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Photosbycate Weblog

A Photo Essay Blog

Archive for the tag ““New York City””

A Riparian Ramble to Grant’s Tomb

The one thing about NYC that I find fascinating is the many parks that it has.  Most of them along the river fronts; shore lines that, for over a hundred years have been dominated by manufacturing and rail commerce. A shoreline not for the enjoyment of the people but, for the forward pull of progress. Today, that has changed and the shorelines of two of NYC’s biggest rivers; the Hudson (a.k.a. North River) and the East River have been transformed into public parks.  These parks have promenades for biking and walking, grassy banks strewn with big bulky colorful rocks perfect for having an impromptu pick nick or just sitting and watching the waters flow.  The images that accompany this post were taken on the Hudson River and within the peaceful scenic Riverside Park, which stretches from 72nd Street all the way up to 125th street toward my final destination of Grant’s Tomb.

Emerging from the subway station on the 73rd Street and Broadway side, I was greeted with a spectacular view of the gorgeous Beaux Arts facade of the grand old Ansonia Hotel, a much loved and recognized Upper West Side land mark.

Entering the Park at 72nd and Riverside Drive I was greeted by the sculpture of a pensive Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman whose life and works I highly admire. I then made a bee line to the waterfront to begin my photographic ramble of the day. As with all of the waterfront parks, there were bikers and runners by the score, out for a healthy few hours in sun, as well as people like me strolling and taking in the sites, sounds and smells of a beautiful warm summer day.

I spent a good deal of time taking photos of the 79th Street Boat Basin facing Guttenberg, NJ. The basin was filled with all of the great nautical bits and the flotsam and jetsam that I love to photograph accented with a few brown mallards sunning themselves on a waterlogged piece of dock. Continuing northward I came to the end of the  concrete and asphalt promenade and was now on a grassy tree lined riverbank similar to the banks of the East River in Astoria Park; one could scramble down the rocks to get close enough to dangle a foot or two in the water.  I followed a narrow foot path in the grass stopping every few feet to photograph some cotton like weed, wild flowers or ivy crawling over the rocks or the rock’s colorful geologic striations.

The highway at some point separates the park from the water front and so at 122nd street I had to back track to 104th street and walk through a tunnel to get into the “heart” of Riverside Park. Here is where you lose all sense that you are in NYC. A small forest of trees with peeling brown bark and lemon yellow limbs surrounds you as do the sounds of birds and the undulating sh-sh-sh-shushing of the cicadas.  I walked entranced up the wide lanes and down stone stair cases, and up again onto stone overlooks, letting the peace and calm envelop me.  The only other sounds were that of children happily shrieking, as is their won’t, as they played on the swings or swung from the dangling rings of a playground obstacle course. There are baseball and soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts and miles of paths to traverse. A recreational haven for everyone.

The park is also known for the many historic and poignant monuments that are part of the this northern area of Manhattan also known as Morning Side Heights and, the most popular of all is Grant’s Tomb; located at 122nd Street.  When I stepped out of the cool shade of the park my eyes were dazzled by the bright white tower of Riverside Church and most amazing is that it was not enshrouded in scaffolding, as is almost every famous and or religious building and monument in Manhattan! This will be a go back trip with a faster lens to capture the interior of this church.

I grabbed a few shots and then tore myself away and walked over to the Mrs. and the General’s place of rest.  It too, was clean bright white and sits at the end of a bower of trees where one walks through and then up the stone stairs leading into the entrance of the mausoleum. Before entering I was completely side tracked and smitten by some unusual sculpture. Free formed multicolored mosaic stone benches that slithered around the perimeter of Grant’s Tomb, like a huge multicolored anaconda; a very whimsical contrast to the solemnity of the place. The sculpture is called the Rolling Bench and was designed by artist Pedro Silva and the architect Phillip Danzig.

Before catching the M5 bus back downtown to 72nd street I spent a few minutes taking more exterior shots of Riverside Church and surrounding buildings, unfortunately some of these were under renovation (there’s a surprise!) and miles of protective netting. Exiting the bus at 72nd and Riverside I chose to walk up 73rd for a few parting shots of the Ansonia.

Enjoy this view of the Upper West Side.

 

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A Black and White Christmas

The sun was shining on Christmas Eve day and after the two previous days of rain I was itching to go out for a walk with my camera.  I usually keep my distance from the holiday crowds in Manhattan but on this morning, I was struck by a wave of holiday spirit and decided to go strolling along 5th Avenue down toward Rockefeller Center, the heart of New York City’s holiday hullabaloo.

I exited the subway at 5th Avenue and 59th Street coming up on Central Park West  where the horse and carriage trade was in full swing. The horses were decorated in holiday plums of red, green, purple and blue and the coachmen were dressed in thick quilted one piece suits, to keep them from freezing solid being in the open cold air all day. A few of them sported tops hats to complete the high class ensemble. Some carriages had passengers snuggled together behind the driver, under warm fleece blankets as they were chauffeured in and around Central Park, pointing at familiar landmarks and taking pictures of everything they saw.

As expected 5th Avenue was jammed-packed with people of all ages and descriptions enjoying the holiday decorations and excitements that only a big city like New York can provide. It took some clever maneuvering to keep from being buffeted aside as I stopped to take my share of photos. I wormed my way through the crowds to the windows of  some of the most famous and expensive jewelry stores; Van Cleef and Arpels, Wempe, and Harry Winston, to name just a few, where a king’s ransom in jewels sat on display and I left quite a few nose-prints and a bit of drool on some of their windows. Of all the merchant displays along this glittering avenue my pick of the bunch was a colossal slithering scintillating serpent that enveloped the sides of  Bulgari on the corner of 5th & 57th Street, and followed each passerby with penetrating sparkling red eyes.

With a sigh I pulled myself away from the baubles of the rich and famous and made a left turn toward 6th Avenue to take a few photos of the massive Christmas ornaments on display across from Radio City Music Hall and then onto Rockefeller Center.  The street vendors were out in droves busy selling hot chestnuts, pretzels and hot dogs to hungry tourists who munched on these traditional treats as they gazed at the street decorations.

When I arrived at Rockefeller Center, the stately giant Christmas Tree, took center stage twinkling in the sun while the wind blew the gold and silver flags, that lined the perimeter of the ice rink, making them billow wildly in the air. Once again, I squeezed myself into an open space to get a good view above the rink and watched skaters, new and experienced glide, slide and swirl around and around as free and light as winter birds in flight.

Leaving, I took a parting shot of Rockefeller Center and walked back to 60th and 5th avenue taking a few street shots along the way before heading back to Queens and Christmas Eve festivities. I had wished for snow on Christmas Eve but the city did not receive a single flurry so I converted all but one of my images to black and white to achieve the wintry effect I was looking for.

I hope you all had a great Christmas and that Santa filled your stockings to the brim with gifts of joy, sweetness and happiness that will last until next Christmas, when we get to do it all over again!

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Happy Independence Day America!

July 4th is one of my favorite holidays, being a fiercely independent woman, and I’ve put together a little Fourth of July slide show for my friends all over the world. These photos are from a mix of images that I’ve taken over the past few years from some of the historic places in New York City such as: South Street Sea Port, the Brooklyn Bridge, Liberty Island, Governor’s Island, and Battery Park.

My Fourth of July wish to You

May your life be prosperous and FREE.

May you have space to spread your wings and fly.

May you have the courage to stand by your convictions.

And may you REMEMBER that FREEDOM IS FOR ALL PEOPLE, EVERYWHERE.

From My  Independent Heart to Yours,

Cate

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Walking Through a Sepulcher Wood

Last Sunday, I took the subway to 25th Street and 5th Avenue in Brooklyn to walk through and photograph the infamous Green-Wood Cemetery. It was a perfect spring day to wander around in this peaceful and historic resting place. I am one of  “those” people who find cemeteries fascinating monuments of local history and Green-Wood has a pedigree of notable burials a mile long. The cemetery is a big beautiful woodland, with rolling hills, meandering paths and man-made lakes inhabited by geese, snowy egrets and other water fowl, and is now a designated National Historic Landmark.

I started my walk in the “public” lots looking for the older grave stones dating from the late 18th century to the 19th century. Worn down over the years to a soft bar-soap dullness, the headstone inscriptions barely visible or completely washed away. One can only assume that the descendants of these people have either died themselves or have moved away and started a new generation far from where their ancestors lie; the forgotten roots to the family tree. Some of these stones are slowly being covered up by weeds, dirt and grasses and will soon be gone from view. I spotted one grave marker that was so old the tree next to it was growing a wooden arm around it, a comforting friend for the years ahead. One slab stone that cracked horizontally and had grass growing between it looked like a giant’s foot print.

The inscriptions that could be read were short and simple some just a name or designation of who they were like mother, father and sadly baby. Quite a few of the tomb stones were cracked or broken lying among newer neighbors like the  fire-hydrant shaped stone, obviously for the beloved family dog.  A scattering of  tiny purple flowers and bright yellow dandelions were growing among the graves adding a gentle warmth and color to an otherwise somber scene.

In the newer plots there were angels, cherubs, saints and gargoyles watching over and protecting all that slept beneath them. As I continued my walk and ventured further into this memorial park, I was momentarily taken aback when I first came upon a certain area below a hill. At first  glance, it appeared to be a nice quiet suburban street with homes on sloping green lawns and stairs leading down to the paved street with a street lamp on the corner. Across from them on the lake shore, sat little pastel colored cottages. These homes and cottages were in fact, family crypts and mausoleums! I thought to myself,  “Wouldn’t this make an interesting and thrilling midnight walk on All Hallows Eve?”

Two pieces of architecture standing out among the mausoleums, statuary and stones are the main entrance gates, designed by Richard Upjohn. Brownstone Gothic spires flanked by two small buildings resembling a Swiss chalet and an Italian villa. And the newly renovated Chapel, designed by the same architectural firm that designed Grand Central Station, Warren & Wetmore.

Sunday’s visit only covered a fraction of this beautiful sepulcher landmark and I have plans to return in the fall and winter to complete my Green-Wood Cemetery gallery of images.

Note: In the morning as I exited the train station and walked up towards the cemetery, I stopped and took photos of an old relic of a building, the Weir Greenhouse,  that happily has been purchased by Green-Wood and will soon become a visitors center. Although, it was enclosed by an impenetrable fence (darn it!) I managed to capture a few goods shots of the octagonal cupola.

Enjoy the slide show:

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The Centennial of A Grand Terminal

Being a New Yorker I want to get on, off and out of the  New York City public transportation system as fast as I possibly can except, when I am in Grand Central Terminal or Station as it is commonly known, where I slow down to marvel at this architectural wonder. No matter how many hundreds of people are rushing by,  juggling suit cases, back-packs, babies, bags and strollers, it is still spacious and opulent and a true site to be seen.

Mirror smooth granite, large tinted decorative glass windows and scintillating chandeliers impart a sense of awe unlike any other rail road station. The Clock, a beacon above the information kiosk and a favorite meeting place (as in, ” I’ll meet you by the clock at 10:30″), with its four glowing opalescent faces is an icon all in itself. While above your head, the vaulted ceiling is of  artistic beauty and curiosity full of celestial celebrities shooting across the heavens. Winged Pegasus and Orion the hunter mingle with these astrological signs: charismatic Gemini the Twins,  loyal Cancer the Crab, honest Pieces the Fish, strong and stubborn Taurus the Bull and creative Aries the Ram; graceful stars within the milky way.

There is an air of excitement in this cavernous terminal that you experience while watching people hurrying to and fro, anxiously looking up at the huge black and white destination boards located above the ticket booths, to confirm the time and track number of their train. Some who have a few moments before boarding, take a photo or two with their phones or go down stairs to the dining concourse to enjoy a fast meal at the various food courts. For those who have more time and prefer a sit down meal there is the infamous Oyster Bar, the entrance to which reminds one of a medieval castle with low swooping arches and shadowy lighting. I love walking through this urban grotto capturing the artistry in the detailing of the ceiling tiles, moldings, stairwells, iron work and sconces, revealing their charm through abstract imagery.

If you are in New York City take some time to visit this Grand Dame of Train Travel and wish her a Happy 100th Birthday!!!

Urban Industrial at Its Best

On a gorgeous mid Autumn morning I headed to the west side of Manhattan to revisit The High Line , the urban park created from the old elevated rail road tracks running above 10th Avenue from Grosvenor Street to 34th Street. At one time this was a bustling industrial thoroughfare, still known as the Meat Packing District. I hadn’t been there since the current extension to 34th street and I planned to do some serious urban photography.

As I walked along the newly renovated path flanked by the old wooden and steel track I was amazed at how narrow certain points along this end of the park was and felt a bit claustrophobic ambling through the tapered canyon of old  factories and warehouses. This close proximity though, offered me views  that I would otherwise not have had and the subject matter was mostly old industrial with just a few bits of modern New York City  peeking through. This was going to be a good day.

I arrived early around 7:30am and the sun was casting dark angular shadows across the walkway and I spent a good deal of time prowling up and down the same  section taking images as the sun moved across the sky lighting up areas that five or ten minutes before were in the dark. The views were spectacular for a photographer whose niche is urban industrial, filled with some of my favorite subject matter; water towers, chimney caps, steam vents, zig-zagging fire escapes, cityscapes, TV antennas and satellite dishes, construction cranes, scaffolding and enough windows to make a peeping Tom feel he had died and gone to heaven. The morning sunlight exposed the rich red crumbling textures of the bricks and corroding metals against a deep blue sky and the shadows added dimension to an otherwise flat perspective. Mixed into this were the seasonal plants and flowers planted all along the High Line giving a natural look and beauty to this unique public park.

Looking further west up the car lined streets you can see the Hudson River and a little further north a glimpse of the Palisades. Looking east, Manhattan is spread out before you with the pointed top of the  Empire State Building soaring high above its skyscraper neighbors. As I walked south toward the beginning of the park I could not help taking images of the rusting metal framework of the historic White-Star Cunard lines  on Pier 54 that at one time was the epicenter of travel for the rich and famous from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th. This is where the Carpathia docked with the survivors of the Titanic and where the Lusitania embarked on her ill-fated journey home to England.

When I had descended to the street I became fascinated with the jumbled old cobble stone, a remnant of the horse-drawn carriage days, on Little West 12th Street. I was nearly run over by cabs numerous times as I became fixated on a reflection and would wander out into the middle of the road eyes focused downward trying to create an abstract composition.

My stomach was beginning to growl and I knew it was time for lunch at a local cafe and then the train ride home to Queens  with a camera full of photographic treasures captured from this sui generis visual playground. Enjoy this little trip back in NYC history.

A Tourist In My Home Town

My home town is New York City and I am on vacation for a few days and decided to take a tour of my favorite landmarks of this fair city.

My first stop was the observation deck on the roof of the Rockefeller Center building better known as the Top Of The Rock. Seventy floors above the sights and sounds of the greatest city in the world you have a 360 degree view of the awesome skyscrapers and bridges that make up the Manhattan skyline.

My second visit was to the Intrepid a huge World War II air craft carrier now retired and converted into the Air, Space and Sea museum. Its deck is lined with old-time WWII fighting planes and helicopters as well as the British Airways Concord. These machines are all polished and standing proud and at attention telling their stories to tourist from all over the world. A photographer’s dream; I went wild and spent the better part of a very hot summer day collecting memories to share.

My third stop was Liberty Island and the famed statue of Liberty. The ferry ride to and from Manhattan is just wonderful with views of  three of NYC’s Islands: Manhattan, Ellis and Governors.  The tourists including myself were just in awe of  New York Harbor watching ferries, tug boats, commercial vessels, and sail boats sailing up and down the Hudson River.  As we got closer and closer to the majestic Statue Of Liberty I’m sure more than one person was imaging what is was like over a hundred years ago when ships filled to capacity with people whose hearts and minds were awash with dreams of a new life in the land of opportunity.

I think the Empire State Building or a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, maybe The New York Aquarium or…..ah, decisions, decisions  the life of a tourist is so hard isn’t it?  Enjoy the photos and get the heck off your heinies and tour your own home town or come visit NYC. You’ll dig it trust me.

Stay in Focus,

Cate

www.photobycate.com

Greenwich Village NYC in December

There is nothing that is more New York City-ish or Manhattan like than Greenwich Village.  I took the N train from Ditmars Boulevard in Queens to 8th Street and Broadway and started my tour through the campus of  NYU and  Washington Square Park. You can’t help but love the diversity, eccentricity, excitement and just plain fun of wandering the streets of this little part of Manhattan Island.  Snapping street scenes in the thirty degree weather didn’t bother me as I walked along the infamous Bleecker, MacDougal and Christopher streets.  Greenwich Village’s history is long, varied and rich and I hope my photos bring a some of this history into your homes and a bit of  the Bohemian into your hearts. Enjoy.

Artist in Residence
Artist in Residence

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