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Photographs from New York City

[WARNING: There are way too many photos in this post, so the page may be slow to load on older computers.]

category_bug_journal2.gif The Age Boom Academy was the reason for my trip to New York City, but it is also the place I consider my “real” home and I tacked on a few extra days to visit with old friends and soak up the city vibe.

There is a lot I miss about New York, but I found that it was the little things no one bothers to mention much that pulled hardest at my heartstrings.

In a city famous for its concrete canyons, it is astonishing how green it is – much moreso than where I live now. The city plants trees for free if residents ask and this view isn't uncommon.


City dwellers work hard to spruce up their homes and apartment buildings with flowers and greenery, sometimes in the tiniest of spaces.




It was great to be reminded of the many, odd, little architectural flourishes in New York.




I had forgotten how many dogs there are in New York – dogs, dogs everywhere, especially during regular outing times in the mornings and evenings. I caught these dog walkers near Central Park on my way to that day's conference sessions.


New York has the best window shopping in the world but you know, when there is only one dress or pair of shoes in the window, you cannot afford them. Don't even ask.


I spent two afternoons walking the streets of my old neighborhood, Greenwich Village. My home there is empty now. All four apartments are owned by one person who started a renovation a couple of years go, but seems to have halted it. The window shutters and flower boxes are missing and the doors have been sanded but not refinished. It looks sad and lonely.


Across the street is the home of Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. I'm pretty sure those were Secret Service agents who walked out of frame when I aimed my camera.


Near the upper East Side hotel where I stayed during the conference was this extremely narrow house.


Too bad I didn't have a tape measure with me because it reminded me of another narrow house in the Village where the poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, lived in the 1920s that is only nine-and-a-half feet wide. Before the advent of automobiles, the space was open, a driveway to residents' horse and buggy stables behind the homes in the middle of the block.


Nearby is one of the last few wood-framed homes in Manhattan. It was originally built in 1799 and is currently owned by a member of the Mattel (Barbie dolls) family.


Legend has it that these mansard-roofed, twin homes were built by a sea captain for his two daughters who couldn't stand to live together. Good story, but it's not true. City records show they were built for a milkman named Peter Huyler in the 1870s.


Just across the street is the Cherry Lane Theater, founded in 1924 by several Village artists and writers including Edna St. Vincent Millay. An astounding number of renowned playwrights have been produced here: Samuel Beckett, William Saroyan, Sean O'Casey, Clifford Odets, Eugene O'Neill, Lorraine Hansbury, Edward Albee, David Mamet, Sam Shepard to name a few.


Not far away is the equally famous Lucille Lortel Theater, renamed such in 1981. I liked the original name better - Theater de Lys - and under that name, it was home to the first production, in 1955, of The Threepenny Opera starring Lotte Lenya, and in the 1970s, Kurt Vonnegut's Happy Birthday, Wanda June. Among many other productions, I saw Steel Magnolias here. I liked the movie, but not as much as the play.


There aren't many backyards in Manhattan, so parks are crucial to outdoor life. This little one near my Village home is named Winston Churchill Park for no good reason other than a nearby apartment house bears the address, 10 Downing Street. But that doesn't make it any less a cool (in both senses of the word) oasis on a hot day.


Greenwich Village is home to a number of private, residential enclaves tucked behind locked gates. They feel like magical little worlds out of time and I always wished I could have lived in one.


Many uptown people consider Central Park their own, gigantic backyard. Mine was the much smaller, although more charming to my eyes, Washington Square Park.


On any given Saturday or Sunday in good weather, there is enough to entertain anyone for an entire afternoon and it doesn't cost a penny. On the day I visited, I found a puppet show...


...a jazz band


...a children's orchestra playing popular music more familiar to elders, and this young man, whose voice had probably changed only the week before, sang Tangerine while I was there.


The fountain was turned on full blast and the kiddies were having a grand old time in it as their parents may have done in their childhood.


Even though street fairs, in recent years, are filled mostly with professional vendors selling stuff you could buy anywhere, I still like the hustle and bustle of them with no cars to contend with.


I couldn't find a hat I looked good in.


But I did buy one of these teeshirts – the same as the red one, but in a dusty green color to remind people, when I feel like it, where I live in my heart.


The design of these other teeshirts is a throwback to the Fillmore Auditorium posters from the 1960s and '70s.


On one of our Age Boom Academy field trips, we met with some members of The New York Times' editorial board in their new headquarters designed by Renzo Piano. (The Times is a major sponsor of the Academy.) The exterior of the building, not yet finished when I left New York in 2006, looks to me to be covered in the world's largest Venetian blind...


But those blinds made a much more interesting shot from the conference room where we had lunch.


ButlerBook Now that you have indulged my overwrought nostalgia for New York, I have an offer for you. Among the materials we were given at the Age Boom conference is a copy of Robert Butler's 2008 book, The Longevity Revolution. I interviewed Dr. Butler about it last year which you can read here. The book is an important compendium of his decades of research into aging as it relates to the political and social changes that need to be made to accommodate an aging world.

My own copy from a year ago is highlighted, underlined and Post-It noted to within an inch of it existence, so I would like to send this pristine, new one to someone who will make good use of it.

If you are interested, email me (use the Contact link in the upper left corner of this page), including your mailing address and let's give it a deadline of 6PM eastern U.S. time today. The 15th person to email will receive the book.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Florence J. Anrud: Reshuffle the Deck.


Love the photos. Every single time we visit NYC, we head over to GWS Park to watch the dogs in the dog run. Go ahead and call us weird, but we stand there for at least an hour observing dog owners with dogs- doing all their the way the owner approaches the run, and sends his/her dog loose..the way the other dogs greet new dog..the way the owners throw the ball, or rush to protect a little dog trying not to be carnally overwhelmed by a monster dog. It's all incredibly amusing and costs nothing. We also like checking out the other attractions of NYC, walking for hours, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, shopping. It's a fantastic city to visit. If I could live there for 3 months a year, cheap, I'd go for it. Montreal has shades of NYC.


I'm with you; I love watching doggy society. I've done it in Washington Square Park for decades.

The dog run has recently been redesigned so that there are separate places for small and large dogs.

Too bad. The owners could handle any trouble and it was amusing when, sometimes, tiny dogs irritated the big ones.

I like imagining the dogs' conversation:

Dog 1, arriving: Hey, Joe, I got a new ball. Wanna play?

Dog 2: Sure, Sam, but only if that little rat dog keeps her distance. She's bites my ankles and ruins the game.

Dog 1: If you and I ganged up, we could take care of her with one bite each.

Dog 2: Yeah, and see if we ever get to play here again. Come on, I'll race you to the far corner...


Oh such wonderful photos of a wonderful city. I've always told people that NYC can do two things...either suck the life out of you or completely energize you. My first trips to NYC really exhausted me and I did not have a good time...too much of everything (plus I was completely broke). Then, I don't know what happened but I started not just liking it but LOVING it! For a number of years I would meet up with friends there. I remember I would get there first to have some alone time with the city, just walking around taking in all the sights and sounds. I haven't been back since 2002. I think I'll need to take a train ride up there this fall.

On another note, hope Ollie fared well with your absence.

Very nice photos, Ronni, and in spite of my old computer, they loaded well. I sort of hate it that my daughter doesn't live in NYC anymore. I miss going there for visits. It's good to know that you enjoyed yourself.

Thank you for the very personal tour of a city I have visited many times. I will now view it with much more meaning...

I appreciate your view of NY, I've only been there a few times and found the noise and crowding exhausting. When I was 14 I spent some time there with a family who owned a brownstone in Greenwich Village, the teenage kids had the basement and the mother had the first floor. I remember it had a sign in French that said "the place of good children". I remember riding in a taxi with them at night and ( me being a child of Cape Cod) being amazed at the lights of Broadway. These kids hit my rural high school like a pair of aliens, they were far more worldly than us. Other than that visit, I did a couple of craft shows and wholesale shows in the city, my husband had an exhibit in NY once which was interesting with Swedish royalty attending and once, a highlight in my life, I saw Cats at the Winter Place (don't know if that is the right name for the theater.)
My mother discovered NY a few years ago and now takes the train there for Josh Groban concerts and fan club parties. She loves it.
I think I would enjoy visiting with someone who knows and loves the city. But the noise and crowding overwhelms me.

Wonderful pictorial!
A real labor of love.

Oh, how wonderful this post is. Feel free to share NYC with us anytime you like - your love for the place makes it come to life for me.

How sad your old home is empty. That would make me feel bad, to see a place I loved so much being neglected. It always makes me glad to see my old homes being cared for.

Those were great photos and makes me want to go up to Portland, Oregon, soon as it's pretty wonderful in the summer also especially down along Waterfront Park with who knows what you will come across. I live in the country, mostly always have, but very much enjoy cities. I just am not sure I would be happy living in one for long. I've often thought though with unlimited money (no risk of that happening) I'd buy a small studio in the Pearl District of downtown Portland just for all of the things you wrote about.

Simply, utterly delightful. Thank you so much. I remember the dark canyons....but no green. Thanks for changing my view. :)

Wonderful armchair adventure to NYC for us office bound drones!

Thank you for the photos and the mini-tour. Probably as close as I'll ever come to actualy being in NYC.

It is a busy, bustling place,no?

As a person who loves the hundred mile views of the Chihuahuan desert, I probably would get claustrophobic in NYC; it is a world apart, isn't it?

NYC: "Green" and Alive! You sought out and found the best! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

great photos! could make good use of the Butler book in my own work on creative aging...doesn't look as if I am the lucky 15th though...

Steel Magnolias. That must be the theater where my then-husband and I saw it. It was wonderful, better than the movie, I agree.
Thanks for the wonderful tour of NYC. I so wish you could move back!

I was in NYC 2 weeks ago and had a lot of fun. I love that old wood-frame house. I would love to see that next time. In July I plan to visit Brighton Beach for the first time.

It must have been an exhilarating trip. I specially liked the green places and small floral embellishments. And the dogs. And in New York they must clean up after them, right? The last time I was in France you had to really watch where you stepped.


Your pictures of New York tell as much about the photographer as they do the subjects.

They were taken with a loving eye and a wistful heart.


Wow, what great photos and descriptions. You've given us a front row tour. I felt like I walked down the streets with you. I'd love to see it myself. I'm sending your link on to my sister, who was there last year, for a little narrated revisit.

Oh, those are such wonderful photographs. Takes me back to my grad school days at NYU. These were the streets and parks I walked and played on.

One of my favorite memories is of neighbors who grew corn every summer in their window box. That was amazing to see!

Thank you for a wonderful tour of one of the great cities in the world.

When I was a child (many, many moons ago) we stayed with relatives in a house like that narrow one. I still remember each floor contained only one room. The kitchen was on one floor with the dining room on the floor above. It sure wasn't a house for bad knees. I thought it was the weirdest house I had ever been in.

Great information! Great pictures! And oh those dogs—my favorite breed…
I can never get enough of NYC whether it’s in person or looking at pictures.

Oh, my heart aches for one who lived smack dab in the middle of the pearls she just captured to relive and to share. Moving on is a part of aging, as is moving, literally. Going back for a visit, whether in person or via any medium or conversation, memory, or souvenir can be a sanity saver. When I left Cambridge, MA, and then Washington, DC, living in each a decade, I HAD TO return often to save my sanity, to get over the grieving, mourning, and longing. I'm preparing for this to happen when I move on from Atlanta after more than two decades. Thanks, Ronni, for showing this New Yorker (from age two through college) everything she loved, from Bleeker Street to the "priceless" fare in the windows.

Omigosh, Ronni! How many memories your photos and commentaries brought back. I used to live and work in NYC as a young single gal in the late 1950s. Was acquainted with the stage manager at Theater de Lys (can't even remember his name now) and got backstage to see Lotte Lenya stalking around in full makeup. Met him thru a model at Art Students League--all the models were out-of-work actors.

Lived on West 86th St. and before that on West 119th St. near Morningside Drive--took classes at Columbia U. Although then they did not allow mere women to attend, they did let us go to General Studies in evenings after work.

One dear friend lived in the Village in a "shotgun" apartment with a little courtyard patch of ivy. She moved out to Jersey and I wound up out in the boonies--but it is very green here.

Thank you so much. Am so happy you had the chance to revisit your favorite places.

Thanks for an armchair tour of some wonderful neighborhoods in the Village.

I've only seen the tourist parts of NYC - not places where people live.

No wonder you miss it so.

Thank you for the pictures and narration!! I've always wanted to wander and roam the streets of NYC and your post was such a treat. Your love of the city comes through in the pictures you chose to share. Thanks again.

Wonderful tour! I love it when you share all that NY history. I'm saddened that in practical terms you can't go home again to live.

I know your heart aches for NYC and times gone by. You will ALWAYS be a New Yorker where ever
you are.

Thanks for the tour of your favorite things.

I loved your pictures of New York. So much beautification has gone on in recent years, and it has altered the appearance of the place quite a bit since the time I lived there.
My New York period was 1969-71 when it was a dirty, dangerous, (and admittedly) exciting place. The consensus among many suburbanites was that NYC should be abandoned as it was a hopeless mess.
Washington Square was filthy and the fountain had garbage floating in it. There was that explosion on 11th St. too when those anarchist blew up the house next door to Dustin's Hoffman's house! It behooves us to remember that some things do get better!
It's an amazingly resilient place,like the people who live there.
I read Robert Butler's book on my Kindle and refer to it quite often. It is the best thing so far on the subject of old age. And I like it that he does not confine his concerns just to old people but to other age groups as well.

Can appreciate your longing and romance with the NYC you've shared here. Your memories are rich.

Your photos present the area as a very vibrant uniquely attractive place to live. The tree-lined street photo reminds me of the main north-south street that at one point passes a shaded park here in my city that we love so.

I recall many years ago driving into NYC from Mass. to visit a special relative who years earlier had a very significant impact on my life. She had retired after many years of teaching at Columbia University. By then she was living in a large building for Columbia retirees near the Univ. and we had dinner with her. Long before that visit she had wanted me to visit her for an extended period when I was still single in the mid-1950's, Years later I wished I had visited her that summer despite the prospect of excessive city heat.

In the sixties I was married and my husband flew us in a small plane cross country trip over NYC providing a view still pictured in my mind. Your photos add a micro to that macro view.

My daughter's much more recent visits have resulted in The City capturing her and she says she would really like to live there.

As for live theatre versus the movie, I think the play is always the best, just as the book is superior to the movie.

Ronni - What a lovely posting...oh my...your pictures and explanations were just great. I am glad you had a nice visit. There is a movie called Washington Square. A lovely sad story which features NY in 1800's and looking at your pictures brought it to mind. I guess I need to rent it again. Welcome Back.

How much you love NYC and how your heart aches for it is obvious in these photos. I'm seeing them 2 days late (as usual) on a day when I've been thinking of a time and place I once loved and had to give up.

Dear Ronnie, I so enjoyed your photos and stories about Greenwich Village and NYC. I've only visited GWV once, in the fall of 2004, but will never forget it - so many interesting people walking there dogs on a sunny day! So much fabulous architecture of days of old. What an fascinating and invigorating place it must have been to live there. Thank you so much for sharing, I'm sure you do miss it.

Nice tour of New York City.

Thank you very much for sharing!

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