Today is the official first day of summer, but the weather has taken on the airs of summer a while back. And what a summer it is shaping up to be! An imminent trip to Canada (Toronto, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa), an invite to a summer wedding in London and an end-of-summer visit to San Francisco… not to forget the list of events happening in and around the city and there you have the perfect recipe for a perfect summer!
Central Park, a joy to visit any time of the year, is at its best in the spring-summer seasons. Add to it an incredible art show nestled among the greenery and you have one of the best summer experiences ever!
Drifting in Daylight, organised by Creative Time in partnership with Central Park Conservancy, is an eight part performance, display and participatory show running for eight weekends at various locations in Central Park.
Starting at the northern end of the park, you see S. S. Hangover, a fishing boat reimaged to look like the boat in a party scene from the mystery movie ‘Remember Last Night?’ (apparently no one does; hence the name of the boat!) sailing on the Harlem Meer. The boat carries six musicians playing a classical composition by Kjartan Sveinsson, musician and composer.
Notice how fat the Pegasus (okay, plump; we don’t want to offend the creature!) on the flag looks? According to the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, creator of the show, that Pegasus is a ‘symbol of the artist struggling to reach sublime heights’.
The first time I visited the show, it was sort of pouring and this was one of the two performances that went ahead despite the rain.
What is the perfect symbol of sunset in a park? An ice cream cone, of course! Spencer Finch captures this symbol with his ‘Sunset in Central Park’ ice cream truck. The truck is fully powered by solar energy and the colour of the ice cream, varying shades of the sunset, is from the pigments extracted from a painting of a sunset over Central Park. He intends each soft serve cone, free of charge, as a poetic gesture revering the sun and nature in the park.
Central Park has always been a favourite spot for movie scenes to be shot. Taking inspiration from these movies, David Levine presents the show ‘Private Moments’. Scenes from eight famous movies are placed into their original locations, actors dressed like the characters re-enacting the scene in a continuous loop.
A scene from Bullets over Broadway
Another from The Royal Tenenbaums
So now when I see a person not dressed to suit the season, the first question is, “which movie?” 🙂
Karyn Olivier’s ‘Here and Now/ Glacier, Shard, Rock’ is a pictorial representation of the life of the park, connecting the past, present and future. It is a transformational signboard in three sections, which alters your perception every time you move. The scene fluidly transforms from the blue glacial waters which formed the rocky underpinnings of the park to the present day topography and back. The scenes are knit together by a shard of blue pottery from the Seneca village which was moved from the location so that the park could be established.
Printed using the lenticular technology, the panels of the huge signboard evoke a true seamless 3-D vision.
‘Cartas al Cielo’ (Letters to Heaven, in Spanish), an artwork by Alicia Framis, presents a link between the earth and the sky or heavens, as reflected on the mirror-like surface of the sculpted form.
Viewers are encouraged to write letters on the cards provided, addressed to someone who is not on this earth anymore. The cards, dropped into the globe, are collected and at the end of the show will be symbolically forwarded. Apart from the physical cards, the sculpture is a poignant reminder of the relationship of the earth and the sky and the here and the departed.
‘And all directions, i come to you’ is a contemporary dance performance that moves through the North Woods of the park. The dancers move through the rough pathways of the woods, their audience following them.
Their presence is airy, their movements delicate, ethereal. Though choreographed, the movements seem so spontaneous and magical.
Don’t let their gazelle-like appearance deceive you; these dancers are a hardy lot! This is one of the teams that kept performing all through the rain, that too on the muddy pathways of the woods!
Presented by the conceptual artist Lauri Stallings and performed by nine artists from Glo, the experimental performance platform founded by Stallings, this is one show that you can watch for hours without the fear of getting bored ever.
Central Park is a haven for bird watchers… And Nina Katchadourian’s ‘The Lamppost Weavers’ replicates the habits of birds of using human objects for building nests. Made out of basket balls, footballs and old shoes, these points out the connection between wild life and human utilitarian items.
These pseudo birds’ nests hang from the lamp posts, but the Department of Transportation did not want the real lamp post arms used for anything other than actual lamps. So the curators of the show had to build pseudo arms to hang them from!
‘Black Joy in the Hour of Chaos’, presented by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, is an animated, energetic performance of dance, music and poetry. Inspired by present day racial politics, the performance looks back to the movements in the African-American history and the legacy of hip-hop.
Following the style of the second line parades of New Orleans, the performance, on the Great Hill of the park, is lively and vibrant.
Each of these shows is unique and contributes to making the whole an unforgettable experience.
Drifting in Daylight forms the center piece of Central Park Conservancy’s 35th anniversary celebrations this year. What is special about this show is the way it deviates from the typical performance or installation art. It has that element of surprise that adds to the thrill of enjoyment, as you discover each of the pieces along the meandering paths. And as you make that discovery, you also discover that each artwork fits so perfectly and naturally to its surroundings as if born right there!
21 Jun 2015
Someone recently asked me… what’s so special about the marathon? Why are people, generally not interested in athletics, so keen on running it? The easiest answer was ‘prestige’. Prestige and pride. The sense of accomplishment. The immense way it makes one feel good about oneself.
It is not about the running – in fact, running is the least of it – it is all about one’s self perception. The discipline and dedication needed to get to the level of training required for a marathon is tremendous. And of long duration. To prove that one can adhere to the punishing schedules with the accompanying scarifices for as long as it takes, to oneself more than to any others… there are not too many achievements that compare, at least in my opinion.
Training for a marathon brings structure and organisation to one’s life, often calling for life style changes. The fact that one can take all that in stride, and focus on a goal not tied to any financial goals… isn’t it proof enough of a person’s strength of character? Yes, that’s it… being able to prove that one has that kind of grit and purpose is what makes it so great. And of course, the bragging rights granted for life, doesn’t hurt either! 🙂
Spectators line the entire 26.2 miles – 26.219 miles to be exact – of the route the runners take, cheering them on. They bring placards and signs and personal messages to encourage the runners. The spectator involvement is so great that it actually amounts to a vicarious participation in the event. The energy of the crowd is palpable and contagious.
I went there to see the event and take some pictures… and came back with a hoarse throat with all that cheering!
The New York City Marathon route passes through all five boroughs of New York City, starting in Staten Island and going through Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx (passing through Manhattan) and ending at the Central Park in Manhattan. It is held on the first Sunday of November.
NYC Marathon has the largest participation among all the marathons run anywhere in the world, with both professionals and amateurs participating. Anyone who will be 18 years of age or older on November 1, the following year can participate in the race. This year, 50,530 participants finished the race with an average time of 4 hours 34 minutes and 45 seconds.
Wilson Kipsang of Kenya won the 2014 NYC Marathon, along with the $ 500,000 World Marathon Majors championship, with a timing of 2 hours 10 minutes and 59 seconds. The second place – with a difference of 7 seconds, yes… seconds! – was taken by Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia.
Among the women competitors, Mary Keitany claimed the first place with a timing of 2 hours 25 minutes and 7 seconds, just ahead of Jemima Sumgong by 3 seconds, both of them from Kenya. Mary Keitany placed third in 2010 and 2011, but hadn’t run in the race the last two years as she was on maternity leave.
The NYC Marathon is organised by New York Road Runners and has been held every year since 1970, except in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy made landfall around that time.
Demand for participation is so high that runners are selected by a lottery system. The start of the run is at 10:10 a.m, though it is regulated by a staggered start for different groups. The time limit for the completion of the run is 8 hours 30 minutes.
Running time is recorded by a computer chip attached to the runner’s bib, which records the crossing of timing mats located along the course.
Several TV stations in and around New York broadcast the marathon live. It can also be watched online.
However, the NYC Marathon is not just an ego boost for the runners; it has a major economic impact as well. Through the event, millions of dollars are raised for non-profits and charitable organizations. It also generates millions of tourist dollars for New York City.
Several organizations support their own team of runners and have an active presence at the marathon over the years.
Guides running with a participant in a wheelchair to help him along. In 2000, a new official division was introduced for participants using wheelchairs and handcycles.
Some of the messages on the shirt fronts of runners are quite interesting. This guy has definitely scored some points with his honey!
The runners have their names on their official bib and often on their shirts. We, the spectators, are encouraged to cheer by name, especially if we see someone tiring. However, we were told not to shout “almost there” as it might have a negative impact!
You can always see some interesting costumes at the run.
If you ever – ever – feel dispirited, inadequate, lethargic… or are on the brink of giving up on anything, all you need is a visit to the NYC Marathon to change your mood, to pick you up, to boost your candoo attitude sky high! The cheering of the crowds is enough to pick you up and hasten your footsteps even before you reach the runside! If you haven’t done so already, do add it to your bucket list!
BTW, I saw my first Salvation Army bell ringer of the season today… Also, holiday muzac is on everywhere… in the malls, in the elevator, even in the train station! WooHoo!
23 Nov 2014
I think I have mentioned that the salt mine that employs me, is located in Times Square. Yes, right bang in the middle of the universe. Yesterday, we were all at work when the public address system sputtered up. Usually that thing is used to announce fire drills, but this was in the afternoon and fire drills happen in the morning. Could it be a real fire? “Attention please… 42nd Street is closed between 7th and 8th avenues due to police activity. There is a possible jumper somewhere on 42nd.” What? Possible jumper? On 42nd? In a minute, we were at the windows.
From the 14th floor, where I’m located, we had a direct view of that part of 42nd Street. This is what we saw…
There is this guy in a white shirt sitting on the wall of the terrace. And there are cops in different uniforms on the terrace, but most of them are keeping their distance. There are a few near the guy and actually talking to him. But even they are being careful not to get too close as they do not want to trigger any unwanted action.
It is 3 pm when the announcement is made. We don’t know how long he has been out on the wall. Looks like he is on the building that houses the ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ museum and ‘Dave & Buster’s’ diner.
Right next to Madame Tussaud’s. Must be around 12th floor height as he is slightly lower than out 14th floor.
The road below, 42nd St, has been closed off to all traffic, including pedestrians. We can see the police tape and vehicles blocking the traffic on one side. And the police below have positioned an inflated thingammie right below where a person would land in case he decided to jump.
See, that things is taller than a person! Meanwhile there are non-stop comments and conversations on our floor. What could motivate a person to go to such a drastic measure as committing suicide? Someone expresses the opinion that a person seriously planning suicide would never do so in such a public fashion; he wants to get something, that’s all. Some others are quick to refute… there are so many instances of people actually committing suicide in a very public fashion… what about that? I zoom the camera and look at him…
He seems to be quietly talking to the cops nearby. But not really looking at them. What could the cops be talking to him? What is there to say? Come on down and everything will be okay? I was fervently hoping the cops would be able to get through to him. Anyways, they were talking…
And I notice… the position of his legs. Apparently he is more relaxed now. And he is leaning towards the cops now. By this time, it is 4 pm… my usual time to leave for home. But there is no question of me going home, leaving that guy perched on the wall; I have to see the end of this. We are off and on going to the windows, checking up on progress. Things seem to be at a standstill. The talking continues. It is 4.30… 4.45… I’m at my desk. Suddenly, there is some noise from those at the windows. I rush… there is a collective sigh of relief. The cops are helping the guy from the wall!
He is led away, by a group of cops. Seem to be continuing to talk as they move inside the building. We couldn’t really make out whether he had cuffs on.
All is well that ends well! Time to go home. As I walk out of the building, I notice that 42nd Street is not yet opened. The police vehicles are jus leaving…
Okay, so these were the people talking to him! Great work, guys!
Here is a local report of the event… and another one.
17 Oct 2014
Being educated in a missionary school part of the time, I’m pretty much familiar with the array of saints. At least so I thought. Till I found out that the legions of towns and municipalities in Italy have their own patron saints! Prominent among them is San Gennaro who is the patron saint of Naples.
Little Italy in downtown New York celebrates the Feast of San Gennaro every year. This year the feast started on the 11th of September and will last till the 21st.
The statue of San Gennaro in front of the Most Precious Blood Church at Mulberry Street. Devotees pin their offerings to the streamers hanging from the base of the statue.
According to Catholic beliefs, San Gennaro was the bishop of Naples in the 3rd century AD, and became a martyr to his faith, being beheaded by Roman emperor Diocletian who persecuted Christian believers. According to the faithful, a vial of his blood kept in the Naples Cathedral turns back into liquid form on three days important to his history, every year.
Decorations of green, white and red, the colours of the Italian flag
The tradition of celebrating the feast of San Gennaro started in 1926, in Little Italy where the early immigrants from the country had first settled. Over a million people participate in the event every year.
Colourful parades, musical entertainment, and fun events like cannoli and pizza eating competitions are all part of the celebrations. And food, plenty of food, is of course the main focus of the feast. And the word ‘feast’ is not used loosely here… it is a real feast, with food and drink in abundance. More than 35 of the restaurants along Mulberry Street participate with extended temporary dining areas to accommodate the feast goers. This is in addition to 200+ street vendors lining Mulberry Street and selling varieties of Italian food, from the exotic to the mundane.
And of course, traffic along Mulberry Street is shut down for the duration of the feast.
Sausages, meatballs, calzones, pasta, and pizza… in all their varieties were present, but my attention was mainly towards the sweet side.
We sampled everything except the fried oreos. I have eaten fried oreos once earlier, around the time they first appeared. Would I eat them again? Maybe, if the alternative is death by starvation… Haha!
One Italian speciality going fast was torrone. It is a kind of candy made out of sugar and various nuts. The best way to describe their texture is to point to the hammers found in the stalls selling them!
Stuffed clams ready to go into the oven at a seafood stall…
Attractive cocktail containers that you can take with you. And what is more, it is free refills!
If you don’t really care for the cocktails, there are soft drinks.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable time will be yours, regardless of which day you go!
12 Sep 2014
The Union Square Green Market is an eternal source of goodies, any time of the year. Still, the best season at the market is the summer. The lush abundance of nature’s bounty on display is like so much eye candy, and something truly exciting to any food lover.
Most weeks during the summer, I make a side step to the market on the way from work. There is always something of interest to pick up… a bunch of green garlic, a block of unusual cheese from an upstate dairy, or a black and white cookie… among the mounds of produce that is piled up in the stalls.
The variety of produce available in the market is amazing. And most of them are organically cultivated. All in all, any locavore’s dream come true! If I did not have to commute home, I would be doing all my veggie shopping here, without a doubt!
On a recent visit, the place looked fully loaded despite the signs of a waning summer. Just walking along the tables was enough to make one hungry!
And more vegetables…
Multi-hued root vegetables looking especially pretty…
Tomatoes in all shapes and colours…
Celery root, one of my favourite things…
Some speciality garlic…
Squashes, summer and winter…
Varieties of chilies…
Jams, jellies and preserves…
Cookies, pies and breads…
Interesting small batch wines…
Hard cider made from local apples…
Ready to eat salad mixes…
And this time, there was even a ‘Harey Krishna’ group performing at the market!
09 Sep 2014
A bridge that symbolizes everything that is great and eternally inspiring about a city, that stands towering high bringing joy to the beholder from far or near, at the same time functioning as a major artery of traffic connecting the city, and has contributed to the lexicon of English language… is there any other bridge in the country – no, the world – as grand as the Brooklyn Bridge?
And one of the key figures behind the construction of this great bridge was Emily Warren Roebling, the daughter in law of John Roebling who designed the bridge and started the construction. When John Roebling died of tetanus, his son Washington Roebling took over charge of the construction. Unfortunately, Washington was afflicted by caisson disease, the decompression sickness caused apparently by long hours spent under water. He became bed-ridden, his wife Emily stepped in as the ‘first woman field engineer’ and saw to the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Emily functioned as the construction supervisor and project manager for the construction. And as the only person who saw Washington Roebling in his sick bed, she was the link between him and his assistants at the work site. She gained extensive knowledge and understanding of the technologies involved, with training from her husband. She performed the chief engineer’s duties and supervised the day-to-day construction while her husband watched the bridge going up, through binoculars, from their residence at 110 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn. According to reports, Emily Roebling was the first person to cross the bridge by carriage ahead of the official opening, carrying a rooster as a sign of victory. I found this a very interesting story and went looking for some image of the event. And see what I found!
When it was opened to the public on May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world and the tallest man-made structure in the American continent. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service, and a New York City Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
As the name implies, the Brooklyn Bridge connects the burroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan in New York city. At present, the bridge carries 6 lanes of automobile traffic, with an elevated walkway for pedestrians and bicycles in the center.
As you can imagine, the view from the bridge is breathtaking. And it is a vantage point to observe the way the look of the New York city skyline changes to reflect the time of day. Whether in the day or night, it is something that you can keep watching!
A rather new phenomenon I noticed on the bridge is the way people have attached all sorts of things to the sides of the bridge. It used to be locks previously, following the belief that if couples put their names on a lock that is locked onto a bridge and throw down the keys into the water below, their love will be everlasting!
But these days there is all kinds of stuff being tied to the railings, including ear phones and plastic paper. Really an eyesore!
Brooklyn Bridge has featured in many books, movies and songs. Most noteworthy is ‘The Bridge’, an epic poem by Hart Crane, the well-known American poet. What a coincidence that he lived for a while at 110 Columbia Heights, the same address where the Roeblings used to live!
And there are plenty of works about the bridge as well. The Great Bridge by David McCullough, published in 1972 and the PBS documentary film, Brooklyn Bridge, made by Ken Burns in 1981 are prominent among the lot.
By the way, the usage “If you believe that, then I have a bridge to sell you” has its origin with George Parker, a master con man who managed to sell the Brooklyn Bridge, several times, to gullible customers. Apparently, he convinced them that they could make a fortune controlling the access to the bridge! Other public landmarks he managed to sell, again many times over, included Madison Square Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grant’s Tomb and the Statue of Liberty. 🙂
These days the word ‘amazing’ has lost all meaning, through overuse. But this is one case where it should be used in its true full meaning… AMAZING! And that is the most apt word to describe this great icon of this great city!
19 Aug 2014
Today was a lovely day at the beach! A group of us friends spent the perfect weather day with burgers and beer and overall fun. We stayed till after dark, watching the lights coming on across the bay. From nowhere a cool breeze and a chill descended on us. Such a sudden change! Another reminder of the nature’s unpredictable ways… don’t know why, but my mind went back to the memory of another disaster, a couple years back.
I came back from Canada Sunday afternoon, and all the talk (on TV, people at the airport, the newspaper waiting for me) is about Hurricane Sandy, which was supposed to hit us on Monday. Our apartment building is right on the banks of Passaic River, only a road separating the two. And the river was sure to get some storm surge; only question was how much. Estimates went up to 9-11 feet. The lower floor of the building is the parking lot, which was sure to flood. So Sunday night we took our cars to a parking garage at a higher location. I went out and bought non-perishable food like rolls-buns-muffins-cupcakes-pretzels-chips-cookies-chocolates-peanut butter-jams-jellies-fruits etc. And lots of water too. Candles, LED lights, matches all ready.
The wind is going hard whole day; rain too. By around 6.30, the wind quiets down and I’m like ‘Okay, so that’s all. Much ado about nothing.’ Spot on at 7, the lights go off. So I light up some candles and settle down to read my book. My house windows face onto Reynolds Avenue, and in about 30 minutes I see cop cars with their lights on, on that road. They are placing traffic cones to block traffic on Passaic Avenue, the road in front of our building. So I take a light and go to the front corridor with windows facing front. What I see is water creeping in from the river and flowing along the road. Other people come out of their houses and we all go to the front door. Building’s emergency lights are working fine in the corridors and front lobby. By this time, quite a crowd has gathered in the lobby. Water level in the road keeps going higher and water starts to go up on Reynolds Ave. As we watch, water begins to flow into the garage. The emergency lights last one hour (no one expects a power failure to last more than that!) and now they go out. Pitch dark except for the flash lights and candles. And people whose cars were still in the garage get panicky and they start to move the cars out. Just then, the cops come into the building. They look around, go into the garage… and order us to evacuate. I had only one thing to say… ‘Yeah, right!’ And said that to the cop. There were others determined not to go into the raging storm. So we went back to our homes. Later the cops came banging on each door asking people to leave. I didn’t even bother to open the door.
From my window, I could see the cops evacuating people from the houses across the road. By this time it was 8.30. Really felt sorry for those people as surely the water will recede as soon as high tide gets over after 9. Six houses… The saddest was when they had to carry an old lady on a portable stretcher. The funniest was when one family came out with their dog without a leash, and the dog started running around in the water with four cops and the dog owners running after it! The cops had even brought a small boat! They tried using it, but the bottom kept scraping the road surface as there was not enough water. Soon they put it back on the fire engine which was standing by too.
At 10, when I was ready for bed, the river water had started flowing in the opposite direction, back to the river taking all the debris with it. At 12.30, when I got up to take a look, the road was completely dry.
For the rest of the week, we had no electricity. No fridge, no TV. No telephone; no way to charge the cell phone. The weather is very cold, and no heating. Fortunately, we survived all that. For a week, I wasn’t able to fill gas in my car as there was no gas and the lines were so long where it was available. No way to get to work for a week… even if we could get there the office was not open as parts of downtown Manhattan still did not have power.
And my beloved Jersey Shore was in shambles, along with all the beach areas in Queens and Staten Island…
Life goes on…
18 Jul 2014
At some time or other, we have all been touched by the kindness of strangers. I’m not talking about someone helping you with a heavy suitcase down the staircase at the train station or holding the door for you when you are loaded with shopping bags. Those are actions of the moment, without much thought behind them, more like reflexes of good manners. What I’m referring to are actions that are the results of conscious decisions to help others with no thought of personal gain.
The other day I was listening to ‘This American Life’ on NPR, and the story was about unusual acts of kindness by strangers. What was unusual about them was that some of the stories were not even intended as acts of kindness. Like, the guy who walked along the subway platform, telling each waiting passenger that were either in or out. The story goes on to narrate how inspiring it was to be told ‘you’re in’, though it meant nothing and was just a random muttering from a stranger. Was there an intention here to help people feel good? I would rather doubt it, but the end result was that it made others happy.
Listening to the stories, I was reminded of an incident, two summers ago, when I was subject to an act of kindness – actually, more like a present – from a stranger.
It was around 2 pm and I was waiting for a train to downtown, to meet a friend for a movie. As usual I had a book with me, and sat reading as I was a few minutes early. Suddenly I got this feeling that eyes were upon me and looking up saw this person watching me intently. I looked around; lots of people on the platform, so no need to worry. Ignoring the watching eyes I returned my attention to the book.
Time for the train and I got up and walked out. The person approached me smiling and started speaking. It was easy to say, ‘sorry, I don’t speak Spanish’. He extended a small card towards me and kept talking in a mix of English and Spanish. The only words I could get were… ‘for you… books… to read’. He pushed the card into my hand. I looked down and saw that it was a Barnes & Noble gift card. Like a true New Yorker I thought… Oh, the guy wants to sell me the card – probably blank. Yeah, right!
By this time, the train was approaching the platform. I tried to give the card back to him. But he wouldn’t take it and kept explaining. What I could grasp from his talk was this: he was a visitor to the city and was going back that day. Did not have time to use the card, and so wanted to give it to me.
The train doors were open, and it was easier to say ‘thank you’ and get in to the train than continue arguing with him. And I was careful to sit far away from where he sat. I pushed the card into the book I was reading.
I did not think of it further till I was passing in front of the Barnes & Noble store on Broadway (which has since closed). Went in and checked to see if the card was of any value. How much do you think was on that card? 78 dollars! I was amazed, to say the least. And truly felt ashamed at being so suspicious of the guy’s intentions!
Why did he pick me to make a present of the card? I cannot make a guess, except maybe it was because I was the only one reading a serious book on the station platform.
I still remember two of the books I bought with that card… ‘Unaccustomed Earth’ by Jhumpa Lahiri and ‘Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas’ by Tom Robbins, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed!
20 Jun 2014
If anyone was asked to name the most heard of street – road, highway, boulevard, whatever – in the world, the universal answer will be ‘Broadway’! Reaching far back into history, and glorified in so many works of fiction and poetry, this thoroughfare could be the most identifiable single element of the great city of New York!
This is the oldest north-south arterial road in New York, existing from pre-Dutch times, when it was just a trail used by the native Americans. With the Dutch settling at the southern end of Manhattan island in 1620s, it became a country road extending north, beyond the gates of the settlement at present-day Wall Street. Today Broadway runs the length of Manhattan, starting at Bowling Greens in the south and moving out of Manhattan past 220th Street. (Actually, it extends further another 20 miles, to end at Sleeping Hollow in Westchester county, but it’s the Manhattan part that matters, right?)
Broadway could not be contained within the grid system of New York City roads, adopted in 1811, and goes diagonally for most of its way through midtown. That also explains the curious shapes of some of the buildings at Broadway’s intersections. A prime example of this will the Flatiron Building.
Starting with an impromptu parade on October 28, 1886 to celebrate the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, Broadway has always been the place for parades. A parade could be to honour a visiting head of state or someone with a major achievement, or to celebrate a victory in a sports event or anything else significant. Thus did Broadway get the sobriquet ‘Canyon of Heroes’.
The new generation may not – will not – remember the quarter inch ticker tapes that carried the stock prices from the exchanges and spewed out by the stock ticker machine. As the lower part of Broadway has always been lined on either side by financial institutions and brokerage firms, they had a lot of this ticker tape lying around. So what was more natural than showering some of it on the procession going down on Broadway… yep, just like confetti! And thus did the parades on Broadway get the name ticker tape parades.
These days, the ticker tape parades go from Battery Park to the City Hall. And each parade is commemorated by a granite strip with the name of the person being honoured set into the sidewalk of the Canyon of Heroes.
Only, instead of the ticker tape, paper from the shredder is most often used!
Along the Broadway are Wall Street, Zuccotti Park of Occupy Wall Street fame, Trinity Church, City Hall Park, Union Square, Times Square, Columbus Circle and Central Park, Columbia University, The Cloisters, and a host of other interesting places.
And these days Broadway has become a synonym for theatre in NYC! Mainly for the reason that the theatre district where the majority of the playhouses are located, is right on the Broadway. And from there, you have off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway performances as well! And if you want to snag some discount tickets, that can be done at the ticket kiosk at Times Square too!
Ticket booth at Times Square
Food trucks along Broadway, downtown
A random thought… wouldn’t it be great to do a full walking trip of the Broadway, from one end of Manhattan to the other? Say for example, start at Broadway Bridge at the top of Manhattan and walk all the way to Bowling Green… sounds awesome! So here it is… before this summer is over, I’m going to do that. It takes me around 15 minutes to walk a mile; 13 miles in a day will be easy-peasy! One more item added to the summer fun!
16 May 2014
Soon after I had moved to the mid-town office (The salt mine I work at has offices all over the world!), I had taken a happy break from winter, going to work from our Bangalore office. So it had been a while since I was in downtown New York. Okay, five months, but this is New York and a lot can happen in five months! And recently when I went to meet a few friends there, it was like a new place… all exciting and interesting! And of course, I went on a lunch time walk. So this is for all my friends who used to share that walk in times gone by…
The first noticeable change was the new connection to the Winter Garden from the World Trade Center PATH station. Gone is the bridge and corridor overlooking the construction site at WTC. The high ceilinged concourse is stunning, with the pillars arching over, way above the pedestrians. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the concourse is part of the transportation center at the WTC, scheduled to open in 2015. The concourse will have shops lining the sides when whole construction is complete.
The Winter Garden is also being redone, of course, without changing the iconic basic structure.
The trees outside the winter garden always reminded me of candelabras in their winter state. And in the next week or so, those branches will be adorned with green leaf clusters, obscuring the structure of the branches, but providing such delightful shade to people taking their lunch break under them.
The trees have already started sprouting buds, even as last year’s dry seeds are still hanging on.
Squirrels are already busy starting their collection for the next winter. Come on buddies, don’t worry… winter is sooo far away!
It is a wonderful walk along the tree lined walkway to the battery Park, with river Hudson on one side.
I love the blue lights along the South Cove where one can climb up on the viewing towers to get a good look at the Hudson traffic and the Statue of Liberty.
And there are interesting art works as you continue past the South Cove. One of the art works always aroused speculation among us though its name was clearly written. I have seen people looking at it from all angles to see what the artist wanted them to see, instead of what a first look told them. Here is the artwork for you…
There is one willow tree that I take note every year; it is one of the first to sprout and it is ever beautiful with its delicate tresses waving in the breeze from the river.
At the corner of Battery Park is Pier A, originally constructed in 1886 and in use variously by the New York City Department of Docks and Harbor Police till 1992. It is the oldest historic pier in the city and is a designated New York City Landmark. Currently, it is being restored and will be home to an oyster bar and restaurant.
Charming is the apt word to describe the Manhattan skyline from this point. The red stones of the old buildings and the blue reflection on the new 1 World Trade Center tower look so well matched.
From the Battery Park, I turn to Broadway and the walk back. Of course, saying Hi to the Wall Street bull.
The history of that bull and how it came to be in that spot is a story connected to the illustrious past of this financial capital of the world. Another time…
09 May 2014