Lisa Oxbororough, a financial advisor, and her husband Andy, a postman, arrived in New York on Sunday, December 5 for their first visit to the City. On Monday – also Andrew’s birthday – the young couple from St. Neots, in Cambridgeshire, England met with Greeter Barbara Tomanelli at their hotel and then traveled downtown for a walk through lower Manhattan with New York City Council Member Mark S. Weprin, Big Apple Greeter’s newest Greeter for a Day.
Coming from his office near City Hall, Council Member Weprin met the group at the 9/11 Memorial Visitor Preview Site on Vesey Street, where he explained what it was like to be in New York City on and soon after the events of September 11, 2001. He then escorted the Oxboros across Vesey Street to St. Paul’s Chapel, which opened in 1766 and is the oldest building in continuous use in New York City. The church building played an important role in the aftermath of September 11, serving as the site of a very active relief ministry for rescue workers.
Leading the group further south, Weprin explained to the Oxboroughs how the part of Broadway known as the Canyon of Heroes has been the site of many parades, and pointed out sidewalk markers commemorating the many famous people – including Queen Elizabeth II, President John F. Kennedy, the New Yankees, and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, who participated in the parades. Along the way he pointed out the Equitable Bank Building which, when built in 1916, spurred the beginning of the City’s zoning regulations.
The visit also included a stroll over to Wall Street, which was bustling with lunch-hour pedestrians despite the biting wind. There, the Oxboroughs learned about the Federal Building, where George Washington took the oath of office, and the New York Stock Exchange. Coming back up Broadway, they saw the site of the Fulton Street Transit Center hub, now under construction, and conversed a bit about sports.
The excursion ended at City Hall Park, where Weprin explained the structure of the City Council and how its 51 members each represent 150,000 city residents.
Weprin is from Queens and represents the 23rd City Council District, encompassing Hollis, Queens Village, Little Neck, New Hyde Park and other nearby communities. He was motivated to become a Greeter for a Day because of his own experiences traveling abroad. “Everywhere we went, people were so nice,” he said. “New Yorkers have an unfair image that they are not friendly and hospitable,” he added. “I wanted to do my own myth-busting and Big Apple Greeter seemed like a great way to do my own part.”
Story by Melissa Weisstuch
Photo by Karen Bell