Saturday, 19 September 2009

Day 5: Financial District

Park Row, Financial District, "Vampire Diaries, Love Sucks" poster

German musicians, City Hall Park, Financial District

German musicians, City Hall Park, Financial District

Ground Zero of the future - The Freedom Tower designed by Daniel Liebskind

WTC reflections, Financial District

Around WTC site, Financial District

Around WTC site, Financial District

WTC site, Financial District

WTC construction site cranes, Financial District

Around WTC site, Financial District

WTC food stop, Financial District

Raheem, Ground Zero, Financial District

Around WTC site, Financial District

Looking out towards Ground Zero from Marriot Financial Center, Financial District

Motor Expo, Marriot Financial Center, Financial District

Looking out towards Ground Zero from Marriot Financial Center, Financial District

Mustang reflections, Financial District

WTC construction site, Financial District

FDNY staff who lost their lives on 9/11

FDNY, Liberty Street, Financial District

WTC, Financial District

Liberty Street, Financial District

The New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street, Financial District

The New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street, Financial District

Wall Street, Financial District

Flag for FDNY Heroes of 9/11, Battery Park

Fritz Koenig sculpture "The Sphere" that used to stand outside World Trade Center, until 9/11

Dedication, Battery Park

Caricature artist at work with happy couple, Battery Park

One of the piers in Battery Park

My knees, as I lay on a bench under a fragrant bush in Battery Park, enjoying the sun

WW2 memorial to servicemen, Battery Park

WW2 memorial to servicemen, Battery Park

Battery Park looking towards the Statue of Liberty

Battery Park

Caught the 6 train downtown again, with the idea of wandering around the Financial District and then walking across the bridge to Brooklyn, but in the end there wasn't time for the latter. I wasn't hurrying, and there was so much to see and take in around Ground Zero, that I did not want to rush away just for the sake of cramming in somewhere different into the day.

Started off when I arrived outside Chambers Street subway being lured into City Hall Park, by the sound of live brass band music and the general hubbub of Something Going On. Still no idea exactly what was going on, but there were throngs of German musicians dressed in leiderhosen and/or red fancy outfits, playing to crowds of tourists and casual passers-by. Took a few shots, along with many others doing exactly the same thing, so not exactly original but it was all quite entertaining nonetheless.

On exiting the park, I spotted a camera shop on the opposite side of the road, so naturally had to go over and have a look, and to enquire about the price of a 14-24mm which is next on my shopping list. I recall a photographer friend of mine saying that prices used to be very good for camera equipment over here, so was highly hopeful, but sadly price quoted was still over a grand and no different from UK price once the tax had been added on. Oh bum! Will have to either (a) earn lots more money, (b) win the lottery, or (c) casually bump into handsome billionaire on Madison who will Totally fall for my Cute English Ways blah, blah, blah. At least was able to buy a 0.6 neutral density filter, which I have been after for ages, and I'm sure this was cheaper than it would have been at home - so not altogether a dead loss.

Beautiful day again, warm and sunny once more, but did not do as much as I'd hoped to raise somewhat low mood that I was in. Quite possibly Ground Zero was not the best place to visit given this fact? The site had come on a lot since I was last there in February 2008, with far more obvious construction, pedestrian walkways with views over the site, but rather disturbingly also tacky "souvenier" sellers offering booklets containing photographs of 9/11. Spent lots of time walking around the entire site, taking photographs as I went, but also just taking it in, if that is possible to do, vividly replaying scenes in my mind that I saw on the news on September 11th 2001.

One very nice bit: got chatting to a lovely guy called Raheem, who spotted me taking shots with my obscenely large 70-200 lens (it does tend to provoke a lot of comments), and being a keen amateur photographer himself was just a natural starting point for a conversation. Very unfortunately for him, he lost his Canon EOS Digital Rebel in a house fire last December, and it wasn't insured either, so now he has to start saving all over for a replacement. Amazingly though, he was able to rescue the memory card intact, so didn't lose all the photos that were on it, which certainly says something about the build of that particular camera.

More meanderings took me down to the Marriot Financial Center, which aside from offering views over Ground Zero was also hosting a motor expo, so the huge atrium was filled not only with palm trees but also large luxury cars. Peered into a beautiful Jaguar, it's interior flavoured with leather and oozing decadent luxury, then went outside to inspect a blue Ford Mustang, complete with running horse and building reflections on the bonnet.

Later forced to buy a hotdog from a street vendor on Nassua Street, as was ravenous and getting to the point where I didn't feel I could walk another step without sustenance of some kind. Snarfed it outside Chase Manhattan whilst watching lots of suited bankers hurrying past, consulting their BlackBerries and looking terribly preoccupied and important.

Proceeded on down to Wall Street to see the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall, the area completely mobbed by camera wielding tourists (much like myself then) all photographing one another standing in front of these buildings and the armed cops guarding them. All a bit chaotic, so didn't linger too long, but continued south down to Battery, past the famous bronze bull sculpture (again, so totally surrounded by tourists larking about and grabbing it's testicles that I didn't even bother trying to take a photograph).

Finally ended up at Battery Park, amidst even more tacky stalls, caricature artists, strange blokes dressed as Statues of Liberty, a two foot Michael Jackson moonwalking to the strains of "Beat It", and lots of West Africans selling knock-off designer handbags. It was a glorious late afternoon, and after waking really early this morning I was feeling really tired by this point, so had a lie down in the sun, on one of the waterside benches under a fragrant bush that was well attended by bees. Could quite easily have nodded off but managed not to, since didn't fancy waking up minus camera, camera bag and money. A pleasant end to the afternoon, and the subsequent journey back uptown was not too bad at all, even though I had to change at 59th Street (just in the nick of time, was on an express train and would've ended up in the Bronx if I had not realised and leapt off). This city certainly likes to keep you on your toes!

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