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Postcards from Manhattan

2004.08.10 — Culture | Postcards | Travel | by Derek Jensen

Chysler Building

The Chrysler Building. (hi res)

I've really only learned one thing about New York since I started working across the Hudson in New Jersey. That is that every day is trash day in Manhattan. I don't understand it, really. Everywhere you go, there are heaps of garbage and refuse lining the sidewalk. it's no wonder they have a rat problem.

I already knew that New York has the greatest architecture of any city in America. The Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, and the Flatiron Building are three of my favorite pieces of architecture in the world.


Chrysler Building

The Chrysler Building. (hi res)

The pic at left is a cropped and altered version of the one at right, with the building removed digitally.

I took these pictures a few weeks ago on a jaunt into the city for dinner. We had reservations for a semi-fancy place that got a great review in a restaurant guide.

They kept us waiting for half an hour before seating us at a table that was too small. They reseated us at a better table when we requested it, but then pretty much ignored us. It was comically bad service. I find that's generally the case with fancy restaurants, and not just in New York.



Manhattan traffic

Manhattan traffic. (hi res)

I like the cabs in Manhattan. They're much nicer than the cabs in Newark or even Chicago. I think that many of the cabs in Newark started life in Manhattan, got old and worn out, and then got repainted and put to work in Jersey.

I bet that a quick once-over with a criminalogist's kit would uncover some seriously disgusting stuff.





Park Avenue

Park Avenue. (hi res)

I lived in Chicago for a few years, and I can tell you: Manhattan cab drivers are crazy sons of bitches even compared to Chicagoans.

Maybe it's an ethnic thing. Chicago cabbies are mostly eastern European: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states, etc. NY/NJ cabbies are split between Middle Eastern and African. I don't know why.




32nd Street

32nd Street. (hi res)

As a general rule, cabbies are all nice guys, often with good educations in their homeland, working toward professional jobs in the US. They aren't lifer hacks.

Chicago cabbies know their area better than Jersey cabbies, tho. I don't know about NYC cabbies.






33rd Street

33rd Street. (hi res)

Taxi cab trivia

The term "taxi cab" comes from "taximeter cabriolet." A taximeter is (and always has been since ancient times) the device that measures the fare. A cabriolet was a type of small French carriage with a convertible top popular for use as hired coaches.

"Hack," a slang term for cab driver, comes from "hackney," another common type of hired coach.




Little Italy

Little Italy at Canal Street. (hi res)


Little Italy meets Chinatown on Canal Street. I don't know if it's the same in San Francisco, but if it is, then Chinatown would have been a very different movie if the climax had occurred a couple of blocks over.

"Forget it, Jake. It's Little Italy."

Of course, the "Chinatown" line didn't make much sense anyway. I mean, so what if it was Chinatown? No one involved in the incident was Chinese. I think a better line would have been "Forget it, Jake. He's a rich bastard with the city council in his hip pocket."



Chinatown. (hi res)

I had dinner with coworkers in a little Chinese restaurant stuck in here somewhere (not Chung Wah). Somehow, everyone in a big city knows of the "best" of some particular thing. This place (it was called "King Wong" or something like that) had good food, but come on; how much better can one Chinese restaurant be than another?

Maybe you have to cultivate a taste for it, like wine. I hate things you have to cultivate a taste for.



Ground Zero

"Ground Zero," Manhattan. (hi res)

The World Trade Center

The World Trade Center just looks like a big construction site now. Some side buildings are in progress, and the PATH station is complete.

The PATH station is still pretty new. It's the only clean thing in the city. No video cameras, please.

I never really liked the World Trade Center. The Twin Towers were not beautiful buildings. My hometown bank had more soul.



WTC PATH station

World Trade Center PATH station. (hi res)

PATH stands for "Port Authority Transportation Horror" or something like that. Altho it is a subway, it's not the same system as the New York subway.

Since I don't get over to Manhattan much, I don't know a lot about the NY subway. They link up in certain places, but the transfers aren't free. I'm pretty sure I'd get lost if I went into a NY subway station and tried to use it to get back across to Jersey.




WTC PATH station

World Trade Center PATH station. (hi res)

This is the exterior of the new WTC PATH station, finished in 2003. I took this pic in auto mode and enhanced the brightness and contrast in Paint Shop Pro.







WTC PATH station

World Trade Center PATH station.
(hi res)

Exact same place, but I took this pic in night mode, with the camera steadied against a lamp post for the long exposure. This is one of my favorite pics now.

It illustrates why photographers love cities. You can't get a picture like this in soybean field.






More Manhattan photos....


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