January 26, 2005
Ohm, Ohm in the Bronx.
Where the Yanks and the criminals play...
Okay, okay, I'm sorry. I shouldn't bash the Bronx. It's a misunderstood borough.
Part of the problem is it's name, I think. It's impossible to say melodiously. And it's aggressively strange. Why always "The" Bronx?* Why the X? Such a forbidding letter.
For out-of-towners, its reputation was tarnished by flims like "Fort Apache, The Bronx." Starting in the 70s, "South Bronx" became a handy synonym and summary of urban decay. Again, I blame the name. If the Bronx had been called Fern Valley, no amount of bad PR would have made its name synonymous with crime, hopelessness, and burned-out buildings.
The Bronx has a bad reputation among New Yorkers, too, but for a different reason: It's impossible to drive through. Try to drive upstate, and you'll find yourself lost in the South Bronx, on Bruckner Boulevard. I think every New Yorker has a lost-on-Bruckner-Boulevard story, and believe me, of all the streets in New York, this is one of the ones you'd least like to get stuck on.
I've taken a few road trips to the Bronx, just to wander around. Frankly, one of the reasons the borough has an image problem is that some of the nicer parts aren't very accessible by public transportation. A few years ago the EtherHubby and I did some exploring up there and took some photos. First we checked out the Irish neighborhoods, so full of recent immigrants that in some places an American accent was an anomaly. After stocking up on scones and soda bread, we wandered around for a while. Looking at a map, I spotted two unusually named streets.
Of course, we had to take a long detour just to see this mythical place, the intersection of Ohm and Ampere. What would it look like? Would it glow? Would it hum? Would our hair stand on end? Would the houses look like vacuum tubes, occupied by bustling clipboard-toting scientists in thick glasses and white side-button lab coats? Would the streetlights have van de Graaf generators in place of bulbs?
As it turned out, no. The intersection was in a quiet suburban section of town near Pelham Bay Park and only a few blocks from the Hudson. Some of the houses in the neighborhood had chickens in the yards. Nary a lab-coated scientist to be seen.
|But there was a great photo op. And this is one of my favorite photos. Here's a cropped version.||And here's the full photo. Click to enlarge it.|
*Because much of the land was once owned by Dutch settlers named Bronck. The Broncks', get it? "Let's go visit the Broncks."
January 15, 2005
Stunningly weird photos of Brooklyn & Manhattan Bridges in fog
On January 13, I woke up and looked into my back yard. At first I thought there was a fire nearby — everything seemed obscured by white smoke. The 'smoke' was actually fog — the thickest, lowest fog I've ever seen.
At 9:30, as EtherHub drove us both across the Brooklyn Bridge into midtown Manhattan, I had a chance to check out the capabilities of my new Canon PowerShot SD300. We were driving at a good clip, but I managed to get some amazing shots out the window.
I've lived in New York all my life, but I've never seen the skyline disappear so completely. The enormous gothic stone towers of the bridge were only visible for a few moments as we approached them; the rest of the time the suspension cables just disappeared up into the sky, apparently anchored to the clouds. The FDR Drive, which runs along the river up the east side of Manhattan, seemed to be a short stretch of grey in the middle of an empty, flat world of white nothingness. No river, no skyline, nothing. Even the bridges were only visible from the FDR when we were practically on top of them.
These are color photos, though you'd never know it. Here are a couple of the shots (click to enlarge):
|The Brooklyn Bridge from the FDR Drive||The Manhattan Bridge from the FDR Drive|
More below the fold. (Again, click to enlarge.)
|Brooklyn is allegedly at the other end of this bridge.||I love the ad on this cab. It's good to know I'll have somewhere to go in case those pouty ol' blue states ever really secede.||Ghost cables in the sky.|
Click here to view the complete album with more amazing shots and an animated GIF.