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Showing posts from January, 2012

A Winter Walk on the High Line: A Slideshow

Winter is proving elusive this season. This time last week, a snow blanketed the city, and a walk in Central Park lived up to the billing as a winter wonderland.

The snow is gone now. A walk along the High Line this past Thursday turned up all sorts of colors, few of which we normally associate with winter. Waves of wheat-colored grasses offset nicely with the cool blues of the contemporary buildings and the moody grays of the sky. Some bright orange twiggy barks dazzled along the path, and plump rosy-red buds generously covered some branches.



If it weren't for the High Line's official website, some of us couldn't identify half of these showy plants. Consulting the site, those red berries are likely from the winterberry holly, the weird frilly orange blossoms are a cultivar of witch hazel, and the surprisingly pink blossoms may be identified as Dawn viburnum. Whatever the pink thing was, it looks like winter is not only illusive but banished entirely from the city this ye…

A Walk to Weegee's Street: Centre Market Place

From 1934 to 1947, the years that serve as the focus of the current Weegee exhibit at the ICP, the photographer lived in an apartment at 5 Centre Market Place in Manhattan. Living directly across the street from the old Police Headquarters, the freelance crime photographer had quick access to the activities of the police, and he often could get simple shots of suspects just by walking out his front door. While this area of Lower Manhattan has changed a great deal since Weegee's time, especially since the police long ago relocated their headquarters further downtown, the neighborhood around Centre Market Street makes a good destination for a walk.



Weegee's apartment building at 5 Centre Market Place was gutted and renovated several years back, along with numbers 1, 2, and 4. (see the article "BIG DEAL; Found Treasures From All Over To Adorn Redone Town Houses" from September 26, 2004 in The New York Times). Now a rather post-modern looking townhouse and no longer a wo…

Weegee CSI

Leave it to Weegee (1899—1968), our flashbulb-flashing late night freelance crime photographer of New York's most noir era, to make a picture of Macy's balloon of Santa Claus look like a crime victim. But there he's done it. On November 21, 1941, in the wee hours of pre-parade inflation, Weegee climbed to a high vantage point on a nearby building and snapped the happy floating symbol of the holidays stretched out flat, bloated, and face up, open eyes looking dead as it hovers over a New York street. The image is only one of at least a hundred unexpected photographs by the inventive photographer, and several with real dead bodies, displayed in a stunning new exhibit titledWeegee: Murder Is My Business at the International Center of Photography.


Weegee's brand of tabloid journalism during the years 1935 and 1946, the focus of the exhibit, casts him in a singular role as the city's biggest photo hustler on the shady late night streets. Living on the Lower East Side i…

The First Winter Snow at First Light

Walking in a newly fallen snow during the first hour of daylight is a great privilege for those of us who inhabit the world of city morning larks.


Some of us are by nature "morning people." Others among us, perhaps more partisan to late nights, venture out into the dawn only at the insistence of their dog companion.


Still others may enjoy looking at the beauty of the city in its quiet and undisturbed state and then go back to bed. The droning sound of snowplows will eventually wake them up. It's nice to catch the city sleeping. It's not known for sleeping.


Not everyone likes to wake up to see a newly fallen snow in New York City, while others like the sight of the snowflakes falling past their windows and gathering on the sidewalks below.


An early morning snow often reveals the postcard-perfect city, timeless images held briefly in silence and solitude. Hurry back home now, fellow morning larks. As we know, this timeless city will soon melt away.

Images by Walking Of…

For Contemporary New York, A TV Program of Interest

Like the Machine that identifies the next victim or perpetrator, the CBS drama Person of Interest seems to be the result of a complex algorithm spewed out by a mischievous and clever TV series generator. Take a basic New York detective drama set in New York City, with its variety of gritty and glamorous street locales, add a handsome, martial arts-kicking ex-CIA agent and an intense, meticulous billionaire software engineer, and overlay the show with post-911 surveillance visualizations. Make the storylines complicated by often confusing the good guys with the bad guys, ratchet up the "gotcha" moments, and throw in funny one-liners.

To play the dynamic duo, this hypothetical TV series generator has matched the actor that played Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ (Jim Caviezel) with the mysterious leader of "The Others" in Lost (Michael Emerson). But let's pull the curtain back right away to acknowledge that the creator of this intriguing new se…

When Walking Becomes Marching: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

(Versions of these posts were published previously on Walking Off the Big Apple.)

• When Walking Becomes Marching

On March 12, 1930, when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) set out on his 240-mile march to the seaside town of Dandi to protest the British tax on salt, he was joined by 78 followers. As the walk continued and the word spread of his unconventional means of protest, thousands more joined in the nonviolent protest against the injustices of colonialism. By the time he arrived on April 5, Gandhi had attracted the attention of the whole world.
Marches and walks as a form of demonstration were not new, finding precedents in cities in the 19th century. Years before the March on Washington in 1963, civil rights and labor leader A. Philip Randolph and others had proposed a march on Washington in 1941 to protest discrimination in the war industries.

The march was called off after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation pledging fairness. Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and Ma…

4 World Trade Center Comes into View; and A Walk on John Street

While walking around the city this month or while visiting friends with lofty views, it's easy to spot the soaring tower of 1 World Trade Center in the skyline of Lower Manhattan. The steel structure of this tallest of the World Trade Center buildings has now surpassed ninety floors, and workers have completed the facade more than half way up. 1WTC has been particularly showy at night during the holiday season, festooned with multicolor lights twinkling all the way to the sky. But walk to a different street - for example, Greene Street in Soho or even Fifth Avenue in the 40s - and look south, and the tower of 4 World Trade Center comes into play on the horizon.


Eventually rising to 72 stories, this minimalist work at 150 Greenwich Street by architect Fumihiko Maki, the recipient of the 1994 Pritzker Prize, will eventually become just as an important part of the visual and social landscape as the other nearby skyscrapers. As the building slowly slips into our peripheral city vision…

A New Year, A New Place to Walk: Pier 15 on the East River Waterfront Esplanade

I have a new place for us to walk. It's Pier 15 on the East River Waterfront Esplanade. Find it on the water's edge at the end of John Street, directly south of the commercial Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport. It's immediately south of the historic boats.


This two-level pier is agreeably sleek and modern in appearance. Pier 15 affords yet new perspectives of the East River, the bridges, Brooklyn across the way, and the changing skyline of Lower Manhattan. It's also a great place to catch an exceptional sunset.


Walking Off the New Year's Resolutions: Exploring New York City on Foot

"Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it."  - Søren Kierkegaard, Søren Kierkegaard's Journals and Papers, Part 1: Autobiographical, 1829--1848, p. 412
As the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) observed, cultivating the habit of walking can lead to several beneficial outcomes. Walking can help stave off illnesses, inspire new thoughts, and resolve personal difficulties. Modern research studies continue to confirm what the 19th century philosopher knew from experience. We know now that, in many cases, this modest and inexpensive form of exercise can lower anxiety, improve the mood, make for better sleep, and reduce the risk of dementia.

Let's add another important benefit of walking. In those places where we have remnants of an older pre-automobile pede…