Orion's Photos: places - New_york - new_york - 2002

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My trip to the International Conference in Supercomputing-- ICS 2002

I flew out of Bloomington, IL (pictures 1-2), leaving just before noon on Friday, June 21. Because of thunderstorms over Detroit, we initially divirted to Flint, then sat on the runway for about an hour until we could make the short hop to Detroit (pictures 5-19).

I thus ended up arriving in Detroit several hours late. My connecting flight to La Guardia was long gone, and the airport was packed because of the weather, so I switched to a soon-to-depart flight to Newark, NJ. We left the clouds behind in Detroit; but came up on a thick haze over New Jersey (it's not completely clear whether this is the usual state of affairs). I was impressed by how completely opaque the sky below us was-- though cloudless, the ground was invisible (pictures 22-33).

As we came in for our landing, the ground slowly became visible. I happened to be sitting on the wrong side of the plane to catch Manhattan as it went by, but got a few shots (pictures 49-58) of the island at sunset by leaning out across the aisle.

I took a NJ Transit train to Penn Station, then fought my way through the incredible crowds (it was now about 10pm) to the subway, which I took all the way uptown to Columbia, and Carman Hall (picture 63, 92), which served as my hotel for the journey. I roomed with Steven Saunders, a heck of a nice guy from Texas A&M.

The Columbia campus is quite impressive--I have something of an obsession with weathered stone, so took quite a few pictures of ancient buildings (pictures 64-78). Morningside park faces downhill, to the east, into Harlem (pictures 79-86). I wasn't quite brave enough to venture down into the park, even in the light of day.

Saturday was taken up with a workshop, but I was able to wander around Manhattan for all of Sunday. My first stop was the strikingly vertical Cathedral of St. John, on 110th and Amsterdam (pictures 93-94), which reminded me of a less black version of Cologne's giant central cathedral.

The next stop was the American Museum of Natural History (pictures 95-97), which I wasn't quite ready to visit. I thus turned into the west side of Central Park at about 80th. Central Park is filled with outcroppings of Manhattan schist, a weathered, mica-heavy rock with an amazing undulating, sparkly appearance (pictures 98-102). Not knowing exactly how long I had to walk across Central, I strode briskly; I emerged just south of 82nd, going past the Metropolitan Museum of Art (pictures 103-105). My true goal, however, was Guggenheim (pictures 107-111), where I spent several fascinated hours. I was most impressed with Rachel Whiteread's "Transient Spaces" exhibit, which initially appears to be a meaningless yet collosal abstract sculpture (supplemental pictures 112). I won't spoil the exhibit by giving away the punchline, but it gave my perception of positive and negative space a strong kick, which is exactly what great art is supposed to do.

After several hours in Guggenheim, I took the subway downtown to Grand Central Station, near the Chrystler Building (pictures 113-120). On the way to Times square, I passed by the New York Public Library, with the trademark lions out front. I would have gone inside, but there was a couple getting married on the front steps by the only(?) entrance.

Times Square (pictures 132-135) was too flashing and jarring for my tastes, so I headed up to Central Park again. It was here that I realized the rocks jutting up into the park were incredibly ancient-- I'm quite sure the smooth, rounded surfaces (pictures 142-143) of the (dozen-foot-high) rocks are from millenia of glacial action. Some parts of Central Park were what I expected, like a well-packed 5-way baseball diamond (pictures 144-145). Other parts were unexpected, like the freeway-class pedestrian overpasses (pictures 146-147). In places, the smooth, easy combination of natural and artifical surfaces were strongly reminiscient of Myst (pictures 156-159).

I didn't take any further pictures until Monday night, when we went on a boat tour of the harbor. While waiting to board on the 42nd-street, New Jersey-side pier, we checked out the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (pictures 162-173) that forms the body of the Air, Sea, and Space museum. New York is an extremely visually impressive town, doubly so near sunset, so I'll let these pictures speak for themselves. Notables on the trip down the Hudson to near the Statue of Liberty included: a gigantic, 4-story driving range (pictures 184-186) facing out over the harbor; the air intakes for the Holland tunnel (picture 187); and the former site of the Twin Towers (pictures 195-197). We then turned north, heading up the East River past: inflatable floating tennis courts (picture 216); the Brooklyn Bridge (pictures 217-225); the Empire State Building (pictures 229-223); the Chrystler Building (pictures 234-237); and Trump Tower (pictures 238-239). We then turned back south and headed straight for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty (pictures 262-294). I took quite a few night shots, but virtually all of them turned out to be blurred beyond recongition.

Tuesday was more conference, followed by an incredible dinner at Becco Restaurant, on the north side of 46th St between 8th and 9th.

I gave a presentation on Wednesday, which went without a hitch. On Thursday, after the obligatory New York taxi ride, I left for Detroit from La Guardia. I still had a few dozen pictures left, so I followed the cloud layers (pictures 309-324) as they passed on our way to 35,000 feet after leaving La Guardia. We passed several miles-high thunderheads (pictures 332-335) on our way across the continent. Detroit International is a fairly attractive airport, with a dedicated tram (pictures 341-342) just to ferry people around inside a single concourse. A psychadelic tunnel (pictures 345-346), with neon-backlit frosted glass pulsating in color to soothing music, connects the main concourse with several smaller ones.

We landed without incident (pictures 358-363) back at Bloomington.

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All images taken by Orion Lawlor and placed completely in the public domain.
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