Great visit to New York earlier this month. I love that city! For urban walking, it's the best. You can't walk 10 minutes without seeing something interesting, if not iconic. And the great subway system makes everything easily accessible.
When I was 11, I came into town on the subway with a friend. We went to AMNH, but we spent our subway money and had to walk down to Gimbels where my dad worked. A few months later, just when I was getting to be old enough to explore the city on my own, my parents moved me to the cultural backwater of Los Angeles. How could they? Oh, the humanity!
Not that LA has been bad to me. I had a great adolescence, I love access to the mountains, desert and coast, and we've got plenty of great museums and big cool buildings. And it's the capital of the third world...a real international hub, with the restaurants to prove it. But when I get back to New York City - and I'm really talking Manhattan - I feel that I'm inside the beating heart of western civilization.
Flight east, Broadway, Times Square, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, City Hall Park, 9/11 Memorial, Staten Island Ferry, Wall Street, High Line.
American Museum of Natural History, Central Park (Pale Male!), Fifth Avenue, Museum of Modern Art (Diego Rivera).
Fantastic walk: Downtown, across the Brooklyn Bridge, up to the Manhattan Bridge, over to Chinatown, up to Penn Station.
Empire State Building, New York Public Library, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Grand Central Station, United Nations, Central Park.
Hudson Riverwalk, George Washington Bridge, Grants Tomb, Riverside Church, lunch with Ethel.
The crowds of people doing a million interesting things...the world headquarters of major institutions that appear around every corner...the people and goods from every corner of the empire. Pulque! In Chinatown! Incredible.
But more...the parks, the monuments, the plaques, the inscriptions over building entrances. The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government. Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times. Let us have peace.
Central Park itself, from the mid-19th century, is a beautiful tribute to our best social nature, as is the current project to provide pedestrian an bicycle paths around the entire perimeter of Manhattan.
Speaking of western civilization, check out the list of famous people, "our heroes," whose statues I photographed in four days walking around Manhattan: Daniel Webster, Theodore Roosevelt, Garibaldi, Sun Yat-sen, Horace Greeley,Washington, Hans Christian Andersen, Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warholz, William H. Seward, Giuseppe Verde, Duke Ellington, William Tecumseh Sherman, William Cullen Bryant, Gertrude Stein.
The very iconography of the city speaks to the deep contradictions in the mythology. Until April 30, when the tower went up on One WTC, its tallest building was the Empire State Building. The Empire State. And the city is the imperial center of the most powerful empire in history, sucking the resources from across the globe and insisting on its moral right to control it all. The arrogance of empire...I can't embrace it.
Thanks to my friends who came in to walk around with me! It was great to see you!