The Oculus, the gleaming white World Trade Center Transportation Hub that is the centerpiece of the revitalization of Lower Manhattan, is striking for its futuristic design as well the contrast it draws to the structures that surround it. Designed by the Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, at a cost of $4 million, the Oculus is approximately 800,000 square feet. From the outside, it resembles a bird with giant, outspread wings, ready to take off. The inside, looks to me, like the deck of an enormous space ship.
According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s website, when it opens fully later this year, 250,000 commuters will pass through its concourses connecting daily to 11 subway lines, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rail system, the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal, the World Trade Center Memorial, Towers 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the World Trade Center, the World Financial Center and the Winter Garden.
While we were there on Saturday, we saw just a fraction of that number. As they walked through, many turned and snapped photos of the cavernous white space.
Some lay on their backs on the marble floor to photograph the ‘eye’ and the slice of the World Trade Center building that peeks through.
As the light started to change, I tried to imagine how the interior looks when the sun rises and sets daily.
The Oculus has such a light appearance that standing beneath the 155-foot high ‘eye,’ I felt as if we could start moving – we didn’t.
The Oculus is not only a transportation hub. About 78,000 square feet of its space will be dedicated to stores and restaurants. Most of the spaces were covered with hoardings from retailers such as H&M, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, etc.
The Oculus (eyelike opening or design) never fails to catch the eye. My only issue is that the Port Authority should have set aside more space to give it room to ‘breathe.’ With a building within a few feet of its left ‘wing,’ it feels hemmed in.
The High Bridge is one of fourteen bridges that cross the Harlem River and connect Manhattan (at Highbridge Park and 173rd Street) to the Bronx (at West 170th Street, in the Highbridge section). The bridge, for pedestrians only, reopened last July after several decades of closure and undergoing approximately $62 million worth of renovations.
Known originally as the Aqueduct Bridge, the High Bridge was part of the Croton Aqueduct that transported water from the Croton Reservoir in Northern Westchester to Manhattan. Construction on the High Bridge, which was designed to recall a Roman aqueduct, began in 1837 and was completed in 1848. It is the city’s oldest remaining bridge.
Spanning 1450 feet and 102 feet high, the bridge had 15 arches, 7 over land and 8 over the river. The arches were built high enough to allow navigation on the river, however, they were too narrow and in 1927, a steel arch replaced five of the 8 arches. The aqueduct closed in the 1950s and pedestrian access was closed in the 1970s.
Taking a stroll across the High Bridge, as 1900s New Yorkers used to, has been on my list since last summer but I didn’t get around to doing that until the Memorial Day weekend. My friend and I entered the sprawling Highbridge Park at Amsterdam between West 173 and 174 Streets and followed the signs to the bridge. Through the trees, we spotted some of the arches that remain on the Bronx side of the bridge and the High Bridge Water Tower, which was directly in front of us.
Designated a New York City Landmark in 1967, the 200-foot octagonal High Bridge Water Tower was built on the Manhattan side of the High Bridge in 1866-72 to help meet the city’s need for water.
To get to the pedestrian bridge, we walked down approximately 100 steps (I saw a sign to the Edgecombe Avenue and 165 Street ramp entrance but a light drizzle started before I could check it out.) To my surprise, the bridge was not crowded at all – a few joggers, families out for a stroll, their kids, as soon as they saw the wide open space, took off running and giggling like only they know to do.
Unless I’m a passenger, whenever I’m on Harlem River Drive, I never have time to take in the view. From the High Bridge, I could see the Alexander Hamilton Bridge and the Washington Bridge (which, along with the Henry Hudson, comprise the four fixed arch bridges that span the river), and the parts of Manhattan and the Bronx that line the river.
The original stonework on the bridge, the walkway, lighting and fencing were improved. I liked the addition of plaques that describe a bit of the High Bridge’s history. They’re off to the side, so be sure not to miss them. There are also a few benches for those who wish to linger a while and watch the traffic on the river or the Metro North trains as they head north.
High Bridge Particulars:
You can enter the bridge either from the Amsterdam and West 172 Street (High Bridge Park) entrance, or from the Edgecombe Avenue and West 165 Street ramp access on the Manhattan side. From the Bronx side, use University Avenue and 170th Street. The bridge is open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. There is no fee.
I noticed them right away – two giant heads at one of the east side entrances to Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. I stopped jogging to take a closer look. Neither figure resemblance Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican-born black nationalist after whom the park was renamed in 1973. Maybe, I thought, the likeness was of Pelham Fritz. Fritz, the former assistant commissioner of recreation at the Parks Department was a regular at the park. Following his death in 1988, the park’s recreation center was named for him.
I checked but there were no plaque, no sign, nothing to indicate why they were there. I was intrigued. I took a few photos. As I did, another jogger stopped and asked if I knew who they were.
I was jogging again the following week when I spotted this colorful totem-like piece just north of the basketball court. I decided to finish my jog and go into the park to take a closer look. By now, there were several more pieces and all had plaques. In addition to the artists’ name and the title of the piece, each indicated this was a Flux Art Fair.
According to their website, Flux Art Fair “embodies Harlem’s creative spirit and cultural significance” and is a collaboration with NYC Parks, NYC Department of Transportation’s Art Program and the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance.
Located in the Mount Morris area of Central Harlem, Marcus Garvey Park is bounded on the north by 124th Street, on the south by 120th Street, on the east by Madison Avenue and by Mount Morris Park West (Fifth Avenue). The park was previously called Mount Morris Park.
Flux Art Fair features work by over 40 artists. Most will be on display at Marcus Garvey Park until May 31st. According to their plaques, Big Head (Harlem Rose), Surge, Sculpture Love, Outdoor Indoor, The Odyssey and (E)scape – New Faces will remain until August 1, 2016. The exhibition is free, however there are several paid events around Harlem, including talks on May 21 and 22 and a family brunch.
Van Gogh’s Ear (and art) have fascinated the public for years. As the story goes, in 1888, Vincent van Gogh moved to Arles in the south of France to create a space for artists to live and work. He found said place and convinced his friend and fellow painter, Paul Gaugin, to join him. The two worked together successfully for months before the friendship soured and Gaugin decided to return to Paris. Van Gogh was so upset about the failure of the friendship that he took a knife and cut off his left ear lobe. After bandaging himself, he wrapped the lobe in newspaper and took it to a brothel where he asked Rachel, the girl he gave it to, to guard it carefully.
Now, 163 years after van Gogh’s death, the artists Elmgreen and Dragset have created a public art piece they call Van Gogh’s Ear, in tribute the famous artist’s most famous external organ. The piece, located at the Fifth Avenue entrance to Rockefeller Center’s Channel Garden (across from Saks Fifth Avenue), is on display until June 3rd.
An ear was not the first thing that came to mind when I saw Van Gogh’s Ear close up this week. The shape made me think, at first, of a gigantic bean (or giant foot) but with its Tiffany blue-looking interior and striking white edges, I decided that it looked more like a pool. But the silver steps on the right, the elongated strip at the top (the diving board) and the small circular lights at the bottom, convinced me.
But how does a pool become an ear? According to The Guardian, the artists, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, who have been working together since 1995 (longer than van Gogh and Gaugin were able to do), are fascinated with swimming pools. They’re also known for taking ordinary objects out of their usual context, like Prada Marfa, their installation of a Prada store in the middle of the Texan desert.
Van Gogh’s Ear is a pool, and it’s also an ear. When you look at the backside of the 30-foot installation, which stands upright on its wider end, you definitely see the outline of an ear. Bracketed as it is by towering brick buildings, the shock of color, whether viewed from the front (blue), or the back (white) where it seems to sit in a flower garden with two small pools, is eye-catching, and incongruous. But then, that’s the idea.
Van Gogh’s Ear Particulars
Location: Fifth Avenue entrance (between 49th & 50th Streets) to Rockefeller Center
Dates: April 13- June 3, 2016
We were coming in to land at LaGuardia Airport on a particularly sunny afternoon a few months ago when I looked out the window – I always get the window seat for precisely this reason – and saw this:
It was such a spectacular view, I grabbed my cell phone and moved closer to avoid the sun’s glare on the window. (Thank goodness, there was no dust and no watermarks.)
The Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges cross the East River and connect the east side of Manhattan to Brooklyn.
That patch of land in the foreground is Governor’s Island, a 172-acre island 800 yards south of Manhattan, which is on the left. To the north, is Brooklyn, one of New York’s five boroughs. (Staten Island, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx are the other four.)
Here we’re almost flying over Governor’s Island, moving towards Manhattan’s southern tip.
Over Buttermilk Channel, which separates Governor’s Island from Brooklyn, going towards the East River. Governor’s Island to your left, Brooklyn on your right. Manhattan ahead.
Continuing over Brooklyn towards Queens. That’s the East River on the left, Manhattan is across the river.
Getting closer to the airport; getting closer to land.
Named for the former New York mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, LaGuardia Airport is located in East Elmhurst, Queens, and overlooks Flushing Bay. Whenever I fly in to LaGuardia, I always look out the window and watch the approach. Since the bay is so close, it looks like we’re heading straight for the water. Finally, the runway comes into view. I always say a prayer of gratitude for the pilot’s skill. (If you’ve landed at Laguardia, you know what I mean.)
LaGuardia is the smallest of the three major airports (JFK International and Newark Liberty International are the other two) that service the New York City area. It also has no immigration or border control so if you’re flying in from Canada, for example, you clear immigration before your flight departs.
Have you ever landed at an airport that has a tricky or unusual approach?
Several times a month, especially in the summer, I see ‘No Parking’ signs like these taped to utility poles in my neighborhood. I always stop and read them.
Which movie or television show will they be filming?
According to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment’s website, New York City had a supporting role in 46 television series and 256 movies during the 2014-2015 season. The industry contributed $8.7 billion to the local economy.
With this much filmed entertainment, it’s not surprising to spot a star or two. But the city, with its many iconic locations, is without doubt, the real attraction.
Late last year, I took the When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour, which On Location Tour organizes. Starting from 55th Street near 8th Avenue, the bus tour winds it way around the Columbus Circle area into Upper Manhattan revealing 30 spots that were featured in classic and contemporary movies or television shows.
Tour guides are local actors and actresses who know all about the City’s rich movie history and share them eagerly.
As the tour got underway, our guide (sorry, I neglected to note his name) asked us to share where we were from. There were people from Toronto, Tokyo, Australia, Brazil, the Midwest, California and other parts of the US but I was the only person from New York.
The first location our guide pointed out was the Soup Man. You might remember it from Seinfeld. About the size of a New York deli, I had passed it without even noticing.
Towards Columbus Circle, our guide drew our attention to the statue of Christopher Columbus, which can be seen in several movies, including Ghostbusters.
Leaving Columbus Circle, we headed to the Upper West Side and Lincoln Center’s famous fountain. It’s really an impressive sight, especially at night. We didn’t stop but if you get a chance, go see it or look for it in Moonstruck, Glee, Sweet Home Alabama and Pitch Perfect.
At 69th Street and Columbus Avenue, we found the location, now an organic cleaners, of Meg Ryan’s bookstore in You’ve Got Mail.
We stopped for photos of Tom’s Restaurant at Broadway and 112th Street. Seinfeld fans will recognize it as Monks.
Still on the Upper West Side, we cruised pass Café Luxemborg, which you might remember from When Harry Met Sally, then stopped at long enough at Café Lalo for those who wanted to could get coffee. Café Lalo is where Tom Hanks attempted to meet Meg Ryan for their date in You’ve Got Mail.
If you’ve seen Manhattan, with Diane Keaton and Woody Allen, you might have seen Zabar’s on 80th & Broadway. Carmine’s on 91st was in Keeping the Faith with Ed Norton and Ben Stiller.
Central Park has played supporting roles in movies like Home Alone II, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Smurfs, Friends with Benefits, Angels in America, Elf, Kramer vs Kramer, and The Avengers.
On the Upper East Side’s Museum Mile, you’ll find the Museum of the City of New York where the star of television’s Gossip Girl goes to school; the Guggenheim Museum where Isaac and Mary meet in Manhattan; also Men in Black, When in Rome, and other movies.
Further down Fifth Avenue is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, our last stop. Who doesn’t want to sit on the graceful Met Steps, like the Gossip Girl did? The Met was also the setting for I Am Legend, When Harry Met Sally, Hitch and Maid in Manhattan.
The Carnegie Mansion was the backdrop for films like Arthur, Working Girl and Marathon Man.
We passed by these other Upper East Side locations before returning to 55th & 8th Avenue: the Lutheran Church featured in the Devil’s Advocate, the New York Armory in Boardwalk Empire (television show), the Met Life Building in Superman, Barney’s in Will and Grace, the Pierre Hotel in Scent of a Woman and the St. Regis Hotel from Miss Congeniality.
Current shows that are filmed in New York: the Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Elementary, Good Wife, Law & Order SVU, Limitless, Madam Secretary, Mysteries of Laura. Morning and late night shows such as Saturday Night Live, the Today Show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Good Morning America, Live with Kelly & Michael, The View, The Chew, the Rachel Ray Show.
Also filmed in New York: Bridge of Spies, On the Town, On the Waterfront and West Side Story.
When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour Particulars
Duration: Approximately 2 hours
Cost: $37 (adults), $21 (children)
You meet the tour bus at McGhee’s on 55th between Broadway and 8th Avenue
The When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour was complimentary; this recap my own.
One of the best things about living in New York area is the variety of restaurants the city has. At any given time, if you’re so inclined, you could eat your way around the world with just your Metrocard as your passport. (Of course, you’d also need to take your credit card along.)
With so many restaurants, it’s sometimes difficult (for me, at least) to settle on a favorite. But I have. The restaurant I can’t get enough of is The Cecil. I go there every chance I get, recommend it to others and take visiting friends and family.
Located in Harlem, The Cecil is the creation of businessman Richard Parsons, formerly chairman and CEO of Time Warner, and chef, restauranteur, and author, Alexander Smalls.
The menu boats an eclectic fusion of African, Asian and American ingredients. Dishes are spiced with or accompanied by ingredients as varied as kimchi, piri piri sauce, tamarind, ginger, and coconut.
When my cousin, Lorraine, told me she was coming to New York on business, I knew right away where I wanted to take her. She’d taken me to her favorite Thai restaurant when I was in Toronto on business earlier this year. Now it was my turn to reciprocate.
For days before her arrival, we exchanged text after text about the restaurant, the menu and finally which day we’d go. She was as excited to go as I was to take her and even though she twisted her ankle the day we planned to go, not even that stopped her.
Here’s what we had:
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Normally when I’m rushing through Times Square, it’s the viewers – mostly from out-of-town – I have to watch out for. They gather in groups outside the ABC television studio window to watch the taping of the morning show, or wander around, camera at the ready, eyes lifted skyward oblivious to those of us who are trying to get to work on time. Sometimes, they cover the sidewalk like a slow-moving tide that rarely breaks.
Truthfully, Times Square can be frustrating for regulars in a hurry but there’s really no place like it.
To complicate matters, for several weeks the City had crews resurfacing the plaza in front of the ABC studio (those bricks are new) and repairing 43rd Street so a large swath of the Square inaccessible. Do you ever notice how much road and construction work take place in the summer? I was relieved when the work was done, when the Square was back to its normal size.
A few days after, as I hurried from Broadway on to 43rd Street, I stopped in my tracks. Directly in front of me in the plaza, the same one that for weeks construction crews had cordoned off, was a mass of cut-out figures. Now I have visitors and installations to avoid, I thought. But it was fleeting.
Truthfully, I love art. It lightens my heart when I find it in places I don’t expect. This did. These framed life-sized chain-linked embroidered cut outs of the human body, some standing together in twos or threes, like in a photo, some solo – made me smile.
Chain link art? Artists sure know how to make art of the everyday, that’s what I love about them, I though. Then I remembered reading my blogger friend, Jeff Titelius’s post on Nikolai Astrup. He once used denim as a medium. Now that’s thinking outside the box.
As I walked towards the figures, I realized that I could see people through the cut-outs. Then instead of walking around as I had done, one man walked right through one. This is pretty cool, I thought as I glanced at my watch – yes, I had time to check them out – and pulled out my cell phone.
Created by Arles del Rio, Nearness, according to the Times Square website, “deals with restrictions, distance, the forbidden and achieving longings despite impediments.”
Sometimes art is inaccessible, leaving the viewer wondering about the artist’s intent. What I like about Nearness is its simplicity. It communicates, engages, and invites you to interact.
One morning as I walked through, I noticed a new sign telling people not to climb on to the installation. I was late and promised to take a photo of it on my way home. The following morning, Nearness was gone. I was disappointed. I brightened up when I saw on the Times Square website that it had only moved to the next block. Nearness will be on view until August 18th so if your travels take you to Manhattan, be sure to check it out.
A Little About Arles del Rio:
Arlés del Rio was born on November 6th, 1975, in Havana, Cuba. He has participated in many national and international exhibitions including The XI Havana Biennial, and his public installation “Fly Away” was part of the Behind the Wall Project (Detrás del Muro) also exhibited at The XI Havana Biennial and The 8th Floor Gallery in NYC. Recently, Arlés participated in group exhibitions such as “Premio Maretti” and “Stealing Base”. He was nominated for the 2012-13 Vermont Studio Center Fellowship Award sponsored by the Reed Foundation. His work is part of private and institutional collections in several countries including the USA, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland and Greece. – From Times Square website.
Where Nearness will be next:
July 20 – August 1, 2014: Broadway plaza between 42nd & 43rd Streets
August 2 – 9, 2014: Broadway plaza between 43rd & 44th Streets
August 10 – 18, 2014 Duffy Square at Broadway & 46th Street
The sculpture below, Forms in Transit, was the first one I saw when I arrived at Flushing Meadow Park Corona Park for the 1964 New York World’s Fair festival a few weeks ago. I didn’t realize it was a sculpture until I began researching other sculptures I saw in the Park that day.
Festival organizers commissioned five sculptures that were to remain in the park after the Fair was over. Each representing space exploration, the main theme of the Fair. Here are the ones I saw.
Forms in Transit is quite large, 43 feet long, and made of aluminum and sheet metal. It looks like an aircraft but it embodies the concept of motion and change. Sculptor Theodore Roszak designed Forms in Transit.
Freedom of the Human Spirit, designed by Marshall Fredericks, depicts a nude man and woman with wild swans soaring skyward.
Donald De Lue’s Rocket Thrower stands 43 feet high and depicts a chiseled man whose right hand is launching a small sphere into the sky that leaves an arching trail of flames behind. He throws a swirl of stars with his left hand that circle the rocket.
A man walked by as I aimed my camera at the sculpture and said I should take a look at the finger of his right hand. If you look closely, it seems he is giving the finger.
Designed by a landscape architect, Gilmore D. Clarke, for the New York World’s Fair, the Unisphere is, according to Wikipedia, the world’s largest global sculpture. It is 140 feet high, 120 feet in diameter and weighs 700,000 pounds, 900,000 if you include the base.
The Unisphere is massive and impressive, especially with the water jets turned on. It dominates the park and I ended up taking photos of it from several angles.
After I finished last week’s post, I found some photos that really capture the excitement of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Hope you’ll take a look here.
Linking up this week with Travel Photo Thursday that Nancie organizes. Be sure to stop by to see other photos from locations around the world.
I wasn’t around to attend the dazzling New York World’s Fair that was held at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in 1964 so a week ago when I saw a poster announcing a festival on Sunday to celebrate its 50th anniversary, I knew exactly where I’d be.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park was the site of both the 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fairs, which celebrated art, culture, technology, the Space Age, transportation and American ingenuity. (Space was clearly on the minds of the organizers as old photos of the Fair show several futuristic displays. One poster I saw claimed to have “seen the future.”)
Today, the park is more recognizable as the home of tennis in New York. Flushing Meadows (isn’t that just the best place name you’ve ever heard?) is also a popular weekend destination for Queens residents and on that sun drenched Sunday, the perfect place to be.
I was pretty excited as the Number 7 train pulled closer to Flushing Meadows and I could see the Unisphere, the 12-story high stainless steel replica of the globe, the symbol of the Fair, peeking out above the trees.
Following the directions I had gotten from Hopstop, I got off at the 111 Street Station and checked with the attendant to make sure I was at the closest entrance to the sprawling 1,255-acre park. Pointing, he told me follow 111 Street for five blocks and I’d see it. When I descended the stairs from the elevated station, I double-checked with two police officers at street level to make sure I was heading in the right direction.
As I walked towards the park, it struck me that I had seen more posters in subway stations in Manhattan than I’d seen at 111th Street. Except for police officers who were manning the intersections along the street, nothing else advertised the festival.
One Hundred and Eleventh Street skirts part of one end of the Park and it took about 15 minutes from the subway station to the Festival, which was sponsored by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.
By the time I got there, a little after 1:30 p.m., the place was humming with people who were checking out the vintage car display, including a Mustang, which was at the World’s Fair. (Somehow, I didn’t get a photo of the Mustang. I’m not sure if this was the same one that the Ford Motor Company unveiled at the Fair.) The cars were all in mint condition as if each had just rolled off the showroom floor.
The star of the show was the Batmobile. It occupied its own space away from the vintage cars and was cordoned off by red coiled wire which was just as well because, I’m sure people would want to sit in it and have their photo taken.
The second New York World’s Fair opened on April 22, 1964 and ran until October 18, 1964. It had as its theme, Peace Through Understanding. Opening exactly five months to the date President John Kennedy was assassinated, it was, I’m sure a huge morale booster. It resumed from April 21 to October 17, 1965.
The Fair attracted more than 50 million people who visited pavilions showcasing the best from each state and several countries including Mexico, Japan, Pakistan, Philippines, Vatican City, Austria, Sweden and Spain.
At the Vatican Pavilion, they saw Michelangelo’s Pietà. Ford introduced the Mustang, Bell showed off its videophone and IBM gave demonstrations of what computers could do. Visitors also sampled foods, like Belgian waffles and shish kebabs, which were introduced at the Fair. There were rides for children, futuristic displays and sculptures commissioned especially for the Fair.
When I showed a co-worker some of my cell phone photos, her eyes lit up. “I’d never seen anything like it,” she gushed. “It was all space-agey and just out of this world fantastic. If you’ve been to Disney, you’ll have an idea of what the Fair was really like.”
Walt Disney had a huge impact on the Fair, designing several shows and introducing the song, It’s a Small World, in tribute to the world’s children.
The posters and the slogans that advertised the Fair spoke of a future of ground breaking technological innovations. In some instances, I’m thinking now of the videophone that Bell showed off, they were spot on. The technology was revolutionary for its time but it’s difficult not to compare it with what we have now.
Generally speaking, the festival felt flat to me. I realized later that a part of me was expecting it to capture the feeling of the Fair – the excitement, the sense of wonder I imagine people felt them. But honestly, it would have been impossible to do. An event as monumental as the New York World’s Fair can probably never be duplicated and now feels redundant – especially when we have Disney as a fixture in our lives.
Other activities celebrating the anniversary of the 1964 New York World’s Fair will take place through October. Check out this link for details and photos from the Fair.