The following pictures were taken during in the spring of 2011 on a spontaneous walk across a relatively abandoned Manhattan Bridge into Brooklyn on a beautiful afternoon. It’s a great experience around mid-day, when the crowds are low and sun is high to illuminate the geometric wonders of New York City art and architecture.
In several of my previous posts, I’ve detailed at length those ethereal, remarkable moments in my travels that have redefined for me the notion of beauty. Standing on top of the Temple of Poseidon as the sun set, hiking to the summit of Sugarloaf in Rio to be greeted by a panorama of city lights celebrating the spirit of life, admiring the Chicago skyline at night immersed in legendary rap…the locales have, for the most part, been distant and exotic. But yesterday, as I was walking back to my dorm located just a block away from the Hudson, I stopped in complete awe and for the hundredth time in my life told my self: “This is the most beautiful sight I have ever witnessed.”
The Hudson River is truly one of the most consistently striking landmarks I’ve seen. This is my second year in New York City, and I still find myself at the water’s harbors at least three or four times a week for its never-ending gift of experience. The Hudson is a continually metamorphosing entity. On one morning it grips the entire universe and its imagery of awakening in its dynamic strokes of water and air. It becomes a living spiritual relationship between human and city, city and nature, nature and infinite. That very afternoon, it becomes that helicopter shot from every single movie ever set in New York. The boats, the daytime city scape, the runners and the mothers and the mothers who are runners all embracing, whether consciously or not, their role in the fabric of a breathtaking cosmopolitan dream. And at night, the Hudson becomes the iconic dance of twinkling lights from every building in the greatest city on earth, all of it together reflecting off the serene waters below. The pattern becomes routine, after some time. But never unremarkable.
I’ve seen glorious Hudson sunsets many a time. But yesterday, as I stood on Greenwich Street in the West Village and saw the blazing red sun dangle between two restaurants and send fierce spears of light through the narrow streets in front of me, I was living magic. There was something so mesmerizing about the colors and movement of light that I didn’t understand. I had seen this so many times before. Why was it so overwhelming now?
And then, after pacing back and forth for almost half an hour and watching the sun rays propagate and diminish with my subtle motions, it hit me. For the first time, I was seeing the sun set in the tightest linear space I had ever seen it from before. This massive ball of red, orange, and yellow was literally like a shot from the all-time greatest “Circle of Life” intro sequence in the Lion King. The sun was proportionally larger than everything else in view, consummating all of the New York in my vision with stripes of beautiful soft and punching hard light. I’ve never seen the sun like this, so immense, almighty, holding the entire world in its palms.
Yesterday, it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. That perception will, undoubtedly, continually reconstruct itself the more I witness as I move. But what I took away from that spellbinding Hudson sunset was something more than the sight itself. It was knowing that an image I’d seen so many times, almost every single day, had suddenly on one random occasion become something else altogether. This wisdom is revelatory. I know that I can find renewed beauty in what has seemingly become mundane. As long as I keep looking and believing.
Who? Anyone who loves reading or has an interest in specialized books, music, and rare publications. And especially those who enjoy losing themselves in a labyrinth of endless history and creativity.
What? The Strand Book Store on 828 Broadway in New York City (in the East Village at the corner of East 12th Street). This is the main store. There is also a kiosk in Central Park.
How? You can walk on Broadway until you reach the store or take a subway to the Union Square subway station using the 4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, and R lines. Once you’re at Union Square, turn onto Broadway.
Why? I passed Strand all the time walking from Washington Square Park to Union Square. I didn’t explore it at first because I thought it would be just like any other book store in the city. One day on whim I decided to walk in, and my search for good reads in the Great Apple has never been the same. The store occupies 55,000 square feet of space and houses new, used and out-of-print literature, film, music, and rare books of every niche on its multi-level property. As a movie lover, I first made my way over to the books on film and was blown away by the unbelievable, never-ending shelves of books I have never heard of in my life. There were expansive collections of interviews from directors I never knew ended up publishing papers and theories on cinema and its production. If you look close enough, you can end up finding signed copies of books from notable filmmakers, musicians, and writers just laying on the shelves of Strand. It really is an amazing place for anyone who loves the arts. The store also has a section dedicated to very unique stationery and New York City themed clothing and accessories. You walk into Strand thinking you’ll spend ten to fifteen minutes in the store, and end up exploring for hours.
To learn more about Strand, go to the site here: