I had to go up to New York City last week and I took along my $20 digital camera, a Philips Keychain Digital Camera. I bought it because I figured that no matter how bad it was, it only cost $20. It’s pretty useless, but what do you expect for a double sawbuck?
It’s like a pinhole camera. You kind of point it in the general direction and hope for the best. As you can see, the results are spotty at best. The framing depends on luck and you are likely to end up with no focus or you get a haze across the image.
And yet, even with a lousy camera, Manhattan is still pretty goddamn picturesque. Here we see some images of Times Square, which continues to present one of the most awesome sights in the city. Yeah, there’s Piccadilly Circus in London and downtown Tokyo, so it’s not unique, but it’s still amazing.
Manhattan seems to have everything — which it kind of does — so it’s always mid-boggling to be confronted with things it doesn’t have, which tend to be really prosaic things found on every street corner in the suburbs. For example, last year 7-Elevens started appearing in the city for the first time in a couple decades. I hardly ever go to the things, but I know a few New Yorkers who were all excited about getting Slurpees. Go figure.
Or how about Home Depots? There are lots of little hardware places, but when you live in the suburbs (as I do), it’s different. You get up on Saturday morning, schlep over to the Depot in your Jeep and load up on stuff. Lots of stuff. You wander around for hours, because you can’t find what you looking for, since you can never find any help, or maybe you just keep thinking of another thing to get.
Pictured here is the first Home Depot in Manhattan. It opened in July of 2004, in the old Hasbro Building, located in the Flatiron District. The building is very historic; in the late 19th century, it was the original Stern Brothers Department Store. The building was designed by Henry Fernbach and erected in 1878. It was enlarged according to a design by W. M. Schickel in 1892. It later became the headquarters for Hasbro, the toy company. In the movie Big, the exterior shots of the MacMillan toy company are actually the Hasbro building in New York City.
It’s a huge six-story cast-iron building, designed in the Renaissance Revival style. You’ll notice that Home Depot has retained the look of the building; I assume they had to, for historic preservation. Inside, the place looks more like a Crate & Barrel than a typical Home Depot.
On my way out of town on the shuttle, I snapped this picture at LaGuardia Airport; the facility was built as a private airfield in 1929, on the grounds of an amusement park. In 1937, it became New York City Municipal Airport. In 1939, it was renamed New York Municipal Airport-LaGuardia Field; in 1947, it was renamed LaGuardia Airport. The name comes from Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945.
The other big airport is John F. Kennedy International Airport, commonly referred to as JFK. It used to be called Idlewild Airport, but was renamed in December of 1963 to honor the assassinated president. I know a guy whose father continues to call it Idlewild today. If you watch old movies about New York or historical movies such as GoodFellas, you’ll catch the references.