A weekend in New York city

A NY weekend —short and sweet just the way I like it.

chrysler building dusk michele roohani

The Chrysler building is still magnificent—I like the upper east side best.

manhattan subway lexington and 51st street michele roohani

sometimes photographers have to take some risks,

yellow cab madison avenue manhattan michele roohani

New York is a walking city and the shop windows are fabulous—I have dedicated an entire future post to it—Bergdorf Goodman’s window displays are so sophisticated, they are like mini-exhibitions.

window shopping manhatan marie antoinette michele roohani

India is big on Fifth Avenue:

manhattan fifthe avenue store display michele roohani

so is the cathedral

saint patrick cathedral manhattan michele roohani

Manhattan is a “hall of mirrors” with a maze of old and new architecture to dazzle you:

manhattan skyline michele roohani

Brownstones are beautiful in springtime,

ochre brownstone new york michele roohani

so are bluestones!

brownstone manhattan NY blue michele roohani

Prepare yourself to eat half a cow at Carnegie Deli,

carnegie deli pastrami michele roohani

and then the other half:

carnegie deli cheescake michele roohani

Jim Dine’s Venus on the 6th avenue,

jm dine venus manhattan michele roohani

The upper west side is younger and hipper—Amsterdam avenue leads you to a little gem of a café,  good enough to eat.

amsterdam avenue ny traffic light michele roohani

A hole in the wall, Zibetto espresso bar, is an ideal place to get you going again,

zibetto espresso bar manhattan ny michele roohani

to see some more of this beautiful city:

audrey hepburn marilyn monroe NY michele roohani

its buildings,

manhattan skyline grisaille michele roohani

and its skyline.

manhattan skyline traffic light michele roohani

I visited the Metropolitan museum and the Frick Collection as my usual pilgrimage but the most exciting show was at the New York Public Library. I have two great exhibitions to tell you about but that’s got to be in the next post.

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15 thoughts on “A weekend in New York city

  1. New York, the big city with bright lights. I visited the Big Apple in August of 1990 as an enthusiastic student. I stayed at Columbia’s student housing in Harlem. Within 2 days, I saw 3 muggings, a carjacking, and was hassled endlessly by the homeless and the decrepit. I cut my stay short and vowed never to return to this toxic byproduct of human civilization. When I was forced to return in 1999 to attend a conference, I stayed at the St. Regis, ate at Jean Georges and was shocked what a difference a decade makes! The city had changed. Or… maybe I had. I don’t know. But New York continues to offer its essence to all kinds of people. From the crime ridden projects to the highest level of service and decadence, the Big Apple is a slice of life, full of potential and possibilities. Dark, urine stanched alleys are cornered by high end establishments. Architectural marvels rest peacefully adjacent to small delicatessens and hot dog stands. A unique place on this planet where a bag could be purchased for $2500 or $25 within a couple of blocks’ distance. A place where Wall Street and Sex and The City are juxtaposed with A Bronx Tale and Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. Therefore, New York will always remain a mystery, indescribable to most, for it represents everything and nothing at the same time. Like a great piece of literature, New York will always tell us more about the reader more than the writer. When sitting at the Big Apple’s magic spread, the possibilities are endless and only limited to the boundaries of your imagination. Take a bite, the Big Apple a bitter sweet fruit.

  2. Michele

    What a wonderful post…

    Ali, you indeed summed it all. NYC is indeed a quizzical place. Its where one can identify oneself in a day, as everyone around you is from different ethnic races. NYC dosnt belong to any race , creed or caste.. hence it belongs to everyone.

    NYC is like a salad bowl not a melting pot. where each ethnic race has its identity and co exist in the same bowl.

    Just learn to talk in Blocks , you soon will be a New Yorker… My NYC is Bryant Park and Upper West from 59th and Lexington..

    I love , i loathe , i devour New York..


    P.S Michele , i love the blue building. Can you tell me where it is on Manhattan..

  3. The Chrysler Tower is my favourite building in New York. You have beautifully captured the muted awe that one feels when you catch a glimpse of the Tower which is almost omnipresent in Manhattan.

  4. Dear Michele

    Wonderful & Heartwarming post on NYC.. which is close to my heart, reminded me of my first visit at an impressionable age in 1981. New York is to a great extent responsible for shaping of my imagination & thoughts..(Courtesy New York Times) The city has awe inspiring Buildings, Bridges, Museums, parks, & Architecture landmarks ..

    In his poem ”Mannahatta,” Walt Whitman characterized that aboriginal name for New York City as ”liquid, sane, unruly,self-sufficient.”

    New York, the nation’s thyroid gland.
    -Christopher Morley

    As always Ali’s thoughtful comment captures the essence



  5. Peut-on détester une ville que l’on n’a jamais visitée? Je ne connais New-York qu’à travers les films ( y compris Manhattan de Woody Allen)ou les séries de télévisions ( New-York 911 par exemple). Ainsi perçue, cette mégalopole semble emplie nuit et jour du bruit incessant de la circulation automobile avec les sirènes des voitures de police et des ambulances. Une architecture de gratte-ciel orgueilleux et la plupart du temps sans aucune originalité architecturale, une richesse tellement ostentatoire qu’elle en est parfois obscène, une misère qui semble ne déranger personne, qu’y a-t-il donc de si attirant à New-York à part le MOMA? New-York vit sur une légende qu’elle a elle-même construite.Habiter à New-York est un motif de fierté. Personne ne se pose la question de savoir si cette fierté est légitime… Je trouve très intéressante l’image de la cathédrale Saint-Patrick écrasée par des buildings de verre.
    Vous aurez compris que je préfère Rome, Prague ou Budapest…

  6. even though i agree with my good friend philippe about Rome, Prague or Budapest, i think he should visit new york at least once before judging it so harshly—NY and paris are my favorite cities in the world even though i do have a weakness for florence, prague and buenos aires…

  7. Carissima Michele,

    J’ai pris la précaution d’écrire que je ne connaissais cette ville qu’à travers des images de cinéma et de télévision…

  8. Phillipe, as much as New York has something to offer to anyone, it isn’t a city that appeals to everyone. I wouldn’t recommend it to the agoraphobic mind nor to the hyperacustic ear! Your remark about New York being a self made legend is very interesting though. But let’s face it, aren’t all cities the same? Arguably, the international romantic image of Paris is an American construct, largely built around early Hollywood movies with steamy romances and grandiose notions of Parisian lifestyle. Granted, there was a Romantic Movement that spread through 19th century Europe including Paris, but Paris’ reputation as the romance capital of the world has faded in the same way Charles de Gaulle Airport’s reputation as a leading modern airport has disappeared! Unlike the airport, however, romance is a state of mind and therefore still a drawing force for the tourists.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m neither defending NYC nor knocking Paris. They are different yet the same to me. They both represent dense pieces of real estate, where folks from all walks of life come together to do the same thing others do all over this planet: simply living their daily lives!

    p.s. thanks Ajay & Nimesh for the kind words! 🙂

  9. Ali,

    Avez-vous remarqué que les villes anciennes qui ont conservé leur centre historique échappent à la démesure verticale new-yorkaise?
    Peut-on en déduire que la verticalité constructive cherche à compenser l’absence de “verticalité” historique, c’est-à-dire l’inscription dans la durée de l’Histoire humaine?
    Le pays d’Europe de l’Ouest où il y a le plus de tours est l’Allemagne dont de nombreuses villes ont été anéanties pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale.

  10. Dear Philippe:
    You have an interesting point here: vertical growth of cities may be compensation for a lack of historical depth; but doesn’t that statement assumes an intrinsic value in historical depth that is unwarranted? In short, weren’t all historical cities modern one day and engaged in the very same kind of “vertical growth behavior” during their own prime? By that logic, they too were compensating for what they lacked compared to their more historical counterparts.
    Or perhaps, is it possible that this kind of behavior isn’t overcompensation after all. Maybe it’s an inherent quality of all cities in their prime that they attract the kind of fresh human genius that breaks boundaries and convention and forges through architecture a brand new standard of aesthetics and functionality. This is evident as modernity tends to have an ostentatious quality that speaks visually through the shear force of its structures and the grandiosity of its dreams.

    So, whether it’s the Chrysler Building, the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Giza, the Persepolis, the Parthenon, or the Colosseum, all such structures represent moments in time, where a vibrant city shined the brightest. Perhaps these marvels were built by their inhabitants as a form of self worship – a gift to their citizens’ ego. Maybe that’s the overcompensation you mentioned. I don’t know. But I know that much like their inhabitants, all cities rise and fall some day and in my humble opinion, those with their best days before them are not inferior to those with their best days behind them. After all, an investor is wise to invest on that which is becoming vs. that which has long become.
    (Sorry for the very long post) 🙂

  11. I heard its Art Deco symphony
    while running around its perimeter,
    gazing up in to the sky,
    and traveling up and down it’s elevators as a youngster,
    quietly asking, will I design one, someday?

    The smell of hustling within the underground,
    the scream of the exhaust of the yellow cabs
    the neatly setting on the side table
    near the second floor elevator of
    Bergdorf Goodman’s

    The occasional march of designer samples
    crossing 5th,
    the many quiet moments spent inside the cathedral
    the conversion of old stable grounds
    in to mini court yards and town homes
    of brown and blue stones,

    The kosher knishes @ Carnegie
    which thinking of them, tickles my taste buds,
    resting at Café Loup after a stop @ Howard Kaplan’s….
    are just a small reminiscence of what you pierced
    in the memory of a city which is dear to me.

  12. “The beauty of New York – An Excerpt form Unbearable Lightness of Being.

    Franz and Sabina would walk the streets of New York for hours at a time. The view changed each step, as if followin a winding mountain path surrounded by breathtaking scenery: a young man knealing in the middle of sidewalk praying, a few steps away a black woman leaning against a tree; a man in black suit directing an invisible orchestra while crossing the street; a fountain spurting water and a group of construction workers sitting on a rim eating lunch; strange iron ladders running up and down buildings with ugly red facades, so ugly that they were beautiful; and next door, a huge glass skyscraper backed by another, itself topped by a Arabian pleasure dome with turrets, galeries, and gilded coloumns.

    Franz said” Beauty in the european sense has always had a premeditated quality to it. We’ve always had an aesthetic intention and long range plan. Thats what enabled a western man to spend decades building a Gothic Cathedral or a Renaissance Piazza. The beauty of New York rests on a disparate base. Its unintentional. It arose independent of human design, like a staligmatic cavern. Forms which are in themselves quite ugly, turn up fortuitously, without design, in such incredible surroundings that they sparkle with a sudden wondorous poetry”

    Sabina said ” unintentional beauty. Yes. Another way of putting it might be “beauty by mistake” Before beauty disappears entirely form this earth it will continue exist for while by mistake. ‘Beauty by MIstake’ – the final phase in the history of beauty.

    Milan Kundera”

  13. Nimesh, I love that line, “Beauty by mistake!” Thanks for sharing the passage with us, particularly because we all assume occasionally that where there is beauty there may be no mistake. 🙂

  14. Pl refer & Explore

    Impressions of New York: Prints from the New-York Historical Society – Marilyn Symmes


    From its birth as a remote trading outpost on the fringes of the Dutch empire to its current status as the so-called Capital of the World, New York has always captivated visual artists. The extraordinary prints collected by the New-York Historical Society over the course of its history vividly preserve these impressions on paper.

    In this handsome volume more than 150 of these views of the city—including two spectacular gatefold panoramas—speak eloquently of the surging power of this dynamic urban center. At the same time, they present an intimate portrait of everyday life as it has been lived and savored in this great city for more than three centuries.

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