Sunday, December 31, 2006

Time Square on the eve of New Year's Eve

Time Square is one of the few places in New York City where traffic congestion, both vehicles and humans, is a given. The situation worsens on New Year's Eve when 750,000 revelers congregate here to watch the giant crystal ball drop at 12 midnight. Some people even start staking out the best spots to watch the celebration at 8 AM on the morning of the event, 16 hours before the ball drops. This photo of Time Square was taken on the eve of New Year's Eve (Dec 30). As you can see, the energy of the celebration has already begun.

So do you have a New Year resolution? What are they?


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Deli @ Little Italy

Little Italy, as the name suggests, is a section of Lower Manhattan where Italian immigrants first settled after arriving in New York City at the turn of the century. Today, the neighborhood has diminished to about half its original size due to the ever expansion of Chinatown, as well as the decrease in the number of new Italian immigrants to the US. Most of the first and second generation Italians who grew up in the area have moved on to other parts of the city or to the suburbs.

What makes Lower Manhattan so interesting is the dynamics of its population over time. Prior to the arrival of Italian immigrants in the 1900s, this area was inhabited mostly by Irish immigrants who came here in the early 1800s. Now, Little Italy is slowly being engulfed by a newer immigrant population, ie. the Chinese.

This photo was taken inside an Italian deli and it shows a big wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese being cut up into smaller pieces. The yellow cubes of cheese on the right are Pecorino Romano and you can see someone walking by with a tray of freshly made canolis.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Brownstones in Brooklyn Heights

Brownstones or brownstone houses refer to multi-storey single-family townhouses that were built before the 1900s using reddish brown sandstones. Before the turn of the century, they were built mostly by wealthy families and therefore, contain some of the most exquisite architectural details of the era. Today, these brownstones are highly desirable in New York City. The brownstones in this photo are from a cul-de-sac in Brooklyn Heights, a very prosperous neighborhood in New York City. Each of these unit can easily cost over $4 million.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Manhattan Municipal Building

This is the Manhattan Municipal Building that is located on the intersection of Centre and Chambers Streets in Lower Manhattan. The structure, completed in 1915 in the Beaux Arts style, has 40 floors and is 580 feet (177 meters) tall. The building was the first ever constructed to include a subway station underneath it. Currently, the Manhattan Municipal Building and the City Hall building next door are transfer stations for the following subway lines: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, A, C, E, J, M, and W.

The Beaux Arts architecture is a classic architectural style that originated in Paris, France around 1885 to 1920. The basic characteristics of Beaux Arts style include symmetry in design, grand entrances and staircases with figurines and garlands bordering the structures.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Grand Central Station

This is another photo of the main concourse of the Grand Central Station. It is, in my opinion, one of the most magnificent architectures in New York City.

The famous clock on top of the information booth in the middle of the grand concourse is valued at an estimated $10 - $20 million by both Christie's and Sotheby's. The clock has four faces made of opal and can be seen from the north, south, east and west of the station. The three windows in the back are 75 feet tall and has a walkway across them but it is closed to public for security reasons.

According to statistics found on Wikipedia, the station serves 125,000 commuters and receives 575,000 visitors per day. Each year, 19,000 pieces of item are reported to "lost and found", 2,000 of which are coats. The return rate for these items are 60%; however, the return rate for computers and iPods are 98%.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

UNICEF Snowflake on 5th Avenue

The giant UNICEF snowflake, installed high above the intersection of 5th Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan, is another New York City holiday tradition that began in 1988. Last year, the snowflake was updated with a bigger version made of over 16,000 Baccarat cyrstals, spanned 23 feet in diameter and 28 feet in height, and weighed over 3,300 pounds. The snowflake is an emblem of the work UNICEF does for the children all over the world.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Tree @ Trump Tower

This Christmas tree sits in front of a 5-storey waterfall at the atrium of Trump Tower. The building, completed in 1983, is located on 56th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan and was one of the first luxury condominiums built in the city.

Prior to that, the most desirable and luxurious properties in the city were coops. Condominiums were considered "middle class housing" although middle class in Manhattan is not middle class at all. In addition, coop properties provide owners with stricter control over who can and cannot purchase an apartment in the building.

With that, I want to wish everyone:

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Ornaments

These porcelain ornaments are part of a Christmas decoration inside a minimalist store in SoHo. The color of the figurines matched well with the white and cream color palettes of the walls, shelves and ceiling in the store. Personally, I find this minimalist aesthetic very calming and relaxing but my friend thinks it is boring and antiseptic -- like in a hospital.

What do you think? Should Christmas decorations be in green and red and gold, or some splash of colors?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Tree @ Bloomberg Tower

This magnificent Christmas tree stands in the belly of the Bloomberg Tower in uptown Manhattan. The silver star decorations match very well with the blue steel and glass structure surround it. It stands about three stories tall and is covered with thousands of tiny lights.

Merry Christmas


Happy New Year

Friday, December 22, 2006

Queens At Night

Queens is one of the five boroughs that make up New York City and has the most diverse population mix in the country. There are numerous neighborhoods with unique concentration of ethnicities like Astoria (Greek), Bayside (Korean), Elmhurst (Hispanic), Flushing (Chinese), Jackson Heights (Indian), Sunnyside (Irish), Forest Hills (Jewish), Middle Village (Italian), and many more.

This photo was taken in Sunnyside using a slow shutter speed setting. You can see the tallest building in Queens, the Citicorp Building in the background, as well as the Chrysler Building (in Manhattan) behind it. The bank of windows on the upper right corner is the elevated subway station and the yellow strings of light at the bottom are buses traveling at very high speed down the Queens Boulevard.

The Citicorp Building is located in Long Island City, right across the East River from Manhattan. It is 50 stories tall and 658 feet (201 meters) high. The office tower is owned by CitiGroup and was completed in 1990.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


I was having dinner at the Sunnyside Grill, a favorite restaurant, this week and noticed the reflections on the table top. Out came my camera and asnapping I went. The little tiny lights you see are Christmas lights from the outside of the restaurant being reflected on the glass windows and then re-reflected onto the marble table top and water glass. It reminds me of a romantic cafe in Paris.

To put a New York City spin on it, you can see the elevated subway track on the upper right corner of the photo. That's the Number 7 train line that connects Times Square and Grand Central Station in Manhattan to Shea Stadium and Flushing in Queens.

So where and when was your most romantic dinner date?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Chicken & Ducks

Chinatown in Lower Manhattan is the largest and one of the oldest Chinese settlements in the United States. The first group of Chinese immigrants came to New York City in the mid-1800s to set up laundry businesses and restaurants. Today it is estimated that there are over 300,000 ethnic Chinese people living in the area. There are also smaller Chinese enclaves in New York City, specifically Flushing in Queens and Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

Chinatown is a favorite haunt of many locals and tourists alike because of the huge number of restaurants, street vendors and supermarkets in the neighborhood. Some of the best Shanghainese, Cantonese and Szechuan restaurants are found here.

This photo was taken at one of the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown. You can see the roast chicken, Peking ducks and roast pork prominently displayed on the window to entice hungry people to come in for dinner. My favorite dish here is the white (well, yellow) chicken on the lower right, which is usually served with chicken flavored rice and pickled vegetables. Yummilicious!!! Do you have a favorite?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Brass Monkey

The Brass Monkey is an Irish bar in the Meat Packing District located on the lower west side of Manhattan. As the name suggests, this used to be a blue collar neighborhood where freshly slaughtered meats were processed in warehouses and delivered to supermarkets across the city during the day. At night, transvestite prostitues took over the area to ply their trade in dark alleys and seedy motels.

Gentrification took over about five years ago and turned this neighborhood into a hot spot for hipsters, yuppies and tourists alike. Today it is packed with restaurants, designer fashion outlets and night clubs. There is even a boutique hotel called, Hotel Gansevoort
and a private club (like a country club but in the city) called, Soho House.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Water Taxi

The New York Water Taxi service provides a quick way to get across the East River (to Brooklyn and Queens) and the Hudson River (to New Jersey) from Manhattan. This is another way New Yorkers commute around the city.

Although the water taxi is the least popular mode of transportation in terms of the number of commuters who use it each day, it is nonetheless, an integral part of what makes New York City run smoothly. Most commuters who regularly use the water taxi either live or work near the river where the subway system does not serve. And since there is less traffic on the river than it is on the street, the water taxi can be a quick way to get across town.

The bridge in the background is the Manhattan Bridge that links Manhattan and Brooklyn. The area under the bridge on the Brooklyn side is called, DUMBO (District Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and is considered an up-and-coming neighborhood. The small two-storey white building with red roof under the bridge is the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tiffany & Co.

This is a photo of a gigantic print advertisement for Tiffany & Co. on the main concourse of the Grand Central Station. The simplicity of the ad is absolutely brilliant. The 'robin egg' blue is so iconic and synoymous with the brand that the name of the company does not have to be complete visitible in the ad.

The company started out as a stationery and fancy goods emporium called Tiffany & Young, short for Charles Louis Tiffany and John B. Young, in New York City in 1837. The name was then changed to Tiffany & Co in 1853 when Charles Louis Tiffany assumed control of the entire company. Today the name is considered one of the most recognizable and respected luxury brands in the world. The flagship store located on 57th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan inspired the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's, starring Audrey Hepburn.

I hope everyone gets a little 'robin egg' blue box or something just as exquisite under the Christmas tree this year!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Staten Island Ferry

Manhattan is connected by bridges to every borough in New York City except Staten Island. So the Staten Island Ferry provides the only direct link between the two boroughs. There are other routes of getting to Staten Island from Manhattan but it would involve a detour through either Brooklyn or New Jersey. There has been a ferry service between Manhattan and Staten Island, in one form or another, since the 1700s.

The Staten Island Ferry service is currently free of charge for all commuters because law makers and citizen activists argued that it is possible to walk from Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx to Manhattan (across bridges) but not from Staten Island. Therefore, the city cannot reasonably expect commuters to pay for a service that the city failed to provide (ie. build a bridge between Manhattan and Staten Island). That's what I was told at a dinner party and I don't know if it is true. Nonetheless it is a valid arguement, don't you think?!?!

N.B.: Click on the photo to see the vibrant blue color.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Lipstick Building

The Lipstick Building on 53rd Street and 3rd Avenue in midtown, received its name from the shape of the structure, which looks like a tube of lipstick and the red band between each floor, the color of lipstick. The majority tenant in the building is a law office.

It was designed by famed American architects, Richard Burgee and Philip Johnson and opened in 1986. The building has three levels with each level being smaller than the preceding ones. It rises 34 floors high and is 453 feet (138 meters) tall.

Philip Johnson's other notable work includes the Glass House in New Canaan, CT and the Seagram Builiding in New York City. The Seagram Building is a collaboration with Mies van der Rohe, another prolific and well known architect.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Yakitori is the latest culinary craze in New York City, following the popularity of habachi in the 1980s (Benihana, anyone?) and sushi (Nobu) in the 1990s. Yakitori literally means grilled chicken in Japanese but it is often used to describe a method of cooking, that is grilled (food) on skewers.

At least three yakitori restaurants have opened on St. Mark's Place in the last year. The East Village area has always been a popular spot for all things Japanese, from the grocery stores and delis to the bookstores and restaurants.

This photo was taken at Oh Taisho, one of the yakitori restaurants on St. Mark's Place. The restaurant has about 20 tables and long counter facing the small open kitchen where you can watch as your food is being prepared. Most of the items on the menu are grilled (obviously) but there are also other options like ramen (noodle soups), yakisoba (stir-fried soba noodles), okonomiyaki (pancakes), and tempura (battered and fried items).

N.B.: I love the okonomiyaki!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

BAMN Automat

BAMN! is a new retro East Village eatery that was styled after an automat from the 1930s and 40s. The automat was a precursor to the candy and soda machines that we see everywhere today. Basically, it is a fast food restaurant that serves simple food items like burgers, fries, chicken wings, hotdogs, etc. through a coin-operated vending machine window.

The automat was immortalized in the Doris Day movie, The Touch of Mink as well as other movies made in the 40s through 60s. Unfortunately, the popularity of automats died with the arrival of drive thru' restaurants and other fast food joints.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Grand Central Station

The Grand Central Station (official name is Grand Central Terminal or GCT) is one of two main train stations in New York City. It is located on 42nd Street between Lexington and Park Avenue (called Midtown East) and serves the Metro-North Railroad service, which connects New York City to upstate New York and Connecticut.

The current GCT building was completed in 1913. Over the century or so, it has undergone several major renovations, the last of which was in 1996-8, famously championed by Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Unfortunately, she did not live to see the finished product. She died in 1994.

This photo was taken on a slow shutter speed to capture the movements of commuters at the train station.

Monday, December 11, 2006


This is a window display from the Prada store in SoHo. I was immediately drawn to it because of the explosion of colors, which is not something we see a lot of in NYC, especially during the winter months. Most New Yorkers prefer to wear warmer colors like greys, browns and blacks. Also, Muccia Prada is not always known for her use of bright colors like these.

The store in SoHo, which opened in 2001, was one of a number of Prada stores around the world designed by Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas. The concept for this store was highly experimental at the time it opened. It was intended to be a showcase for clothes and accessories during the day and then easily converted into an exhibition/gallery space for social events in the evening. The store was partially destroyed by a fire earlier this year but has since been renovated and opened for business.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tennis Soles?

The people at this cellular phone store in Queens have an ingenious way of protecting the hardwood floors from scratches. When I walked pass the store, I knew I had to take a photo of it. It's unique and brilliant, isn't it?

Queens is one of five boroughs (counties or parishes)
that make up New York City. The other four boroughs are Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island. Manhattan is undoubtedly the most famous of the five boroughs and is the administrative seat of the city. A common misconception among non-New Yorkers it that Manhattan IS New York City. On the contrary, Manhattan constitutes less than 10% in terms of geography and 20% in terms of population of the city.

Saturday, December 9, 2006


This advertisement was on a temporary wall surrounding a construction site in Chinatown. The ad is for UNIQLO (pronounced you-KNEE-coo-lo), a Japanese brand of medium priced clothes that just opened its first NYC store in SoHo. It is supposedly the largest UNIQLO outlet in the world, with over 35,000 sq ft of retail space and serves as the brand's global flagship store.

The store was designed by well known interior designer, Masamichi Katayama and boasts a 5-storey high display case filled with unique t-shirts created by artists from Japan specifically for the store opening.

The advertisement depicts cashmere sweaters and wraps that retail for $89.95 and $59.95 respectively. I'm thinking of getting the sweater in brown (on the zebra) or dark blue (on the right pengium). Or if I'm really lucky, I may find one under the Christmas tree this year. *wink* *wink* I've been a good boy this year; really I have!!

Friday, December 8, 2006


You can find street vendors selling just about anything in New York City, from the ubiquitous hotdogs and pretzels to the occasional guy hawking fake watches and handbags. There are, however, some great stuff to be found on the streets if you look hard enough.

In SoHo, you will likely find amateur artists selling original, homemade jewelries, knitwears, cards, and whatnots. There are also entrepreneurial guys selling antique books, old photographs, and all thing used and worn.

This is a photo of a display stand, on Broadway Avenue between Spring and Prince Streets, that specializes in framed portraits of celebrities, movie posters, magazine covers, and other scenic images. I suspect the target customers are tourists but that doesn't mean a local New Yorker can't pick up some pictures for his or her apartment.

My favorite image in the photo is the one depicting the evolution of ape to man and finally, to woman -- woman being the most evolved! HA! Okay, I won't go there!! Audrey Hepburn in the turtleneck sweater is a favorite too. Which is yours?

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Subway Train

This photo was taken inside the Union Square subway station on a slow speed shutter setting to capture the contrast between moving and stationary objects.

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the NYC subway system is one of the oldest and most extensive public transportation systems in the world. The first underground line began in 1904 and today, it has 468 stations and over 656 miles of tracks. The longest ride stretches over 31 miles from the Bronx (207th Street) to Brooklyn (Far Rockaway) on the A Line. Average ridership per day is approximately 5 million people. Most people use the subway to commute to and from work, or to wherever they are going.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Apple Cube

This is the new Apple Store on 5th Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets in NYC. The store, which opened in 2006, is actually underground beneath the gigantic glass cube. It has 10,000 sq ft of floor space and is open 24/7.

A distinct feature of this store is the lack of designated check-out counters. Apple Store associates float around with portable handheld "EasyPay" devices that allow customers to pay by credit cards, and the receipts are automatically sent via e-mail notifications. Supposedly, this eliminates long lines for purchases and unnecessary paper.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Bloomberg Tower

This is the new Bloomberg Tower on Lexington Avenue and 59th Street. It was completed in 2005, and stands at 806 feet (246 meters) high and 54 stories tall. The first 9 floors are offices while the rest (tower) are condominiums. It currently houses, among other offices, restaurants and retail stores, the headquarters for Bloomberg LP. Michael Bloomberg is the current mayor of New York City.

The complex was designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates and was voted as one of the best skyscrapers of NYC in 2005.

Friday, December 1, 2006