City Lights—Highlights from an Action-Packed Week

Hyde-Woodstock faculty member Jessica DeAngelis and Summer Sessions interns Emeline Ferguson and Zach Birnbaum share some highlights from their recent City Lights trips to Newport, Boston, and New York City.

The summer sessions City Lights was all about learning different things about each city and the role each played in history.  Our group learned key characteristics of each city as well as information to apply to life wherever we go such as identifying types of architecture and how cities develop overtime with consumer culture.—Jessica DeAngelis


Newport, Rhode Island

Each city had its own personality but Newport was the one city we visited that was far different from the others.  Newport was not densely industrialized but it took us back to an era of opulence and simplicity.  As a group we visited mansions on Bellevue Avenue including the “Rosecliff” and the ever-famous Vanderbilt “Breakers”.  Both mansions were highly extravagant from the numerous amount of rooms, high ceilings, decor as well as vast backyards with ocean views – words could not possibly describe the view of the ocean from the balconies or from the gigantic lawns below.  Each mansion had its own personality, but the Vanderbilt’s “Breakers” mansion easily overpowered the “Rosecliff” mansion which was apparent by the interior decadence the “Breakers” exuded.  After visiting the mansions, our group had time to enjoy the town of Newport, exploring the harbor and shopping area by groups and eating lunch along the way.  Before dinner, our entire group met up for a relaxing boat ride in the Adirondack II.  The ride was just what we needed to cool off after the hot summer afternoon.

– Jessica DeAngelis and Emeline Ferguson


Boston, Massachusetts

Boston was a very different experience than Newport.  Some students had been before, but for many it was a first-time experience.  Rather than touring Boston with the entire group, we were broken into a more manageable size to navigate the city.  A challenge was placed in front of each group – which group could take the most pictures of historical sites, buildings, etc. and share an educational element with the entire group during project presentations.  As an incentive, the group with the most pictures and detailed information would receive a trip for ice cream upon returning to campus.  Although toured separately, the groups all embarked on different areas of the Freedom Trail, looking at the Copp’s Hill Cemetery, Paul Revere’s house and the monument dedicated to his midnight ride.  We stopped to enjoy lunch at a local pizza joint to rest our legs, followed by some shopping in Faneuil Hall.  We then journeyed along to the Museum of Fine Arts, known as the MFA, to see the the Chihuly exhibit – a glass blower from Washington state.  To wrap up the day, the various groups met back up and went to the top of the Prudential Center to take a look over the entire city from the top.  The view was incredible and something that will not soon be forgotten by our crew.

– Jessica DeAngelis and Emeline Ferguson


New York City, New York

On Thursday a group of 20 students, faculty, and college interns went to New York City for the day. It was a very long twenty-hour day – the City Lights group woke up at 5:10 AM to take a 3-hour drive into the city. We arrived in Battery Park, all the way at the bottom of the city, where we split into three groups.  One group went to Ellis Island, and others went to take a deep dive into the city as a whole. My group chose to see the whole city. We started in Battery Park to see the Statue of Liberty from far away; from there we went to Wall Street and learned about the stock exchange and how it works. We then went to the subway, which for me, being a New York native is no big deal. However, for a group of people who have either never been on the subway, or been on it once, it was an experience never to forget. Most of the students were confused with the turnstiles and asked for my help. From Wall Street we went to the Museum of Natural History where we saw Ocean Life, African Mammals, and the Dinosaur exhibits. At the museum we learned about how ears formed over time. One student, Brendan Murray, had a great teaching moment where he taught our small group about where whales came from. From the museum, I wanted my group to experience one of the Upper West Sides busiest burger places, Shake Shack. When we were done we went to do some window-shopping and went in to Bang and Olufson, where we heard maybe one of the worlds greatest speakers that shook the floor. From there we went to Herald Square 34th Street. We saw Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, and we went into Macy’s. Having two teenage girls in the group, going by the floor of just shoes was not a smart idea. Ten minutes later and a lot of “look at these” and “I wish I had 500 dollars right now” we continued up and down all nine floors of Macy’s on their original wooden escalators. From there we walked to Times Square to meet up with the other groups to eat at Planet Hollywood. After we ate we went to go see the Lion King on Broadway, which was amazing, from the sets to the singing it was on of the best shows I have ever seen. From there we headed back to Woodstock, and got in at about 2:10 AM. I know it is hard to believe that a group of teenagers can do that much in twenty hours and we didn’t even get to everything.

– Zach Birnbaum