A Walk Through New York

After being here for the last 6 weeks, I can see why New York is considered one of the greatest cities in the world. Home to millions of people from all around the world, from all walks of life, and the center of multinational corporations, the UN, the stock exchange, some of the world’s top schools, and most influential news and entertainment agencies, New York is truly a cultural, economic, and political powerhouse. During my time there for my Family Medicine elective rotation at Bronx-Lebanon, I’m grateful to have been able to experience the city first-hand. In the past, I’ve been to New York several times for vacation with my family, only staying a few days, and visiting places like Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and museums. I’ve probably been to the Empire State Building at least 3 times in the past. But this time, I eschewed most of that. I realized the best way to see the city is not by tour groups, but by walking, and taking local transportation.

I’ve downloaded a free app on my iPhone called PhotoSynth (made by Microsoft) that lets me take photos from all angles of a place, then stitches them together to form an interactive 360 degree panorama shot. For the most part, it stitches the photos together well, but sometimes some parts of the photos aren’t completely aligned and you end up with a photo that looks like it came straight out of a Picasso painting. Nevertheless, with some imagination to fill in the gaps, I love how I can now document the places I have been, capturing what it’s like to be in all directions: front, back, left, right, up, down… Let me show you some of the places I’ve captured along my walk through New York.

To view the images, click on them, then once the image loads, click and drag on the pictures (or use your arrow keys) to pan around the images.

The Metropolitan Opera: Located in the Upper West Side, you don’t have to see a performance to enjoy this public space, with it’s beautiful dancing fountain and sitting areas. I came here to see the Broadway show War Horse. The world-famous Julliard School of Music is also located nearby.

Bryant Park – just right outside the NYC Public Library, and around the corner from Times Square, this public park is always green, and always vibrant with community gatherings, and what-not. When I came, I saw the largest group of people I’ve seen doing yoga in the park.

Press Lounge: With the Manhattan skyline on one side and the Hudson River on the other, this place gives you the best view of New York… and it’s free! While the drinks are a little pricey (around $15 per drink), there is no cover charge. I took Irene here on our one year anniversary. Thanks Lina for the suggestion!

Times Square: Times Square is what people picture of when they think of New York, at least to non-locals. Being one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city, you’ll probably find more tourists here than locals. Unlike the Statue of Liberty which is on its own island, Times Square is a place that is difficult to avoid, in my opinion. With its centralized location, a lot of subways pass through here. Personally, I love watching theatrical shows, both on and off Broadway, and as a student living off of government loans, the biggest reason I go to Times Square is to get cheap tickets from the TKTS ticket booth. At TKTS (located under the red steps), you can find same-day tickets on shows that haven’t been completely sold out yet, and you can purchase these tickets for up to 50% off! I took advantage of this and saw the shows I’ve always wanted to see: The Voca People, Avenue Q, Stomp, War Horse, and Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark.

Columbia University: Living only 2 subway stops away from this Ivy League School, I decided to go visit the campus. I was quite surprised that it actually not only had a campus (being in the middle of New York City, ya know), but also that it was a really nice campus. It was orientation week, and there were tons of new students with their parents and family, moving into their dorms, and getting familiar with the place they will spend the next four years. I tried blending in, passing by the guard at the gates into the university. I remember when I was in college, when I saw my peers, I saw young adults. But looking at these students now, they all somehow just look like kids to me. Man, I’ve become so old. I realized I don’t blend in anymore, but I’m completely fine with it.

Bronx: This is the street scene just up the street from Bronx-Lebanon Family Medicine Hospital. Sometimes I come here to catch the bus home. Not every part of New York looks glorious and shiny. A big chunk of New Yorkers live in ordinary  places like this.

Monet’s Waterlilies: When Irene came to visit me in New York, we finally got to visit the Museum of Modern Art, home to some of the most well known paintings around the world, like Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Henri Matisse’s Dance, and some of Monet’s Waterlilies, as shown here. This painting was just so big that I needed a panorama shot to capture the entirety of it.

Chicken and Rice: The infamous Chicken and Rice on 53rd and 6th. The line was so long for this tiny food truck that I just had to capture it on panorama. The food indeed was excellent, especially for a food cart. I don’t see how they not run out of food. With so many mouths to feed, I’m surprised they didn’t bring the entire farm with them.

Central Park: Going to Central Park is kind of like getting away from the city, in the city. In some parts, you even feel like you’ve just gotten lost in the woods, until you look up and see all the skyscrapers towering above the treeline.

View from Bronx-Lebanon Hospital – Every morning, it’s a ritual of mine to go to the window on our 16th floor family medicine unit, and look out to greet the sun as it rises above the city.

Promenade in Brooklyn: Just off the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge, this park is a romantic stroll along the New York Skyline.

Upper East Side: Bordered by Central Park to the west, Upper East Side is one of the most affluent areas in New York. It has one of the most expensive shopping streets running through it too, Fifth Avenue, with stores like Prada, Versace, and Armani. Although I won’t be able to afford most things there, walking and enjoying the neighborhood is free.

Union Square: Every other day of the week, Union Square hosts a local farmer’s market, with vendors bringing fresh organic produce to sell. It’s awesome seeing a city as big and worldly as New York to be close with its local and rural side.

Coney Island: I wanted to check out Coney Island because it is a place that is often the scene of movies, mentioned in books, and onscreen on television. I was surprised that rather than being one big amusement park, it is actually several different little ones, side by side, each having their own set of rides, games, and sideshows. The original Nathan’s hotdog stand can be found here, along with a fishing pier, and a sandy beach for the New Yorkers to get away at. So cool you can reach Coney Island by subway.

Paley Park (Designed by Zion & Breen): I first learned about Paley Park in the film “Social Life of Small Urban Spaces” (1980) by William Whyte, a film we watched when I was in Architecture school back in the days. While small, Paley Park is often cited by architects and urban designers as a successful urban space, catering to thousands of park-goers everyday. Designed as an outdoor room, it is flanked by ivy-covered walls on both sides, and shaded by a tree canopy ceiling. A waterfall in the back drowns out the noise of the city, giving people a sense of serenity as well as something interesting to look at or play in. Moveable chairs give people freedom to set up their own spaces to sit. Definitely a great example of evidence-based design.

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