Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Taking a Walk with Sandy

Oh Sandy.

Waterfront areas got it the worst with disastrous flooding. A family friend completely lost their house near Far Rockaway - the water just swept it away into the ocean. 

I live in a very elevated area, far removed from any bodies of water. The biggest problem we faced was the wind - boy was it fierce! At times, it sounded like a low flying airplane or massive truck rumbling down Broadway. 

We did not lose power (unless something happened while I was asleep), but our lights flickered occasionally throughout the evening. There are major power outages all around the tri-state area; I hope everyone is okay.

I had to walk downtown to an appointment earlier today as the MTA still has all service suspended. 

The brunt of the storm has now passed, but it left behind some nasty souvenirs. 

Sandy ruthlessly snapped off limbs of many trees along the streets of my neighborhood:

And whipped up fall leaves into wet piles making a mess in the streets:

After a scary incident with a partial crane collapse on 57th street, I've been wary of the tall cranes situated around my neighborhood.

Looks secure, though. I notice they hung an American flag on it. How cool! I'm sure it waved ferociously during the storm. 

Most stores have been closed and boarded up since yesterday:

Many have reinforced their windows with tape, hoping to hold back strong winds from blowing them in:

However, major grocery stores and some restaurants are still open, catering to the home-bound neighborhood. 

Seems like today is the day to go grocery shopping! Well, I guess if there's nothing else to do...

The checkout line was insanely long. (They are notoriously long at Fairway, but today was way worse).

The only positive thing I will say about Sandy (other than having 3 days off) is that she made everything smell quite nice. Fall leaves mixed with lots of fresh air from the wind, along with the rain which cleans the grime from the streets - the neighborhood smells like a fresh fall mist :-).

I hope everyone is doing okay and staying safe. 
Please email me your pictures! I will post them below.

Friday, October 19, 2012

On Commuting

Traveling to school and work takes up a hefty chunk of my day.

Well, it used to at least.

Queens College is a grand total of 1 hour away from where I live, and I take 3 trains and a bus to get there. I did this almost every day for the past 3 years.

At first it didn't bother me at all; I felt really cool "commuting" to school every day and getting out of Manhattan. But recently, it started to hit me. I started to dread the long and tedious commute.

Thankfully, I no longer have to commute to college every day. I now work part-time in Woodside, Queens, only 30 minutes and two trains away from home, and I only do the dreadful commute to college once a week.

What a difference!

Today, another employee at work shared with me that he lives in Spanish Harlem and it also only takes him 30 minutes to travel to Woodside. But he said, "it takes me over an hour to get to Washington Heights, and that's even closer to where I live than Woodside!"

"It's true," I concured, "it takes me close to an hour and 3 trains to reach the Lower East Side from my neighborhood, and that's fewer miles away than Woodside!"

I find it so mind-boggling that traveling on public transportation to another borough can take almost half the time as traveling within the same borough.

I am so grateful that I work somewhere directly off a train line; it cuts my traveling time in half, and I get to work cool, calm and collected. 

Perhaps I will write about Woodside in the future. I did some exploring and the neighborhood is quite nice!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Irish Hunger Memorial

credit: www.gothamist.com

Anyone guess what it is?

Well, I'll tell you.

The structure is the Irish Hunger Memorial, located in Battery Park City.

Credit: www.vipnyc.org

From around 1845-1852, a tremendous famine hit Ireland, killing over 1.5 million people. I learned about the Great Irish Hunger in my British History class last semester.

I learned that the Irish were seen as the lowest of the low by the British because they had different religious beliefs. Great Britain ruled over Ireland at the time, so their hatred resulted in terrible living conditions for the Irish.

The hunger is said to have been started by a fungus that arrived on a ship from America, and then contaminated the entire potato crop, the food they lived on. So the Irish starved.

To make matters worse, the British didn't do anything to help them.

Then came a huge blizzard, followed by a Typhus epidemic. It was really bad news.

As with most historical events, the Irish Hunger has tremendous significance in the larger picture of modern European and American history, which you can read about here.

The Irish Hunger Memorial, besides for being an incredibly cool piece of public art, is a very moving tribute to the Great Irish Famine.

There are many different sections of the memorial...

This walkway is lined with statistics, quotes and poems about the famine:
credit: www.nycgo.com

This garden contains stones from all the different counties in Ireland, as well as natural vegetation brought over from Western Ireland:
credit: http://erinoc1227.wordpress.com

And this is an authentic 19th century Irish cottage:
credit: www.wikipedia.org

All aspects of the Irish Hunger Memorial provide an in-depth history lesson of what happened during the Irish Hunger. Not to mention that it is an architectural masterpiece, which I enjoyed very much.

For more information about the Memorial, check out this informative website.

But wait! While you're in the area...

A few feet away from the Irish Hunger Memorial is Rockefeller Park, in which this lovely little enclave resides:
Credit: www.nycgo.com

This little pond is brimming with shimmery fish, storybook lillypads, sluggish turtles, and boasts a gentle waterfall. I was so enchanted by the scene that I sincerely wished I had the time of day to sit down and relax by its soothing waters.

What a find!

While the days are still long, and before the leaves completely fall off the trees, I hope to visit Battery Park City again. And if anyone cares to join me, I would love some company :-).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

An Ode to BPC

Every once in a while, I find myself somewhere in the city and I am struck by the fact that I actually live in New York City in the 21st century.

I've had that experience while visiting the High Line, zipping through dark tunnels on the subwaysitting at my fountain, walking through Central Park on a warm summer evening, and most recently, when I visited Battery Park City for the first time.

Battery Park City is really an extension to Manhattan Island, developed out of the excavated material from the construction of the World Trade Center in the 1980s.

credit: wikipedia.org

I visited BPC on a breezy, sunny day towards the end of the summer.
As I meandered along the paths, I continuously discovered more features of the park that I absolutely loved.
As I now write about my experience, I am having difficulty pinpointing one specific aspect of the park to write about.

So instead, I will share the following guide:

Visiting Battery Park City means visiting the quintessential urban retreat. In my opinion, it maintains all the elements that make up a perfect urban retreat - it is adjacent to water, has loads of greenery, cool public art, a unique indoor atrium, beautiful views, fountains, history, and plenty of areas where you could just have fun and be a kid :-). 

In order to gain the full effect, when you visit BPC, be sure to:
...walk along the river on the beautiful Esplanade:
credit: wikipedia.org

...stroll through a shady, tree-lined walkway:
Credit: www.tfcornerstone.com

...discover some really cool public art in the South Cove (the black circular structure is actually a set of stairs!):

...find the awesome Otterness on display in Rockefeller Park:
credit - www.tomstudio.com

... hang out at one the funnest playgrounds in the entire NYC (which actually has Otterness on display inside!)
(when I was a little girl, my family used to trek down to this very playground for a full day activity... it was really exciting to re-discover this place where I have so many good memories. Read more about it at MommyPoppins).

...read quotes by Walt Whitman along the railing of the World Financial Center Plaza and ponder their meaning:
Credit: Flikr User Lauren Sperber

...enter a vast atrium known as the Winter Gardens right off the World Financial Center Plaza:
credit: wikipedia.org
and marvel at how naturally palm trees fit into the New York City environment.

... listen to yourself echo loud and clear while standing within the secret circle somewhere in the Winter Gardens (credit to LM for discovering this!!):

... and finally relax on a bench and enjoy magnificent views of the busy New York Harbor:
Credit: Flikr user matt707

I haven't even scratched the surface of what there is to see and do in the area. I still want to discover Teardrop Park, which I have yet to visit. I heard it has an awesome slide :-).

Check out the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy website for more information.

There is another feature of Battery Park City that I did not share in this post. It is my absolute favorite part of the park.

credit: Gothamist.com

Any ideas?
Stay tuned....

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hungry? It's Lunch Time!


It is so much a part of our lives, but has anyone ever really thought about it?

This midday meal has a history, and the New York Public Library is currently exhibiting Lunch Hour NYC discussing this very unique New York City phenomenon. 

It was probably one of the most interesting exhibits I've ever seen...

I read about it a few days ago on one of my favorite blogs, I Love Old NY, and I immediately made plans to go later that day.

First of all, I love the elegant NYPL building on 42nd and 5th Avenue. The place is dripping with ornamentation in classic Beaux-Arts style... When I walk in, I feel as if I'm entering into a palace. 

In a nutshell, the exhibit begins by explaining that historically, the largest meal of the day was eaten at midday and called dinner. This was the case in Europe, as well as in America, for centuries. However, when business, commerce and manufacturing took off in New York City at the start of the 20th century, people no longer had time to take a lengthy midday break, and instead would eat a smaller meal. This became known as lunch

Throughout the past century, lunchtime has taken on a unique role in New York City, more so than in any other part of the world.


Hot Dog stands.



Chinese takeout.


Each of these food items became famous in NYC, and Lunch Hour NYC traces them through the century and describes their significance. (Kinda cool, no? I never knew food could have so much of a history!).

My favorite part of the exhibit was the part about the Automat, a very unique self-service food apparatus:

You basically put a coin in a slot and then opened a door that held a single serving of the food you desired.

Automats were all over the city from the 1920s-1940s. They started closing in the 1950s when labor and food costs began to rise, making it difficult for Automat proprietors to maintain their commitment to fresh, elegant and cheap food. The last Automat closed in 1992.

I left the exhibit quite hungry... after all, I had just spent an hour looking at nothing but food!

There is so much to see in this exhibit and I highly recommend it. Make a day trip out of it and visit the Children's Center and Bryant Park while you're there.

If you can't make it to the exhibit, there is loads of information on their website: http://exhibitions.nypl.org/lunchhour/exhibits/show/lunchhour


All photos are courtesy of the NYPL website.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A/C on the Street

I had to catch a bus this afternoon at 67th and Lexington Avenue, right in front of Hunter College.

It was 97 degrees outside, so I found a shady alcove to stand under while I waited for the air conditioned bus to arrive.

One wall of the alcove had a large vent.

As I stood there, I started to feel a nice cool breeze. And then I realized that the vent was seeping cool air from inside Hunter College right onto me! It wasn't much, but just enough to keep me cool. What a relief! (Environmentalists, not to worry - it wasn't full blast AC seeping out of the building).

If you're ever walking down Lexington Avenue during the hot summer months and need a bit of cool air, either step into a store, or stand near this vent on the NW corner of 67th and Lex!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Out and About: Los Angeles Edition

Favorite moments from my week-long trip to LA!

Tornado shelter in Denver (stopover) - you'll never see that in NYC!

Clear crossing instructions in Santa Monica (would be nice to have in NYC):

Sunset at the beach:

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Cookies and Cream Iced-Blended! Yummmmm... (They don't have it in NY yet!)

Cool fountain at the Grove:
Credit: www.pecuniarities.com

Third Street Promenade (with cool fountains):

Taking the Big Blue Bus (kinda felt like I was in NY):
Credit: www.getsolar.com

And finally, on my way home from the airport in NY, I spotted a man wearing a sombrero:

A nice welcome home. It's good to be back.

Friday, June 1, 2012

An Outdoorsy Feel, Inside

Over the past few weeks, I've been completely engrossed in studying for final exams. I had zero time to do what I love... travel around the city and explore.

But my life wasn't totally void of excitement (I can't stay away from adventure for too long :-))...

When I study for tests, I try to find quiet places in the city to set up shop and study uninterrupted. I wrote about some of my favorite study spots a few months ago, but I recently discovered a truly incredible urban oasis.

Credit: www.aeccafe.com

Located in the heart of Lincoln Center, the David Rubenstein Atrium is a gathering center for neighborhood residents, with dozens of tables to relax and eat, and a cafe to buy a small snack or coffee.

The David Rubestein Atrium has a wonderfully pleasant ambiance, and I found myself going back again and again to study.

Notice the wall colors. I love the modern design; it makes the room feel all fresh and airy.
Credit: Flickr user Kenzo*

If you look closely at the photo above, you'll notice a bunch of pipes hanging down from the ceiling. Those pipes are actually my favorite feature of the entire atrium.

It's a fountain!
Credit: www.archtober.com
Water drips out of the pipes directly into the cup-like holders on the bottom. It is a soft and gentle fountain, and it contributes to the peacefulness of the space.

Once again, take a closer look at the above photo, and notice the greenery hanging from the wall.
There is also one on the other side of the Atrium:

Credit: Flickr user Kenzo*

It's a very cool "vertical garden." At first I didn't believe that the plants were real, but then I went over and touched it and discovered that it is 100% authentic, live greenery.

A worker told me it is automatically watered every morning at 3am. Wow.

The entire atrium is illuminated with really cool light fixtures that create a natural light effect.
Credit: Flickr user Kenzo*

With the vertical garden intact, the natural light effect, and the fountain nearby, I almost feel as though I am sitting outdoors.

The Atrium also has free events from time to time. Check out their website for more information.

P.S. The David Rubenstein Atrium is one of 500 Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) in New York City. I just discovered that term while researching the Atrium. I think that POPS's are awesome, and I would love to discover more of them around town! Anyone care to join?

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Fountain's Acrobatics.. and an Awesome Surprise!

Last night, I babysat at a family in Lincoln Center (the same family who has the amazing view from their window).

On my walk over to their apartment, I passed the Revson Fountain, a very beautiful and creative fountain in the center of Lincoln Center. It was designed as a traditional fountain, and at set times to be a fountain show. Whenever I am in the neighborhood and I pass by the fountain, it is always in its "relaxed" form.

But as I passed the fountain last night, it was far from relaxed. The fountain was doing some serious acrobatics. I finally saw the fountain show!

A very impressive fountain :-).

Later that night, as I sat and studiously worked on a final paper for one of my classes, I was suddenly interrupted by some strange noises... 


I honestly thought there was a massive gun fight going on in Lincoln Center down below.

I looked out the window, and realized immediately that it was FAR from a gun fight...

There were FIREWORKS over the Hudson River! 
(Remember how I said the apartment has an amazing view? Shout out the E family for allowing me to feature your apartment's amazing view in my blog).

I haven't confirmed this, but I believe the fireworks were in celebration of Fleet Week which is going on right now.

Check out this video I captured of the awesome fireworks show:

The entire night sky literally lit up. It was so beautiful. What a nice treat! How often do you get to see fireworks when it isn't July 4th?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

On the Platform

A few days ago, I got onto the no. 1 uptown train at 59th street.

But the train doors wouldn't close.

After about five minutes, the conductor announced that the train was going out of service because of a broken door.

This was during Rush Hour, so the train was packed!

Hundreds of people piled out of the subway cars and onto the crowded platform.

I snapped a picture of it. The 59th street station is curved, so it provides a clear view all the way down the platform.

I just realized that there's a man sticking out his tongue in the foreground! Haha! The unexpected always happens in candid photographs....

EDIT (5/25/12):
Yesterday I experienced another crazy traveling story!!

I was sitting peacefully on the bus ride home from school (I take a bus from my college to the train station, and from the train station I take 3 additional trains home), totally absorbed in my book. We just passed over the Van Wyke Expressway, a long stretch where the bus makes no stops for a few minutes.

All of a sudden, the bus stopped. Absorbed in my book, I hardly noticed the commotion around me. After about 30 seconds, I glanced up... and noticed that the bus was surrounded with dense white smoke!! So dense that I could not see anything outside the windows!

The bus driver had left the bus to investigate. I watched him closely out the window through the smoke. About 10 seconds later, he ran back on the bus and commanded that everyone EVACUATE immediately!!

My instincts told me to get as far away from the bus as possible. Along with the other passengers, I pushed my way out of the bus and began walking as fast as I could away from the smokey bus. Eventually I walked the rest of the way to the train station, about a quarter-mile distance.

Here is a photo I snapped of the bus surrounded by smoke. A large wind came, dissipating some of the smoke by the time I took the picture, but you can still see the effect:

Some people were very calm and some extremely nervous. I don't remember how I felt; I just wanted to get as far away from the bus as possible in case it blew up (as my mother says, I was "catastrophizing").

I have no idea what happened to the bus. But it was certainly a crazy afternoon!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Costello's Planters

Some readers ask me if I will ever run out of things to write.

Honestly, I don't think I will. Every day is filled with brand new exciting discoveries (I have a whole list of things waiting to be written about!!).

Like today, when I saw this video on the Eyewitness News website:

about a man named Costello who beautifies his neighborhood on West 102nd Street by planting exquisite flowers boxes around the trees, as well as elaborately decorating the front doorways of his building and others.

(if you can't see the video, go to the original article).

And I absolutely had to check it out.

So I trekked all the way uptown to 102nd street...

Wow!!! The planters were even more beautiful than the video!

(Maybe because it was sunny when I went, and the video was taken on a cloudy, rainy day).

I so wish I could live on this block!!

Whoever you are, Costello, I think your work is wonderful.

I love how you add beauty to the normally mundane city streets.

I'm all for that, you know.

Adding beauty where you least expect it, that is.

And can it get any better than this?!

I mean, you even put fountains outside your building's front entrance!

Lucky neighbors.

Keep up the awesome work, Costello!

Maybe you'll make your way down to my block someday.
That would be amazing.

P.S. Check out this great album filled with pictures from 102nd street. But I strongly suggest checking it out in person... it's so much better in real life.