Five days in Manhattan
Rimington spends ﬁve days in New York, ﬁnding
his preconceptions shattered
photographed by the
Expanded from issue 21 of Lucire
I LANDED AT JFK after 1 A.M.,
realizing as I stood in an empty airport that unlike what American
sitcoms had informed me, not all New Yorkers are creatures of the
night. Their species do actually require sleep like the rest of
us in New Zealand.
After being hustled by a taxi driver (I must
be in New York—Lucire recommends getting a taxi from the
official cab rank only), I made it to my accommodation, kindly provided
by the boutique Hotel 41 in Times
Square. Hotel 41 is suited for the busy individual who needs
a place to sleep that is clean and very close to the centre of Manhattan’s
brightly lit commercial district and a stone’s throw away at Bryant
The staff are extremely friendly and the hotel
has the added bonus of letting your pooch stay with you. I didn’t
require this particular service but it’s nice to know that the Paris
Hiltons of the world are provided for here. The hotel is right near
the subway and close to Broadway theatres, restaurants and entertainment
centres. Due to its location it is also one of the best places to
stay for those attending the infamous New York Fashion Week.
My first pleasant discovery in NYC,
after suffering the intense customs of LAX,
was to find the people a very welcoming and friendly bunch, with
as many of them asking me for directions, as I did of them! Surprisingly,
though, New York is very easy to navigate and once you’ve discovered
the subway, perfectly situated by my hotel, any distance can be
travelled for only US$2. As long as
one does not leave the station I found I could travel from one end
of Manhattan Island to the other and beyond; costing only US$7
to get back to the airport using the trains!
While in NYC, I
really wanted to get a glimpse of what the commercial photography
scene was like compared to New Zealand. Thanks to a friend, I was
able to sit in and watch a shoot with a female rap star for a hip-hop
clothing label. Once it had finished I chipped in, the old Kiwi
way, and helped pack away the gear. It felt very similar to the
way I conduct my own shoots, just on a much bigger scale using high-end
digital cameras, powerful computers and involving far more people.
After this I was dropped off in the south east
of Manhattan, an area called Soho (south of Houston). The area is
typically known as the hangout for all kinds of rich, arty folk—though
it was not always this way. The city is full of seemingly abandoned
warehouses, cast iron and cobblestoned streets, a trendy disguise
for million-dollar apartments and one-of-akind shops and restaurants.
Full of bars and a different kind of nightlife to central Manhattan,
I wandered the area, never once feeling like I was going to get
mugged, as everyone at home had warned me. New York is filled with
The next day, I embarked on a bit of a tiki tour,
starting with the Circle Line Ferry which takes you around the Statue
of Liberty and Ellis Island. A little queue contrasted with aggressive
security awaited those taking this wee ride—in stark contrast to
how Lucire found it in August 2001—but it was a small sacrifice
to pay in order to get out of the city and to view the lower Manhattan
Cityscape from sea level. After viewing the statue and taking a
walk around Ellis Island I arrived back at Battery Park where the
ferry originally departs, in which a mighty queue had grown for
the next sailings (glad that wasn’t me!).
From this point, it was an easy stroll through
to Wall Street into the realm of the big city brokers with their
even bigger buildings. The street is narrower than how television
has portayed it. Amongst the architectural chaos, I found the Trinity
Church, with its steeple struggling to find height against the mighty
skyscrapers. It was quite interesting to see how many intricate
old churches of various denominations were tucked away in this city,
fighting to be seen under the skyline.
A great place in which to view the whole city
is not the Empire State Building, as some may think, but the Rockefeller
Center. It costs US$20 to get to the
top. However, don’t let that thwart you, because once you’re there,
you’ll find it half as busy with great views over Central Park and
the Empire State Building itself. Sticking around for sunset is
well worth it.
Back down at street level, I was shown around
Soho by Jason Tuchman of Pistol Studios. In the daylight hours the
industrial architecture of Soho really stands apart from the skyline
of the central city and Wall Street, which can be seen in the photos.
I felt this area had great personality and was definitely a little
slower in pace compared to the central city. Here you could actually
enjoy a coffee and sit in the sun without being bothered by the
plethora of people rushing about and the dust and pollution that
is synonymous with a big city.
Along with being home to high-end fashion stores
such as Prada and Gucci, the streets are also filled with many art
galleries. Artists sell their wares on the streets for top dollar,
and there is some serious talent here! The street artists captured
the eye of people like myself while I ventured in and out of gallery
after gallery, walking throughout the area.
After paying a visit to Ground Zero, I finally
understood the overzealous security at the airports and major tourist
attractions. I may not be an American but I felt chills when I saw
the gaping hole left by the Twin Towers, now extremely busy with
the construction of the new Freedom Tower well underway. People
from around the world continued to visit the site, and I would return
there on the anniversary of 9-11 and be reminded of the poignant
events that took place there in 2001. It brought the events home—especially
for those of us who had only seen them on television. The experience
Finishing up my five days in Manhattan, I wandered
around Times Square, grabbing some night shots and spying the many
other keen photographers doing similar to me. One of the most pivotal
things I noticed was that most of the tourists were Americans from
other states, as opposed to people visiting from other countries.
Could this suggest a drop in tourism because of the United States’
homeland security, or has it always been this way?
After chatting to a few locals, I’ve come to
the conclusion that we owe a huge thanks to Peter Jackson, as everyone
now knows the little country called New Zealand! It was Mr Jackson’s
films alone that put us on the map; prior to that, New Zealand’s
image was nearly non-existent. And that means travelling here as
a Kiwi is now easier than ever, with people more than ready to reciprocate
our down-home goodness. •
Emma Tate contributed to this story. Visit Douglas
Rimingtons site at www.detunephotography.com.
Visit Hotel 41 at www.hotel41.com.