Thursday, January 12, 2012

My City

Balmy, it was.  Last winter, New York City was snowbound.  We had to pick our way across the slushy streets.  This holiday season, though, we could step out when and where we liked.

Our starting point is always the view out our apartment windows—a quintessential cityscape, water towers and all.  We wonder whether cedar water towers, like red barns in the countryside, may one day disappear.  We hope not.  We hold them dear.

On the way to Central Park, we pass the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. One of its towers is incomplete, the other never built.  The church has decided (wisely, in our view) to bring the scaffolding down and let it be.  We love our local landmark as it is.

Along the way, we stop at the statue of Frederick Douglass.

And here, at the north edge of Central Park, is our secret walkway, not so well-traveled as the southern end of the park.

We admire the jazzy building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 110th Street.

Not to mention the view from our well-loved Conservatory Garden.

We continue down Fifth Avenue to the art museums and beyond.

El Museo del Barrio

The Museum of the City of New York

The Neue Gallerie of German and Austrian Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Guggenheim

And many more.  One day, though, I passed all the museums by.  Profligate, I'll acknowledge, but I’d made a date with my artist-friend Barbara to do a gallery-hop. The Gagosian, for selections from Robert Rauschenberg’s private holdings and Howard Hodgkin, and on to Michael Werner for Picabia.

And, perhaps as much as all that, simply to witness how the other half lives . . .

Then back to our own stretch of upper Broadway, where the city fathers and mothers have tried—and failed, once again—to bring us interesting public art. What were they thinking?

We ended the day in our local fine food emporium, Vareli’s.

Happy hour up front.

The view from our favorite seats in the back.

A fine day in the city, all in all.

Click on the photographs if you'd like a larger view.

Plan of the City, to the music of Judd Greenstein’s Change

Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint (Movement 3)


Suze said...

This tour makes me feel so-o provincial ...

klahanie said...

Hi Susan,
What a fascinating stroll through New York City. There certainly is much to see and do. I appreciate coming along for this virtual tour. Thank you for this.
And my, what has happened to the weather. Quite perplexing and a bit worrying. There are flowers still blooming in my garden in this quaint English northern town.
All the very best to you, Susan.
With respect and appreciation, Gary

Rubye Jack said...

It makes sense to me that you live in New York City Susan. How lucky you are to have all those museums, galleries, the park, the restaurants, the music, darn near everything available.

My favorite photo is of the water towers, but I wouldn't have thought NYC had water towers like this. This was a really cool trip around your city. I absolutely love it!

Anonymous said...

I haven't lived in New York for four decades, but your tour brings back memories, especially of upper Broadway. I lived for a year at 636 West End Ave. when I was a senior at Columbia, and sometimes I walked across Amsterdam Ave. from there and into the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. And all those museums, some of which I still visit on my rare trips back. You'll have to enjoy all that on my behalf.

Britta said...

Dear Susan,
what a wonderful walk through your city! And such a beautiful city to live in! The mixture of nature (the weather is the same riddle here) and urbanity is fascinating - we have a little transfer picture of that here in Berlin. When Son&D-i-L had their 7 weeks honeymoon in America, of course they visited NY (again) and visited Central park and Guggenheim (last time they went its pictures were in Berlin!) Here we have a "Night of museums" - you can go everywhere with one ticket - but I prefer one by one.
I loved to see a part of your world - being a 'vision' woman (not so good at listening) I get a better picture of you, Susan, and I love that! Thank you for sharing. Britta

Suze said...

Came back for 'Change.' Pockets full, heart with joy, ears replete with color. Feel both a little more stupid and a bit more smart all at once. The more I listened, the more stunned and floored I grew. Needful complexity.

Thank you.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Susan:
Oh we do so want to visit New York one day and this has made us even more wistful. The first image from last winter is absolutely magical. We just love the play of light and shadow and the wonderfully sinewy trunks of the trees.

Happy New Year!!

Friko said...

Thank you so much for showing me your city. New York must be a wonderful place and I do wish I could have come along with the two of you.

Ending the walk and day with a visit to a deli and maybe listening to some music over a simple supper, now there's an offer I would not refuse.

shoreacres said...

Your post leaves me filled with nostalgia. I've loved New York from my first experience there. I visited many times with an aunt who lived on West 16th, and dear friends from Liberia moved to Morningside Heights when they returned to the States. When it was my turn to come back, their Morningside Gardens apartment was my home base for a wonderful two weeks.

I suppose my most extraordinary NY experience was the night of the great blackout of 1977. I was in my friends' apartment when the lights went out. The next morning, after the tires had stopped burning and the looting stopped, we trooped down 22 flights of stairs to wash up and brush our teeth at the hydrant with the rest of the neighborhood.

Another memory that remains fresh is my first encounter with Louise Nevelson's work at St. Peter's Church, Lexington & 54th. Just wonderful. If you've not been there, I think you'd enjoy it.

Thanks so much for the memory-jog!

Andrew said...

A wonderful post... many thanks for sharing.
Hugs Drew xx

Susan Scheid said...

Suze: I’ll be back to you in a minute, you intrepid explorer you!

Gary: Yes, the weather is getting more peculiar all the time. I noticed blooms, too, when we were walking the other day. Too much is happening in the wrong season, like our Halloween snowstorm over here.

Rubye Jack: Isn’t that interesting about the water towers? I didn’t really focus on it until I heard a radio program about it. As for living in NYC, I don’t at present, though we’ve so far been able to hold on to our little bolt-hole there. When I go in to the City these days, I appreciate it all over again in a way I didn’t when I was living here all the time.

portraits: So, right in our neighborhood, then, and it sounds like you went down our very same route. What did you study at Columbia, I wonder? Perhaps you’ll “reveal all” between gorgeous photographs of wildflowers.

Britta: I love the idea of a “Night of Museums,” at least in theory! In fact, I agree, the best is to go a bit at a time, so as to truly absorb what you see as best you can. I hope I’ll have the chance to visit Berlin one day and see in “real life” some of the things you’ve written about and photographed for us all.

Suze: A woman of true courage, you are, and as I’ve said, a citizen of the world (unlike so many New Yorkers, who can be as provincial as they come). It’s a real gift to me that you were willing to watch, and thereby share with me, the experience of the video/audio of Greenstein’s piece. (He’s in the video at several points, by the way. Notably, toward the end, he’s one of the two playing keyboards while everyone is wildly dancing.) I wasn’t sure myself what to make of this video when I first saw it, but I do like Greenstein’s music, not to mention the water towers as rockets into outer space. More listenable than the Kronos of yore you've listened to, I’m suspecting, no?

Jane and Lance: So pleased you liked that photograph. I was very surprised, when I got home and put it up on the computer, that it came out as well as it did. We were walking the same route this weekend, and, because of the cloud cover, not a shadow could be found. Made me feel doubly lucky I’d thought to take the photograph.

Friko: To have you along for our day would have been such fun! And may I quickly add that you are the prime inspiration for me in coming up with this little post. It’s not a patch on your . . . . And How!, where, among other pleasures of the day, you ended up in the White Horse Pub, but my thought to take photos of Vareli’s was based directly on that. I’m pleased indeed that you enjoyed the cyber-trip to our part of the world.

shoreacres: Oh, so many points of connection here! I have been to St. Peters, but I didn’t realize what I was looking at in the chapel was Louise Nevelson’s work. A trip back is definitely in order!

Andrew/Drew: Thanks so much!

Jinksy said...

Goodness me, I DO live in a backwater! Your whirlwind tour has left me gasping....

Anonymous said...

To answer your question, Susan, I majored in French at Columbia. (That background in language has led to my Word Connections blog.)

And springboarding off one of the things Shoreacres said, I'll add that I was at Columbia when New York was hit by the big blackout of November 9, 1965. I walked five miles to my uncle's house in Chelsea and spent the night there.

Susan Scheid said...

Jinksy: As I wrote to you directly, from the photos you've shown us of the area where you live, I'd say you live the center of a very special universe!

portraits: Ah, a person of many talents, as I suspected! Those big blackouts are something, aren't they? We should all have T-shirts made up, "I survived the blackout of ____." In my case, as a relative newby to NYC, the year was 2003.

wheatgerm said...

Those twisty trees are the best

Jayne said...

Oh my, Susan, this wonderful photo essay takes me back to my days in New York. The city is so rich with art and music and cultural happenings, it's a blessing to live in the thick of it. I miss it so, though I do return from time to time.

The gallery hop is a workout in and of itself. The kind of workout I enjoy most! I haven't yet been to the Barrio, and your photo makes me want to go more so.

My daughter on the way home from school today: "Ugh, I HATE this winter. Look at how sunny it is--it's like summer!" If she were in New York, though, she'd be loving it. ;)

Susan Scheid said...

wheatgerm: Welcome aboard! Love your "handle." Aren't those twisty trees the best?

Jayne: So glad to be able to give you a little trip down memory lane. Do you know, I haven't been to the Barrio, either, and every time I look at the outdoor display, I say, have to do that sometime. It's bound to happen sometime!

Suze said...

Indeed, more listenable than the Kronos of yore. Have played the Greenstein for my daughter and she loves it. We always play Holst's 'Venus' and selections from Ray Lynch's 'Deep Breakfast' before bedtime, but tonight it was 'Plan of the City!'

A pleasure and treat. Keeping an ear out for upcoming birds.

Finally, I agree with wheatgerm. Those twisty trees spoke, immediately.

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