84th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

I'd been planning on going to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade here in NYC for a few months now. It was my first Thanksgiving not spent with my family, but I was determined to experience this New York tradition first hand and of course—take pictures!

My wake-up call was 5:45 am. Left the apartment around 6:30 and got to my planned destination along the parade route, which was Columbus Circle, at 7 am. It was awesome. And I had about 6 other friends joining me so there was a lot of frantic texting back and forth so that we could find each other amid the crowds. Joe from I Still Heart New York found us a great spot along Central Park South/59th Street and 7th Avenue. We had a view of the parade as it passed the top corner of Columbus Circle then moved toward us along 59th Street with the trees of Central Park as a backdrop.

Here are some highlights from the parade:

Spidey floating by

Hello Kitty!

Jessica Simpson
Jessica Simpson

Stars from Macy's Believe campaign
Macy's Believe floats

Parade marchers

Kanye West
Kanye on the Big Red Apple
Unfortunately, Kanye got a lot of boo's from our section along the parade route.
My friend recorded and posted this video and put it on YouTube. Perez Hilton 
soon found it and posted it on his website

And from the day before the parade, the Smurf float set-up on West 81st Street by the Museum of Natural History
Smurf about to take over NYC!


Orbs in the Upper East Side

Time to take a break from Central Park (but not in real life—I spent all day Sunday there and plan to be back the day after Thanksgiving for some more free tours with the conservancy!)

I just wanted to post these photos to let everyone know about an interesting exhibit that is up at the Vilcek Foundation Gallery at 167 East 73rd Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenue. It is up through Thursday, December 9th, so you still have time to see the exhibit if you are in town. They are only open until 6 pm though, but are open on Saturdays. I went 2 Saturdays ago with some photo friends and we had fun interacting with the current exhibit: Toshiko Nishikawa: Senbazuru, which is made up of 1,000  mirrored glass orbs hanging from the ceiling. You can view your changing reflection in the orbs and touch a number of pieces with a slinky-like wire connecting them to the ceiling.


orbs floating

Winter Wonderland scene


Boating on The Lake

Last fall my friends and I went boating on The Lake on a cool October day. I think it was warmer this time around when we went in mid-November! It was the perfect weekend to be in the park, and the same weekend as the 3 tours I went on with the Central Park Conservancy.

It's been getting colder but I will continue to visit the park just as often because I plan on getting a new digital camera to take nature shots with. I'm thinking of purchasing a Canon Rebel T2i so that I can start learning more technical skills and have more features to work with.

The Boathouse
The Central Park Boathouse

View toward Bow Bridge and the west side of the Park
Central Park lake

After passing under Bow Bridge
Bow Bridge

A turtle sunning himself on a nearby rock

Paddling around The Lake
Boating in Central Park

About to row through a nearby tunnel
Light view

One of 4 wedding photo shoots we saw taking place around The Lake
Wedding on the rocks


Touring Central Park's Sheeps Meadow

After attending 'The Castle and its Kingdom' tour in the upper 70's of Central Park, I walked down Central Park West to 67th Street where the former Tavern on the Green restaurant still stands as what is now a gift shop for the Conservancy and an outdoor dining patio with food trucks. I got some dumplings and a coffee to fuel up for my next tour, called 'Tavern and its Green.' I take these tours very seriously so I need plenty of food before hand so I don't get too distracted!

The tour is described with, Discover the sheepfold that became a world famous restaurant, a parade ground that became the Sheep Meadow, the Children's District, The Mall including its statues and American Elm Trees, and much more.

I was so taken with the fall colors in the trees surrounding Sheeps Meadow and outside the old Tavern on the Green. I enjoyed the walk through The Mall and 'Literary Walk'—named so because of the four statues of famous writers along the way, including one of Shakespeare!

This is by far the most populated part of the park, with people posing for pictures on Bethesda Terrace, recording film projects in the Naumberg Bandshell, skating in the roller derby area and playing volleyball on the sand courts. There are also plenty of kids frolicking in the grassy fields, running back and forth between their parents and the playgrounds, the carousel and the cotton candy vendors... It is a chaotic but comforting area. So familiar and recognizable, yet always new and exciting—a part of the park I've been coming to for years to find the perfect photo opp.

And from there we ended the tour in the exact spot where the ING New York City Marathon finish line lies.

Yellow tree above a hot dog vendor near Sheeps Meadow
Yellow all over

Playful tree

The Mall in Central Park, located mid-park in the lower 70's
The Mall in Central Park

Beneath a canopy of American Elm trees on Literary Walk

View toward Midtown Manhattan from standing above Sheeps Meadow
Midtown View from the Park


Touring Central Park's Belvedere Castle

On Sunday I rushed off to Central Park just 10 minutes before noon for a unique tour given by the Central Park Conservancy called, 'The Castle and its Kingdom tour.'

The description of the tour, Take a walk around the lands dominated by Belvedere Castle, situated high on Vista Rock. Visit the tiny 55-acre realm on an eclectic tour of history and nature, had me looking forward to learning all about this structure and its surrounding area.

Tour-goers were to meet at the top of Belvedere Castle, located mid-Park at 79th Street. It was a warm Fall day, the perfect kind of day for sight-seeing in Central Park, an NYC attraction that has 35 million visitors a year.

Belvedere Castle

On top of the castle

View toward the Delacorte Theater
The Delacorte Theater

So for this tour we started at the top of the castle, taking in views of The Great Lawn, Turtle Pond and the Delacorte Theater below. We learned that the park's co-creator, Calvert Vaux, designed this castle as an observation tower or "belvedere", meaning panoramic viewpoint. Our two tour guides, who are volunteers with the Conservancy, then took us to the weather station next to the castle, which is used to measure the weather in New York City. We were standing right outside The Ramble when our main Tour Guide informed us that that is another tour in and of itself. So we walked along a trail past Turtle Pond (sans turtles, for some reason), toward the statue of King Jagiello on top of his horse, which was in the 1939 World's Fair in New York.

King Jagiello

From here we were led to The Obelisk, an imposing 71 foot sculpture also known as "Cleopatra's Needle". It was transported to the US from Egypt in 1880, but not put up in the Park until the following year since it took so long to get it from the ship it came in on to the east side of the Park where it now sits on a restored and landscaped terrace. Behind the needle was the backside of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, plus a pretty good view of the Met's roof top where the current Big Bambu installation by Doug and Mike Starn is still up.
Cleopatra's Needle
Cleopatra's Needle

Following a few stops along the east side of the Park was a stop on the outer edge of the Great Lawn, which presented great views of the ballfields, Belvedere Castle and Midtown Manhattan's skyline.
The Great Lawn and Midtown Manhattan skyline
The Great Lawn

The Great Lawn and Belvedere Castle amid the trees
Belvedere Castle in the distance

The tour ended at my favorite part of the Park, the Arthur Ross Pinetum, close to 85th Street and Central Park West entrance. From there I headed to my next tour...


Touring Central Park's Seneca Village

Over the weekend I had the time of my life touring some well-known and lesser well-known parts of Central Park. I learned about some free tours given by the Central Park Conservancy through their website and ventured out on Saturday and Sunday to attend the following:

Seneca Village tour
The Castle and its Kingdom tour
Tavern and its Green tour

First up was the Seneca Village tour. We met inside the Park at 85th Street and Central Park West. The tour description is as follows: Seneca Village was Manhattan's first known community of African-American property owners, on land that would become Central Park. Learn about the history of the village, the property owners, and what New York City was like at the time.

On this tour we visited Summit Rock, the highest natural point in the park, viewed pathways and archways around the area and learned some of the history of Central Park. In the early 1850's it was realized that people living and working in Manhattan needed a place for leisure on their one day during the work week, other than a cemetery in Brooklyn that they frequented. So construction of the park began in the late 1850's and was completed in the early 1870's.

What's interesting is that construction of the park meant that Seneca Village, which lied on a plot of land between 81st and 89th streets and 7th & 8th Avenue (now Central Park West), would be taken down. The City did not mind though because it had become home to too many squatters and thanks to eminent domain  (seizing of private property for public use), authorization to do so took place on July 21, 1853.

While on this tour, the colors of the trees captured my attention the most, and I struggled to pay attention to the rest of the information learned on the tour amid all of the reds, greens and bright yellows surrounding me. Here are two of my favorite pictures taken while on the tour.

Fall colors in Seneca Village
Marrying colors

Beautiful green tree in Seneca Village
Green tree in Seneca Village

More on Seneca Village here.

More posts on these tours to come as well!


Painting the Flat Iron Building

Last Friday night, Clear 4G Wireless and Mobispray hosted an event outside of the Flat Iron Building on 23rd Street in which participants could paint the exterior of the building. The Mobispray technology allows them to spray paint designs by way of a light projector, making them large-scale and similar to graffiti.

I heard about the event through Twitter, and even though it fell on the same night as a work event I had to attend, I still made sure to see this light spectacle for myself. Once I reached the Flat Iron District and saw the Flat Iron covered in paint from a far, I started running—I was so excited to see one of my favorite New York City buildings in a new... light.

Projected desings

Clear and Mobispray

Heading to the Clear Mobispray event...


The 2010 ING NYC Marathon

Sunday, November 7th was a fun day. Like Christmas. I woke up early and turned on the TV to watch the INC NYC Marathon playing live on channel 4. Then I left my apartment, got on the subway and made my way out to Long Island City to see it in person.

Two years ago I watched the marathon from the sidelines of Central Park West, 59th Street and Columbus Circle. The 2008 marathon was my first taste of a national running event and my first time learning about such an event in which runners begin in Staten Island and make their way across the five boroughs of New York City, toward the finish line in Manhattan's Central Park. Along the 26.2 miles that they run, participants get a chance to see so much of the city, which is great for the out-of-towners. From the views while running over the Queens borough Bridge around Mile 18, to the adrenaline kick from the cheering crowds as they enter 1st Avenue in Manhattan, to the relief when they make it to the scenic home stretch in Central Park, I'm sure it is an inspiring event, and as I Still Heart New York puts it, a very competitive event to get into.

My participation in the event was all about handing out free bananas to the runners around Mile 17 as they passed the Citibank building in Long Island City, and just before they get to the Queens borough Bridge. Agent J and I set aside our cameras for most of the day while we passed out around 150 bananas, claiming all the while, "Let's buy more next year!"

The ING NYC Marathon

Passing out free bananas to runners!

A View from the Bridge

Unicorn Power

And from my friend Joseph's flickr photostream:
Mile 17

Another banana shot! At first people weren't taking them,
so we moved to various spots along them mile until we
could get a crowd interested in taking some!


Teardrop Park

In Battery Park City there are several parks within the main park. I had the chance to tour one of them a couple weekends ago, called Teardrop Park. It opened in 2004 and lies on a plot of land with the basic shape of a 'tear drop'. I believe the park also gets its name from a lake named "Teardrop" that is located in the Catskills and empties out into the Hudson River. The tour guide described how when you are in this somewhat small park, you are surrounded by nature and the buildings are like mountains.

Surrounded by some beautiful residential buildings, Teardrop Park is also near Rockefeller Park and is usually visited by kids and families who frequent that park and the residents who live nearby.

This large rock wall  is built out of sedimentary rock

Tunnel connecting the two areas of the park separated by the wall

Play area for children with a sandpit, slide and theater steps


The Conservatory Garden

The Conservatory Garden is located in the Northeast region of Central Park, with an entrance at 105th Street and 5th Avenue. After almost four years of living in the city, I can't believe I have only been here once—and that I only discovered it just in time for the cold winter season :-/

If I can, I will make it back to explore before it gets too cold, or wait until the first snowfall and brave the slush for a chance to see the garden covered in a white powdery blanket. Actually... I can't wait!

View from the entrance at 105th Street
Conservatory Garden at 105th

View from the wisteria pergola
View from the wisteria pergola

Fountain in the large Italian garden
Fountain in the gardens

wisteria pergola
The Wisteria Pergola

Allée lined with crabapple trees
Wedding photos in the secret garden