Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Desolate street, Lower Ninth Ward," January 2007

January 4, 2007: The Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans remained chillingly silent. Help is still slow to come to the city's poorer -- and minority -- neighborhoods, with local and religious groups doing more to help than the government -- which was pretty silent from the beginning. Instead, Brad Pitt has had to come in to help rebuild those parts of the city.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Fifth Avenue reflected," October 2006

I took a plane, I took a train
(Ah, who cares, you always end up in the city)

-- "Myriad Harbour," The New Pornographers

Around here, "The City" only means one thing, one place, one city. New York.

New Jersey has its own cities and its own highlights, but if you say you're going to "the city" or were in "the city" over the weekend, you mean New York. Most of the time, we're only talking about Manhattan. The other boroughs are referred to by name, but the big island gets the singular title.

The City.

What else do you call a 301-square-mile metropolis with eight million people? Taking Manhattan alone, it's 23 square miles -- 13.4 by 2.3, at its widest -- with 1.6 million people on it. Who knows what the average number of people in New York at any one time is when you consider the commuters and the tourists.

One thing's for sure, though -- if there are one million people in Times Square, 999,832 of them are tourists.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Chicago stories: The Crown Fountain

On a brutally hot day, the Crown Fountain brought relief. Not for us, of course, because I wasn't aware of the opportunity to soak myself, so I was in shorts and a shirt and socks and sneakers. No bathing suit or flip-flops for me. So I got close enough for the mist off the water to feel good and trained my camera on the scores of families taking full advantage of the cascading -- and spouting -- water coming from the two towers at either end of the plaza.

The public refreshment is an updated -- and architectually noteworthy -- take on the mid-century summer cool-down ritual based around the fire hydrant on the block. The kids come out to play together, to have good, wholesome summer fun in the middle of the city, their parents happy to let them run around and burn off energy, the children thrilled to cool off on a blistering afternoon. To be honest, I was a little disappointed that I wasn't better prepared, and I even contemplated various scenarios in my mind in which we could go back to the hotel, change, enjoy the fountain and still knock off the rest of our agenda that afternoon. But we'd gotten too late a start and the Garfield Park Conservatory was only open so late, so it didn't happen. Next time, though.

Note: This photo was tabbed as noteworthy for Photo Friday's wholesome challenge.