New York can be a tricky topic for me. I know the Big Apple well and yet I’ve not seen her in years. I travelled there regularly, know corners of her intimately and yet the world and his wife/husband/civil partner/dog thinks they know her even if they have never been.
And of course, I no longer know her quite as well as I used to.
It is, perhaps, a glimpse into what it must be like to be related to a celebrity.
My New York journey began when I was too young to know of her film and TV fame. When that sofa from Friends, the tutu from Sex and the City, the grit from Girls, heck, even the damsel-atop a skyscraper in kids flick Hong Kong hadn’t yet crossed my radar.
My dad lived there and I was at the age when your parents are the only celebrities that matter.
Along with my sister, fate bundled us up and over the Atlantic and back. Over and back, over and back. Easter, summer, October half terms. Until the arrival of early adulthood when my American family moved out to the suburbs.
And why do I mention all this? Just to give you a little context, a little background, I suppose.
So that when I write about unusual points of interest in NYC or where’s a good spot to take a photo, to have a bite to eat, to feel some history, you’ll have some idea where I’m coming from.
For as iconic as Manhattan is, she keeps her beauty close. When there’s little access to the sky from the street, it can be hard to give and get perspective.
And someone asked, so here’s my answer. A glimpse into unusual spots to see in New York City – including those spots good for photos ;-)
Some I’ll talk about in more depth in future on the blog. For others, you’ll have to make do with these secret postcards…
Let’s get started.
This urban lesson in cool is the High Line: a former rail track that’s now an open-air art museum and walking route above the red-brick, yellow-taxied grid of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District.
My favourite part of the 1:45 mile long walkway has to be the theatre: benches line up in front of a great clear screen.
So you, literally (ahem!) watch the city beneath you move (and it’s not a bad spot for snapping some landmark yellow taxis.)
Hands up who knows what DUMBO means? Well, I didn’t after all these years and neither did the local New Yoiker I met who took these family photos! Luckily, my well read friends could elaborate: down under Manhattan bridge overpass. Clear as mud?!
It’s the area down by the Brooklyn end of the Brooklyn Bridge where you can gaze back across the water at the scraper behemoths of the big city.
I also didn’t realise that you can actually walk across the Brooklyn Bridge – and that it’s a surprisingly pleasant thing to do. So thanks to the guys at Travelshoot for unearthing this spot and for taking these beautiful pics. (If you want to book your own session with Travelshoot, or learn more about them, check out this article on a Travelshoot in London and one in Rome and find out more details about them on their website over here.)
No, that’s not the defiant girl in the photo above (although I do feel like it sometimes.) That’s me striding along the Brooklyn Bridge.
The defiant girl stands cast in bronze at about my shoulder height, facing off the statue of the Raging Bull near Wall Street.
She’s a new addition, brought to symbolise the fight for better rights for women in the financial capital but she’s stirring up conversations all of her own.
The artist who produced (and owns) the original Raging Bull,Arturo Di Modica, feels his work has been misappropriated. That for him, the Bull represents the strength of America’s economy and forward thinking capitalist spirit rather than corporate greed and oppression. He also points out that the girl herself was commissioned by a corporation with an agenda, an irony in itself.
If you want a photo with her, get there early: she draws a big crowd. So while I don’t have an ideal photo of her to share with you (and I use my own pics on the blog – unless I’m in them, and even then…) you can check out the broadcast for Lonely Planet about the Raging Bull and the Defiant Girl here.
New York’s latest star attraction takes a more humble approach to life than many of its sky-scraping dazzlers. The Oculus, a flamboyant representation of a dove, whale, or fish skeleton, depending upon what kind of mood you’re in, stands out for standing small in the heaven-hugging Big Apple.
Its feathers slice across the skyscrapers in the first image on this post and they flitter through the glass grid of the photo below.
But the inside itself is worth a look, too. It’s humble – a shopping centre and train station – and it symbolises the triumph of the everyday to me. Thousands go to work and go to play on land which was once Ground Zero.
That’s not to say that Ground Zero isn’t remembered at all.
It is, of course. And I’ll show you more about that soon.
But sometimes I think that the greatest display of courage comes from persevering with everyday life in the face of adversity.
And for that alone, this is beautiful.
“Let the river run! Let all the dreeeamers, wake the naaaaation.”🎶🎶🎶🎶 Yes, OK, so on this trip to NY, I indulged in a little nostalgic Working Girl ‘n’ pizza catch up with the Carly Simon soundtrack blazing.
Sometimes, such things have to be done.
But I also made time to, you know, get out in the fresh air and see the place for myself.
And how things have changed since Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffiths wedding crashed their way to a mega Wall Street deal.
And not all because of 9-11.
One visible side of this is a stroll along the extensive Hudson River Park, glancing across the turbulent water to the gleaming peaks of Jersey City.
Compared to Manhattan, the scrapers may be small, but compared to most places in Europe, of course, they reach out to clutch the sky.
The Hudson River Park itself seems urban, edgy, incomplete. Its landmark 5 mile bike and running path makes a refreshing change from stopping to cross the road every few minutes in the otherwise grid-like city.
Elsewhere, basketball courts, driving ranges and “dog-runs” (enclosed areas where residents can walk their dogs) punctuate the walkway and bolder pursuits such as kayaking, rowing and sailing await the brave.
But for this trip, I stuck to the sidewalk.
And the past with a song.
Sometimes. Juuuuuust sometimes, a girl can tire of concrete and glass. Even in a city like this.
Step in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place, where treetops rise to the ceiling and sunlight flies through the glass even on the gloomiest of days. It’s a shopping centre and food court but it lifts that up a notch by hosting cultural concerts, setting up an ice rink outside and hiding floating cookie monsters on the ceiling amid the trees (OK, I think that last one was an accident. But he is there. Get looking!)
Historically, this was the first building to be rebuilt after the 9/11 attacks, meaning it packs a punch of resilience and hope as well.
OK, so this isn’t technically one of my best photos, I’ll admit it. It’s a little grainy, a little blurred. A little dazzled by the reflections, the lights, the jet lag.
But she’s there. Glowing in green, Lady Liberty, she’s there.
Seen from a secret spot of mine in New York City. And it’s just a reminder to myself that it’s not always necessary to seek out the new, the unusual.
Nor indeed to share the details of everything I know. Sometimes, it’s OK, encouraged even, to keep a secret postcard or two.
Enjoy New York, everyone.
Disclosure – I received a Travelshoot in New York on a complimentary basis for review purposes. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. Otherwise, the world makes no sense, agreed?