new york

Humans of New York

Sometime over the past few years, you may have stumbled acrossВ Humans of New York.В Photographer Brandon Stanton shoots New Yorkers wherever they happen to be when he runs into them: on the subway, in parks, on the street.

His photos are gorgeous, but the heart of his work is really in the quotes he collects from his subjects—they dispense bits of wit, wisdom, humor and poignancy.

I’m still waiting to come across a portrait of someone I know.

Or maybe myself in the background of one.

Today, theВ Humans of New YorkВ book comes out. I’m looking forward to seeing Stanton’s photos in the printed format and seeing what stories he’s chosen to feature.

Until then, enjoy scrolling through the Humans of New York blog—believe me, you can lose yourself in it for a while!

Here are just a few photos I really liked; be sure to click through to read what the subjects have to say:

We just finished singing Beethoven’s Ninth

I’m dealing with the aftermath of a really horrible breakup

Whenever I did a show in the park, Doris would

We’ve been married 31 years

It was easier than I thought it’d be

(Humans of New York photos by Brandon Stanton)

“After the Rain” in NYC

Christopher Wheeldon’s “After the Rain” is a piece I really want to see live.

I’ve watched several excerpts of the pas de deux via YouTube, and love the stripped-down quality of the movements and the tender interplay between the dancers. Simplicity is what makes the piece so stunning. It’s the kind of choreography I want to dance, myself.

This morning, at sunrise,В Maria Kowroski andВ Ask la Cour from New York City Ballet performed “After the Rain” on the 57th floor of 4 World Trade Center. This performance, billed as “New Beginnings” was in remembrance of 9/11, and a “testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and a tribute to the future of the city that New York City Ballet calls home.”

It’s just gorgeous, especially against the backdrop of the city waking up.

Watch it (a couple of times!) below:

(Video via New York City Ballet

NYC Beach Day: Rockaway

For the past week, I’d kept my eye on Sunday’s weather. Each day, the forecast was holding steady at 80 degrees and sunny, and I figured it could be my last chance to hit the beach.

So I was thrilled, this morning, when I woke up to clear blue skies and sunshine. Even though I’d accidentally slept in (something I rarely do!) and wouldn’t get to the beach until nearly 1:30 p.m., I figured it would be worth it.

Rockaway is probably the nicest beach in the five boroughs. (Though, to be honest, that’s not saying much.) But it’s a trek for me—nearly two hours on the A train. I get on at one of the first stops in Manhattan and ride it through my entire borough, all of Brooklyn, and then, finally Queens.

By the time I arrive, I’m more than ready to get my toes in the sand. It helps that the stops near the shore are preceded by a “B”—for beach, of course. That always makes me smile.

b 90 street

I stopped byВ Rockaway Taco for an order of fish tacos, to go. Like me, they’re also in denial about the end of summer—until the end of the month.

summer's still here

I’m glad that the taco stand came back, this summer, and that Rockaway seems to be recovering, post-Sandy. Some houses near the water are still under construction, and portions of the boardwalk are being rebuilt. But the open concession stands and bathrooms along parts of the beach have allowed people to patronize the area all season long—which, hopefully, has helped the local economy, a bit.

we've some a long way

I got onto the beach on 95th Street and walked east until I found a decently empty, quiet spot.

rockaway beach

Then I happily tore into my fish tacos.

rockaway tacos

As I was eating, I realized I’d settled in a surfing section. Everyone around me had a board and everyone in the water was on one. (In fact, an NYC Parks department vehicle drove by about once an hour, telling non-surfers to get out of the water. I suppose the don’t want to worry about swimmers getting whacked by surfboards!)

rockaway surfersWatching the surfers made me want to learn how to do so. For most of my life, I’d been oblivious to the sport—I didn’t know any surfers, growing up, and it was something I associated with the west coast. But last year, when I was in Bocas del Toro,В Panama, I wanted to be one of the surfers who spent all day out in the middle of the ocean—they’d drag their boards into the little water taxis, then jump out when they saw a good spot. I realized that there’s a grace to riding the waves, which is appealing to me. Plus, as someone who’s afraid of the ocean (surprise—I’m a total beach girl who almost never goes into the water), I’m envious of the fearlessness surfers seem to possess!

rockaway surfers

Maybe I’ll add surfing to my list of goals…rockaway surferAnd speaking of surfing—I still find it odd that Rockaway has become the go-to beach for surfers, hipsters and twentysomethings! When I was growing up, “the Rockaways,” as we called it, was just a working class neighborhood on the edge of Queens.

I’d been to the boardwalk once or twice, back when the Parks department ran the concession stands (no saltenas or frozen bananas then!) and the sunbathers were all locals. At the time, the only beaches I’d been to were on Long Island and the Jersey shore, so I was surprised that one existed in my own borough.

I hadn’t realized how close the beach was to JFK, either—and that’s proven to be a nice surprise, this summer. As you’re lying on the beach, you’ll see dozens of planes flying overhead, so close that you can identify the airline—Virgin, Quantas, Delta, United.
plane over rockaway

Something about that just makes me happy. All those planes remind me of great trips I’ve been on, and ones I’ve yet to take. And I imagine that the airplanes are full of excited people going on vacation, or coming back with good memories from ones they’ve just taken.

airplane

airplane over rockaway

If there’s another warm, gorgeous weekend, this year, there’s a good chance I’ll be back in the Rockaways. For me, it’s worth the four hour, round-trip subway ride!

Official NYC Swag

You can find street vendors hawking NYC paraphernalia on practically every corner, but did you know that there are two stores that sell official NYC merchandise? I didn’t, but discovered that while I was going down an internet rabbit hole, the other day.

There are two aptly named CityStores, run by the NYC government: one at the Manhattan Municipal Building and one at City Hall. I’ve yet to visit either (maybe I’ll stop by the next time I get called to jury duty!). But their online shop shows that they’re selling some kitschy yet cool stuff.

Like this tote:

The Brooklyn Bridge Bag

and these coasters:

Set of 4 Manhole Cover Coasters

and this City College subway tile:

City College Subway Tile

and this sanitary grade onesie! (Of course, there’s a Grade Pending shirt, as well.)

Grade A Baby Onesie!

They’re also hawking those awesome Metro Cuffs I wrote about a few months ago:

metrocuff

Best of all, they have a number of wedding items—and fresh flowers!—for those who get married at City Hall. I especially love the Emergency Bow Tie.

(Images via CityStore)

Off to a Beach House Weekend

beach

After spending practically every other summer weekend on the beach, for the two years Mal and Peter lived inВ Maryland, I kind of got used to that luxury! Instead of associating summer with steamy, NYC heat (which I do love), I found it synonymous with long days laying out in the sun and cooling off in the waves. (Which I love even more!)

So when Mal and PeterВ moved back to New YorkВ last year, I vowed to find a summer share so we could keep spending weekends on the beach.

That didn’t happen.

I got caught up with life (the new job, etc.). And before I knew it, summer was here. I had missed the summer share market by months.

As a consolation, I decided that the next best thing would be to rent a beach house for a weekend—and fill it with a lot of our friends. Luckily, our friends were game. The hardest part was finding an affordable rental!

The market is insane—especially if you start looking for a July rental in June. I spent a good two weeksВ speaking with realtors andВ scouring rental listings for every beach town in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. (I’m not exaggerating! The places I looked at included Fire Island; Montauk; the Hamptons; Long Branch; Ocean Grove; Asbury Park; Lavalette; Long Beach Island; Avalon; Cape May; Ocean City, NJ and MD; Rehoboth Beach; Dewey Beach; Lewes Beach; Bethany Beach…and more.)

In the process, I learned:

  • No one rents for just the weekend in high season.В Unless you want to pay a ridiculous amount of money—as in, $3,000 for two nights for a house that sleeps eight.
  • Prices are crazy.В Everywhere I looked, most low-end rentals (small homes that slept six to eight people) generally started around $3,000, though most were at least $5,000—or more. Much more.
  • Most rentals are Saturday through Saturday.В I don’t understand that—because you don’t get a full weekend! One realtor I spoke to told me it’s because it’s hard to find people willing to clean the homes on Sundays. Um, ok.
  • Contrary to what I’d assumed, Sandy-affected areas were not offering steeply discounted rates.В In fact, a Long Beach Island relator told me that most owners aren’t lowering prices because they’re hoping to recoup some of their losses.
  • My new goal in life is to buy a beach house an hour away from the city.В Because it’s probably much more doable than buying an apartment in Manhattan. And it would be a great investment because I could always rent it out. And I’d never have to deal with the crazy rental market again.

I eventually found one home that was (miraculously) a Sunday to Sunday rental, available the dates we wanted to go. The price was low enough—shocking low, actually—that we were willing to sign a week’s lease, even though we’ll only be using it for four nights. (Hopefully, it’ll be in pretty good condition!) And it’s in Bethany Beach, Delaware—a town I loved visiting the past few summers, and home to our favorite blue crab restaurant.

But mostly, I’m looking forward to a few days on the beach surrounded by good friends.

Hooray for summer!

Whoa, Manhattan!

Port Authority Offers Media Tour Of One World Trade Observatory On 100th Floor

How stunning is this photo? It was taken from what will be the 100th floor observation deck at One World Trade Center, 1,250 feet up in the air. When the building opens in 2015, it’ll be 1,776 feet—and the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere!

It’s funny; I can’t recall ever seeing another shot taken from this angle before. The clarity is astounding, and I love how you can see both sides of the island from downtown all the way up to my ‘hood, near the George Washington Bridge. Plus, it’s crazy just how much higher up this building is—it’s towering so far above all the others.

Pretty amazing.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images via Gizmodo)

What Does Your Manhattan Look Like?

Back in 2009, native New Yorker Becky Cooper walked Manhattan from top to bottom. Along the way, she handed out blank maps of the borough, along with stamped envelopes bearing her address. Her request to recipients: Fill in the map with your experience of Manhattan. Tons of people obliged; weeks later, Cooper was inundated with personalized maps.

She’s compiled the best ones for her book,В Mapping Manhattan: A Love (and Sometimes Hate) Story in Maps by 75 New Yorkers, which comes out in April.В This weekend, the NY Times ran an awesome gallery of a few of the maps. It included entries from New Yorker staff writer Patricia Marx (who themed her map around her lost gloves) and the head of the New York Public Library’s map division (whose map pointed out directions to key places in her life). The one below especially amused me—it’s funny how territorial New Yorkers can be, whether intentionally or unintentionally!
migration patterns
If you were given one of those blank maps, how would you have filled it out? (I think I would have highlighted 30 spots, each representing a significant place for each year or my life, numbered accordingly.)

(Image via NY Times)