I walked up and down Manhattan (between 70thish and Soho) six or seven times, using different streets, sometimes repeating the same area but at a different time of day. There is something about Midtown that is appealing. I think it’s the most cinematic part of New York City — that 1950s North by Northwest flannel suit New York that doesn’t exist anymore (but the buildings do). Warhol’s first Factory was there, so was the Brill Building, and even minor places (in terms of their cultural impact) like the CBS Headquarters on West 57th (which explained why, in the 1980s, their newsmagazine was called West 57th). There are so many cinematic, television, pop cultural, and literary references hanging around New York City that they all start to compete in your head when walking around the place physically. They also compete with the historic New York that has been thoroughly mythologized. Like being in Los Angeles, you begin to wonder what is real and what is imagined about this place — and does that even matter?
On a previous NYC trip I went for a long evening run through the city (and around the Central Park reservoir like Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man, of course), and stopped on the steps of Trump International Hotel and Tower (above) and had one of those Mary Tyler Moore big-city moments of euphoric joy. It was raining this time, putting a damper on that feeling just a bit. The Trump building was originally the headquarters of the Gulf + Western company, which owned Paramount studios. The final decision to make films like The Godfather and Chinatown occurred up on the high floors of this legendary building.
2 Columbus Circle was built by Hunting Hartford, the A & P heir who died last week, to house his art museum. It’s a controversial building, either loved or hated. It’s worth poking around the Wikipedia entry for interesting tidbits or this wonderful essay from the New York Times about the building’s secret history by the paper’s late, brilliant writer, Herbert Muschamp.
Nice Columbus Circle bench — a lovely curve and a skateboarders dream? Didn’t see many scuff marks — maybe they self-regulate in NYC.
The flat wall of buildings along Central Park South — a human-made mountain range.
The High Cost of Expensive Parking
Mother and daughter hand over their white Lexus to a man who parks their car in one of these raised platforms near Soho. As dense as NYC is, there are still a surprising number of parking lots.
The trees of Trump Tower.
Lots of healthy spring street trees in Manhattan. Why do they thrive, and Toronto’s do not?
Where Fifth Avenue meets Central park. It’s like the green of the park can’t be held back and overflows onto the street. It’s a bit like Parkside Drive along High Park in Toronto — a thin ribbon of pavement keeps all the green at bay. On both streets, if you shut you eyes, the smell of all that nature will still tell you where you are.
Some naming rights are OK to sell. Who is your iconic Torontonian? We have some.
Not sure how healthy these art deco pieces are for the trees, but they are located around (and are part of) Rockefeller Center and look wonderful. The trees looked fine and healthy though.
Bryant Park is just about perfect, even when misty out.
Probably the only boring park in Soho too.
Rush hour & a steady flow of people into the new World Trade Centre PATH station.
One of the few places left to view the terrible hole, now an active construction site. Five years of a war fought in its name have made us cynical whenever 9/11 comes up — but being there is still quite something. No amount of cool irony or disaster/war relativism can change that feeling.