Le Carousel, Bryant Park, New York City, New York, 2013
Bryant Park is nestled in a canyon of skyscrapers, just behind the New York Public Library. It is an oasis of lawns, gardens, promenades, and trees, a place where thousands of nature-starved office workers gather for lunch whenever the weather is warm and dry. I found its most charming asset to be a small carousel, inhabited by fourteen classical carousel creatures. I made this image in early morning light. The carousel is not yet at work – the day has hardly begun and the still figures within are visible only through the plastic windows of its protective draping. The warm light filters through the plastic, gilding one of its horses, and illuminating the folds of the green drapes that surround the animal. The effect is nostalgic, a romantic homage to both European and American merry-go-rounds.
Alone, Mall entrance, Columbus Circle, New York City, New York, 2013
Waves of morning commuters rise from the subways below to crowd this part of Columbus Circle. Yet I found this person standing utterly alone at this moment. I caught her in between commuter surges, standing before a shopping mall entrance as she checks her messages on a cellular phone. It is an incongruous situation, and I made sure to include just enough of the sidewalk, parking barricades, mall entrance, and overhead glass awning to turn this vast area into her own private office. The colorful yellow coat contrasts to the monochromatic cement, aluminum and glass which surround her. Both before and after I made this photo, chaos reigned. But at this instant, she has this part of Columbus Circle all to herself.
Rush hour, Columbus Circle, New York City, New York, 2013
I stood at the head of the steps leading up from the New York City Subway, photographing the crowds of rush hour commuters as they flowed swiftly past me. I built this particular image around the woman carrying the brilliantly colored dark red and yellow tote bag. She wears a trench coat, which further differentiates her from the swarm of people that surges towards us. Using a 24mm wideangle focal length, I pressed the shutter just as the man in front of her left my frame. Clutching a cup of coffee, she follows in his wake. Her impassive expression projects a sense of determination and perhaps a hint of concern. Commuters retrace these steps five days a week. She seems to know each one by heart.
Maine Monument, Columbus Circle, New York City, New York, 2013
The Maine Monument stands at Merchant’s Gate, the main entrance to Central Park. Built at the turn of the last century, the monument commemorates the lives of 266 American sailors killed when the battleship US Maine exploded in Havana harbor in 1898. This monument features an ornately gilded statue on its top, but I chose to photograph just one of the four allegorical figures at its base. The figure hosts no fewer than ten pigeons at this moment, an incongruous gesture of hospitality from such a noble sculpture. The surrounding scuptures add context, as does the hull of stylized ship coming right at us. I processed the image in an antique sepia tone, reminiscent of photographs from the 1890s. (The sculptor, Attilio Piccirilli, is known as well for carving the handsome pediment of the New York Stock Exchange, which I also photographed for this gallery. View it at: http://www.pbase.com/image/110782384)
Farewell to Roseland, New York City, New York, 2013
The very day I returned home from this trip to New York, I saw an article in the New York Times reporting that the famous Roseland Ballroom, a club in Midtown Manhattan where generations of bands have performed since 1919, would be closing later this year. Without knowing this, I had earlier made this image of Roseland’s striking painted façade, featuring a single tourist leaning on a barrier as she waits to photograph one of the many celebrities that often appear in New York’s theatre district. The tourist is small, quiet and patient, which provides an incongruous comparison in scale and attitude to the monumental mural filled with vivid primary colors and the energetic symbolic hands of silhouetted Roseland customers. New York is always changing, and now Roseland, which once hosted the likes of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, Sting, Madonna, the Rolling Stones, and Beyoncé, appears ready to close its doors.
One among the many, Grand Central Terminal, New York City, New York, 2013
Grand Central Terminal is more than a railroad station. It is an iconic New York landmark. For exactly 100 years, it has been the largest railroad station in the world, covering 48 acres and hosting more than 65 tracks along its platforms. Its historic grandeur has made it the world’s sixth most visited tourist attraction, drawing more than 20 million visitors a year. I made this image of its main concourse just prior to rush hour. While dozens of visitors and commuters swirl about its famous four sided clock and information desk, I’ve built this photograph around a single person – the woman who strides in front of the illuminated patch of marble that glows in the center of the image. Head down, she seems oblivious to everything – the crowds, the history, and the lavish grand scale of the place. By removing the vast upper reaches of the terminal from my frame, I strengthened the emphasis on the sole woman walking before the pool of light. Finally, I darkened the image slightly to increase the contrast between the one among the many.
The underpass, Central Park, New York City, New York, 2013
The shadows within this underpass provide a medium of abstraction, allowing me to lead the eye directly to a silhouetted woman who is walking her dog. She has just about emerged from the other end of the underpass. I catch her as she seems to look towards a small figure in black striding among the distant trees. There is an energy flowing between the figures, large and small. The image reflects a personal moment in time, a private place in the midst of a great city. It is also an incongruous study in space, limited to a chance pairing of just two of the park’s thirty-five million visitors each year. Yet it gives us an understanding of why this place is the most visited urban park in the United States.
Displaced, Central Park, New York City, New York, 2013
The character of Central Park has changed dramatically over past 50 years. In the 60s and 70s, the city itself was experiencing economic and social changes, and the park decayed along with it. Years of poor management and inadequate maintenance turned this masterpiece of landscape architecture into a deteriorated dustbowl and a danger zone by night. Vandalism was rife. The park turned around in the 1980s, under the leadership of The Central Park Conservancy, a private, non-profit organization that manages the park for the city. The park has been reborn, and is now considered safe. There is a 1:00 am curfew in effect. Yet there are still a few homeless people who sleep below its trees. The park police do their best to discourage them from hanging around, largely for aesthetic reasons, rather than as a matter of safety or crime. When I walked through the interior of the park at 8:00 am in the morning, I saw several homeless men, including this pair, carting their bags of belongings out of the park. Their vividly colored backpacks and carts incongruously contrast to the lush canopy overhead.
30 Rock, New York City, New York, 2013
Barry Faulkner’s striking art deco mosaic mural “Intelligence Awakening Mankind” seems invisible to the steady flow of people walking below it. Yet a careful look at this image will show at least one person in this scene using her intelligence -- a woman stands studying a document between a pair of potted shrubs, braced against the wall of Rockefeller Center’s GE Building. This is the Sixth Avenue entrance to 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home to NBC’s studios. Built in 1933, this skyscraper is the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center. It was known as the RCA Building until 1988. Today the 70 story building is often called by its nickname “30 Rock,” based on an NBC TV show.
Times Square, New York City, New York, 2013
Once known as The Great White Way, Times Square is the worlds most visited tourist attraction. Approximately a third of a million people pass through Times Square daily. 40 million people a year come to gawk at its garish advertising “spectaculars,” and to patronize its shops, restaurants, hotels, theatres and various attractions. In this wideangle image, I offer a study of the heart of the square, the spot that once hosted the structure that gave the place its name – the old New York Times building. The Times has since moved, and its former building has become Two Times Square. It is now almost completely covered with illuminated ads, rendering the once famous “news crawl” sign at the bottom, a formerly iconic New York symbol, nearly invisible. The building across the street reflects the colorfully chaotic scene back at us. Even the square's famous pigeons make an appearance here – at least eleven of them cling to a wire leading in to my image from the right. The scene pulses with energy, intensified by the diagonal lines and primary colors.
At Liberty, Times Square, New York, 2013
This street performer, a living version of New York’s iconic Statue of Liberty, incongruously shows off a pair of sunglasses in one of the Times Square pedestrian plazas. Although nobody seems to notice the performance at the moment, this "living statue" may still be turning a profit. While one hand holds both a mini-torch and an American flag, the other hand may be pocketing dollars, euros, and yen.
Lunch at Lindy’s, New York City, New York, 2013
Lindy’s was originally a famous New York deli, opening in 1921 and nationally known for its cheesecake. It closed in 1957, and reopened about twenty years later under a new management in two Manhattan locations. These diners prefer to ignore the window ad promoting Lindy’s abundant Sunday Brunch, and instead concentrate their attention on whatever might be flying overhead at this moment.