9/11 Archives - Starr Tours & Charters
  • Follow Us: Introducing Clean Care by Starr, peace of mind during these uncertain times. Learn More
  • Call us, we’re here to help: 800-782-7703
Why New York Means the (World) To Me

Why New York Means the (World) To Me

When people hear that I am a Tour Director for Starr, one of the most common questions I get asked is what are my favorite trips.  To paraphrase an old song: “If I’m not on the trip that I love, I love the trip I’m on!”

There are so many trips that I like for different reasons and here are some examples and why: Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown* or Civil War Trails* for the historical aspects, the beautiful mountain state of West Virginia* or southern charm of Savannah* for the scenery, and some are just plain fun, like Brooklyn Christmas Lights, Villa Roma Resort in the Catskills*, or the Atlantic City Overnight Getaway!

9/11 Memorial, Photo by Rebecca Wilson

But the trip I get the most satisfaction from is the day trip to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  Why is this one a top favorite for me??  Aside from being able to pay my respects to friends, and others, who perished that day, it’s also because it gives me a renewed sense of hope that the city has been rebuilt and can move on.

I’m a New Yorker, born and raised in the outer boroughs. Going back to the city provides a connection to my home, my early years, and my family, but it also gives me a connection to our country’s beginnings.

Downtown isn’t just a commercial area that evolved over time, to become a center of world trade and commerce.  It was founded in the early 17th century, as a place from which commerce would emanate.  In 1609, when Henry Hudson sailed into the harbor that Giovanni da Verrazzano first discovered in 1524, it was for the Dutch East India Company, looking for that elusive passage to the east.  Unlike Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, which were founded on religious freedom, New York, or New Amsterdam as it was called then, was founded for commerce – freedom of trade.

I love to tell my passengers stories such as the one about the early Dutch settlers who were merchants, not soldiers, so when the British came in to take over the colony for the King and England, they went along with it, much to “Peg-leg” Peter Stuyvesant’s chagrin.  Now, 400 years later, we still have the effects of the original Dutch settlers in NY, in town and street names as well as many Dutch words.

Did you ever wonder why we eat cookies here but in England they eat biscuits? On this trip, I’ll tell you why.

St. Paul’s Chapel/Trinity Church, Photo by Stacy Cashman at RamblingTraveler.com

Another place I always visit when I’m downtown is St Paul’s Chapel, which miraculously suffered no damage in the 9/11 attacks and served as an area of refuge for the rescue workers during the trying and difficult weeks that followed.  It’s also where George Washington prayed before he was sworn in as our first president.  He took his oath of office on the second floor balcony of Federal Hall, at Wall and Broad Streets, just a short walk from there.

The early history of our country is pretty well wrapped up in that small, downtown area of Manhattan, now larger than when the Dutch and English settled there.  Years of landfill from the tunnels and subway have changed the area around the battery and Castle Clinton, which, when it was the Southwest battery, was actually out in the river.  One other tidbit, Manhattan is from the Lenape word, Mannahatta, meaning hilly island. Those are some of the of the many reasons I am so drawn to it and love to share that information with my passengers.

Come join me on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum tour on July 15th, August 8, September 23, October 14, or October 22!

Bette Barr
Starr Tour Director and licensed New York City tour guide
*I am not directing these tours this year.

Here’s a list of the other tours I am Tour Directing this year:
May 27 – Central Park & Carmine’s, NYC
June 8-11 – Vermont Favorites Spring Special
June 23-25 – Boston, Massachusetts Getaway
July 9 – Assateague Island Boat Cruise
August 4-6 – Washington, DC: Our Nation’s Capital
August 12 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
August 19 – Assateague Island Boat Cruise
September 8-10 – Boston, Massachusetts Getaway
September 17-19 – Long Island, NY Featuring the Hamptons and Sag Harbor
October 1-3 – Long Island, NY Featuring the Hamptons and Sag Harbor
October 29-30 – Atlantic City Overnight
December 3 – Brooklyn Christmas Lights
December 16 – Manhattan Holiday Splendor

The Featured Image for this post was taken by Julienne Schaer © NYC and Company

Come From Away

“That was the best play I’ve ever seen,” my mom proclaimed as we exit Broadway’s Schoenfeld Theatre. Me, I’m still processing.

We had just experienced a preview of Broadway’s musical “Come From Away” and I was still wiping away tears from the moving performance. “It was incredible,” I reply, knowing that any words I spoke would fall short of being able to describe the emotions running through me after witnessing such an amazing story and production. Audience members were on their feet even as the last note was sung. With scores of Broadway shows under my belt, I have never seen a standing ovation happen so quickly — and so well-deserved. The diverse cast of 12 actors – 6 female, and 6 male – had the difficult task of conveying multiple characters on a simple set through humor, heartache, and the blending of numerous personal experiences of the people whose stories they were trying to tell and they nailed it – I truly don’t know how they could have done it better.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, people all over the world were witnessing the crushing news reports that planes had struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the air, however, aircraft passengers were held aloft, suspended in time, unaware of what awaited them.

Shortly after the planes struck the World Trade Center, the FAA ordered a closure of the North American airspace and commanded all planes to land immediately. As a result of this closure, over 200 flights bound for the United States were redirected to Canada. Thousands of people were stranded, away from home, for five days in the midst of the most devastating terrorist attack in United States history.

Gander International Airport served as a refueling stop in the early days of transatlantic flights. As planes evolved and were able to travel longer distances, the air traffic to the crucial airport slowly dwindled and the town settled into a quieter life. The airport takes in only about 10-15 flights these days, but on September 11th, nearly 40 flights carrying over 6,500 passengers were suddenly redirected to the small town, raising their population by 66% in a matter of hours. There weren’t enough hotel rooms, restaurants, or other resources to handle that many people, but instead of resorting to stressed hostility, the people of Gander responded immediately with remarkable kindness.

As Gander prepared for the sudden influx of people on the ground, passengers in the air were told very little. When the planes landed in Gander, the passengers were kept on board the aircraft for over a day while clearances were arranged. Few had phones and little was told to them by the flight crew. While the anxious travelers were trapped on the planes, the people of Gander prepared. They gathered blankets, pillows, medical supplies, toiletries, and everything else they could think of that the passengers might need. The supplies came from stores who freely donated them and households who had anything to spare. They cooked. They filled every community center and school with cots and bedding to house the “plane people,” and when those spaces ran out, they opened their homes. When the scared and weary passengers were finally able to disembark from the cramped quarters of the planes, they were met with bagged lunches and the smiling and friendly faces of the people from Gander who were ready to welcome thousands of strangers with open arms. For five days, Gander and surrounding small towns hosted the plane people, the “Come From Aways.” The local telephone company set up phone stations so that the people could call home. The television station set up TVs in the schools and community centers so that people could remain informed on what was happening in the United States. The Gander residents threw cookouts, and gatherings, and worked day and night to take good care of their 6,500 guests. For five days worlds and people collided in a small town in Canada and the immense generosity of the human spirit shone through the darkness.

“Come From Away” is the story of these five days.

“On September 11, 2001 the world stopped. On September 12th their stories moved us all.”

“Come From Away” opens this weekend on March 12th (2017). You can get your tickets and bus transportation through Starr on our website or by calling Starr at 800-782-7703.

Photo Credits: Matthew Murphy and Chris Bennion