New York City Alley
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New York City
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New York City Manhattanhenge Sunset
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New York at Night
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New York City - Spring - Cherry Blossoms - Minetta Street
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New York City - Winter - Financial District in the Snow
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Winter Garden Theatre and Times Square - Night - New York City
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New York City Skyscrapers and the Roosevelt Island Tram at Dusk
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Chinatown- Under the Manhattan Bridge - New York City Street- By Vivienne Gucwa When winter shifts into spring, the light shifts too. Stark, short afternoons that end too abruptly morph vivid, warm afternoons that linger until the sky relents. ---- This was taken on a stark, short afternoon that was only mildly flirting with spring a week or so ago before the city erupted into full-on springtime mode. This is one of my favorite parts of Chinatown under the Manhattan Bridge. ----
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New York City - Rain and Wet Sidewalks
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Midtown Manhattan Skyscrapers and Streets from Above- By Vivienne Gucwa I have been afraid of heights since I can remember. Even stepping on a tall foot stool would send me into a frenzied panic. It's partially a control issue and partially an irrational fear of the eternal "what if" quandary related to my own mortality. And yet, I have discovered as I get older that there is something supremely thrilling about being high up above things especially being high up above New York City. It's the same scattered sense of adrenaline-fueled excitement I get when I consider the vastness of the ocean. And in some ways, I think both vantage points offer the same sense of displaced wonder. A month or so ago, I watched an absolutely incredible video called Overview which examined something called the Overview Effect. "The Overview Effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts and cosmonauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface." I can't recommend the video highly enough. It's a 15 minute short film that explores different astronaut's life-altering experiences viewing the earth from above for the first time. The footage of earth from above in the film is overwhelming. It's an emotional journey of a film that definitely has lodged its way into my consciousness. Here it is: http://vimeo.com/55073825 A few years back, when I went to the Top of the Rock, I had such an incredibly visceral reaction when I experienced seeing the city from above. It was rough for me to even take the elevator up 70 floors to the observation deck. I clenched my sweaty fists and closed my eyes the whole time deep breathing probably much to the amusement (or dread) of the fellow elevator passengers. Once I stepped out and onto the upper deck, I was hooked. It was as if I was seeing the city for the first time. Once you take yourself out and away from the streets that surround you, it's as if the city opens up its arms to you. It's fascinating to consider all of the activity and stories that are contained in any one part of such a view. In the short film I linked above, one of the astronauts describes the Overview Effect saying that common features include a feeling of awe for the planet, and a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life among other perspective-shifting feelings. And I really think that anytime we take ourselves high above or deep below the reality we experience every day, it produces different (subtler and perhaps more overwhelming in regards to the ocean) versions of the Overview Effect. Since experiencing that amazing feeling when I pushed past my fear of heights to take myself high above my own every-day reality, I have actively pushed myself to seek out as many high vantage points as I can. This particular image was taken high above the 59th Street Bridge (also known as the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge) entrance overlooking the buildings and skyscrapers that make up the New York City skyline in midtown Manhattan. ---
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New York City - Rain- By Vivienne Gucwa There is an inherent romance that buzzes through the air in New York City when it rains. The Flatiron District is one of my favorite areas in Manhattan when it rains. The street (5th Avenue) opens up to reveal distant skyscrapers that disappear into heavy fog as people weave their way through the multitudes of umbrellas. The clock in this image is the Fifth Avenue Building Clock which is a New York City landmark and recalls another era: one where these ornamental clocks played a role in attracting people to gilded era storefronts. This vantage point is with the Flatiron Building directly in back of the viewer looking up 5th Avenue. ---
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Rain - New York City - Greenwich Village - Washington Square
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Dog Walking - Financial District - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa I have been thinking a lot about different visions of New York City a lot lately. I had an interesting interview for a project I am being considered for a few weeks ago where I found myself talking about what I try to convey about New York City with my photography and writing. It was interesting to talk about it face to face (over Skype) rather than write about it because in a sort of stream of consciousness way I had to explain to someone who had never been to New York City how I try to show how I experience New York City on a regular basis via my own views of it colored by falling in love with a combination of streetscapes in classic film noir cinema, futuristic sci-fi city environments in literature and film, and years of traversing New York City on foot. A few nights ago, I watched a documentary about Woody Allen and there was a segment in it that resonated with me deeply which is no surprise since I am a huge fan of the Annie Hall and Manhattan era Woody Allen films. Martin Scorcese, the director of masterpieces such as: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Gangs of New York talks about Woody Allen's extreme nostalgia for the present that is evident in Allen's film Manhattan. He states that for Woody Allen it is as if New York City is constantly alive and continually evolving but Allen's New York City is an entirely different planet from his own. The documentary switches over to Woody Allen who then states: "I wanted to show New York in a very beautiful way, the way I see it. I never had any interest in showing it except through my rose colored glasses; my romanticized view of it." There is definitely a romanticized element that is evident in my photography of New York City. When I walk from my apartment on the Lower East Side through Chinatown and Soho or up through the East Village towards midtown, I am bombarded with memories and desire to capture the fragments of life and architecture that, for me, tug at the visions of New York City I have in my own mind. I hope that one day if and when I have the means to travel I will be able to do the same which each place I explore and experience. ---
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Staple Street - Tribeca - New York City
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Streets of Summer Gold - Tribeca - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa The first whispers of summer are carried on warm breezes urged on by the sun stretching itself out from under the faintest cover of clouds. As cobblestone streets soak up each and every last bit of golden summer sunlight the buildings glow like fiery embers in the sun’s wake. ---
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The W.R. Grace Building and the Chrysler Building - Midtown - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa There are certain views in the city that seem to have embedded themselves in my mind over time. This view, is one of those types of views. When I think of some of the first times I noticed the Chrysler Building when I was much younger, this is the view that immediately springs out of the recesses of my memory. I can't quite remember the first time I took in this view but I also can't remember viewing the Chrysler Building from any other vantage point when I think back on my first impressionable views of the iconic art deco masterpiece of architecture. It's as if this portion of the city didn't exist until I saw it in this exact way as if once I laid eyes on this scene, my mind dream-sketched it into existence. Perhaps that's how we all form our own significant impressions of our surroundings. The memorable bits inhabit a place in our minds where they can spring forth when thinking of a certain place: a treasure chest of imagery that sits in our minds waiting for us to open it with our eyes. --- This particular view is adjacent to Bryant Park on 42nd Street. The sloped building in the foreground is the W.R. Grace Building which was designed by Gordon Bunshaft and completed in 1974. When I was little I used to imagine how awesome it would be to slide down the facade of the building. It turns out, I wasn't the only one who imagined such a thing. In 2007, the Grace Building was featured in the 2007 Marvel Comics motion picture Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The Silver Surfer, pursued by the Human Torch, surfs down the south face of The Grace Building, imploding windows in his cosmic-energy wake. ---
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Density - Above Chinatown - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa
There are streets that, for me, fill in the image of New York City that exists in my mind.
I have spoken about this before in older posts. Everyone seems to have their own image of New York City that, for them, represents so much more than just the geographical spot that New York City inhabits on any sort of map. These streets are the embodiment of a core concept that has defined New York City for many decades. The sheer density of people that grace these streets with their presence seem to imbue streets like these with the weight of their aspirations.
New York City has always been a destination for those seeking a generalized concept of a better life. As an economic lighthouse and representation of (the steadily crumbling, nearly non-existent concept of) the American Dream, New York City has attracted people from all over the world especially during the last century.
I grew up the child of an immigrant to the United States. My mother's family fled Eastern Europe after World War II. They (including her) were victims of the war, concentration camp and labor camp survivors who carried with them mental scars so deep that it took years for them to gain even a small modicum of a foothold here.
I have always felt disconnected from her experience though. My mother who wanted her children to blend in rather than stick out as she did when she immigrated here, did her best to give me and my brothers a fairly normal American childhood where we grew up in Queens. It wasn't until a decade ago when I started to ask her about her own immigration story after starting to delve into my own fascination with the history of New York City that I started to understand the gravity of what it means to come to a place like New York City with little more than a massive amount of dreams.
And so, shortly after moving to the Lower East Side from elsewhere in Manhattan I came across this street (the one in this photo) since it sits in a neighborhood that borders the Lower East Side and Chinatown and it felt as if I could finally understand what it must have been like for my mother and for all those who came here to America with eyes full of hope. It's not that my mother settled here. But rather that it's as if this street has been steeped in a time when the world and New York City was a different place, one that held out vast amounts of heady fortune in its outstretched hands. The world has changed quite a bit since my mother first set foot here. It's harder (dare I say almost completely difficult) to come here with next to nothing and make a decent life for yourself. The hands are still held out but they are no longer outstretched for everyone.
When I look at this street today, I see many of the original tenements that were standing one hundred years ago when waves of immigrants came to New York City following their own hazy image of what New York City embodied in their minds and those who traverse this street today are not so far removed from my mother who traversed the streets of New York City for many decades. It's as if, for the few minutes that I spend gazing at this street below as I often do, I am connected in a deeper way to all the dreamers that called and still call New York City their home.
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Fragments - Overlooking Two Bridges - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa There are areas in lower Manhattan where fragments of the city's history have settled like fine dust, fragile and prone to the whims of time. Around these hallowed enclaves, newer history reaches higher towards the sky and rises from the ground borne from the dust of the city's past. This particular spot is known as Two Bridges and sits along the East River. It borders Chinatown and the Lower East Side and has long been a dwelling spot for many different immigrant communities over the years. It sits alongside the infamous and historic Five Points area where Irish, Jewish and Italian gangs battled to the death in the mid-19th century. It is currently home to a large community of Chinese immigrants and many of the buildings are tenements dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. ---
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Afternoon Sunlight on a Greenwich Village Street - New York City
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New York City - Rain - Greenwich Village
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Doyers Street - Chinatown - New York City
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On Rainy Evenings Like These - Chinatown - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa There is nothing like a rainy evening in New York City. The streets, darkened by the rainfall take on a beautiful sheen while walls and storefronts glisten. Couples huddle under shared umbrellas and inviting scents of dinner fill the streets. ---
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New York City - Staple Street Skybridge
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In-Between Moments - Soho - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa There is a certain serenity that can found when wandering New York City streets at night. These moments pause the forward motion and flow of city life. Street lights flicker against wet cobblestone and glass windows stare back languidly. Remnants of previous signs of life sit on curbs while bicycles lean against stoops resting briefly in the calm embrace of the night. —- Someone suggested a few months ago that a common theme to my photography was loneliness. I recounted to him how in the earlier days of posting my photography online, people would message me asking if I deliberately removed people from my shots. They couldn’t believe that in a city as densely populated as New York City, moments like the ones I am fond of capturing exist in reality. I can definitely say that I have never removed anyone from my shots. The truth is that even in a city of a little over 8 million people, the city often pauses and takes a breath. The in-between moments where life empties from the streets, when the city becomes a private sanctuary are captivating. These moments are fleeting and short-lived but they breathe life into the same streets that boast activity in the moments that tend to define them. ---
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Smoke - Night - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa At night after the multitudes have retreated to their homes away from the buildings and streets that hold them close during the day the city relaxes shaking the dust of the long day from its concrete limbs. The street lights flicker like dream-heavy blinks of an eye while smokestacks exhale world-weary breaths of smoke into the yawning night air. ---
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Winter - Soho - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa Streets, trees and buildings in a neighborhood of New York City called Soho covered in snow at the peak of winter.
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Reverie-wayfarers - East Village - New York CityAt night when the city pauses, street lights flicker; electrical synapses trigger dream sputters and whirring blinks of sleepy eyes open and shut in the darkness. Traversing this elaborate noir dreamscape, reverie-wayfarers pause; stop-motion refugees lit only by the cool blinks of neon signs. In these solitary single frames, night’s blackness vignettes these stolen illuminated interludes cradling them in its steady embrace. ---
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New York City - Doyers Street
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