Tag: New York City

About New York

About five weeks ago, now, I went to New York City for a third year arch studio field trip. Now that it’s spring break I believe I have some time to write about it in more detail. The trip was Thursday, February 5 – Monday, Feb 9th.

We flew out of Des Moines at 6am, Thursday with a quick layover at O’Hare, arriving at LaGuardia in NYC shortly after 11am Eastern. Flying in over the city was amazing. Once on the ground we went outside on the frigid, but sunny day and waited for our shuttle buses to the Westside YMCA – our quality lodging for the trip. The ride took probably around a half an hour and was a sensory overload – so many little buildings, big buildings, different people, hundreds of side streets to peer down. I ended up dozing off briefly once we arrived in Manhattan as I got very little sleep that night before.

After the charade of checking in and assigning rooms to sixty plus arch students and profs we headed down to our project site in SoHo at the corner of Broome and Crosby streets, just east of Broadway. This project, that we are currently working on now in studio, is for a 24-unit residential development with a public / community / commercial component at ground level. The site is currently a double stacked auto park operation in an open lot about 110 by 70 feet. As individual studios we took about an hour to document the site and surroundings through observation and photos (later turned into photo stitches used to size and build four separate 1/8″ scale physical site models – one for each studio). Unfortunately it was extremely cold this first day, despite the sun, so I don’t believe the site visit was as effective as it could’ve been.

Following documentation we broke into studios and went on a walking tour of the area with our respective profs. This area was near the convergence of Little Italy and Chinatown. Along Broadway there are trendy retailers at the ground floor of older buildings with upper floors generally residential.

That evening after finally regrouping, some friends and I walked down Broadway from the Y (only about 15 blocks from Times Square) to find something for supper. We went through Rockefeller Center on our way and ended up eating at a pizza joint nearby that I had eaten at previously when Spencer and I went for a day two spring breaks ago. Big slices for cheap, can’t argue with that. After we ate we kept on toward Times Square – pretty sterile, predictable, not much to say. One thing to make note of, however, the recently opened red tkts stairs held up by structural glass. I was very tired so I ended up calling it a night by around 10, which I felt was a little unfortunate for my first night in New York, but was glad I did the next day.

Day 2, Friday, I went on an option tour / trip to New Haven, Connecticut, to see some significant buildings at Yale University. We took the Metro North commuter line from Grand Central – an enjoyable hour and a half ride, passing through upper Manhattan and New York and various stops in Connecticut. I really enjoyed New Haven, the first smaller, established city I’ve visited on the east coast (all the others have been large – DC, New York, etc.). I will go in more detail about New Haven and Yale in an addition post.

We arrived back in NYC sometime around 7pm – our train was absolutely packed due to the train ahead of us breaking down so we had to make room for all of its passengers. For dinner a group of friends and I went to the Heidelberg restaurant where we enjoyed some Wiener Schnitzel, German beer, and a charming old man in lederhosen playing the keyboard and singing along. We requested “Roll Out the Barrel” and he continued with some more good ones: “Sweet Caroline” (an ISU favorite), and appropriately “YMCA.” Good times had by all.

Saturday started out with prof-lead walking tour around Midtown Manhattan and a visit to the Folk Art Museum. We walked by Paley Park, which was closed for maintenance, and the Lever House, among other recognizable buildings. After lunch we regrouped around Greenwich Village to see some residential high rise precedents. We walked past the new Gansevoort Plaza in the Meatpacking District, which I recognized from PPS, and the High Line, a new public park / greenway being developed on a 1.5 mile long elevated railway. The High Line influenced one of my 2nd year studio projects in Hyde Park in Chicago.

That evening I met up with my friend Spencer and some people he was in town visiting at a Sushi bar near Astor Place. Later that night I met back up with a bunch of people from studio at Dive 75 on 75th Street.

Sunday, two others and I went over to Brooklyn to visit the New York Transit Museum, underground in a former subway station. It included an extensive exhibit on the subway system’s history and day to day operations of the nation’s largest transit agency. At track level were a number of retired subway cars. Definitely a fun afternoon for me. That evening after regrouping with some others we went to see STOMP – quite the show.

Monday morning I got up early so I had about an hour to walk in Central Park. Even though we were staying a block away, I had yet to go inside the park on this trip. As I walked out of the Y, I could tell the city was bustling; the work week had begun. Around the corner was a school. I passed parents dropping off their children, some in SUVs, some in taxis. I saw other children walking. I thought to myself how profoundly different those kid’s lives are from mine as a kid.

I didn’t have a lot of time to go deep in to the park but walked over to the Mall and made it to the Bethesda Fountain. I stopped and sketched a moment along the Mall. A lot of people were out with their dogs. Soon enough it was time to head back and go to the airport. I got some breakfast at the terminal while we had about an hour to wait for departure. Our layover in Chicago was much longer this time, nearly three hours, so I walked through most of terminals – no small feat. We arrived back in Des Moines around 7pm, and carpooled back to Ames.

New York was a great trip. I got to do and see a lot, but missed a lot too. Certainly a city that warrants multiple return visits, but I have no desire to reside there. See all my photos on Flickr.

NYC Trip Photos

We returned to Ames on Monday from five days in NYC for studio. I will write more in detail about the trip, probably sometime in the coming weeks. Pretty busy right now with getting a class site model built for the studio project, other classes, and of course the great internship hunt with Career Days coming up. Anyway, highlights from the trip include a visit to New Haven / Yale, NYC Transit Museum, and brief stops in various parts of Manhattan. Five days certainly is not enough to do or so even half of what’s on your list. Photos are up on Flickr, to be captioned, tagged eventually.

> Flickr: NYC Field Trip

NYC

I’m flying out of Des Moines in the morning for the spring studio field trip to New York City.  We will visit our project site first tomorrow – for a mixed use residential high rise in SoHo.  The rest of the time we have prof-lead tours to chose from and quite a bit of free time.  Friday I plan to go on a tour to New Haven to see numerous buildings at Yale.  Personally I’m excited more just to see the city – I’ve never really been to smaller east coast cities, just the large ones, such as New York.  I’m also looking forward to the NYC Transit Museum in Brooklyn, which I plan to visit on my own time with anyone else I can convince to go.

It should be a good trip.  We’re there through Monday; coming back to Iowa mid afternoon.  I won’t be bringing my laptop, so I probably won’t have any posts about the trip until I get back.  I’ll have my ipod touch so you can check the Twitter feed for more timely and frequent updates.

A Day in New York City


On Monday, March 12, over spring break, we visited New York City for a day. We took a charter bus from D.C.’s Chinatown early in the morning and arrived in New York’s Chinatown a little after noon. It was my first time to Manhattan so it was quite exciting. The view coming into the city was less than attractive, however, as the New Jersey side is full of industrial sites and power plants. I guess they need to be somewhere in a metro of over 18 million.

Getting off the bus in New York City’s massive Chinatown was a bit disorienting at first. Unlike Chinatown in Washington, it is much more authentic and gritty. Thousands of tiny retailers and restaurants are packed into shared buildings, generating an almost overwhelming experience of so many different things to look at and see. We walked a little bit until we found a subway station near the courthouse in the financial district. On our way, we passed filming for Law & Order in front of the courthouse. Interestingly, everyone around the production went on their way as if it were nothing special.

The New York City Subway was quite the experience with some obvious differences between it and the Washington Metro. Station entrances don’t seem to stand out well and, in many locations are simply staircases along the sidewalk. Hence, much of the NYC Subway system is not wheelchair accessible. All the stations we visited appeared a little bit different, but still notably similar. Entering most of the stations began with a walk down a staircase before arrive at institution-like gates to pass through. Past the gates, additional staircases or in some stations, ramps continue to the platforms and tracks. The stations were unrefined, cramped and grimy. They are much more exposed than the newer Metro system in DC, with exposed structural beams between the platform and mezzanine levels. The system itself is of course much larger than the Metro and so it is more complex. Instead of simple rail lines, there are many interconnected lines throughout the city and then different trains making various routes along the different lines. Some trains were express, stopping at only a few stations along the line, which is a feature that would be nice in D.C.

Our first stop was at Grand Central Station, where we continued on foot in Midtown Manhattan, passing Bryant Park and eventually reaching Times Square. Like I said before, no place I visit is quite how I expect it to be. Even Times Square was a lot different in person than what I had expected. First of all, the orientation of Times Square surprised both Spencer and me. The typical broadcasted view of the New Year’s Eve ball drop and the large Panasonic television screen is actually looking from north to south. We both had always assumed it was a northward view and expected that same sight as we approached Times Square.

We continued on to a few side streets and walked all the way up to the new Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle and the southern edge of Central Park. The north-south avenues were wide and busier than many of the east-west streets, which are placed closer together. Times Square is of course very complex and flashy, but some of the side streets were actually quite void and lacked much vibrancy. The whole area is impossible to take all in all at once so I didn’t even attempt to. In general, retail, restaurants, and service businesses utilize most of the buildings. I found it interesting how almost tacky many of the buildings were, most being very old and reused for so many different activities. It seems as if that is acceptable there, that individual buildings don’t really have to look real nice, because they’re already in New York. Since New York has no problem attracting new residents and visitors, they don’t need to be as strict about those sorts of things and tourists and residents alike will accept those traits as unique character of New York. As a visitor, I find it interesting and compelling, but if I were a resident, I’m not sure to what extent I’d admire it.

Next, we headed to Rockefeller Plaza where we went to the “Top of the Rock” observatory. It has a couple different levels and offers magnificent views of Manhattan and the surrounding area. The bustling city of New York below seemed so quiet and serine from up high. Once we got back down, we briefly stopped by Central Park and came out in the Upper East End.

The Upper East End is very well kept and notably more sophisticated than Times Square and Midtown. As the evening approached, we took the subway back to the Financial District where we came out right by City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge. Here we walked part way up the Brooklyn Bridge and then around Wall Street and Ground Zero. Unfortunately my camera battery died about now, so I wasn’t able to get many pictures of these areas.

We got back to Chinatown around 8pm, as many businesses were closing for the evening and many others receiving deliveries. Our bus departed about 9pm, and we were on our way. To our pleasant surprise, the bus stopped briefly in downtown Philadelphia and dropped off some passengers in Chinatown there. It was noticeably smaller than New York City’s, but definitely more real and authentic than D.C.’s. It was late so downtown was pretty lifeless as we past through. Heading back, we also drove past Wilmington, De. in the distance.

All in all, it was a pretty neat day in New York City. It’s impossible to see everything in just one day, but I think we did pretty well in the time we had. New York is a great city and truly an international center. However it seems very impersonal and too large to conceive. Unless perhaps you were born and raised there, I can’t imagine ever being able to fully adopt it as one’s home. It is simple to huge to fully embrace. I enjoyed visiting New York, but it is not the place I’d like to call home.

See all my photos of New York City here.

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