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This Month...
- Check out the latest jewelry from Jewels By Christine

And moving downtown. After all, this beleaguered and historic area was constantly in the news, the hot topic in the real estate sections, and the subject of constant attention.

We became enchanted by the prospect of change (which is always good and a necessary part of life), intrigued by the idea of finding more space, and a different kind of space. And- hey, I’d be lying if I said we weren’t enticed by the idea of getting a good deal on an apartment- there had been countless reports of reduced rents and monetary incentives being offered to those making the decision to move within a certain radius of the former World Trade Center site. It also seemed like such a patriotic thing to do….somehow, making the financial commitment to go downtown, felt like we were really doing something to help our city, and our country…

Interestingly, as a born and bred New Yorker, and one who has lived in Manhattan all my life (with the exception of my four years at George Washington University- in Washington, D.C.), the one area of the city I really knew very little about, was the downtown tip, better known as the Financial Center. I expected to find the change interesting, and challenging- what I didn’t expect was that I was going to fall in love!

The fact is, we found an apartment in Battery Park City that we loved so much, that my fears of being separated from the elegant shopping area I had grown accustomed to, (something which was even echoed by those who know me)…quickly dissipated. Our new penthouse digs- almost 50% larger than our previous space, has expansive windows, high ceilings, is flooded with light, and has views of the downtown skyline, the Hudson River, the East River, and yes, Ground Zero (with the Empire State Building symbolically jutting up behind it in the background).

The very cleaned up Ground Zero (or 'Ground Hero,' as I prefer to call it) is several city blocks away, and is visible only from our North windows in the living room and kitchen. While it’s hardly our only view, or apartment’s focus, I actually like being able to face into it and eventually see the progress being made. Since neither Charles nor I lost a loved one in the terror of that day, the former World Trade Center site is not a spot that is personally tragic to us…quite frankly, just the opposite. It represents the next phase- optimism, hope, and the promise of what it will become.
And at night, it takes on the almost surrealistic feeling of an amphitheater or stadium courtesy of the immense flood lights that illuminate the entire area, and act as one big night light for our apartment (actually, it’s so bright, we almost don’t need lights).

Though it’s been a little under two months since our move, I’m still not jaded by the magnificent water views, the open space, and the feeling of living in a resort…simply put- it’s quite a change from east 82nd street. The Hudson River, just outside our door, has really been cleaned up, and its shades of blue change with the time of day, and the weather. Used as a recreational body of water…we routinely see water-skiers, kayaks, ferries, water taxis, yachts, pristine white sailboats, and large cruise ships pulling in from or leaving for ports unknown. It’s like taking a mini vacation just looking out the window, or strolling by.

The biggest treat was just a few days before the first anniversary of 9/11- an event called 'Sail for America,' a boating event conceived to honor those lost in the terrorist attacks. It attracted hundreds of boats, many vintage, from
all over the world, which paraded on the Esplanade by our doorstep, providing a very unique, otherworldly visage. By the way, speaking of the first anniversary of 9/ll, being so close, I was able to see President Bush officiating at the ceremony through my binoculars.

There’s something kind of wonderful about feeling like a tourist in my own city, rediscovering, and discovering areas that I had not been privy to before. Although I had always spent a lot of time in Soho, I had never really explored Tribeca- not as commercial- which is just blocks away, and so unlike the Upper East Side. There is a very palpable European ambience and vibe to the entire area- due to the open spaces, architecture, cobblestone streets, offbeat galleries, and shops. And of course- I can’t leave out the concentration of all the world class, 4 star restaurants in the area- Nobu, The Harrison, Bouley, Chanterelle, Montrachet.

And there is such an international, global flavor: the Upper East Side, beautiful and chic as it is, is decidedly very homogenized- almost everybody who lives or shops there seems to look the same, wears the same clothes, and carries the same bags. Here, it really feels like a melting pot.
Lush Oriental landscaping frames the esplanade adjacent to our apartment, with a sweeping view of the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. This is most dramatic at night and early in the morning, when illuminated by cobalt blue lanterns. What a treat! When I go for my pre dawn daily run, instead of jogging down Madison Avenue, past Prada and Michael Kors, I jog along the esplanade, and get to see Lady Liberty, illuminated boats, Ellis Island, the Winter Garden, and individuals (many of whom are seniors) serenely practicing the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi (which we are all invited to partake in and learn)… It looks so blissful and contemplative- I am tempted to give it a try.

Who needs Madison Avenue? Well, okay, so I do go uptown now and then, it’s just a taxi, bus, or subway away, after all!