If the streets of New York City could talk, they would tell a million stories that celebrate our distinguished heritage and culture termed "Americana." And in some places the streets do talk. They sing. They even dance.
Start with a visit to Ellis Island, where 17 million ancestors of 122 distinct ethnic groups arrived at our shores between the years 1892-1954. Nearly 40 percent of all U.S. citizens can trace their ancestry back to the immigrants who arrived on this small Island in the Hudson River. A restored Immigration museum illustrates the lives of those who passed through The Great Hall, the processes required to admit them to the U.S. and the lives they lived thereafter. Through artifacts, audio-taped recollections and displays, the museum commemorates the courage and contributions of those who immigrated to the U.S. for a chance at freedom.
The American Immigrant Wall of Honor®, with 500,000 inscriptions, is the largest wall of names in the world. There you may find the name of an ancestor, or you can honor your own family heritage with an inscription. (Call 212-883-1986 for information.) For museum information, call (212) 363-8340 Prices: Ferry Tickets: $7; $5 seniors; $3 children under 17. Tickets include admission to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Hungry? For dinner stop by the American Festival Cafe at 20 West 50th Street in the center of Rockefeller Plaza. Overlooking the Summer Garden (and the famous skating rink in the winter), enjoy American cuisine. Specialties include certified Angus steaks and prime rib, Key Lime pie and Baltimore crab cakes. Areas of the floor are tiled in the patterns of early American quilts, and the decor is a friendly mingling of brass, glass, light woods and marble. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend breakfast and brunch. Reservations: 212-332-7620.
-- by Jennifer Lanter