Apologies for last week's email that contained no photographs nor links! A pre-scheduled post went awry...
So, in January, we were on our way to visit my wife's sister and family near New York city and then on to Vermont to see her parents, so we thought we should make use of our landing and departing days in New York. We stayed in Brooklyn on the way in, and then Queens on the way out utilising AirBnB, so it was nice to see more areas surrounding Manhattan on this trip.
New York was stupidly cold but given the opportunities for street photography and exploration, all was well. We did a huge amount of walking, mostly to find a particular café or restaurant famous for a particular New York delicacy. We visited very Jewish areas, partaking in matzo ball soup and bagels; practised our Spanish in very Hispanic areas, ordering barbecued corn on the cob from a up-turned shopping trolley/grill under a dripping subway station; and experienced the classic New York-Italian ristorante, where I believe we were served directly by Scaramucci.
Other highlights include:
- An incredible private tour of the Capital building with thanks to Elaine, an old friend of Elizabeth's (very grateful for that!).
- Visiting the hipster neighbourhoods of Williamsburg and surrounding areas (the Bear Cat Cafe is an oasis in Brooklyn).
- And, finally, near the end of our few days, we witnessed two pre-teen girls break-dance and free rap alone in flannel pyjamas to raise money for cats, in Central Park at 6pm in -8C temperatures.
We also learned that it is a strange city. It's the prime city in one of the richest countries in the world (and in the richest part) but you wouldn't necessarily know it, depending on where you visit. For us it has more in kind with a capital of an economically developing nation - this might be offensive to some but it's not too shocking given the lack of government spending. US culture does not like big government and the benefit (to some) of that is the government takes a much smaller percentage of the economy as taxes compared to other economically developed nations (and of course lots of people are very happy about this!). However, the flip-side is that public spaces and infrastructure are underfunded, as well as many other things relative to comparable nations or cities.
When walking around Midtown or Downtown, a centre of world finance and business where trillions of dollars are traded or invested, where small flats can cost millions of dollars, and people can spend hundreds of dollars on a meal.....one finds cracked pavements, litter, pot-holed streets, leaky or flooded subways, broken street-lights, old ticket machines, damaged bus-stops, graffiti-ed main streets and a not-insignificant number of homeless individuals on all levels of the city. All this is not found in some far-away land but immediately outside the banks' headquarters, the hotels and the restaurants. This makes it sound like we didn't like the city, but we did, in the same way we really enjoy Bangkok.....but in a very different way to how we can relax in Madrid, London or Tokyo. All cities have extremes of wealth and poverty, but in Manhattan the rich parts don't feel rich.
So more money in people's pockets but within a run-down city - there is no clear winner, it's a matter of choice. Does this impact the economy? Yes it will, but New York is a power-house with incredible productive capacity. New York's annual product is around US$ 1.5 trillion and, if it were a country in itself, would be the size of Canada. It's bigger than South Korea, Russia, Australia, Spain or Mexico. So....despite the state of the streets, they're also clearly doing something very very right.
So please click the photograph above, the title or visit the Galleries page at https://www.travellingfortea.com/photography
P.S. For any photography enthusiasts or professionals reading: I use a Panasonic G5 (micro four-thirds), and mostly used a 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens from 2013-2017 (full frame equivalent 28-84mm). In 2017, I replaced it with the much faster 20mm f1.7 II prime allowing the capture of much more light, as well as an increase in saturation, a reduction in size and a significant boost in sharpness. This is the full-frame equivalent to a 40mm f1.7 so is a 'normal' lens in the traditional sense. I also use a telescopic 45-200mm f4-5.6, it has great reach given the full-frame equivalent of 90-400mm, but at f5.6 at full extension is quite slow. If you would like to discuss cameras or photography I would be very happy to hear from you, just use the email in the footer.