Showing posts with label Skyscrapers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Skyscrapers. Show all posts

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years After Septermber 11th

The ten year anniversary of September 11th is upon us. I knew I had to write a blog about my past reflections on the event. I was deeply touched by the events of that day and it had a huge effect on my viewpoints. The following is description on what I did that day and my life ....

At the end of the summer of 2001, I had enrolled in classes at LaGuardia Community college not far from where I live. I was 19 years old and was in search for some direction. I was also unemployed, virtually broke, and of course living with my mother. At LaGuardia, I was going to pursue a liberal arts curriculum, in hopes that somewhere along the line I would find a subject that I could make into my career.

My first day of college was September 10th. I remember I had grown my hair out long to look like the old school rock stars that I admired. I get to class and see that there is a friend from high school sitting in the back, and I sit next to him and we talk. We are shocked to hear from the professor, that the curriculum will be about hip hop music. After class we take a subway to forest hills to buy the textbook for the class, The Vibe History of Hip Hop, and talk about our lives since graduating high school the year before.

The next day of class is September 11th. I walk to the 52nd street train stop of the number 7 line. The station is angled just so that the World Trade Center is directly down the tracks. I can see that the north tower is up in smoke and I assume it is a fire. I remember seeing an old Asian lady point at the towers saying "oh my god". I didn't really even think about it that much and assumed that it was probably a fire. I take the train and get to class. I remember hearing from the professor say that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, but class continued as normal.

I can't remember if class dismissed early, but shortly thereafter, I remember my friend and I going to get our college ID cards in the basement. While on line, I remember hearing a woman who worked at the college screaming and running down the hall. We get a glimpse of the TV in one of the offices and it says that both World Trade Center Towers have collapsed. I am completely shocked at this moment and everyone is now talking about it. I get my ID card and my picture is taken at a moment just after the towers collapsed. I still have this ID card.

After we get our IDs the college is full of people talking about the news. The subways and buses are all not running and so we are forced to walk home. Gazing towards the location of the World Trade Center, we can see the wall of dust that are the remnants of the towers, being pushed towards the south east towards Brooklyn.

I get home and I turn on the TV and watch it for the rest of the day. My mom who has just woken up is shockingly unimpressed by the terrorist attacked and by the end of the day she is actually tired of all the new coverage. That's my mom for you.

The news did its job of dramatizing the events of that day. America was forever changed, but New York City was changed even more. It was here that the most dramatic and deadliest outcome of that day unfolded. My fellow classmates and I had developed a sort of bond because of the tragic events.

Now 10 years later I can reflect back on that day. The rebuilding is underway, after a long delay. I have to say that I am quite impressed with the new World Trade Center design. I hate to say it but, I actually like the new design better than the twin towers. I felt the twin towers were actually simplistically bland. They were icons of the boxy international style that was so popular after World War II. The new towers are sleek, glass emeralds. Post modern complexions, yet relatively simple at the same time. I am particularly excited about Tower 2, with its 4 diamonds slicing the building diagonally. I cannot wait until it's all finished.

Tower 2:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The City

For some reason I am still obsessed with New York City. I have this romanticized notion of New York, similar to Woody Allen's character in Manhattan. To me, New York is Metropolis and Gotham all in one. It has been leaving its impression on millions and millions for hundreds of years.

I've dated many girls who have moved here from small towns and suburbs. I love that cliche of the small town girl who dreams of life in the big city. She finally realizes her dreams and is overwhelmed by all its audacity. In the U.S. we have this anti urban attitude. We put this emphasis on small towns and suburbs, the quintessential American dream of a house on a quiet suburban street. We've neglected our cities unlike many other countries who celebrated them. New York remained for so long seen as an eyesore in the fold of the American landscape. Americans hated it, mocked it, were afraid to go to it. They called it a cesspool or urban decay. And New York lost population for the 50 years as did virtually every other large American city. Only recently has the trend reversed.

For me growing up in New York, there was never a dream of a house in the suburbs. I liked my high rise apartment with the view of the skyline out my window. Why would I ever want to replace that with a bunch of suburban houses and trees? The city to me was a place of excitement. It has life and energy. Taking the train into Manhattan and emerging out into a "Metropolis" of sorts gave me the impression of what Clark Kent might have felt when he left Smallville, although not quite as dramatic. Suddenly you are in a giant city and you realize how small your are in this world. This allure has attracted many a small town folk, and I think I'd be one of them if I had such a past.

What does New York represent to me? It represents an American dream, American ingenuity, American diligence. Not long after New York was founded (then of coarse New Amsterdam), there was a great migration to move out west where people settled in mostly in small, sparsely situated towns. This gave birth to the rural lifestyle that is so characteristic of early American life. This rural, small town lifestyle somehow became the "real" America, that so many patriots and politicians try to use as their badge of American authenticity. The big cities back east were already becoming over populated cesspools of filth, disease and of coarse, immigrants. This can't be the "real" America. No "real" Americans live in a log cabin, in a tiny town, they know their neighbors and go to church on Sunday.

So there I be, in the big city. You might see me riding the subway, or stretching my neck to see the top of a new skyscraper. You might see me jaded and blue, or you might just be lucky enough to see me crack a smile.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New York: A Love/Hate Relationship

I'm going crazy because of work. I am working 11 hour days and getting barely half of that in sleep every night. Everyday I commute into the city, packed into to a train like a Sardine. I take an elevator up to the 23rd floor. The view from up there isn't as spectacular as you would think. Then I do the same routine on the way back home.

I know that in New York you have to work hard. I love this city but the amount of time you have to work is draining me on my life and energy. I almost long for a slower paced, hippie retreat in the middle of nowhere.

But, I still love this city. I still love its energy. Maybe the reason I have no energy is because the city is absorbing all of mine? I was watching some old newsreels about New York. They're fun to watch. Newsreels were shown in movie theaters during the intermission. It's interesting to watch these old newsreels to see how things were way back when.

In one called City of Magic from 1956, you can hear the narrator's enthusiasm for the big apple. I too carry that enthusiasm for New York tucked under my jaded expression. I know if I move away, I will get that longing for New York that I've had on extended trips away. New York was the biggest city in the world at that time, an unrivaled metropolis. It had to tallest building in the world, the Empire State Building. The city must have exhilarated so many imaginations and thrilled so many hearts back then, as it still does today.

Transportation in New York back in the 1950s:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Walk in Manhattan

Yesterday I took a long walk in Manhattan. The weather was great, sunny skies warm temps. It had been a while since I went to Manhattan and really payed attention to the architecture. These are my shots.

This is the Upper East Side skyline peaking out:

This is the new Bank of America building in Bryant Park:

This is the top of Americas Tower peaking out. It's my favorite building in terms of design. It has an old school style art deco look to it adapted to the post modern era:

walking down 6th avenue I snapped some shots of the high rises along it between 42nd street and 23rd:

Looking west along 34th street:

The Empire State Building behind the Hotel Pennsylvania:

Herald Square:

A new high rise with luxury condos or rentals:

These high rises along 6th avenue are all relatively new, built in the past 5 or 6 years:

Looking back up 6th avenue towards Midtown:

I swung west on 23rd and passed by the infamous Hotel Chelsea:

Some of the that modern style architecture featuring the extravagant window arrangement and facade mixed in with the old on west 23rd:

I went up to the High Line which has just recently opened. It was an abandoned freight rail line on the lower west side of Manhattan that is now an open pedestrian walkway. It offers some unique views of the city previously unavailable to the public:

looking up 10th avenue:

Lady Liberty:

Jersey City popping up:

Looking down 14th street:

This new building is where voyeurs wait for glimpses of naked flesh:

Jersey City again:

The Meat Packing district:

Back on the street in the Meat Packing district:

I thought this building looked interesting:

That new Trump building in Tribeca:

The Freedom Tower:

This view will change dramtically in the coming years:

The Skyscraper Museum has wooden handmade models of the city:

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I love New York City. It's my hometown and the place of my birth. I'm so lucky to live and have grown up here. I know that if I was born somewhere else I would want to live here. To me New York represents the ideal urban metropolis. I mean when you think of a city, and of what a city should look like, with tall skyscrapers and busy streets, you think of New York. The center of New York is undoubtedly Manhattan. Manhattan is what people think of when they think of New York. Some people even think New York City is Manhattan and that the 4 other boroughs are perhaps its suburbs. I love Manhattan and have always wanted to live there, perched atop one of its thousands of high rise apartments. I'd love to wake up and see panoramic views of the cityscape, from within the city out my windows everyday. All the glittering towers, looking like a maze of concrete and glass.

To get the real experience of living in New York one has to live in Manhattan. There are parts of Queens and Staten Island and even the Bronx that feel like suburbia. Brooklyn has the closest feeling to Manhattan in terms of urbanization, although parts of the Bronx come close. Downtown Brooklyn is like the downtown of a mid-sized city. It would be the 4th largest city in the U.S. if it were an independent city. It's true that Manhattan overshadows the other boroughs just as how its many modern skyscrapers overshadow the stubby older buildings. I love the architecture of Manhattan. I've always loved skyscrapers, and if you like tall buildings Manhattan is got to be in your radar. It has historic art deco skyscrapers like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, it has the simple boxy international styles of the post-war years, as well as the post modern styles like the new Bank of America tower. The diversity of Manhattan's skyscrapers, with textbook examples of every architectural era being represented, are among its best feature. Other cities like Hong Kong have many nice modern high rises but lack the older art deco style ones. New York may not even be the high rise capital of the world any more, as other cities like Sao Paulo and Hong Kong have constructed more than New York in recent decades, but that doesn't bother me, I still love New York's skyline the best.

I love how Manhattan is an island physically separated from the rest of New York and the world for that matter. Entering it from the outside is a thrilling experience. The experience of driving into midtown across the 59th Street Bridge is one to remember, and it never ceases to amaze. At once you are transported in the heart of "the city" surrounded by skyscrapers everywhere, noise, traffic, pollution, the dense urban jungle that is Manhattan. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, one of the characters describes entering into Manhattan from the Queensboro Bridge, "The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world."


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