Iowa grads on top of the world in Manhattan

Andy and Sara Damrow, Cedar Rapids Kennedy Class of '93, have room with a view

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NEW YORK -- How did you spend your Monday night?

I found myself in a 74th-floor residence looking over the island that is Manhattan.

Earlier Monday evening, I was enjoying a tasty $9 cheeseburger at Peculier Pub in Greenwich Village. I was joined by my Gazette colleagues Scott Dochterman and Brian Ray, and's Tom Kakert.

Scott shared an email he got from a fellow named Andy Damrow, a 1993 Cedar Rapids Kennedy graduate and a 1997 business school graduate of the University of Iowa. Andy said he was a reader, a Hawkeyes fan, and he saw Scott and Brian were in town to cover Iowa in the NIT. He invited the Gazette crew to the home of him and his wife, the former Sara Schilling, also a '93 Kennedy grad. He wrote:

" ... to experience the NYC view and speak with real Iowans who live in NYC and what it is like to live in such a dynamic city (kind of like Cedar Rapids, only different!). Think of it as your own private tour of views from the top of the Empire State Building!"

When I saw this email, I called Andy right away. And he enthusiastically urged us to come over.

The doorman welcomed us into the Damrows' building by saying "Go Buckeyes." He messed up Andy's directive that he say "Go Hawkeyes" to us as we entered. Not everyone in Manhattan is a college sports fan.

This was way better than going to the observation deck of the Empire State Building. For one thing, there were no other tourists but us. Even better, Andy and Sara couldn't have been more welcoming to people they had only known through sports writing and photography.

Andy is vice president of global financial planning and analysis for AIG, the world's largest insurance organization. His career has led him and his wife to living in other U.S. cities and, most recently, South Korea and Thailand. They moved to New York three months ago, and can now enjoy Hawkeyes basketball and football games at normal hours rather than watching them in Asia in the middle of the night, or the next morning on tape.

"I was watching the Michigan State game (Iowa's 59-56 loss in the Big Ten tourney quarterfinals), and I don't even want to talk about that game," Andy said. "But then I realized we could see the Hawkeyes here in the NIT if they got to the semifinals."

So the Damrows will be among many transplanted Iowans and Iowa alums in Madison Square Garden tonight when the Hawkeyes play Maryland.

The couple lives at what basically is the corner of trendy Tribeca and New York's financial district, in the same neighborhood as the under-construction new World Trade Center complex. Andy has a five-minute walk to work, which is nice. Oh, their view isn't too shabby, either. They live here.

NY by Gehry on 8 Spruce Street is the tallest residential tower in the Western hemisphere. The Damrows live on the 74th floor of 76, so there are only 12 people who live higher than them in this hemisphere.

These are two avid Iowa fans. They have a Hawkeye flag. They even have a bottle opener with a Tiger Hawk logo that plays the Iowa fight song from a small speaker in the handle.

They show you can get from Iowa to the top of the world. It sure feels like it, anyway.   

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