Finding Lightness at the World Trade Center

On a recent, sunny, crisp afternoon, I took a walk through Lower Manhattan.  I decided to head below ground to see the place where I had walked exactly 16 years and 6 days ago.  It was the old World Trade Center Plaza where I had stood in a soft rain on Sept. 10th, 2001, only to learn that the free dance performance I’d come to see had been rained out.

I then walked through the dark, claustrophobic rabbit warren of a mall that occupied the few floors just below ground, picked up a few things and went home.  I had no idea what would happen to this place only 12 hours later.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there were seemingly endless quarrels and delays in the rebuilding process.  As a result, it happened in a piece-meal fashion.  There were some highlights- the opening of 7 World Trade Center, shiny and futuristic just a few years later.  Then there was the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building and the slow rise of 1 World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) which finally opened in 2013.

Alongside the Freedom Tour, the bony wings of Calatrava’s “phoenix” also slowly transformed a new transit station.  Again, it was beleaguered by delays.

My walk this weekend confirmed, at least for me, that the wait was worth it.  Although the new space is largely a mall- the Westfield World Trade Center- it is also a lovely, soaring public space.  It is light-filled and white, with clean bathrooms, a myriad of food, market and retail options.  It’s soaring wings seem to protect us from the canyons of skyscrapers on all sides, and the Oculus seems to be a fitting reminder of what once stood there.

On a recent, sunny, crisp afternoon, I took a walk through Lower Manhattan.  I decided to head below ground to see the place where I had walked exactly 16 years and 6 days ago.  It was the old World Trade Center Plaza where I had stood in a soft rain on Sept. 10th, 2001, only to learn that the free dance performance I’d come to see had been rained out.

I then walked through the dark, claustrophobic rabbit warren of a mall that occupied the few floors just below ground, picked up a few things and went home.  I had no idea what would happen to this place only 12 hours later.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there were seemingly endless quarrels and delays in the rebuilding process.  As a result, it happened in a piece-meal fashion.  There were some highlights- the opening of 7 World Trade Center, shiny and futuristic just a few years later.  Then there was the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building and the slow rise of 1 World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) which finally opened in 2013.

Alongside the Freedom Tour, the bony wings of Calatrava’s “phoenix” also slowly transformed a new transit station.  Again, it was beleaguered by delays.

My walk this weekend confirmed, at least for me, that the wait was worth it.  Although the new space is largely a mall- the Westfield World Trade Center- it is also a lovely, soaring public space.  It is light-filled and white, with clean bathrooms, a myriad of food, market and retail options.  It’s soaring wings seem to protect us from the canyons of skyscrapers on all sides, and the Oculus seems to be a fitting reminder of what once stood there.

 

Advertisements

A View from Above: an Urbanite’s Guilty Pleasure

If you have ever spent a significant amount of time in a large metropolis, you will know that there are at least three major ways to view a city: at street level; from a distance (think skyline); and from above.  While each of these vantage points have their charms, for many urbanites, a high perch from which to observe life below qualifies as a guilty pleasure.

I have lived in several Brooklyn neighborhoods, in apartments steadily rising: first at ground level; then a few floors up; later on the eleventh floor and now to an even higher floor.  I relish the view, which encompasses a wide variety of neighborhoods and landmarks.  I also appreciate the distance from the din of traffic and commerce, and the ability to see weather systems approaching and the setting sun.

Now I will share some shots with you, see if they bring you pleasure!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scenes from Brooklyn’s Beach Avenues

A few unusual and colorful roads run parallel through Brooklyn’s diverse beach communities. Brooklyn’s beaches occupy a small jetty of land that runs three or four miles east to west, with the Atlantic Ocean to the south and Sheepshead Bay, Jamaica Bay and Coney Island Creek to the north east.

The pictures that follow were taken along Oriental Boulevard, Brighton Beach Avenue and Shore Parkway.  I hope that they capture some of the great diversity of life in these communities.

dsc_2603

Swans in Motion, Sheepshead Bay

the-rocks

Rocks at the Seawall

dsc_2663

Sheepshead Bay

dsc_2667

Ropes by the Bay

dsc_2674

Track Practice, Oriental Boulevard

dsc_2676

Residential Manhattan Beach/Oriental Blvd

dsc_2681

Brighton Beach, LIttle Russia By the Sea

dsc_2684

Brighton Beach Avenue under the Elevated Tracks

dsc_2686

Brighton Beach Elevated at Sundown

 

Quest: For Old New York

A walk around New York’s Lower East Side and East Village never disappoints.  Surprises abound.  Perhaps the most surprising for me during a recent walk there is that in the midst of constant change, gentrification and “progress”, there are some locals clearly on a quest to remain the same.  Old New York lives on through their businesses–this is no easy task in our city.

In addition the places shown below, my quest took me to a Polish butcher shop, two antiques stores and past an old Dairy Restaurant, so named for it’s adherence to Kosher provisions regarding serving dairy and meat products in the same area.

The weekly theme is ‘quest’.

20160924_153900

Yonah Schimmel’s Knishery, Established 1911

20160924_133234

Old New York Favorites the Knish and the Egg Cream are Joined Here by Borscht

20160924_153417

Block’s Drug Store- a True Time Warp

20160924_154018

Memorabilia at Yonah’s

A Tree Grows in The Bronx

Of New York City’s five boroughs, The Bronx often seems to get the short end of the stick. Brooklyn once rivaled it for grit and swagger but today has become rather like an extension of Manhattan, hip, glamorous and a burg of widening extremes. This summer I decided to make only my third trip up there to walk the borough’s grandest Avenue: the Grand Concourse.

The Concourse, designed to be a self-contained residential and commercial hub, did not disappoint.  In reading about it before my visit, I  learned that the number of Art Deco buildings still standing along the Grand Concourse is rivaled only by Miami Beach.  I also remembered that of all of New York’s boroughs, The Bronx has the most parkland and also the City’s largest park, Van Cortlandt.

My walk took me near Yankee Stadium, past three small parks, grand Art Deco government buildings and apartment houses, into the Bronx Museum of the Arts (it’s free!) and past a large shopping mall.

Trees definitely grow in the Bronx!

art-deco-govt-building

large-apt-building-and-grounds

lou-gehrig-plaza

painting-in-the-bronx-museum-of-the-arts

yankee-stadium

park-1

 

!

 

Admire- Creativity

In response to the Daily Post prompt for July 30th, I immediately thought about creativity. I admire this quality because it doesn’t require money, material goods, or specialized education.  All it takes to be creative is to challenge oneself to be expressive, to solve a problem or to see something in a new light.

At the same time, social media reminded me that I was in Buenos Aires nine years ago this month.  It was my second trip to the city, the first being the year before, when the Argentine summer brought music and dance out in to the streets from noon to well past dusk.  This time it was winter, and although it was chilly and grey and the city was suffering from the great recession, creativity still managed to crop up around nearly every street corner in the city center. Here are some of my favorite photos from that trip.  The streets were alive with creativity!

The garage's neighbor.

Painted house on a commercial street

 

Puppeteer and Puppet, San Telmo.

Puppeteer and Puppet, San Telmo.

Detail of painted house

Detail of painted house

Ostrich Feather man- see lots of these.

Ostrich Feather man- see lots of these.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Tango Band- Ciudad Baigon?

 

 

 

Admire

London’s Brick Lane & New York’s Lower East Side

I’m back from an invigorating week spent in London at the dawn of spring.  My first reflection on the trip attempts to capture my perception of a sense of ambition I felt throughout the city.  On my first visits there, in the mid ’90’s, I was struck most by London’s long history and its apparent veneration of that rich past.  Of course I am now 20 years older, and so is the city, so perhaps what I noticed on this visit was due to my own changes in perception.  Or, because I’m a New Yorker now and I wasn’t then, I appreciate the energy with which large cities continually reinvent themselves.

Half a day spent in the East End around Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market on a rare sunny morning first lead me to think about the city’s aspirations and to draw direct parallels to my own city, in particular the Lower East Side.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In all four of these shots, old vs. new plays a part. The street painter’s stunning image is covering countless others that preceded it on a building that has been there for 200 years or more.  Even more ephemeral is the What if art ruled the World? scrawl just down the block, as the building itself shows signs of multiple reconfigurations.  Walking through Liverpool Street station it was clear to me that this was a place reinvented, but I did not know at the time the station had overcome 3 distinct explosions over a 60 year period.  Finally, the Jamme Masjid Mosque which resides in a building that was a church in the 18th century, a synagogue in the 19th and then became a mosque in the 20th, sends its gleaming, 21st century minaret skyward.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A three-story bird painted on Brick Lane made me wonder if the artist also had worked on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a neighborhood with cultural parallels to the Spitalfields area of London, and another place that seems to be constantly evolving. Both the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the East End of London are gentrifying or have gentrified, but clearly neither neighborhood has lost its spirit.

For every flashy, ultra-modern symbol of aspiration: think London’s Shard http://www.shardldn.com/wp-content/uploads/the-view-from-the-160955101.jpg

or New York’s One World Trade Center: https://www.wtc.com/about/buildings

There are countless other examples of human ambition at the individual level alive in both cities, building on what came before.  May it continue to be so, with spirit!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Looking for Photographic Inspiration: London vs. NYC

Update:  I’ve decided to go with these two themes for my upcoming photographic journey to London.  They seem apropos given the state of our world, with economic and refugee crises abounding.
Decay vs. Decadence  and Foreign vs. Local

I’m sure that I can parallel images to shoot here in New York when I return.  Stay tuned!

_________________________________________________________________

My camera and I are London-bound soon for a week’s worth of rest and recreation.  I have always wanted to do a side-by-side story about two different cities.  It has never worked out- I lacked central ideas to hold it together. So, instead, I’ve done series, which definitely have their merits, but I want to take it further this time. The first time I went to London years ago, I shot a series of Pubs!

I’m thinking of these themes, for which I will shoot new images in London and will draw from  my personal collection of NYC images to make the comparison.

Glaring examples of old vs. new

Decay vs. Decadence

Foreign vs. Local

Creativity vs. banality

If you have other ideas, I’d really love to hear them!  I leave you with a mini series- Urban Chinatowns!