This Saturday, I belatedly celebrated two birthdays with my girl-friends; a luncheon at Da Nico’s in New York City’s famous Little Italy. Now, to get to Little Italy you have to pass through the equally famous and bustling China Town. Both of these areas of lower Manhattan are a “must see” in every tourist guide book and therefore jammed packed with people from all over the world taking in the sights, sounds, taste and smells of these historic districts.
I ascended from the subway onto Canal and Lafayette Streets, the hub of China Town, at 10:30am. We were not meeting until 1:30 so I had plenty of time to wander the streets with my camera to capture some of the neighborhood architecture and ethnicity as I made my way through the throngs of visitors and locals. The shop owners had just opened their doors and the hawkers were already outside enticing the passersby with the best and cheapest prices for their wares. Hanging from the awnings and homemade displays of each shop were hand bags, shoes, hats, fans, umbrellas, jeans, scarves, shawls, flip-flops, T-shirts, jewelry, and thousands upon thousands of NYC souvenir gee-gaws for people to take home as a fond reminder of their trip to New York City. There are street artists too, who for a small price will immortalize your name on a long rectangular pre-printed paper canvas in flowing colorful script interspersed with Chinese good luck and happiness symbols. I couldn’t help myself and bought one for each of the birthday celebrants.
Along Canal Street there are Chinese fast food carts with thin delicate noodles entwined with savory meats and vegetables packed in Styrofoam containers, if you prefer to eat on the go, or you can choose from the many restaurants offering Dim Sum, and stuff yourself with a wide and delicious variety of delectable dumplings.
When I reached Mulberry Street I made a left and stepped into the heart of Little Italy and watched as the restaurant staff prepared for the hungry afternoon crowds. Tables were put outside on the sidewalks and covered in festive cloths, brightly color umbrellas were popped open, bus-boys rushed by balancing long stacks of chairs to be placed around the tables. Next, shiny silverware and sparkling glasses were put out alongside tiny vases of flowers and lastly the laminated menus listing mouthwatering Italian dishes were laid opposite the forks and knives. There were gifts stores nestled in between the restaurants and cafes just in case you missed a trinket or two in China Town.
There are hawkers here too, but they are enticing the passerby not with touristy treasures but with delectable dishes of pastas, chicken, veal, and seafood prepared in rich sauces that will make you swoon with caloric happiness. If you are a pizza lover you’ve come to the right place. You have a wide choice of hot, crisp, crusty, cheesy pies accompanied by a bottle of the finest Italian wines. For dessert you have your pick of cafés to enjoy a leisurely cappuccino or espresso and a mind blowing creamy cannoli; as advertised by some poor guy who was wearing a king sized cannoli costume as he walked up and down the street handing out menus. A job you could not pay me enough to do.
As crowded, hot and noisy as these neighborhoods are you can’t help but get caught up in the festive tourist atmosphere and if you are like me usually wind up buying something that you really don’t need and walking away having spent way more than you intended, but somehow, feel you got a bargain.
With all of the incredible aromas assaulting my sensing and my stomach growling like a lion, I knew it was time for me to put the camera a way and get ready to eat, drink and be merry with my best friends.
The weather this weekend was just stellar, you could not have asked for better from mother nature. The days were warm with blue skies, birds tweeting, bees bumbling and butterflies buttering. Saturday morning I was up early, had a cup of coffee and a bowl of blueberries (yay, it’s berry season!) and out the door I went.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine told me of the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City so, that was my photo taking goal for the day. I took the #2 to Chambers Street and when I exited I stopped to take a few more photos of the ongoing construction of the new World Trade Center buildings still in progress to add to my WTC gallery. I then commenced to make my way to Battery Park City and the memorial. There was much activity in the park as the day was so beautiful and as I walked north through Robert Wagner Park I took shots of flowers, boats, people painting and water falls. These images I will present to you in a another blog post later this week along with images of the Hudson River Conservancy Park.
Not exactly sure where this memorial was situated, I walked past the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal on the river promenade and looked to my right and finally spotted a silvery overhang and behind it what looked like a pile of rocks. This I surmised, must be the place. I walked under the overhang and through a small tunnel that led to the front entrance of a little Irish stone cottage. I was completely enchanted having never seen the like of this before and ruminating on how it must have been to live in a home made from rocks. From the history I read on line this cottage was designed by the artist Brian Tolle and the house is composed of stones from 32 counties in Ireland. This work of art is to commemorate those who died or were forced to leave Ireland and strive for a better life in America, due to the great potato famine in 1845, an Gorta Mór.
The beauty and tranquility of the Irish country side is captured perfectly in the placement and design of this archaic structure. The natural color and texture of the rocks, the green grasses sprinkled with tiny purple and pink flowers surrounding the cottage and the ivy gracefully hanging from the roof or lintels of the door ways. What completed the picture was the deeply scarred stone marker with a celtic cross carved in the center, grown over with coarse green bushes, sitting at a jaunty angle like it had been there for a hundred of years. For a brief moment this site nestled in busy lower Manhattan made you feel that you were indeed in Ireland, a land someday I hope to visit. Enjoy the images below and I hope they will inspire you to make a visit to Battery Park City and this little bit of Ireland.
Happy Memorial Day,
I have had a terrific weekend and did a lot of shooting around the city as well as enjoying a family BBQ and birthday party pool side at my sisters home in Long Island.
Saturday, for the first time I walked across the infamous and beautiful Brooklyn Bridge, one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. The typical New “Yawka” that I am I spend my life surrounded by some of the most historic monuments, bridges and other places of interest in the world and just now am finding the time to visit them. But, as they say better late than never.
My photography intention for the day was to head down town to Battery Park City to take shots of tourists and sailors enjoying the holiday weekend in NYC, but changed my mind when the #5 stopped at the Brooklyn Bridge stop and made the decision to finally walk across this historic landmark. I realized very quickly that I would have no problem looking for people to photograph because there were a million of them all around me and all heading across the bridge. Although at times packed shoulder to shoulder the crowd moved slowly but happily as they surveyed the surrounding views of South Street Seaport, the Manhattan Bridge as well as the skyline of Manhattan. It was a challenge not to bump into some one when you stopped to compose a shot or to keep from getting run over by a bicycle zipping between Manhattan and Brooklyn. This bridge really is an engineering marvel and I was mesmerized by the abstract criss cross of the suspension cables emanating from the two huge limestone and granite towers. When I zoomed in for a tight shot I felt as if I was enclosed in a spider’s web of steel cables. I was stopped every once in a while and asked if I would take a photo of someone or couple with the bridge in the background and as always I obliged. It is a nice way to meet people from other states and countries.
As I walked along the bridge’s promenade I noticed locks, lots of locks and many of them alone or in great bunches clinging to the walkway fencing or jutting from a metal ring embedded in a granite pillar beneath one of the bridge towers. Well, these are “love locks” apparently and are put there by couples who have pledged their eternal love to each other. They brought a smile to my face and are a great addition to my Locks gallery.
After a few hours I made my way back toward Manhattan photographing people selling souvenirs and offering bicycles for rent by the hour. As I exited the walkway and walked over to the subway I stopped for a few minutes to photograph a man doing head stands and other acrobatic movements on the street. It was a great way to end a great day of shooting in the great city of New York.
Enjoy the photos below and you can and see the full gallery here: Brooklyn Bridge gallery.
Stay in focus,
I hope everyone had a great weekend. I had a blast; beach on Sunday (yes, the sun paid NYC a visit and stayed all weekend) and a delicious BBQ on Saturday. I’m over my “phunk” and spent all day Friday shooting the historic neighborhood of lower Manhattan (Wall Street) and South Street Seaport all decked out for the 4th of July. Despite all of the trendy tourist traps that have now become part of this landscape there is still the feel and sense of the old New York of 200 years ago. I think my photos have done it justice. Enjoy.
Stay in focus,
Cate – www.photobycate.com