Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New York City at night - A photoblog

As India is celebrating the festival of lights, I am busy working on my presentations and projects. However, since I haven't updated my blog in a while, I thought of writing a photo post about this immense city next to which I live. Although many parts of this city are dark and gloomy, many other parts are lit up as if it is Diwali every night.

As I wrote earlier here, I spent the evening of the 15th roaming around Times Square and saw a musical. Before the musical started, I had to finish my dinner. My sister-in-law had bought me a lovely Chinese dinner - I only needed to sit down somewhere and finish it off. So I walked towards Bryant Park on 42nd Street. One of the things that I love about New York is the presence of parks where there are chairs and tables for people to sit and eat, or just relax. I had my dinner, found a water fountain where I could have a drink, and in the process, found these two photos of two of the erstwhile tallest buildings in the world. Both are somewhat dark, but that is the best I could manage without camera shake.

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.


  1. this video was indeed necessary !!!
    nice to feel we are indeed heading towards a global village....the metropolis here are craving for the neon look while NY is going for manual cab...great !!!!

  2. Na he, bhaalo laaglo naa. Ekebaarei naa.
    Eto aalo keno? eto message keno? eto action keno? sab je guliye chotke bhuut hoye jachchhe. maanush kon message ta nebe, aar konta felbe?
    ei ki sabhyataa? sabaai egiye ese chokher saamne aalo nachaachchhe, "keno, keno, aamake keno."
    ei shohor er maanush konodin andhokaar ke dekheni. diner aalo naa nibhtei raater aalo jole othe.
    era kojon nijer theke bhaabe aamar sandeho hochchhe. sab kichhui eder hoye anya keu bhebe dey.
    hoyto eibhaabei maanob sabhyataar shesh ghoniye aasbe.
    je sabhyataa toiri hoyechhilo bhaabnar modye diye, kolponaar modhye diye, aaj aar kolponaar kono jaaygai nei sekhane. sab chokher saamne bidyomaan.
    jaaihok, eisab katha bole samay noshto korbo naa.

    chhobi bhaalo hoyechhe. Kolketaa'r moton New York eo jol jome aar rickshaw chola jene bhaalo laaglo.
    proletariat raai ki sab jaaygay rickshaw chaalay? ekhaane bihari rickshaw wola, okhaane black raa!

    aabar boli, chhobi bhaalo hoyechhe, kintu new york er bibhotso drishyaduushan aamar motei bhaalo laageni.

  3. @debmalya: The cabs are manual cum motorized actually...

    @dashu pagla: Tumi asadharon ekta comment korechho, ebong eita amar dharonar sange atotai mele, je ami er por eita niye ekta post likhle loke bhabbe ami tomar idea shudhu noy, bhashao churi korechhi. Shudhu amar bon jane ami ki bhashay oke byaparta barnona korechhi... for the record, seita ekhane likhi:
    Americander sarakkhon proti muhurte keu na keu bole day ki korte habe, (ar tar ekta baro angsho holo ki kinte habe), ar ora seita follow kore. Era buddhi shuddhir dhar dharena. For example, garomer chhutir por jakhon iskool khole tar aage school theke daake "Back to school list" pathiye day. Ei list dokaneo sajano thake. Ete lekha thake schhol e jawar jonyo bachchar ki ki lagbe (bag boi khata pencil eraser sharpner ityadi). ei porjonto thik achhe. Amader desher sange tafat holo, amra oi list er je je jinis amar bachchar nei seigulo kinbo. Era list miliye 100% bajar kore, tarpor bari firey bhabte bose "Arre! Gato bachhorer pencilta dekhchhi akhono lekha porchhe. Tahole ki pencilgulo na kinleo cholto? Ar gatobachhorer bagtar expiry date periye gechhilo ki? otao to dibyi achhe!" Kintu gato bachhorer bag e Incredibles anka... ota to purono hoye gechhe. Ebarer bag-e to Kungfu Panda. Tai gato bachhorer asto bagta bidey karo. Sei sange gatobarer pencil, eraser, sharpner scale ityadi. Gorib bachcha to nei, kajer lok-o na, kajei sab jai garbage e. Ar sob dushon naki amra korchhi. Greenhouse effect amader jonyo. Oi bag ar pencilgulo banate je energy ta legechhilo, je gachhgulo shodid hoyechhilo segulor hiseb ke debe?

    Kajei na, ekhane lokjon nijer theke bhabe na. Kalponar kono jaiga nei. Sab chokhe angul diye dekhiye debe, tabe ami shikhbo, kimba tao shikhbona. Tuke kaaj chalabo.

    Tumi bolechho "ei shohor er maanush konodin andhokaar ke dekheni. diner aalo naa nibhtei raater aalo jole othe." Actually eita thik sotyi noy. New York City'r anek jaiga diner belateo chhayachhanno thake, raateo andhokaar. In fact bolle biswas korbe kina janina, kichhu jaigay gele thik Kolkatar kotha mone pore. Times Square tai atokhani alo diye sajano. Barorasta chhere ektu bhetore dhuklei relatively andhokar. Ar ei alogulo diner aalo nivle jwalena, 24 ghantai jwolte thake. Abar boli "Sab dushon naki amra korchhi..." ityadi.

    Ekhankar rickshawgulo loke shokh kore chore. Shudhu blackra noy, whiterao chalay. Kakhono kakhono motor-e lagiye pedalling bandho kore day. Kolkatay to akhono tana rickshaw!

    Which brings me to something else I want to say. Amar anek American jinis bhalo lagena. Kintu tai bole eder guungulo ke aswikar korbo kikore? Oi je tomar "Mere watan ke logon" post e porlam tumi bolchho, amra sahoj jinisgulo copy korchhi, shaktogulo korchhina, seta 100% thik. Sab niye bola sambhab noy, tumi drishyadushan er katha bolechho ami shudhu setuku boli. Amra jhikmike neon alo te akhono America ke harate parini bote, kintu kichhudin pore dekhbe esplanade tao oirakom hoye gechhe karon Indiar moton baro market ar kothao nei. Kintu, jeta amra shikhina, seta holo aesthetic sense bole ekta jinis achhe. Barite (bairer dike) ki rong korte hoy, kon barita dekhte bhalo konta kharap, kon architecture ta kothay manansoi konta bemanan esab kichhui amra bhabina (check out my post titled "Aesthetic nonsense"). Kajei jekono Indian shahorer modhye jemon ekta unplanned unorganized ghinji bhab achhe seta ekhane dekhbena. Pondicherry'r old ar new section duto ekbar giye dekhe elei bojha jabe ami ki bolte chaichhi.

    Jaai hok. Tomar comment pore khub bhalo laglo. Majhe majhe comment koro, karon beshirbhag-i to sei "onsite-pagol", "americar sab bhalo" marka public, tader sange ei alochona gulo thik jomena.

  4. Ora bhabene bolei amader callcenter gulote kichhu chhele meye kichhu karar sujog pachchhe. Cholte dao thik emni korei, tate hayto ekdin amra buddhi diye egiye jete parbo, nao jodi pari, kalpona korte asubidha kothay?se sokti ta to amder achhe. R tai okhane bose Jhumpa Lahiri kalpona r bastab miliye barbar best bole swikrito hay. Pagla dasu, tumio bhabo, tomar bhabna khub e bhalo.