Archive for July 2008

Macri Triangle in Brooklyn

July 31, 2008

I love noting little squares and parks throughout Manhattan. You don’t have to look too hard on this blog to find them. And, generally, the smaller, the better as far as I’m concerned. I just find it very fitting and right that New Yorkers fight for every bit of parkland they can find. Hey, we don’t have backyards.

Okay, a lot of people in Brooklyn do have yards, front and back, but they’re small and not the same as a suburban yard. So even they want more.

And right in the Williamsburg part of Brooklyn, roughly bounded by Union Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, and the BQE; is Macri Triangle.

I can’t find any trace of where the name comes from, but there’s a memorial to 78 World War II servicemen from the area. The memorial reads “That we be free”.

It’s well kept-up and is a rather nice little park. I didn’t spend any time there, and didn’t even notice whether people could go into the actual triangle area. I didn’t see anyone there when I walked by. One other thing I didn’t see: seating. One thing about Manhattan parks; lots of seating. It may be true of Macri, but I didn’t notice anything.

But, like I said, it’s pretty nice and New Yorkers always appreciate a little greenery.

-H

Rodale Pleasant Park Community Garden in Spanish Harlem

July 30, 2008

I think that Pleasant Avenue in Spanish Harlem (El Barrio) (and the Pleasant Avenue area is also called “Italian Harlem”) has more community gardens per square foot than any other place I’ve ever seen. At least three. Plus at least one major park abuts it. Very impressive.

This is the third of the gardens that I’ve covered. Like all community gardens, the size isn’t large and the entrance is relatively nondescript.

Entering, the area is mostly unremarkable, except perhaps for the structure. And of course for the very nice shade. It was hot and the shade was pleasant. That was very welcome to me and I should note that saying is was “mostly unremarkable” shouldn’t be taken as “boring” or other negative. It is a very functional community garden.

When I first saw the building, I thought it was just a storage shed. Now that I’ve been introduced to the concept of the “casita”, I wonder if it was so much more.

There was a lot of growing going on. And, despite the lack of people in the pictures, I think that it was this garden that was the most actively tended that I ran into that day. I probably saw eight people working away on their personal plots. Or, at least what I think was their own little garden areas.

-H

Viewing NYC from the water in the evening

July 29, 2008

I haven’t posted a number of my photos from my June cruise around Manhattan and I think it’s time to make up for some of that. My previous photos were a little more daytime and covered the uptown to midtown west portion of the City. Today’s post will still cover the western side of Manhattan on the Hudson (remember: Hudson on the west side, the East River on the east side).

I was lucky during the cruise to see and photograph a number of other boats. And what better kind of boat to picture than a sailboat against the skyline? In this case, a tiny sailboat against the Empire State Building.

A little further south and we were approaching southern Manhattan where the two rivers converge into the bay.

And on the way there, I took another picture of another cruise ship (like the one I was on) against the skyline. This part of the skyline ain’t that great, but you can see the Empire State building starting to turn on its lights in the far left side of the photo.

And since I was in the Hudson, there wasn’t any reason not to take a picture of New Jersey across the way. I don’t know the name or purpose of the clock, but it is very cool. And catching a nice sailboat in the same picture makes it even better.

But the next is actually the kind of picture I was looking for: a yacht and a great skyline. I suppose it is actually a commercial vessel like the one I was on, but I like to think of it as a yacht.

Other traffic shared the river with us. In this case one of the few barges I saw that day and one of the many cruise boats doing just what the one I was doing: going part of the way around Manhattan.

You just have to love the next picture. Okay, maybe not; but it is a nice reminder of the City and the money in the area. Okay, maybe it’s a reason to not love the place…In any case, I like this one as the ultimate yacht and skyline that I took that day.

Next is a more pedestrian picture of a tugboat pulling a barge…but with that great skyline.

Today’s last picture is a twilight picture of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island way in the distance.

The above picture was taken at about 8:45pm. This pretty much ends my twilight photos. The next set of photographs on this trip are definitely taken at night. I don’t know when I’m actually going to post it, but it will come sometime relatively soon. But not for a little while.

-H

2008 New York City Half-Marathon Part 2

July 28, 2008

In my last posting, I reviewed how I ended up watching the NYC half-marathon while in Times Square. I showed up just after the leaders had passed and started taking pictures at 7:48am. My coverage is somewhat limited by the fact that I took over 500 photos, but am only going to show about 32 of them.  (Last year’s posting had a total of two photos.  Of course, that was before I got my new camera.  My old camera could hold a total of, I believe, eight pictures.)

What I haven’t mentioned is that I was looking for a co-worker (and occasional commentor to this blog – “Jim”). Hey Jim! I didn’t see ya.

But it was crowded. Here’s some of the crowd about 31 minutes into my watching.

They just kept coming and coming. Lots and lots of ’em. The picture below shows a slight break in the grouping at the 38 minute-in mark (I point it out because the woman runner is waving to some friends to my left. Different ones this time, I believe. But I’m amazed at how many people did see friends in that crowd (and the crowd watching spotting them).

They kept ’em coming. Another personality-type showed with this group at the 42 minute point. She’s not saying hello: she’s posing for my picture. Thanks.

And at 46 minutes in, they were still coming. I don’t know where Jim was, but if he was anywhere in the 10 to 15 minutes before and after this grouping, I would have never spotted him.

At the 52 minute point, some of the more odd personalities started to show. This wasn’t a particularly odd person (as far as I know), but he recognized the people to my right and as part of his “hello”, he threw a sponge at them. That was certainly in good humor, but the sponge was dry and only flew about two feet. The people to my left were a little puzzled by the action.

Another not-really-odd personality. Probably a very fine person. He was the only disabled (or at least obviously disabled) person I saw in the race. This is 53 minutes in.

Okay, no excuses on the next guy (at 56 minutes in). He was either very bored from the beginning, made a bet with friends that he could bounce a ball the entire way, or is just an odd exhibitionist. But he bounced that basketball just fine.

At 66 minutes in, the crowding was lessening considerably. I had seen the people across from me with the sign (another way to find friends/family). Run Leens Run.

Another person with something to prove: juggling while running at 69 minutes into my viewing. Five ball juggling from what I could see. Really well done. I was impressed.

Another impressive case, but a bit mystifying. This guy was running while carrying a cane. That’s something, but the lycra-clad leg was also interesting. I don’t understand it at all. But, he was running and that’s what counts.

A few yards to my left was a medical station. At the 75-minutes-in mark, this next woman came up and she was the weariest looking person I saw all morning. The picture below surprised me a bit because it doesn’t begin to capture her state at the time (although she looks like a person that its hard to take a bad picture of), but as she passed me one of the station workers called out to her in concern asking if she was okay, even before she reached the station. She seems to have just asked for water, got a bottle from them, and kept on going. Good for her. I hope she finished.

At the 76 minute mark, I took the following two pictures in quick succession. You can see the sparseness of the runners and of the crowd. I was sharing the block with one other non-aid-station viewer. Here’s looking south to the aid station.

And here’s looking north to the on-coming runner traffic. Which is a long ways away.

At 87 minutes in, the event started to break up. Here was the escort of staff buses. You may be able to tell that I had already started walking down from my previous spot.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is that there was music playing in the distance the whole time. It was apparently a live group and they had a huge teleprompter. I doubt they were trying to get the runners to sing along, but maybe the watching crowd. This was 89 minutes after I started watching.

And, finally, the very last runner I saw. I’m sure there were others further back (I saw some figures in the distance but can’t say for sure whether they were runners). This is 90 minutes into my viewing.

Good for her. She’s another person that I really hope was able to finish.

-H

2008 New York City Half-Marathon Part 1

July 27, 2008

Just about a year ago, I did one of my first posts that became mildly popular. It was for the 2007 NYC Half-Marathon and I think it may have been the first item that someone used Google to find my posting. At the time, I had very few readers (and still do, but a few more than then) and was pleased that someone was starting to find my stuff.

So, when I heard that the Half-Marathon was on again, I knew I had to go. Who knows, maybe one of those early Googlers was still a reader.

But, I nearly blew it. I had planned to get there maybe 8:30 or so. Early Sunday morning, I was flipping channels and found out that the race actually began right about 7am and the runners were already headed toward Times Square (where I planned to watch). Yow.

So, I made my way very quickly over to Times Square and got there just after the front runners had passed. But I was there for the women front-runners. They passed by me about 1 minute after I got to my spot. (I got there at about 7:48am.)

For this coverage, there’s a lot of stuff but the item that I found of most interest wasn’t really the runners themselves, but the ebb and flow of the race. So, to show how it happened, I’ll be putting in the relative time that had elapsed since I arrived. You can note the size of the crowds and the runners.

This is five minutes after I arrived.

And now, 8 minutes after I showed up.

This next runner was all pumped up and trying to pump up the crowd, 11 minutes after I started watching. The running group was still pretty sparse at that point.

Twelve minutes in (about 8am), I got a picture of a two-fer. Most of the runners were wearing headphones (okay, a large number of them) and were looking for friends/family. How they spotted people is a bit of a mystery. I presume that lots of times the earpieces were for phones and they were talking with their friends and hearing where to look.

Of all the people I took pictures of; this guy I got twice. His exuberance was terrific and he was making pretty good time despite his antics. 13 minutes in.

Of course, if you’re an airplane it’s easy to make good time. Still 13 minutes in.

The 13-minutes-in group was starting to become more numerous and flagrant about asking for the crowd to cheer.

By 15 minutes in, the runners had reached the point of being a general crowd of them.

And at 17 minutes in they were still trying to get us to cheer. Successfully, too.

By 21 minutes in, the calls for cheers seemed to have died down a bit; but the crowd was even bigger.

And by 22 minutes in, some of the runners were more obviously doing run-walk combinations.

Here, 26 minutes into my attendance; another earphone wearer had spotted friends. Actually, some people to the left of me greeted two or three of the runners by name. They may not have been the same people to my left, but I think they were.

And by 28 minutes in (that’s about 8:17am), some were still trying to get the crowd cheering. Hey, it worked for me and I did cheer a lot for a very long time during the event.

And at 28 minutes in, here’s another guy who spotted/was spotted by the people to my left.

More in my next post.

-H

Barnard College

July 26, 2008

Right smack across Broadway from Columbia University is the much smaller Barnard College. Originally a college for women, it may still be. But I know that male students from Columbia attend classes there as needed.

It’s small, compared with Columbia or most any other university that’s as well known. At most, it covers about four blocks although it may be deeper than it looks.

I went by it as just a lark to see how big it really was. I had done it a long time ago and I think it is about as small as memory serves. From what I understand, there are only a couple of thousand students enrolled. But since Columbia students can cross over, it makes the potential attendees much larger.

I passed by what I think is their main gate and noted that they had several privacy signs up. I felt at ease wandering around Columbia, but this place seemed a little more restrictive. So, I just kept walking.

-H

A simple but perfect bench at Columbia University

July 25, 2008

I really liked this bench. I mean, it was so simple and plain and ordinary that I might have passed right by it. And I probably have during my several visits to the campus over the past couple of years. It’s just a simple stone bench.

With a good inscription and provenance.

It’s hard to read, and I doubt you can see it on the above picture, but engraved on the bench’s back are the following words: “To fellowship and love of alma mater 1886 Arts, Mines, Political Science; 25th Anniversary.” So, I presume it was presented to Columbia sometime around 1911.

In terms of gifts and the like, it’s absolutely top notch. Well, maybe not quite as good as the lampposts I cited earlier; but still really nice.

-H