Just a bit more than a week since I came back from New York… This little time was necessary to rest, but also to digitize the films I shot there.
Here’s the first part.
So. Back from a journey during which I discovered the Big Apple, New York City, at the center of many dreams, and journey that expanded these ones. I spent 7 days in the city with Antoine, a friend and journalist in Montreal. 7 days, walking around 66 miles and carrying 20 lb at every moment, not to leave any of my 3 cameras and 5 lenses behind (this is something I can’t do in a city like that )…
Rather than splitting the story by neighborhood, or by keeping it linear (following our daily path), I prefer to do it in a funny way, by using the time of each photo I took. An hourly route, in a single day, from sunrise to the night that follows, almost like a great adventure of Jack Bauer: 24 long, intense and exhausting hours.
This is pure fiction, do not attempt to do this in a single day.
The following takes place between 7:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.
The alarm sounds, another great day is starting! Antoine keeps sleeping, I go out because I have things to do before we start our “touristic” day.
A quick shower and I go to the “88 Orchard“, a little coffee shop, really nice, and just by the apartment. Regular coffee, chocolate croissant for the energy. I empty my memory cards containing yesterday’s pictures on my laptop, and I continue writing this letter I have to send for a job in San Francisco…
Back at the apartment just before 9 a.m., and we start our visit with what’s at the door.
9:00 a.m. Chinatown. Little Italy.
We live in the middle of Chinatown. Its streets full of life are ours as soon as we leave our place. We just have to cross Allen St. or walk along Canal St. to be in the heart of the neighborhood and see newspapers full of sinograms, hear a language we don’t understand and watch at Asian kids waiting patiently for their school to open.
Walking a bit farther to the West, we literally move to another continent in a few meters. From China to Italy. Lille Italy. Here again, we have no doubt about where we are: colors, smells, sounds… everything leads us back to the Mediterranean spirit. And if you don’t really feel the change, be sure that you will see it quickly: from “Chiu Hong Bakery Incorporated” to “Caffe Roma”. There is a cap, but just a few steps to cross it.
Perfect timing! Today is the first day of the San Gennaro annual celebration. For that, Mulberry St. is closed and given back to pedestrians, between Houston St. and Canal St.. Shared good mood. A lot to drink, to eat, and to discover. Here we sing in Italian, mixed sometimes with English, we dance. For a few minutes, I really feel like I’m back in Europe…
What else to see in the area ? If you want to do some shopping, Broadway St. is just there, with its miles of aligned stores. You can also walk up to Union Square, a bit more than a mile up North, but I’ll get to that later. The time is running, and we have to move on.
10:00 a.m. Rockefeller Center.
A quick shot of subway and we are on 47th (I like the way of naming the streets… “I’m on 47th St.”), up against the Rockefeller Center. Huge complex which encloses the Radio City Music Hall, some of the NBC Studios, and a lot of stores (we’ll get to that later, trust me… one thing at a time).
We buy our CityPass, which will give us access to 7 activities in NYC, and it’s time to get in the elevator. We go up quickly and arrive at the 70th floor. The view is amazing. Looking to the North, Central Park seems to be at our fingertips, to the South, the Empire State Building raises in front of us, calling us. The “Top of the Rock” may be a touristic attraction, it also stays in our mind as a great memory of beauty and simplicity.
Here are the first publications of the shots made with my two new film cameras: a Diana F+, a 120 mm-film camera and a Sprocket Rocket which takes amazing panoramic pictures on 35 mm films. Both are made of plastic and aluminum, but both have this indefinable style and give really gorgeous results.
Last pictures and down we go. 70 floors below. We cross the Rockefeller Plazza, where the restaurants are replaced by an ice-skiing rink during winter. One last photo of the Rockefeller and…
… and here… a LEGO Store! (yes, I was a famous and accredited LEGO builder when I was a kid). I’m happy, this is really beautiful too!
Already?! Wait! I want to stay in the LEGO Store! OK, I buy a souvenir, I can’t leave without one!
10:30 a.m. Liberty Island. Ellis Island.
OK! Back to the subway, going South this time.
Liberty Island is the island where the Liberty Statue is and stands. This is awesome, we don’t have to wait, the ferry is here for us, our planning is perfect, we are on time, this is a perfect world.
She’s beautiful. She’s tall. She’s green. Everything is set to make me fall in love with her.
We go around the island, I take pictures for a couple of tourists (if you want peace in a place like that, DON’T walk with three cameras around your neck, and one which looks like a-big-and-very-professional-camera-because-it-has-so-many-buttons), and it’s time to get on board again to get to Ellis Island.
Ellis Island was the point of entry for all the immigrants who went to the US at the beginning of the 20th century (Kate and Jack should have gone through this place).
The main building is now a museum dedicated to the ones who had this big dream. There is a small park at the North of the island, in which you can find tablets with the names of 200,000 immigrants. I find there the name of some of my relatives.
The time is still running, we still have a lot to do. We have to go back to the ferry, there’s no time for a nap (eh Antoine!). Direction…
11:20 a.m. Downtown.
Downtown, also named Lower Manhattan, is the Southerner neighborhood of the island of Manhattan. Business district, economical capital of the world, home of the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange), Gound Zero area…
Though the place is really dense, hyperactive and over-busy, it really stays charming and beautiful. Different architectures, glass and stone playing together, steel and wood facing each other.
Ground Zero, where the two towers were. The place is really solemn, the atmosphere is almost uncomfortable. The construction of the new towers is in progress. The museum will open on Nov. 11, 2011.
11:59 a.m.… To be continued.