeptics, who viewed the project as a tribute to the liberties the United States had not yet delivered to its formerly enslaved or female citizens.

The Statue of Liberty. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Dietmar Rabich. Modifications: photo cropped.

The museum also includes some captivating innovative technology that gathers the photographs and backgrounds on visitors and displays it on a huge screen.  However, it isn’t just a gimmick but is also a mechanism for keeping track of the visitors from all over the country and around the world.

It was so interesting to be immersed in tourist New York for a day and listen to the swirl of languages around me. Almost everywhere you go in New York, you hear other languages spoken, but this tourism spot is different. It made me turn my mind to the hospitality of the place we live.  It is not easy to navigate under the best of circumstances, so it was interesting to see if there was accommodation for those who don’t speak English.  I would only give us a C+. Though the National Park Service does better than most with interpretation in multiple languages, all the subway signage and most of street signage is English-only.

And speaking of having an adventure in your own town, I hope you will join us next weekend for a Jane’s Walk tour or two.  We have a fabulous line-up throughout the five boroughs.  So, dust off those walking shoes and play tourist for a day with a walk led by a local!

Elizabeth Goldstein Signature

Elizabeth Goldstein
President, Municipal Art Society of New York

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