Unfortunately the window was beyond dirty, so the shots lost a lot of texture and detail. The landscape looks like a miniature Legoland from up high, but here it is – Manhattan, Queens and bits of Brooklyn.
If you live in Manhattan I’m sure you’ll agree that getting to work this morning felt more like an Arctic expedition than a commute. For me, this is appropriate, considering that I work for Lindblad Expeditions. We, in alliance with National Geographic, offer expeditions to the world’s wildest places, including the Arctic.
The streets and sidewalks of lower Manhattan are covered with 10 inches to waist-high drifts of white powder. The wind stings. There is an eerie silence in the air. By the time I walked from 21st and 3rd to our office in the West Village I didn’t think it would be too much of a stretch to combine these two wintery geographies. Maybe I was suffering from snow sickness (that’s a thing, right?), but I figured that if I saw two polar bears walking down fifth avenue it wouldn’t seem that out of place.
Two plastic ones on our rooftop was the best I could do. Enjoy the snowy day.
It was Friday evening after a busy work week. In this city, although you can really do anything and everything you want at any hour, if you’ve got the cash of course, finding peace and relaxation can be difficult. I asked for a few suggestions in the office and was surprised when a coworker said, “You’ve got to check out the IKEA in Red Hook! Take the ferry!” I’m all for easy-to-assemble furniture and Swedish sensibilities, but is IKEA really an escape? No. It’s big and it’s blue. But the five dollar ferry, and Louis Valentino Jr. Park just up the street will take your mind off just about anything.
The water taxi, which you pick up at the pier at the end of Wall St., provides fresh views of Brooklyn and Manhattan. You get in a little closer, see the movement of cars and the inner-workings of the nation’s first “suburb”. But if you’re in it to take pictures, be careful. This thing hauls!
It’s when you pull into Red Hook that the views really get interesting. I’ll spare you the industrial shots, although one could say it’s all well and good. Instead of actually going in IKEA and wandering a maze of furnishings with names like Flurgen and Murgen, walk up to Coffee St. and bang a left until you hit, Louis Valentino Jr. Park. You’ll know when you do. This is what it’s all about.
The man in this photo, let’s call him Morris, has been fishing this exact pier since he was 12. Now in his early 50′s, he told me of when the pier was wooden and you had to watch your step or you could fall through. There were also times he said where certain people in the area might want to push you through if you looked at them the wrong way. He’s thrilled at the revitalization the area has seen. But for Morris, all that really matters is the fishing. “Caught a 38 in striper last week. Whoo boy, some nights this is some good fishin.”
Other Brooklynites gather for sunset as well. Some are families, others on a date, and some, like me, just there to take it all in. Each finds peace in the park.
As a Water Taxi passed I realized I’d missed the last one from IKEA. Woops! Luckily, there are a few busses that run routes from Red Hook to downtown Brookyln and Fulton Mall. The stop is in front of the IKEA, where you made the left to get to all this good stuff in the first place. Even though you feel a world away, it’s actually easy to stay until last light, when the sky begins to burn.
Then, the moment we’d all been waiting for. No one talked as the sun dipped behind the Statue of Liberty, melting into the swamps of Jersey. At least I don’t think anyone spoke. I’d reached the place I needed to find — peace and a focus on the beautiful moments this city and this world provide. My zen status was broken when Morris turned and said, “Beautiful, man. One more sunset. Now all I need’s a sunrise tomorrow and I’ll be cool.” He cast his line and I walked to the bus smiling. Had I just found philosophy courtesy of IKEA?
I walked home from work today to the most beautifully strange light in Union Square. The dark clouds held it all in and the glass reflection off of a 14th street building only added to the effect.
There’s a very interesting art installation going on in the park too. The two guys in the background are sitting on stones labeled The Guilty, The Guiltier, The Guiltiest. Makes you wonder what he was talking about on the phone.
Then I turned the corner and NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Are you kiddin me, man? They’re putting in a TGI Fridays? What crack in the culinary universe allowed this establishment to slip in? Just one more reason to head down to the village to feel “local” again. But next time I’m in the mood for some Prime Rib Stroganoff I know right where I’ll go.
At first glance I thought, jeez, why would someone knock over those pots full of corks in the little plot of dirt on the sidewalk. Then I thought, wait, why are the corks there anyway? With this thought process you’d think I already had a few chiantis at Lelabar, the West Village wine bar responsible for the decoration. You can find random flower assortments and even some doodads, yes doodads, in plots throughout the village. But I have to give it to Lelabar for the themed arrangement. Definitely makes it more interesting.
My alarm went off at 5:52 this morning. The goal: be out on the East River for sunrise to take some photos. But man, the sun is popping up earlier and earlier these days. My viewfinder was still looking blurring to my morning eyes. Within minutes I was surrounded by crazy people, these swift and agile gazelles hurling their bodies along the East River Greenway.
Every shot I lined up, every scene and angle, had runners cutting in and out. So I embraced it. And, putting them in the shots burns calories, I think.
And of course, a good time was had by all.
Download the waterfront map here.
From the banks of the East River…
to the peaks of the Midtown skyline…
the sun brings life to Manhattan. This morning, dogs and their walkers stretched their legs to work off the winter chill.
And flowers, stretched their petals to soak up the sun’s invigorating rays. No doubt, they will be more radiant tomorrow.
It was another beautiful Manhattan morning.
(The first shot was taken Monday morning.)