My sleazy hotel.

Times Square.

Who says there aren't any cowboys in New York City.

Rebuilding the World Trade Center.

Rebuilding the PATH tunnels.

Shouldn't this say something more reminicent of "Remember Pearl Harbor"?

Hoboken, New Jersey.

Drawing in the park.

Leaving Manhattan for Liberty Island.

Imagine yourself seeing this from the deck of the boat from Italy in 1923.

Ellis Island

A seagull does a flyby of Ellis Island - New Jersey is in the background

Ellis Island and Manhattan.

Ellis Island and Manhattan from the top of the Statue of Liberty's base.

And Ellis Island. The buildings in the foreground was the hospital.

Looking up into the statue. I went up that spiral staircase in the early '90s.

Leaving Liberty Island for Ellis Island.

The main building.

A little closer to America!

Mama! We made it to Amerika!.

Huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

A walk through Ellis Island.

The Registry Room.

You've just dropped everything you own in the baggage room downstairs and are on your way up here to see if you get to stay...luckily, 99% did.

Looking out towards the hospital area.

The main entrance.

Another shot of the hospital.

A hole in the city where World Trade Center 1 & 2 used to stand.

The Manhattan skyline.

Lower Manhattan.

Wall Street.

The New York Stock Exchange.

A little more of Wall Street.

The approach to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Walking to Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn side of Manhattan.

Looking towards Brooklyn.

Halfway to Brooklyn.

Coming back to Manhattan.

I came all the way to New York to photograph this building.

The Chrysler Building.

June 14th

The New York Inn.

The New York Inn.

Maddison Square Garden and Penn Station looking toward the Empire State Building.

Taxi Stand.

Making a delivery.

The Empire State Building.

The floor of the elevator.

Here I am.

Towards lower Manhattan.

The hole in the skyline.

Looking down and a garden on a roof.

The Statue of Liberty.

Kong's last stand.

A few more of the Chysler Building.

There'll be more of that later...

North towards Central Park.

The Flatiron Building.

Water tanks.

Madison Square Garden.

Rooftop gardens.

Central Park

Detail of the Empire State's exterior.

Down the block towards the Empire State Building.

I'd rather live on Green Acres, Darlin'.

I can't decide...bus...

...or no bus?

New York Public Library.

Grand Central Terminal.

Grand Central Station with the Chysler Building in the background.

The Chrysler Building's distinctive features.

Stainless steel gargoyles

"Radiator caps" and "Hubcaps".

The stainless steel top.

I think this is the last one.

All the businesses have hatches in front of them on the sidewalk for deliveries.

An interesting door. Too bad when you shoot something reflective you get reflected in it.

That other famous building in New York.

Finally off of my feet.

Making the most of parking spaces.

And the parting shot of New York City.

Go to June 14 (aboard the train.)

Late Day 4 - 6
June 13th and 14th, 2007
New York City

I came out of Penn Station and headed north on 7th Ave until I got to Broadway, the intersection known as Times Square. I spent a few minutes walking around that area before I decided that I should really try to get to my hotel since I wanted to get an early start in the morning.

The New York Inn was only a few blocks from Times Square and I was there in just a few minutes. I wasn't expecting much, having picked the cheapest room on Hotels.com within a mile of the train station that specifically said the bathrooms weren't "shared". I don't demand much, but unless I'm staying someplace funky like the Olympic Club in Centrailia, Washington, I kind of like the idea of having my own bathroom. One reviewer's description on Hotels.com was "this is a good place to take a hooker for an hour." The room wasn't any better than I expected.

You can tell you're in the classy part of town when you're upstairs from a Subway sandwich shop and right next door to a porno shop complete with a live peep show. I entered the little door under the sign that announced this was the New York Inn. The lobby was hardly more than a hallway with the check-in desk dividing the guests from the clerk. I got a room on the second floor because it was supposedly in range of the wireless Internet connection. Once checked in, I started up one of the narrowest flights of stairs I've ever been on. I don't think it was six inches wider than I was, and it moved when I moved.

Room 206 would be mine for the next two nights. The first thing I noticed was that the room was tiny. There was space for a double bed, a 16 inch space between it and the wall so you could at least get on it from the side, and just enough room at the foot for the front door to open. There was also a tiny table and the bathroom, whose door hardly had the clearance to open outward into the room. The wallpaper was peeling off the walls and there were mouse traps in the corner and behind the table. But I'm a mellow guy it was more comfortable than the seat on the train - and since all I was looking for was a bed to sleep in and a place to bathe, I took a shower, set my 7am alarm, and went to sleep.

I woke up late on Wednesday, and after another shower I finally headed out at 11:30 with no plan in mind. The weather was great for walking Manhattan in June, but that meant that it was cool and overcast, which made for lousy photography weather. I explored a bit around town and then decided to go do the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I went down into the subway and found the train to the World Trade Center. I figured that since that was way down in lower Manhattan and that's where the boats to the islands were, I'd get off there.

The subway station at the World Trade Center was a major construction zone - no surprise. There were fences all around where the side of the underground subway station opened up on the huge hole that used to be the Twin Towers. I walked around looking out at the construction going on and headed upstairs. Last time I ascended the subway stairs at the World Trade Center station I was at the bottom of the Towers. Now there were just more fences. I drifted around a bit. There were people all over place taking snapshots. I did a loop around the pit but I didn't take many photos of Ground Zero. For some reason I didn't feel like taking pictures there. I then headed west to the park at the edge of New York Harbor and followed it south to the boats going to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

First stop was Liberty Island. I took a few shots of Manhattan to compare with the ones I shot when I went with my brother back in the early '90s and did the ranger tour and climb up into the pedestal. They don't let you up into the statue anymore due to safety concerns. Not the threat of jihad, but just because it's a spiral staircase with only one way down for as many people that used to cram up there single file. The top of the pedestal was good enough for me, though. Actually, if I go to New York City again I won't even stop off at Liberty Island unless the new Freedom Tower is up by then and I want to shoot pictures of Manhattan. The climb up the pedestal takes too long, and there really isn't much point.

Ellis Island was next. I spent a long time there - don't ask how long, I don't wear a watch - wandering around the big hall and checking out the exhibits. Mostly just wandering from room to room, though, trying to picture what the place would have been like if I was eleven years old and coming to America in 1923 like my dad did. I caught the last half of a tour with one ranger, and then picked up the last tour at 5:00. The funny thing was that they weren't even close to being the same tour. I think each ranger makes up whatever tour he feels like doing. The full tour started in the baggage room, went upstairs, and was a quick overview of the immigration process.

After that, I took the next boat to Manhattan. There was still plenty of light left, and since I was in the neighborhood I took a walk up through Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. I found myself at the end of the Brooklyn Bridge, so I walked halfway to Brooklyn. I wanted to go all the way across, but knew that would be a waste of time since there was more to see in Manhattan than Brooklyn - and besides, I didn't want to walk back across it. From there I took the subway from lower Manhattan to Grand Central Station. The Chysler building was just around the corner.

I've always said it from looking at photos of New York, and now that I've been there I'll say it again - the Empire State building may be the tallest, but the Chrysler building is without a doubt the coolest building in this or any other city. Nothing says "I'm an art deco monument, dammit" like the Chrysler Building. This is a building that you either love or hate, I think. From the stainless steel cap to the symbolic hood ornaments, radiator caps, and hubcaps, this building is without compare.

There was a pharmacy in the corner of the building, so I had to go in and buy something. My original plan was to start collecting shot glasses of the places I've been, but being inside the Chrysler Building I just had to get something that had my favorite building on it. The problem was that they didn't even have one souvineer that was of the building. They didn't even have a post card. I ended up with a little metal representation of the city because it was the only thing wth the Chrysler Building even on it.

I waked around the neighborhood some more and took a few more photos. Dinner that night was a shish-kabob cooked on a cart on a street corner. It wasn't the best meat in the world and somewhat tough, but it was a shish-kabob from a street vendor in New York, so it was just awesome. It's all in the experience. It got dark and I headed back to my hotel. I got myself disoriented and headed east when I though I was heading west, so my trip back was in a round about way. I can't even remember now if it was this night or the night before, but at some point I took the subway to Penn Station to ask if there were storage lockers for my bag. Once that was confirmed I decided to check out ASAP on Thursday and take the subway to Penn Station, where I would drop off my backpack so I could wander around without it weighing down on my shoulders. Excellent idea, and I need to remember to do that everywhere I go from now on. I would have made Chicago so much easier the previous year, too.

The next morning I was out of the hotel at 7:18am, and after a couple of photos of the hotel I took the subway to Penn Station to drop off my backpack. I mailed off a few postcards at the post office across the street, then it was time to go up the Empire State Building.

Like the boat to the Statue of Liberty and the ride to the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago, I once again got to go through more security to go in a building than to get to New York. Once I proved myself harmless, I started down the maze of velvet ropes. There isn't a whole lot of waiting at 8:30am, and hardly anyone was there yet. It was confusing making my way through all the ropes without a mob to follow this way and that way and looping around. At one point there was a gap in the velvet rope and an employee on the other side pointed me in the direction I had to go...and when I followed the maze I ended up next to her on the other side of the rope! I think it's entertainment to the employees there to send tourists around for nothing. It was just me in the elevator on the way up. I stayed up there for a while, taking photos and wandering around watching other tourists.

The Chryser building was my next destination now that there was better light for photos. As I walked from the Empire State Building I noticed that almost everyone was kind enough to stop or change their course to stay clear of my shot as I pointed my camera towards the sky. I could imagine them all thinking "damned tourists!", but I knew that if they were to visit Atascadero they'd all be taking pictures of cows.

After quite a while of wandering around the Chrysler Building I started on the neverending walk around midtown. I walked and walked and waked and walked until I couldn't walk anymore. I ended up going into a pizza & pasta place for lunch (penne with vodka sauce) and that was it for me. Once I sat down I just couldn't walk anymore. My feet hurt, my legs were tired, and I was ready to be done. This is why I only stay one day when I visit a city by train. When you come in on the train and like to wander around town, you put a lot of miles on your feet. Mine hurt like hell, but after lunch there were still three hours before the train would leave. I walked around for another hour and then ducked into Penn Station. I picked up an extension cord at K-Mart (yes, inside the train station) because it has been proving harder and harder to get an open outlet on the train as more passengers were taking electronic gizmos on board.

Penn Station is a sad monument to progress. Grand Central in New York and Union Stations in Chicago and Los Angeles still have an air of class to them. But Penn Station reminded me of an airport. No grand hall or interesting architecture here. They didn't even have any benches. I wanted do do nothing more than sit down, but the best I could do was collect my backpack and go outside to lean on a planter until it was time to get on the train.

Go to June 14
(aboard the train.)
Website and photography © 2007 by Darin Volpe