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Thursday, August 26, 2004


New York City, Yada, Yada, Yada ...

Radiator Building Limo
Oy! It's been more than a week since my last blog post. Time really flys when you're not paying attention.

Well, I could write reams about what's going on with the election, the Middle East, or the latest government commission, but I won't. After all, this is supposed to be a photo blog, so let's talk about photos and photography. Especially New York City photos.

To say that NYC is rich in photographic opportunities is an understatement. A case in point: I was just tonight going through some early photos that I took in NYC in October 2002 with my first digital camera, a Canon A40 2MP point-and-shoot. I was taking a second look at these shots to see if I might have passed over a good image or two, especially now that I know a lot more about photo-editing software than I did in those days.

The first thing I ran across was the stretch limo photo above, taken from the sidewalk on the south side of Bryant Park.

Radiator Building DoormanThen I saw this image of a doorman standing in an elegant doorway. This one was taken literally a few steps west of the limo shot. The building is the Bryant Park Hotel, formerly the American Radiator Building, a.k.a. American Standard Building. The Art-Deco lower part of the building is topped by a gothic wedding-cake structure of black brick trimmed in gold leaf. This building, Raymond Hood's first of many more to grace NYC, is a worthy photo subject all by itself.

Bryant Park, for those who aren't familiar with this part of NYC, is the "back yard" of the New York Public Library. It sits behind the Library building, a magnificent marble Beaux-Arts edifice that itself sits on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets. Bryant Park takes up the area between these same two streets from the west side of the Library building to Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas for your out-of-towners.)

Bryant Park Pigeon ManWhen I lived in Manhattan in the second half of the '70's, Bryant Park was a truly a mess. There was trash and grafitti everywhere, and the park was used mostly by vagrants and druggies. These days, the park is clean, beautiful, and inviting, and everyone uses it all of the time. There are lovely, carefully maintained plantings, and most amazing to me, 2000 chairs for people to move to wherever they need a chair. That's right - not benches or bolted-down chairs, but nice, outdoor chairs, like you might buy from Ikea. You'd think they would have been stolen within the first season they were used, but as I've told my son Ben many times, this is not his father's Manhattan.

You could spend a day in and around Bryant Park happily taking photos - one of these days I may just do that! Besides the park itself and all its people-watching photo opportunities, there are several intesting buildings bordering the park, including the New York Public Library and the W. R. Grace Building - two opposite ends of the architectural spectrum. Also, from the 42nd Street side of the park, you can get some great views of the Chrysler Building, just a few block east.

72nd Street Arcade - Central ParkHere's another nice image I found from that same October 2002 trip to NYC. This one is inside the Bethesda Terrace Arcade under 72nd Street as it runs across Central Park. This area was still being restored in 2002, but it's essentially complete now. In a bit of reverse bragging, I must again say that in my day, the beautifully carved Victorian stonework and much of the tiled paving had been broken, vandalized, and covered with grafitti.

The arcade, which used to be dark and scary, now is light and beautiful. It once again serves its intended purpose of uniting The Mall (a.k.a. Poet's Walk)with Bethesda Terrace and the boat lake.

All of which, every single inch, is prime photographer country.

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