Saturday, April 28, 2012

Street Vendors

All around the city, vendors set up their wares on the city streets. Some sell very cheap looking goods, but every once in a while I will come across some vendors selling items that I absolutely love (and look quite expensive).

I'll tell you a secret - a lot of my beautiful costume jewelry has been bought at street vendors.

I love hand-made unique items, and usually the artists themselves sell the items. I like to talk to them about their products, how they come up with designs, how they make them, etc.

I picked up these stunning earrings last year, handmade by a local UWS artist:

But some jewelry sold by street vendors are handpicked at trade shows.

These earrings are my absolute favorite:

Sometimes I'll see a very unique table, like this one with adorable handmade sock puppets:

Keep your eyes peeled! You might find some great treasures. Let me know if you come across any cool finds.

Note: make sure that you buy from a licensed street vendor - they have a name-tag, so make sure the photo matches the face.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Tale of Survival

The National September 11th Memorial opened on the 10th anniversary of 9/11/2001. I've been meaning to go for a while, and I finally made my way down there two weeks ago.

It was... how do I put it... rather eerie. There I was, standing in the spot where 3,000 innocent people were killed.

I took the no. 1 train downtown to the Rector Street station. The Cortlandt Street/West Broadway station is still closed after 10 years. The attacks completely destroyed the station on September 11th, 2001. Without a tunnel, the 1 train now travels "above ground while still underground" at the same time.

I made my reservation to enter the Memorial for the 7pm slot. I wanted to be there during sunset and watch the lights turn on in the surrounding buildings.

After an international design competition, the chosen design includes two huge reflecting pools (essentially waterfalls) in the footprints of the former twin towers.


Also on the site is the National September 11th Memorial Museum, which was closed when I visited the Memorial.

Engraved along the outer rim of each pool are the names of those who perished in the 1993 and 2001 attacks.

I was struck by the contrast between old and new:

If you think about it, those old buildings behind the Memorial somehow managed to survive the attack. They bear witness to the atrocities that happened on that day.

I walked around the perimeter of each reflecting pool, thinking about how two gigantic buildings once stood in these spots.

On my way out, I passed through the beautiful plaza, filled with dozens of swamp white oak trees.

One tree stood out from the others:

This tree is the only tree to survive the attack. Upon discovery, the tree was moved to a nursery where it has been re-growing for the past 10 years.

As I left the Memorial, I turned around and saw the new Freedom Tower rising above the scene. The lights had turned on by then.

It felt so serene at the Memorial. Rather quiet, with a light breeze and beautiful weather. What a difference from the turmoil I remember in 2001.

I see the Memorial as a tale of hope and survival. The old buildings, the surviving tree... those who escaped alive and those who didn't... and now the rebuilding.

I think the Memorial is very well done. Drop by to check it out, but be sure to make reservations first. It's free.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Two for One

I noticed this today:

The Childrens Center and the Chryler Building in one picture.

So cool.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Ultimate View!

Start out on 42nd and Lexington Avenue:

Find the beautiful entrance, made of black marble, alluminum and glass:

Walk inside:

Marvel at the amazing Art Deco design. Notice how the lighting shines on the colorful marble to create an exquisite effect.

The ceiling is incredible:
credit: flickr user Kimbar

Which building am I talking about...?


The few times I visited the Chrysler Building in the past, I've only been allowed in the lobby. Beyond the turnstiles to the elevators, no tourist is allowed.


(yes, that is inside the elevator. I'm passing the 60th floor there. Sorry about the blur).

Someone I know has an office in the Chrysler Building, and a few months ago she offered to take me in and show me around.

We finally made it happen last week!!!

The Chrysler Building has been my absolute favorite building in the entire New York City since I learned about it in Art History class two years ago.

I wrote about how much I love views a few weeks ago, so this was really exciting!!

Designed by William Van Alen, and completed in 1930, the Chrysler Building was the world's tallest building for 11 months until the Empire State Building shot up in 1931.

Notice the eagles gracing the corners a few floors beneath the spire?

On which Margaret Bourke was famously pictured taking pictures at death-defying heights?

Check them out from above:
That is 42nd street down below.

How cool is that?!

The view towards lower Manhattan (notice the new Freedom Tower being built - I visited the new 9/11 memorial, which you can read about here):

Upper Manhattan:

The West Side:

The East Side:

The iconic Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City, with one of UN buildings in the foreground:

And finally, the sun sets:

The Chrysler Building has a really interesting history.

Which you can read about here.

One fun fact that you may not read about anywhere:
- The Chrysler Building was completed at the start of the Great Depression, so the beautiful lights that grace the ornate crown at the top of the building were never turned on because of the added expense. And then they were forgotten... until the 1980s when they were finally turned on!


Can you now understand why it's my most favorite building in the entire city?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tens of Thousands of Tulips

I went to the Conservatory Garden in Central Park today...

It looks like a fairyland.

I actually believe it is one.

It is probably the best known secret spot in New York City.

I sat on a quiet bench, book in hand...

...smelling the sweet scent, listening to the birds chirp.
The Ultimate Relaxation.

Just take a walk through its romantic gardens,

so precisely trimmed,

and cared for to the tiniest detail.

Six acres of flowers...

each one more beautiful than the next.

Stroll through the exquisite allées...

of spring-blooming pink and white crabapple trees.

Turn a corner and there you see,

tens of thousands of tulips,

and even more tulips.

When you walk past the Vanderbilt Gate...
credit: enter into a whole new world.

Check out The Conservatory Garden for location and hours.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My View on Views

As you know very well by now, I absolutely love how the city looks at night with all its twinkling lights... so imagine how much more so I love seeing it from above.

I'm talking about all those incredible views that the numerous New York City skyscrapers provide.

The problem is that I'm afraid of heights. Yes, I admit it. But that doesn't stop me from checking out the magical views from staggering heights. But only if I know I'm protected by a strong window or fence, and only if I stay far enough away from the edge.

A few weeks ago, I was babysitting a family that lives on the 18th floor of an apartment building in Lincoln Center.

It's a little blurry, but their view is unbelievable!

The two streets that are branching off are Broadway on the left side and Columbus Avenue on the right side. It's amazing how you can see dozens of blocks uptown from their dining room window.

The building on the bottom left is Lincoln Center. And guess what you can see from their window.
Revson Fountain!

(I wish I had a better picture of it, but it's really hard to take a picture from so high up while being afraid of falling at the same time):

Where is the fountain exactly?
In the center of the photograph, on the ground in the courtyard between the buildings, there are concentric circles. In the center of the circles is the Revson fountain.

Imagine having a fountain as part of your view... so awesome.

A family friend who lives around the corner from me has an amazing view from her roof. I took this picture last year right after a huge snowstorm (remember snow? Yeah, I miss it too).

That's the Hudson River over there.

I also think that the rooftops of other buildings are interesting to look at, especially because you generally see the buildings bottom-up. My favorite rooftops are the ones that have secret rooftop gardens on them.

Of course, how can I talk about views in New York City without mentioning the views from famous skyscrapers.

I was lucky to visit the top of the World Trade Center when I was a young child. My only memory of it is getting gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe while walking around the observation deck.

I went to the top of the Empire State Building in June 2010 with a few friends.

And I visited the Top of the Rock last year. Of them all, I think the Top of the Rock has the best view. Yes, I did stand five feet away from the edge until I forced myself to move closer.

Credit: (view from the Top of the Rock)

As any New York City tourist will tell you, the charm of viewing NYC from above is how everything below looks like part of a doll's house. Miniature cars, ant size people, and toy buildings.

So until I manage to win the lottery and sightsee around the world, I'm happy to continue touring New York City and finding incredible views from above instead.