Part 6

“I Love New York”

In 1626, Peter Minuit, the Dutch governor of the territory of New Netherland bought Manhattan island from the local Indians for 24 dollars worth of trinkets and beads. The Dutch called the island New Amsterdam. It was later renamed New York when the English took control. They named it for the Duke of York. The price paid for New York has been a joke ever since. The Indians got the best of the deal, some say. Give it back to the Indians, others say. But the Brazilians generally don’t share in this chiding sentiment. They have a great love for New York. Perhaps this goes back to 1654 when Brazilians arrived in New Amsterdam from Recife, Brazil. Recife had been a Dutch colony for 30 years. When the Portuguese recaptured Recife, many Brazilians left for the Netherlands and the Dutch colonies. Thus, some of the first settlers in New York were Brazilians.

Present day Brazilians, university students Solange and Fernando, love New York. “I could have written that advertising slogan, ‘I love New York”‘, said Solange who was happy when she and Fernando were accepted to their respective universities in New Jersey. They were good schools, and they were very close to New York. “Having heard so much about New York and seen it a lot in the movies and on TV, we were excited about seeing this great city,” she said. Although they think Sao Paulo has better restaurants than New York, they think New York is fancier and more elegant. During the time Solange and Fernando have been living and studying in New Jersey, they have taken much advantage of the close proximity of New York.

“We need to go to New York at least once a month. We wish we could live there for a while. The Big Apple has so many attractions and cultural things. Princeton is a small quiet town and doesn’t have the excitement of the big city”, said Fernando.

The first time they went to New York, they had to see one of the most famous sights in the city. the Empire State Building, even though they are both scared to death of heights. Built in 1931, the Empire State Building has 102 floors. The public observation deck is on the 86th floor. For 41 years, it was the tallest building in the world.

“Even though we were scared”, Solange remembers, “we held our breaths, we held hands, and tried to be brave. We went up the 86th floor and were astounded at the gorgeous views. There are 360 degree views of the city, and you can see across the river to New Jersey. In looking straight down however, it was scary, and we tried not to think of all the suicidal people who have jumped off the Empire State building through the years”. Nobody knows exactly how many people have killed themselves in this manner, but now there is a suicide fence encircling the observation deck. Having recently seen the film, King Kong, in which the ape climbs to the top of the building and falls off and dies, they tried not to think of that either!

Other favorite things in New York are Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, the museums, Broadway shows and the opera. Or rather Solange enjoys the opera. Fernando sleeps. The Metropolitan Opera, located at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, is a beautiful and spectacular theater. To see an opera there is a special treat. If you can stay awake that is. “Fernando slept through Madam Butterfly, The Barber of Seville, and several others. I always hit him to wake him up, and then he falls back to sleep again”, Solange said with a sigh.

They both love going for long walks in different sections of the city. Downtown has Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Brooklyn Bridge and the art galleries. Midtown has Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center. On the East Side is the United Nations. Every section has something special.

According to Solange, “Peter Minuit was a smart guy. He got a good deal for those 24 dollars”

More adventures with Solange and Fernando soon….
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