Wednesday, December 26, 2007

day +126

I hope everyone had a very pleasant Christmas.

My mom and sister left for Florida on Christmas Eve to attend a wedding, so it's just my dad and me here until they return on the 30th.

During the past few days, I've found some terrific websites related to my interest in photographing the Harlem River bridges and the neighboring communities. To my delight, there are a number of fascinating online communities for amateur photographers in NYC. For example, I was aware of certain individuals who posted their work on Flickr, but it turns out that many of these people are also members of Flickr Groups, where they and others share their photos and exchange information about their work and interests. With regards to my interest, there are:

Bridges and Tunnels

Bridge Sunsets & Sunrises

NYC Bridges


The Bronx

Riverdale - Bronx, NY

Harlem USA

East Harlem

Washington Heights

I Love NY

NYC from A to Zed

The Bronx Bloggers is a very helpful and interesting blog in which photographers' images of NYC's northernmost borough are shared.

Another fantastic website is New York City Photobloggers, which has a Flickr group as well. Check it out here.

Bridgepix has images of bridges from all over the U.S. and abroad as well.

While researching online, I also read a few reports about NYC photographers who were stopped and questioned or allegedly harassed by the police.

Civil Rights Lawsuit Claims New York Police Harass Photographers

Something I Don't Like About This City, This Country, Or This Moment in Time

Because I'm photographing the infrastructure of the city, it's possible that the police may stop me and ask questions but according to New York City's Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), the city agency that operates and maintains the Harlem River bridges, photography of these sites is not illegal and doesn't require a permit. I have a contact at the NYCDOT and I'm in the process of contacting The Bronx Tourism Council for added support.

Reading about photographers' encounters with the police just strengthens what I've thought about recently and that is that it would be a good idea for me to have a couple of business cards on hand when I'm out and about. Also, it may be helpful to also make print copies of some of the photographs I've taken and to have them with me as evidence that I am in fact a photographer. Wow . . . a photographer! It feels kinda weird saying that, but I guess I have kinda become one unexpectedly. I'm an amateur at the most.

As if the security factor wasn't enough to think about, there's also the fact that I walk around with my surgical mask covering my mouth. So, I look even more suspicious.

Despite this, I'm very excited by this new project of mine. It's as if I'm on a vacation of sorts, traveling in my own city. It's wanderlust reborn! Yes, I'm discovering things about this area of NYC that I longed overlooked or knew about only marginally. I'm finding this process of exploration quite fascinating. Photography outside provides an opportunity for self-healing after so much recent stress and disappointment. Moreover, I think I've stumbled upon a topic that is little known or appreciated by most New Yorkers besides the architecture and history buffs of the city and elsewhere. As evidence, I found in my family's living room a 2008 calendar titled "Buildings & Bridges of New York - 2008" that my father received from one of the local savings banks. As expected, the popular Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, 59th Street Bridge, and George Washington Bridge could be found in the calendar. The great Verranzano-Narrows Bridge that connects Brooklyn and Staten Island was pictured. Surprisingly, even the Throgs Neck Bridge between Queens and the Bronx was in the calendar. But there wasn't even one of the Harlem River bridges in the calendar. Not one! Of course, I wasn't surprised. It's just a fact of life. In a popularity contest, the Harlem River bridges wouldn't fair too well I think.

This is fascinating when one considers that with regards to the history of the city's bridges, a considerable degree of its richness is found not between Manhattan and Brooklyn but between Manhattan and the Bronx. For example, did you know that the very first bridge in NYC's history was built in 1693 over the Spuyten Duyvil Creek between northern Manhattan and the Bronx? It was called King's Bridge, which is why today one of the adjacent Bronx neighborhoods is called Kingsbridge. At least 5 of the earliest bridges in NYC linked the Bronx and Manhattan. This should be of little surprise, because since the Bronx is the only NYC borough that actually belongs to the U.S. mainland, it provided the only direct link to Upstate NY and New England during colonial times. And of the oldest existing spans, 6 of 10 cross the Harlem River. In addition to the importance of the Bronx's geography for Manhattan, the width of both the Spuyten Duyvil Creek and Harlem River are much shorter than the East River. This, of course, made it far easier to cross. It would take the development of the suspension bridge to cross the East River.

Finding all of the websites and online community groups that I listed above has excited me as it's proof that there is a palpable degree of interest in these structures and their history.

Below is a sample of the shots that I took of the Madison Avenue Bridge and the Macombs Dam Bridge during the past two days. These are unedited.


Comment Blogger Michelle J said...

Duane, terrific post!!! If i ever need a photographer, your my man! Hope your holiday was great!!!
Love ya Michelle

10:50 AM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Thanks Michelle!

5:31 PM  

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