New York and its Financial district, the perception of a GEM student

Jeremy Hochedez, graduate student from Grenoble EM, shares with us his virtual visit of New York and his financial related hobby for American quarters.

Thoughts on what a visit of New York and its Financial district would be, should your friends manage to come visit you…

This article is dedicated to my best friend and his girlfriend who were supposed to visit me today, but due to bad weather their flight was cancelled (Guess what… It is snowing, once again).

Get up at 5 AM in order to welcome you at 7 AM in JFK airport. We were supposed to catch the air train and then the J train straight to my place in order to drop your stuff. After introducing you to my nice but teasing roomies we would have taken the subway to South ferry station. The ferry is free so we could have been to Staten Island and, on the way, we could have taken lots of pictures of the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, it would have been very difficult to visit this monument since you have to book at least 3 months in advance. After sailing back to Manhattan, we may have had a walk in Battery Park and visit Castle Clinton (aka Fort Clinton) which is America’s first immigration station (over 8 million immigrants welcomed here in the late 20th century).

Let’s head north now! First stop at financial district. About 10 minutes walking and we would have reached the famous Wall Street. So much to see and to say about this place! Since they are art lovers, they should have enjoyed the story of the Charging Bull (Arturo Di Modica). First placed in front of New York Stock Exchange, this sculpture made of bronze weights 7,100 lb (3,200 kg) and has been dropped in front of the NYSE totally illegally. The Charging Bull was then placed two blocks south at Bowling Green, it has become an international icon aimed to represent Financial District and its power. Then, of course, we would have been to Pace University where chances are I would have boasted about studying finance within the financial district.

Lunch time! I still hesitate… Choice is yours: Would you prefer Wendy’s fattest burger or a traditional salmon bagel. Wendy’s is a typically American fast food chain restaurant. But one must not forget that New York food cannot be reduced to burgers… You have also a wide range of street food from traditional hot dogs to the current trend of bagels. Yet, since we are closed to Chinatown we can have a “all you can eat” Chinese buffet.

Afternoon comes, and I suggest digesting lunch walking on the High line. The High Line is a freight rail line transformed into a public park. It is located on the west side, in Meatpacking district, a neighborhood with old warehouses and slaughterhouses. It is not that glamorous, is it? Nevertheless it offers a nice view of Manhattan and Jersey City on the other side of Hudson River… You also have views on Burberry or other luxurious brand name commercials. Meatpacking district has become more middle-class than it used to. Let’s take the train again…Or maybe a cab if you want to act as a true (lazy?) New Yorker… We would have been to the famous Times Square. We would have enjoy shopping there, buy a Ralph Lauren sweat in the children range of Macy’s, admire M&M’s store and the story of “ how marketing can create a whole universe of derivatives from a snack brand”.  We may walk by the Empire State Building and Rockefeller center (Top of the Rock). I hope we would have time to enjoy the view at the top of the Empire State Building but this spot is very often crowded. We should go back to Brooklyn… A nice thing to see is nightfall on Manhattan from Williamsburg Bridge.

After 30 minutes staying there, it is getting cold… What about having a drink in a bar with a live country music concert? I know a place on Bedford Avenue. We may have played pool with local people, probably hipsters students of Williamsburg. After going back to my place, leaving brand new clothes and souvenirs, we would have dinner. I actually booked a table at Delmonico’s. I know this is quite an expensive restaurant but anyway this is something to do once in your life: Have dinner in the most famous restaurant among businessmen. Delmonico’s is one of the oldest restaurant established in new York (19th century) it is also the first restaurant which allow patrons to order from a menu à la carte. Giving tips doesn’t bother me usually, especially in cheap pubs but 10% of the bill represents at least $6 at Delmonico’s. We should end the day with a drink on a rooftop. This sounds very cliché; you will have plenty of tourists there but anyway, this is another must-do thing for tourists in NYC.

Tomorrow’s schedule: I wanted to visit Central Park, watching ducks swimming in Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Snow makes the park very charming during winter. We may also visit the Bronx, with its amazing zoo and its street art spots. Instead of that, my friends are stuck in Dallas. I really hope they enjoy their stay. I have been told that Dallas Art District is somewhat impressive; actually it is the largest urban art district of the nation. Tomorrow, they will flight back to Paris and International Relations classes. Good luck to them!

I love MONEY! And American quarters…

Well, don’t get me wrong…. I am not that greedy, although I do want to work in financial stuff! On second thoughts maybe I am greedy… Let me get this straight, I love coins and specifically US quarters. These $0.25 coins are a MUST have for any students willing to do their laundry themselves rather than dropping off their bags at the Laundromat. You might be curious to know why I love this coin. Basically it’s because they show just how proud Americans are of their country. Indeed, the United States Mint issued from 1999-2008 commemorative coins representing each State. This program, called the 50 State Quarters Program has been very successful not only among numismatists; the US Mint estimates that nearly 150 million Americans collect quarters. On the reverse design you have the year that the Constitution was ratified, or year of admission in the Union. Every 10 weeks a new quarter was released (5 per year and naturally the program lasted 10 years honoring each one of the 50 States). They were actually released in the same order that each state joined, starting with Delaware in 1787 and ending with Hawaii in 1959. You can often see on the reverse the state outline, a caption (here “Gateway to freedom”, Texas would be “The Lone Star State” for instance) and some prevailing symbols of the State (naturally the Statue of Liberty for NY, Mont Rushmore for South Dakota…). These symbols can be monuments… Or even animals and flowers for more rustic States. As I mentioned before, this program was a success but economic constraints forced the US Mint to reduce the number of coins minted (from roughly 1,600,000,000 for Virginia in 2000 to Oklahoma’s 415,000,000 in 2008). This program has been extended with the District of Columbia & U.S. Territories 2009 Release, made of 6 quarters representing non state territories such as Puerto Rico or U.S. Virgin Islands. I guess that was not enough to satisfy patriotism knowing that since April 2010, a new quarter is released every 2 months, honoring a park in each State. This U.S. Mint program, is modestly called “America the Beautiful Quarters”.

Perhaps this quarter collection is a way for me to disguise my greedy nature under the cover of learning U.S. History… Nonetheless I am pretty sure that American people feel more interested their State’s history than the French are in their regions. Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed this article as much I enjoyed writing it! I leave you now; I have to go to the bank, my rolls of quarters are calling for me!

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