As usual, I woke up before the sun. So I had to wait around a bit before I could get a shot of the city in the early morning light.
It was overcast and a little cool. I got my act together and headed out, quickly pausing to take a shot of the hotel I'm staying in.
The plan today, if you can call it that, was to acclimatise; see how easy it was to get around and how long it took to walk various distances. I headed North after making my way East to 5th Avenue. At this stage I was loosely looking for the Flatiron building; an icon and one of the first (if not the first) sky scrapers. I reached the spot where I thought it should be, but nothing. Until I realised it was behind me. Doh!
With that mission accomplished it was on to Times Square. It's exactly as manic as you expect it to be with coloured neon signage in every direction. Quite honestly, I don't see why advertisers should want to use the space because I didn't see anyone taking notice of the actual signs - just the cacophony of visual stimuli. Unless of course "CHICAGO" it's designed to work "MOTOWN" subliminally "SOLO2".
On my way back to the hotel I came across a square, partly covered with floorboards and edged with food vendors offering a great selection of alternative delicacies.
I grabbed something to eat while watching the world (and 1 or 2 colourful characters) go by.
When I made it back to the Flatiron building I noticed this building. Unusually slim, standing solitary.
On my way down 6th avenue I was wondering where the Muji stores might be in NYC. Muji is a geat Japanese design store Emily and I first discovered on our visit to London in 2010. We both love the style of their products, particularly their stationery. I assumed they would have at least one store here. And before long there was a sign on the side of a phone box directing me to the nearest one!
(I can't tell you what happened next because I know Emily will be reading this.)
As I walked down and past streets I saw so many examples of the stereotypical buildings and streetscapes we have become to expect in New York. The exterior fire escapes, the tree lined streets of brownstones.
After regrouping at the hotel I decided to make my way to Washington Square Park. I've seen this on a few TV shows so I decided to see it in real life.
When I got there it was packed with people; some sitting reading, others sitting people watching and buskers providing things to watch. I took a few photos, trying not to get individuals, but the scene. One guy in particular took notice of me. Eventually he came up to me and asked if I was taking photos as a hobby or commercially. I replied "hobby" and he was very polite, just explained that he needed to ask. So from that, I assume he might have had an issue had I replied differently.
F*ck me! I'm getting sick of this. I think people are assuming, because I have a decent looking camera, that I'm somehow out to invade their privacy or take advantage of them. I had a number of looks today, despite my best efforts to be courteous and inconspicuous. Trying not to let it get to me, because I know I'm not doing anything wrong.
As I made my way South I began to get a good view of One World Trade Centre (Freedom Tower). Last time I checked, there aren't yet facilities for an observation deck in that building, so I won't be going up. But I'll get closer pictures at some stage for sure.
Soon I was tired and decided to turn around and return to the hotel. I overshot my mark and stumbled across Union Square where there was an open air market. What a fortunate accident. I bought a small painting from an artist at one stall. That means my memorabilia from both Canada and the US have been small works of art purchased directly from the artist. Very happy with that.
I also purchased a delicious white bean and collard turnover (wholemeal), also from a (baker) artist.
Throughout my walks today I've seen faded advertisements painted on the exposed sides of buildings. I hope someone has been documenting them. I think they're beautiful.
I made my way back to the hotel. I could go out tonight. One little voice inside me tells me I should. But the louder voice tells me to get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow it should be sunny; use the opportunity.
So what has the title of the post got to do with all of this? Well, if I realised anything today it was that New York is just a city. Granted, it's a rich, exciting, vibrant metropolis unlike any other I've ever visited. But I guess I've had a slightly mythical view of the city in the past. I think I see it a little more realistically now.
So, one last look out of the window while the light lasts.