The Chrysler building, seen in the second photo here, was one of the two buildings that were competing for the post of the world's tallest building in the late 1920s. The other one was the 40 Wall Street tower in downtown. The architects of these two buildings were former partners now pitted against each other. Finally, Chrysler Building announced its height and 40 Wall Street topped that height. After the construction of 40 Wall Street was over, a door opened on top of the Chrysler Building and a spire came out and fixed itself on top, taking the total height of the building to more than its rival's. And so, the Chrysler building won the race and became the tallest building in the world, until the Empire State Building was completed 18 months later. Although the Empire State Building is still the tallest building in New York City (after the WTC Towers fell), there are so many skyscrapers around it that it is often invisible from a few blocks away.
Coming back to my evening in New York, I reached Times Square soon and started clicking away like crazy. People all over the world are familiar with the glowing advertisement signs at Times Square. There are neon signs, LED signs and now giant LCD displays as well. The NASDAQ sign is probably the best known permanent advertisement there, other prominent ones being Coca Cola, Chevrolet, Yahoo, Budweiser, Samsung, LG, JVC, Virgin, Kodak, Toshiba, Panasonic, TDK and HSBC. There are also huge posters for the movies and musicals like the one in the photo here. However, walking around looking upward is not very safe in New York City. Apart from the danger from traffic and people who might steal your stuff, there is often an added danger of stepping into a puddle. Yes, believe it or not, New York City like our very own beloved Kolkata is built on a swampy low lying area and the municipality here has to pump water out every minute to keep the city dry. It is said that if the human race were to die suddenly, New York city would get submerged within a couple of days. So even at a place like Times Square, one has to step very carefully after a shower. Here is a photo that I took on a rainy evening like tonight almost a month ago.
The evening of the 15th was, however, dry. I walked around the Times Square on the Broadway, taking innumerable pictures of everything between the 42nd and 45th Streets. The roads leading away from the Times Square are quite busy all the time. This is the theatre district and the major musicals are going on here. Apart from that, there are other attractions as well. Take 42nd Street west of Broadway for example (picture below). It contains Madame Tussaud's and the Ripley's Believe it or Not "Odditorium" among other things. After I had taken sufficient photographs, I proceeded towards the Minskoff Theatre where our student representative was waiting with the ticket. On the way I found some Bangladeshi tourists and tried to get my photo taken by one of them using my camera. He managed to shake the camera so much that I had to discard those shots.
The view from the second floor of the theater was amazing. I found myself looking down at Times Square. I particularly found people crossing the street an interesting subject. When there were one or two people they would wait for the light to turn green. However when a sufficiently large crowd had gathered, they became impatient and unruly and often crossed the road even when the signal said 'STOP'. Here finally I managed to get my photo taken by someone.
I will not write about the show as I did that already. As I came out of the Minskoff Theatre after the show, I was unable to understand for a moment whether I was in New York City or had gone back to Hooghly by some magic. A row of cycle rickshaws had gathered in front of the theatre and they were ringing their bells and honking their old fashioned rubber-bulb horns to attract passengers. I always get surprised when I see these rickshaws here - they seem so out of place among these expensive cars. Going by the price of any human-provided service here, a ride on a rickshaw would be pretty expensive too.
As I crossed the street to the other side of Broadway, I found this horse-drawn carriage on the side of the road. This again reminded me of Kolkata. You can see such carriages in front of Victoria Memorial. The only difference is that the horses here are much larger and healthier. This particular one in the photo is standing in front of the ToysRus store at Times Square. This is one of the largest toy stores in the world. If you enlarge the photo and look closely, you can see a giant ferris wheel inside the store.
But it was getting late and I, like Cinderella, had to return to Newark Penn Station by 12:30 as the last train left around that time. So I took some of these photos of Times Square (below) holding a starburst filter in front of my camera and left.
Americans are obsessed with moving advertisements. Each one of those lights are moving in some way or other. As an aside, I would like to mention another strange thing I saw in New York: animated wall advertisements in the subway. Somewhere along the PATH route to 33rd Street, there are these glowing pictures on the tunnel walls. They are stationary pictures the size of train windows, but like the pages of a flip-book they seem to move when seen in rapid succession. So when the viewer is inside a rapidly moving train, he sees a moving advertisement on the outside wall. Anyway, I felt this write-up on Times Square would be incomplete without a moving image of the place, so I shot this video with my digital camera to go with my post. Unfortunately, the video quality was set to 'standard' instead of 'fine' and so it is not very sharp. However, that's all I have at the moment and I think it can convey the nature of the place. Try to watch it in 'high quality'. One point to note if you have your speakers on, is how the bell of cycle rickshaws dominates the soundtrack!
I think that's all I can write at the moment as it is getting late. I started writing this last night, then fell asleep on my laptop, and finished it this morning. It is still cloudy and windy outside and I must get ready to go to the university in this weather. There are more night photos of New York here, so if you liked the ones here, you can go and see more.