Saturday, September 11, 2010

Impressions of New York

From my bedroom window in an old, cockroach-ridden US Coast Guard house on Governors Island, the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan looked even more beautiful and awesome than in Woody Allen's most inspiring movie opening scene. At night, almost as breathtaking as a starry night in the middle of nowhere, the Twin Towers, the Empire State Building, and all the others needles of light piercing the dark sky always got Sinatra's "New York, New York" going in my head. "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere"... I wasn't trying to make it there but I could nonetheless feel the sense of hope, opportunity and ingenuity that permeates the air of New York. I imagined myself making it there someday... And succeeding.

“Manhattan View Governor's Island" - Richard Haas

It was 1982, I was 15 and on holiday with my parents and sisters. The heat and humidity of August was oppressive but didn't stop us from feeling exhilarated by the might and vitality of the Big Apple. Impressions of mythical places - the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Central Park, Greenwich Village, Broadway, 5th Avenue, Chinatown, the MoMA, the Guggenheim, Rockefeller Center, Times Square and all those nature defying skyscrapers - are forever entangled in a web of exuberant noise and bright yellow-cab tinged color in my memory.

Lasting impressions, all of them, but one always stands out for being particularly powerful: looking down on New York at the end of the day from "The Top of the World" observation deck on the 107th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. The sun had just set, the color of the sky ranged from deep indigo to golden pink and the lights were coming on in the streets and in the buildings bellow. It was quiet, not many people up there at the time, and suddenly I felt like a God watching over mankind in a magical twilight suspended in space and time, the sense of scale, proportion, perspective, relativity and brevity assailing me all at once. A brief delusion of grandeur shrouded in awe. Typical teenager, wasn't I?

How tragic that God should be invoked to justify the atrocities committed on 9/11 which forever made it impossible to revisit that magical place.

Georgia O'Keeffe - New York, Night - 1929


Trulyfool said...


I've been to NYC only once, in 2004. It's been, however, the most prominent symbol for me -- of many -- that conveys the greatness of America.

You've spurred me to a blog entry of my own.

Thanks. (And welcome back, once again).


rauf said...

New York New york, the capital of world culture. Its a separate country actually Claudia.
woody Allen yes, Gershwin yes but Georgia O'Keef's plate is new to me. i have seen her stunning flowers but not this. Thank you for coming back Claudia

Claudia said...

Thank you!