Downtown Manhattan as seen from the Empire State Building. That’s the new Freedom Tower in the distance.

On the occasion of my impending 50th birthday, I took a few days and jetted off to NYC with my old friend Dave. I had never been, and my expectations were pretty high. I’ve dreamed of seeing the Big Apple since I was a kid reading Marvel comic books.

Tilt-shift lens effect, digital of course.

This was a bit of a departure for me, in that I decided at the last minute to leave my Nikon at home. I wasn’t worried about losing it; I was worried that Dave wouldn’t have the patience to wait for me to stop and photograph something at every corner. Turns out he’s a talented photog himself and we shot a fair bit. Everything you see here is on the iPhone 5.

Street scene. Empire State Building in background.

The Bar Pitti, below, was probably the culinary highlight. Fine, fresh Italian food, the way it was meant to be. Oh, and cash-only, please.

David at Bar Pitti

We had planned very little in advance, only remembering to book a show or two before we got on the plane. One thing I knew I must do, though, was walk the High Line. This is a public park and walking trail, on a historic elevated freight rail line through the city. They’ve done an exquisite job with the landscape architecture and public art. It was packed with people. Well, pretty much everywhere was.

Trout lilies on the High Line.

We made our way to Brooklyn, which for me conjured images of rough streets. It is in fact beautifully peaceful and interesting to walk through; artists, young people and immigrants who can no longer afford Manhattan make it all quite welcoming.

Perhaps a vestige of rougher days. It was right beside a brand-new park.

The famed Brooklyn Bridge is a beautiful walk back to Manhattan. The weather was gorgeous and the New Yorkers were out by the thousands, taking it all in. I had heard that the people of NYC tend to be a bit fitter than the average American due to their walking ways. I can certainly understand how that might be so. Our dogs were howling at the end of the day.

The Brooklyn Bridge

Another destination we had decided was a must-see was the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. This tells the story of housing in the heyday of immigration. It is intelligently and movingly conveyed, placing everything within the context of how we feel today about immigrants and immigration. Highly recommended. You book a tour, and you choose a particular theme: culinary history, Jewish stories, etc. We followed the story of a particular Irish family, interesting to me as our ancestor Dennis Enright apparently arrived through New York.

The lower East Side.

I’m not sure what I was expecting to see in Central Park, but I found the landscape much more varied than I thought. Hills, rocks, native and introduced trees, ponds, walkways, and beautiful old buildings here and there.

A wedding shoot in Central Park.

The three days just flew by. Evenings were filled with bars and shows: Sleep No More and Macbeth, followed by martinis and show tunes at the glorious Don’t Tell Mama.

Our hotel was just off Times Square and we spent a fair bit of time in the Square, taking in the endless public spectacle. As this was all during the Boston Marathon bomber manhunt, the police presence was heavy.

The finest of New York’s finest.

We had fully intended to take in a few museums, but alas we could only squeeze in the MOMA, where we never made it past the stunning fifth floor.

Would I go back? In a New York minute.

Dave loves New York.


  1. Doug McGregor

    Superb photography Don, Bravo!

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