Wednesday, July 08, 2009
On the opposite side of Manhattan is the USS Intrepid Air and Space Museum. By this point in the day, my feet were in no small amount of pain, but I figured for a chance to see an authentic WW II era aircraft carrier, I could limp a bit.
I have a penchant for visiting museum ships, and have seen battleships, submarines, cruisers and more, but there are very few preserved aircraft carriers, making a stop at the Intrepid a must while I was in the neighborhood. She was commissioned as an Essex class fleet carrier in World War II, and saw action throughout the Pacific Theater. She also saw service in the Korean War, and in Vietnam. While she launched plenty of sorties against Hanoi, the Intrepid was by that time lagging behind in size and creature comforts compared to her larger newer sisters like the Forrestal Class super-carriers that had been built in the late 50's, and were designed to launch jets, and not piston engined fighters and bombers.
No matter how well as ship has fought, there comes a time when there is nothing to be gained by keeping her around, and the Intrepid's fate was the scrapyard, until a local millionaire decided to make a museum out of her, and park her on the Hudson River.
Not only do visitors get a chance to explore a ship that is steeped in modern history, but they also get to see a great many fantastic examples of Aviation history. I go to see just how small and cramped a Concorde really is (though the high speed flight would make it a lot more tolerable), and glimpse the A-12, the CIA built predecessor to the famous SR-71 Blackbird. As well, there were jets and helicopters from all over the world displayed around the flight deck.
Through no fault of my own, I had actually ended up in New York during Fleet Week, when navy ships park in berths along the Hudson to allow the sailors a weekend of liberty in New York, and to allow New Yorkers and tourists a glimpse of a real working ship of war. Sadly I was far too footsore, and it was far too late in the day, for me to tour the rest of the ships.
All in all I had had a long day, visiting Ellis Island, the Brooklyn Bridge, Ground Zero AND the Intrepid all in one day, I felt the miles, so I was plenty glad to grab a bus from the Port Authority and head home, to a giant meatball sub and a soft bed, ready to head out the next day for some more epic walking around The City.