New York 2016...I

New York City is a place I love to visit! And anyone who really knows me, knows that it's my favorite city in the w-h-o-l-e w-i-d-e w-o-r-l-d. However, this was my first time back since 2012. When I got off the plane at LaGuardia, I could smell the energy in the air. I always get this feeling when I come to New York. After getting my luggage and picking up my car rental, I head into the city. Gotham I come!

As I make my way into Manhattan, I see the most awesome skyline in the world...I love it! After parking at a very expensive parking lot, I grab my gear and hit the means streets of New York. My first photo of day one was a weird looking sculpture in a fountain that resembled a balloon of sorts. I thought it was different and pretty cool. I was told by a fellow photographer that it is a Jeff Koons creation called "Balloon Flower(Red)". From there I look up and see the finished One World Trade Center. When I was last here, the building was still under construction. And to see it now, it's all its glory is a thrill for me! Next stop...Brooklyn. While driving on Surf Avenue, I glance to my left and there it is...Nathan's Famous! In case you didn't know, Nathan's is famous for its annual hot dog eating contest held on Coney Island. And being at Nathan's, it was only fitting that I get myself a hot dog and fries. After that brief snack, I walked over to Luna Park...the amusement park here on Coney Island. The park was closed, but I was able to walk around and snap a few photos of some of the rides like the Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and Thunderbolt. Oh, while walking towards Luna Park, I saw something that looked very familiar, but strange...a working pay phone! It's very rare to see a pay phone period, in some cities. While walking along the boardwalk, I see the different restaurants, ice cream eateries and coffee shops. After walking the boardwalk, I walk to the beach to get photos of the waves rolling in towards the sand. I spent a lot of time at Luna Park, because I've always wanted to visit Coney Island. It was definitely well worth the wait, but I have to come back to experience the full ambience of riding the rides and the people. My first day was cut short because of a previous engagement.

Day 2 started with a short drive to Jersey City. I wanted to get a nice sunrise photo of the Manhattan skyline from New Jersey. When I got to the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, the rising sun created a nice, silhouette to the skyline that looked post card worthy. While I was shooting, people were hurrying by to catch the water taxi over to New York for work, play and maybe photography. Along the Waterfront were Jersey City's 911 Memorial and J. Seward Johnson's "Makeshift Memorial". J. Seward Johnson is also the guy who designed the famous giant Marilyn Monroe statue. After spending time there and walking back to the car, I came across the "Katyn Memorial". The "Katyn Memorial" is a tall bronze statue of a soldier...gagged and bound, with a bayoneted rifle going from his back through the front of his chest. It is dedicated to the victims of the Katyn massacre in 1940 after Soviet Union troops invaded Eastern Poland. Next, I head to the Tribeca section of Manhattan. I park and walk along Leonard Street where I see another luxury hi-rise is under construction, which is nothing new in New York. I saw two other interesting buildings on Leonard Street...The Guilliard Building and another building with cool fire escapes out front. The 1st Precinct police station on Ericsson was next because I love to photograph police stations and police cars. Back downtown, I was very anxious to see the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava, who also designed the Milwaukee Art Museum. Construction was still ongoing, so I couldn't get as close to it the way I wanted to. It's a huge structure that seems kind of outta place for that area, but a really nice building to photograph. Next to that was ongoing construction of Three World Trade Center, another building damaged during the 911 terror attacks. Working my way over to the Chase Bank Building, I stopped to photograph Isamu Noguchi's "Red Cube" sculpture. Once I arrived at the Chase Bank Building, I saw a familiar looking sculpture. Familiar in that the sculptor Jean Dubuffet has a sculpture in Chicago called "Monument with Standing Beast" that sits in front of the James R. Thompson Center. The sculpture in front of the Chase Bank Building is called "Group Of Four Trees". Across the street is the Trump Building. Around the corner on Wall Street, I come across the massive New York Stock Exchange. Walking in that area, I came across Downtown by Starck, Hermes, Delmonico's restaurant and Bavaria Bier Haus. I was looking for the U.S. Customs House, but I was told it has been converted to the National Museum of the American Indian, which is another awesome building. From there, I head over to Battery Park. Upon entering, I notice a sculpture at the base of a flagpole. The sculpture is called "White Man Buys Manhattan", and the inscription reads that it was a "gift from the Dutch people to the city of New York in 1926". And marks the 300th anniversary of "the purchase of the Island of Manhattan". Walking into Battery Park, I wander over to Castle Clinton, which is perhaps best remembered as America's first immigration station (predating Ellis Island), where more than 8 million people arrived in the U.S. from 1855 to 1890. Next, there were three important sculptures I had to check out. First was "The Sphere", a large metallic sculpture by German sculptor Fritz Koenig. It once stood in the middle of Tobin Plaza, the area in between the former World Trade Center towers. You can see the damage it sustained during the terror attacks. Second, "The Universal Soldier - New York Korean War Veterans Memorial" sculpture. Looking through the cut out of a soldier, through one side you see downtown buildings and blue skies. Through the other side you see greenery from the's a cool statue to check out. And finally, Marisol Escobar's "American Merchant Mariners Memorial" sculpture is awesome because it depicts merchant marines on a sinking lifeboat. At the top, a mariner kneels and stares forward while another braces his footing on the capsizing boat while crying out for help. Just below, a crewman lies down to get into position in order to rescue their shipmate who has fallen into the water. Half submerged, the fallen mariner looks up and reaches for his mate's hand. The position of the mariner in the water, and depending on the tides of the harbor, provides emotional drama. This one is definitely a must see. While leaving Battery Park, I came across the "Cool Globes" sculptures that lined the side walk leading out.

Heading back to Brooklyn, I found myself on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade looking across at the Manhattan skyline. This was a great view as the nice weather made for great photos! On my left in the distance is the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. To my right, are the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. I walk further down the Promenade heading to Brooklyn Bridge Park. On the way, I walked past the Watchtower building, which is also the Jehovah's Witnesses World Headquarters. It was cool walking under the Brooklyn Bridge, as I have driven and walked across it many times. This is indeed an awesome bridge! As I get to Brooklyn Bridge Park, I see another cool sculpture...Deborah Kass' "OY YO" sculpture right under the Manhattan Bridge. Across the way I photograph the Williamsburg Bridge as well. French architect Jean Nouvel designed the housing for "Jane's Carousel", which was packed with young kids and their parents. Jane's Carousel definitely puts the stamp on Brooklyn Bridge Park. Leaving the park heading back to the car, I grab a quick photo of the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. In walking through the neighborhood, I had to stop and marvel at the wonderful and colorful Brooklyn Brownstones. Next stop was the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and New York Islanders hockey team. Across the street on Flatbush Avenue is a new Jordan Brand Boutique, with a larger than life billboard of Brooklyn-born superstar, and Chicago's own Michael Jordan in the lot next door. The Brooklyn Public Library was my next stop, as well as the Soldiers and Sailors Arch and the Bailey Fountain(minus the water). I was ending day two in Brooklyn by visiting three very important buildings and two murals. The Ebbets Field Apartments, the Marcy Houses and 226 St. James Place. Ebbets Field is the former home to Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers, who played there from 1913 until 1957. Ebbets Field was demolished in 1960, but also in 1960 Ebbets Field Apartments were born, but opened officially in 1962 on the very same site. Marcy Homes or Marcy projects in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn is the place where Shawn Carter grew up to become Jay-Z. I didn't find the exact building where Jay lived, but then again, I wasn't trying to, either! (Yes, I was being "watched"). And 226 St. James Place is the former home of Christopher Wallace, who later became Biggie Smalls and also The Notorious B.I.G. At the corner of Bedford Avenue and Quincy Street, there is a larger than life mural of Biggie. It was said that he used to hang out on that very same corner, so that mural was very fitting being there. And at the corner of Franklin and Putnam Avenues, there is a mural dedicated to Old Dirty Bastard from Wu Tang Clan.