I arrived in the afternoon at Penn Station at 34th street. By this point I had all but conquered the trains, but now something new challenged me: The subway.
At first, I stood in the station for more than a little while scratching my head in confusion. I asked a few people what to do and they helpfully pointed me in the right direction. Pretty much all of the subway system smelled like urine and looked as though they were just short of finishing construction. There were cables hanging everywhere and the thought that crossed my mind was, "What would happen if I would snip the blue wire ... maybe the red one?"
I definitely had an idea of what to expect once in NYC, and it was a good one until the end.
One day, I took a subway train from 34th Street station to 103rd Street and Broadway. Suddenly, I popped my head above ground and out of the station stairs, and there it was... New York City!
I arrived midday because I was slow to move around with my 60+ pounds of gear. The temperature was cool, as in every other city, and I was surrounded by tall buildings, as in every other city. Questioning the sketchiness of the area immediately, I realized that even though it may have looked bad, that was nowhere near the truth. Soon I arrived at what I would call home for the next week or so and met my new best friend, Brian Yorkey!
I cannot thank him enough for being so kind and letting me stay for free and drink all of his Diet Coke. Brian if you are reading this, you're the man. To cap it all off, I grabbed some pizza and got some sleep for the next day, my first real day in NYC.
That first day, I decided to take everyone's advice and check out the different areas simply by walking all the way down Broadway, heading from 106th Street all the way to 42nd Street. Immediately, I was distracted by the Mecca of all photography stores, BHPhotoVideo. I was in there for quite some time without buying a thing (needless to say I was very proud of myself).
When I arrived at Times Square, I simply enjoyed the tourists and sights for awhile. I ate, more pizza (of course) and after thinking about checking out some Broadway shows I headed home. I decided I didn't want to hop on the Subway again and so I walked right through Central Park. At night. I enjoyed the walk quite a bit despite the fact that my phone map and the paths kept me dazed and confused. At times, I would end up walking halfway across the park before realizing I had missed a pathway I needed. Eventually I made it home and slept like a baby after my first eventful day.
Day Two in the Big Apple was spent walking through the park again during the day and then taking a trip to The Big Apple. This Big Apple of course would be the famous Fifth Avenue Apple store.
This was the first time I was truly shocked by something I saw in New York. Of course you're now questioning my sanity, because there are so many other epic things to see in NYC. But I said it was the first, not the only. I took a few photos, like a normal Apple fanatic would, and entered the Apple kingdom. I spiraled around the staircase and was shocked by the number of people inside the store. My main purpose for being there, other than fanaticism, was to back up my photos. And so I backed them up on one of the hard to locate free computers and afterward I flashed my fancy Apple badge to one of the employees and asked for a tour.
The employees were so nice and welcoming and so many of them were from the San Diego area that it was odd. I finished the tour with meeting just about every person there. After saying my goodbyes I headed back out and through the park. I stumbled upon a really cool, well lit room with an interesting ceiling and settled in for a few images.
I shook off my fear of the confusing subway the next morning and stuffed my face with two bagels from the local bagel shop. Little did I know it was going to be the day I viewed the second structure that shocked me.
I tried to take the train to Brooklyn but my lack of subway knowledge combined with no phone service to help me complicated matters. I had meant to stop at one point but instead got off the train ... when it ended. Where did it end? Well, that would just happen to be in the middle of the ghetto. The ghetto, where white people have a population of zero, the same ghetto where I felt like I'd been robbed and beaten before it happened.
To comfort myself, I grabbed some pizza and then left before anything could happen. And so I got back on the train and off at Clark Street. There is a memorial there and the area was very upscale. As I walked near the water, I knew the filmic bridge was close. Eventually, I walked onto a river front walkway and there it was before me, the Brooklyn Bridge.
Wow. This guy blew me away.
The sheer size of it was unbelievable. I walked right up to it and just starting taking a crazy amount of photos. Walking on both sides of it, I shot it from through a building and over the water. (More drooling over the bridge to be found in my next blog post.) Finally, I headed over the bridge by foot. Not surprisingly, the wow factor continued all the way over the bridge. I stopped for a bit in the center to take in the views of the city.
The view of New York City from Brooklyn is just amazing. From the inside the city, it's hard to tell just how big it is. But the view from the bridge answers that question definitively — NYC is the queen of cities. This is one beast of a city, where King Kong (almost) called home, and to where millions flock to change their lives daily. While in the center of the bridge, I looked to my left and saw another shocker, the Statue of Liberty. I was wowed and semi-scared to looked, and the awe inspiring nature of it reminded me of Lincoln's Memorial in D.C. I took the subway home safely and ended it with none other than pizza.
I got a late start on Nov. 13, but treated it with bagels and headed toward Wall Street. I know you are probably wondering if all I ate was pizza and bagels ... well, yes. Why change something so good?
Anyway, I arrived at Wall Street, which had surprisingly more tourists than most other areas. I saw all the big important man buildings and saw the raging bull. Next I headed over to Ground Zero which I expected to be my fourth shocking sight but when I arrived, there was nothing really to see. The area was surrounded by gates which had banners on them describing what the area will look like and where to find information. As a tourist, I assumed there would be some kind of viewing platform or area made for viewing Ground Zero, but I was mistaken. I ventured over to Battery Park and soon after it started drizzling. I headed home but on my way I took some images of the new Upper West Side Apple Store.
The day before I had applied to a Chase Jarvis Social, and I surprisingly got an email invite. The group was to meet up at a photo studio in SoHo at 9 am. Chase was nothing but inspiring and humble. I learned quite a bit and before he sent us off into the world, Sandisk and Chase gave us CF cards! We were all so excited and grateful for such generosity.
Chase then told us to go out and shoot. We would shoot images to bring back to the second meet-up. We all left the studio headed out into the drizzle. I didnt think I would have to get out the umbrella but shortly after the rain came and it did not hold back. By the time I was at Grand Central Station, I was soaked from the knees down. I decided the station would be a good place to shoot rain or shine, an also to wait out the rain (maybe even to dry off a little).
Now that I think of it, Grand Central Station could be the next item on the list of sights that shocked. It's an older building surrounded by skyscrapers and still in use; I didn't find too many popular destinations that were still in heavy use such as the station. With my soaked shoes and love for this hobby, I went over to Times Square to shoot it in the rain. I walked until my feel were so pruned that I couldn't take the pain and cold anymore and headed home.
I edited a couple images a bit early for Chase and the New York crew. Then I was notified by BHPhoto that my bag was in stock (OK, so I did end up buying something from the Mecca.), so I walked out of the house with just lenses and a camera. I didn't end up getting the bag I'd ordered, but long story short I love my new bag. :)
After, I headed down to meet with the CJ group, but not before I saw a street fair near Hells Kitchen and took some images there. There were some really unique knickknacks with a cool skyline in the background. I met early with a few of the photographers from the group and we wandered around. We ended up at the studio on time and a bit more familiar with each other. As we sat down with Chase, we had an open Q&A for a few hours with him before we broke out all the food and drinks. I got a chance to ask him a few questions, with pleasing answers. Chase and crew drank quite a bit, which led to a lot of good laughs. I left with a few people and we chatted till we went our separate ways at our stops.
The day after the rain, was one of the first days that the skies were blue and so I headed down to the Brooklyn Bridge to reshoot the bridge and surrounding area. This time, I got off at the right exit and knew my way around. I shot everything and while in the middle of it all my tripod broke. I dealt with the tripod the rest of the day and unfortunately had to buy a new one at B&H.
The 17th was my last day in New York — I didn't expect it to be, but it was. I walked through Central Park during the day and ended up spending a lot of time in there. I realized I had spent a good amount of time enjoying New York and I had finally started missing San Diego. I planned a short trip to Boston that night and headed out in the morning. I truly felt I should have spent more time in New York but I decided it was time to move on.
It was about time for an early Amtrak ride to Boston.