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(It took years to complete this commentary, but better late...)
Commentary on the photographs taken during the Sept./Oct. 2001 trip that was almost abandoned after the 9/11, connected with the 2001 trip report.

From the technical point-of-view, there is the strange tendency in many of the photos to be underexposed and/or having "washed-out", grayish colours, especially when compared with the shots taken the previous year -- I suspect that the overcast days had something to do with it, affecting the (unfortunately automatic) exposure metering of the camera.


28/9, FRIDAY

  • Edward Durrell Stone residence
    The first shots of the trip, only an hour before darkness fell and the short foray to the Upper East Side had to be cut short. Backlighting makes the shot rather unsuccesful, especially at the top.

  • Asia House
    One of those with trees in front... The lack of space forced to tilting the camera upwards and the top is lost, mixed with the pale sky.

  • Hotel Pierre
    An impulse shot taken from a Madison street corner -- luckily there was a corner plaza to allow the view. Even the underexposure works pretty well, "framing" the well-lit main subject.

  • Lever House 1 2
    (one) A late evening shot of the building then under renovation, with the Park Avenue Plaza on the left.
    (two) From the Seagram plaza, next to the south-side pool.

  • Union Carbide Building 1 2
    (one) A dramatic night shot with the building illuminated from within.
    (two) Another night shot, this time from the 48th Street "plaza" of the Bankers Trust. The elevator core of the building glows within the glass cage. These were the only night shots, taken after a 27-hour trip to NYC... Sleep, anyone? Nah...


  • 1, 3 and 5 Times Square
    A morning shot when the crossroads was still quiet and one could work rather unhindered. One of shots taken with future site entry additions in mind.

  • 5 Times Square
    A move down 42nd Street provided a vastly better view of the building.

  • Bush Tower
    A blue-tinted early-morning shot from the east, featuring the recessed light-court.

  • 3 Times Square
    It's getting lighter, which reflects on the curving facade of the building. The Times Square Tower is still a dig in the ground. (And exactly two months from the date of this photo the S.E.C. begins investigating the tower's main tenant (not-)to-be Arthur Andersen Consulting -- and three days before the photo Kenny Lay had told that Enron's accounting practices are "legal and totally appropriate" and its stock is "an incredible bargain"...)

  • 1411 Broadway
    A strongly vertical, yet somewhat underexposed, shot.

  • 1407 Broadway
    A dull early morning shot. The flag in the picture dictated the location of the camera, thus precluding the inclusion of more of the building.

  • Philip Morris Inc. Building
    The first of the legendary "a**hole series". A reshoot of a 1997 shot, rather nice and crisp, despite slight underexposure. For the photographer, the main remembrance, however, came from the totally jerkish way a young overzealous cop piled on me after I'd taken the shot, accusing me of taking a pic of the viaduct for terrorists(!) and wanting to see the ID and all the works that go with the drill. But even better was to follow two hours later, not very far...

  • Socony-Mobil Building
    A curiously exposed shot, with the sky and top leading to a blackened lower facade, although the facade treatment is pretty well accentuated against the darkened walls.

  • Chanin Building 1 2
    (one) Bordered by the shiny mass of the Socony, a nicely exposed Chanin.
    (two) Rather steep 42nd St. and the Chanin base with its wealth of decoration.

  • Daily News Building
    A shot from the plaza in front of the Ford Foundation. It should come as no surprise that a guard, female this time, came to prohibit tripod shooting...

  • United Nations Secretariat
    A shot similar to the NY Palace, a symmetrical "full-frontal". Taken from across the First Ave., there was a wooden barrier (like the one at the bottom of the pic) on the Shcharansky Steps side of the sidewalk, and I had to first lug the tripod over it and go after. After that, it took surprisingly long to find a perfect position for the camera and several shots, yet the shot is still a bit tilted. The cropping of the image to web size, moreover, disintegrates the heavily detailed facade, although the exposure is pretty good, for once. The shooting was, again, a rather nervous job, partly as I was certain that my lengthy fumbling just across the UN would raise the suspicions of the guard in the booth just across the street, partly because the whole time I thought of being in a potential kill-zone should an airliner come crashing through the building in 9/11 fashion. Unrational thinking, but that raced through my mind constantly -- as I walked down First Ave. to 42nd, even the sound of a low-flying airliner made me take a nervous glance to the direction of the sound. It didn't indeed take long to create post-9/11 NYer uneasiness...

  • Dag Hammarskjold Library
    A shot from the First Ave. sidewalk. A low-rise version of the Secretariat Bldg. with its glass walls and marble-clad ends.

  • U.N. Plaza/Park Hyatt
    A reshoot from the Tudor City 42nd St. steps. The jagged, glass-clad forms rise above the tree-line.

  • Chrysler Building
    A satiny shot of the top from Third Ave, with the top of the Kent Building merging with the Chrysler.

  • Wang Building
    A very difficult target to bag properly and to find good sightlines. A shot along Third Avenue.

  • MetLife Building
    A reshoot of a kind, combining the granite base and the concrete tower of the building, from the same tripod location whence the 245 was next taken. If I'd craned the camera down to the street level, you'd see the two cops standing at the corner, under the viaduct, before they crossed the street after I'd shot the 245 Park and got off (maybe literally ;^)) with the most unbelievable cr@p one can expect to hear, 9/11 or no 9/11. That must have indeed been the low point of the many encounters with the "enforcers" (lawful or otherwise) on the three NYC trips (perhaps discounting Newark arrival and the retardo who almost finished me off 101 West End, both in 2000), but I guess that it was exactly the objective of that poor, uncivilized creature, to take out his petty prejudices and let off steam. The only reason I didn't take his badge number was the fact that he very clearly meant "business" and I didn't want to risk an arrest by an unstable cop with potential Schwartz/Volpe tendencies -- back in Finland I would have indeed stood up to any rights that even a cop might distantly recognize, but being alone abroad in a country that had taken a shortcut to a semi-police state state I decided to be very, very wary and simply answer their (or his) intrusive questions. A f-ing disgrace and, in all, a nice arrival introduction to post-9/11 NYC... (Strangely enough, it hardly occurred to these policemen that had I been working for some "Islamist" w-kers, I hardly would have drawn attention to myself by wielding a tripod as I could have taken good enough pictures for targeting purposes with a handheld, "touristy" camera, without drawing unwanted attention to myself. Go figure.) The shot was, however, rather nice and even the underexposure at the bottom is rather acceptable.

  • 245 Park Avenue
    A nice view (and one of the few possible ones) of the building through the stairway from 45th St. to the Park Avenue Atrium.

  • Union Carbide Building 1 2
    (one) With a base sheathed in unpenetrable darkness, the building rises with vertical accentuation. I like the composition and the solid wall sheathing vs. reflecting glass of the framing buildings.
    (two) The "West Wing". The shiny aluminium mullion ribs and the black and red of the spandrels contrast on the lower floors.

  • Westvaco Building
    In the dark canyons. Reflecting the skies and surroundings, the building's glass facade has the mullions jagged as a result of the cropping of image.

  • Chemical Bank Building
    One of my faves, a stark, contrasty collection of reflecting surfaces, facade divisions and construction structures.

  • Waldorf Astoria Hotel 1 2
    (one) A reshoot with the main entrance.
    (two) The massiveness of the Waldorf between the Modernist 'scrapers.

  • General Electric Tower 1 2
    (one) A reshoot of a 1997 disaster.
    (two) A more dramatic approach; darkish, mostly due to the danger of the top washing out. Note the elaborate spandrels.

  • Seagram Building 1 2
    (one) The Park Ave. side, shot from the edge of the sidewalk, with a large pool of water on the street directly in front of the tripod, reflecting the nearby buildings and the sky. An eerie, vertigo-inducing feeling.
    (two) The less-photogrphed rear of the building, showing the less iconic and cluttered rear portion of the plot.

  • First National City Bank
    A nice, almost silvery quality of the glass walls reflecting the typically colourless, cloudy skies prevalent on the trip, as well as the neighbouring buildings.

  • Park Avenue Plaza
    A daytime shot with the upper portion sunlit and thus well-rendered in colour.

  • 599 Lexington Avenue
    A rather difficult target to shoot and expose. The 345 Park facade on the left gives interesting colour and borders the building with its Brutalist concrete form.

  • Citicorp/group Center 1 2 3
    A very difficult building to bag from the street.
    (one) A shot of the base.
    (two) The (almost) whole of the building from 53rd. Underexposure.
    (three) An almost absurdly underexposed shot, yet it works -- just. An impulse shot from a distance.

  • 860-870 U.N. Plaza
    A more stark rendition of the building than the sunny-sky 2000 shot. Modernist sobriety.

  • Beekman Tower
    A rather nice shot with good colour rendition and detail. Shot from the curious "lip" of sidewalk that required walking for some distance around the sidewalk railing. Curious was also the fact that I got to finish shooting from my location without any hindrance...

  • Trump World Tower
    An upward-angled view along 48th St. Pretty satisfied with the composition and the adjacent shafts of the 100 U.N. and the Trump, but the exposure was again a bit on the dull side.

  • 100 U.N. Plaza
    A spontaneous shot while walking uptown. One of my faves with different types of building crowding the 100 U.N., yet leaving it unobstructed.

  • Marriott East Side Hotel
    Yet another reshoot.

  • IBM Building
    Yep, a reshoot (why reinvent the wheel). A bit somber in the cloudy exposure but crisp in detail.

  • Fuller Building
    A somber and overpowering shot with dark clouds, but nevertheless burdened with a reddish tint and slight underexposure... The tangle of setbacks in the lower right is, nevertheless, rather nice.

  • Ritz Hotel
    A nice shot from street corner, albeit darkish, despite the Four Seasons in the background being almost washed out.

  • Alexander Hirsch residence
    One of the definite predetermined "targets" of the trip, an uncompromising Modernist masterpiece, a compositional study with a refined version of the pitch black 1 Liberty Plaza steel facade. An unknown gem lost in the "side" streets. Unfortunately, the building eluded good photographic rendering despite my continuous attempts at it with strange hues and improper metering and focusing -- I think I shot the five shots also handheld for the fear of appearing too "intrusive" in front of a private residence... The two people on the left edge give nice scale to the photo, as well as a sense of "refinement" with their attire.

  • Metropolitan Tower
    A shot marred by some badly-positioned flagpoles and a flag -- unfortunately, there was no other place to shoot from.

  • Carnegie Hall Tower
    Another one saved by the appearance of the sun that brings out the earthy tones of brickwork. Shot from behind some streetwalk-side barriers.

30/9, SUNDAY

  • 1166 Sixth Avenue
    A rather nice effect of contrast between the differently lighted facades and the reflection of the Americas Tower.

  • Americas Tower
    An early morning shot along 45th St., another one to be added (a lot) later to the 'scraper entries on the site.

  • Interchem Building
    Avenue of the Internationals -- at last a proper shot of the Interchem, albeit dark in the cloudy early morning.

  • Condé Nast Building
    The Bush, 4 TSQ and the location of the future 1 Bryant Pk. in an early morning shot with the Maidman building totally black, yet the 4 TSQ glass facade partly washing out. The exposure latitude of digicams...

  • American Standard Building 1 2
    (one) First of the AmStand shots, not a long after a rain shower, as can be seen on the pavement.
    (two) And the second. The black brick facing of the building, hum, blackened out due to the underexposure, with the street-level wing unfortunately left disastrously dark. The location of the shot was dictated by the inclusion of the Empire State in the photo. As I was taking the shots, a policeman came to my tripod-mounted camera and gave me five minutes to finish shooting, all in a well-mannered way. This time I was glad to oblige. It's all in the delivery, after all...

  • N.Y. Telephone (Verizon) Building
    A vastly superior reshoot from the park, with all the facade details properly visible.

  • McGraw-Hill Building I
    A morning shot on another dull day, with the colours of the facade largely washed out.

  • Columbus Centre (AOL Time Warner Center)
    The early stages of the complex's construction, 16 months after the Coliseum was being dismantled on the plot. Right after this shot meeting another Customer Care Specialist, a.k.a. Deli Owner in a nearby deli... Almost made me want to go "Falling Down" on the premises...

  • Trump International Hotel & Tower
    Another reshoot and another underexposure, but this time the red hue of an underexposed shot worked to an advantage in the gold-toned piers of the building.

  • Century Apartments
    Nice, earthlike tones in the shot -- these Central Park West shots were some of the most successful. Taken from the gloriously wide sidewalk of CPW. Even the line of trees had conveniently a gap...

  • Majestic Apartments
    More balancing of the tripod over CPW subway grates.

  • San Remo Apartments
    Slightly underexposed, but shows the form of the towers on the western facade. A rather long walk from location of the Majestic shot. After this, a jump into the subway.

  • Arthur A. Schomburg Plaza
    The other (and already at the time, the only) Twin Towers, a gateway to Harlem/Barrio. Shot from Central Park North -- I took my time switching between a tripod location on the street(!) and sidewalk due to some visual obstruction that precluded moving back along the sidewalk. That's why the south tower is somewhat unacceptably partially obstructed by foliage.

  • Taino Towers
    The northernmost entry on the site (at least until the 125th St. office tower, the "Clinton House" of later days will be included; this time I abandoned shooting it). A long, winding walk from the 125th St. station and bagging them from a good vantage point. Maybe less clearcut in their Modernist zeal as expected (not least due to the multi-coloured drapery on the windows), but here they are nevertheless.

  • Annenberg Building
    Down the Upper East Side. A darkish rendition of the overpowering black mass halfway between the CBS and 1 Liberty Plz. in its appearance. A little too much converging verticals due to the tightness of space, but that was the best position I could come up with.

  • Jacob Ruppert Brewery Project 1 2 3
    (one) The colours (and proper exposure) are returning again -- a general view of the Rupperts from a street corner. One of my fave shots.
    (two) Hike down Third Ave. and to The Ruppert itself. Exposure starts to wander off a bit.
    (three) The Knickerbocker: both exposure and colour saturation off again. That may be explained somewhat by the fact of that it started to rain just as I shot this -- afraid of the drops hitting the lens, tilted upwards as the camera was... A nicely dramatic shot, tho', from the project's pedestrian throughfare -- and one that was open to the public too, a wonder in itself. (Through the rain towards the Lex station and into a nearby B&N bookstore in the hope of the rain abating to allow me to continue using the remaining daylight hours shooting in the area. No such luck, after emerging out with one more experience of dubious clerk "service" as well as two books that I still, 32 months later, haven't finished -- including the long sought-after Piers Bizony's "2001 - Filming the Future" -- I had to run in the rain to the subway and back to the hotel.)

  • GE Building
    A direct, evening reshoot, with better results.

  • Sheraton Centre
    The last shot of the day from the incourt plaza of the Equitable. It was starting to rain to the extent that good photography was hampered. Homeless people were settling on the benches nearby as I composed and shot, hit by the rain underneath the (uncovered) beams of the plaza.

1/10, MONDAY

  • Olympic Tower 1 2
    (one) A rather catastrophic pic with its severe underexposure and bluish tint. One more to remake.
    (two) A rather dramatic shot, complete with golden tint.

  • Bear Stearns World Headquarters 1 2
    (one) A morning shot from 47th Street. A good vantage point for a (very blue-tinted) shot.
    (two) A better vantage point along Madison Avenue -- for bagging the top, at least.

  • Lincoln Building
    The one that required two "goes"; on the second day, a police on the Vanderbilt Avenue denied, albeit in a polite way (something that would change with the next image!), photography, so I left, returning on Sunday, unhampered, to bag the building.

  • 3 Park Avenue
    A sidetrack to Park Ave. and setting the tripod to get an angled shot of the building.

  • Empire State Building
    A shot of the top from Park Avenue.

  • 1065 Sixth Avenue
    A spur of the moment while walking on 40th St. toward Bryant Park. Tripod up and four shots from the sidewalk.

  • 275 Madison Avenue
    An impulse shot from Bryant Park. Tripod and darkish bottom with a "guard" of folded sunshades.

  • 10 E 40th Street
    A reshoot from Bryant Park. Shot on a 'pod in a rapid fashion just like the 275.

  • Grace Plaza
    An unsuccessful reshoot, never used on the site. Crouching by the low-set tripod and in vain waiting for a break in the endless flow of pedestrians. All shots too underexposed, too crowded.

  • 500 Fifth Avenue 1 2
    (one) Another reshoot, with the presence of the sunshine giving the photo, for once, some tones...
    (two) A dramatic, spur-of-the-moment shot from 42nd.

  • Fred F. French Building
    A shot from 45th St., with the tripod set up near the "dwelling" of a sleeping homeless, who mumbled something to himself and continued dozing.

  • Piaget Building 1 2
    Darkish shots from the canyons, showing the building from both north and east.

  • Tishman Building
    A remake of a 1997 shot from the same spot. A nice, crisp shot, albeit the surrounding buildings are underexposed.

  • Canada House
    A grayish shot that conceals the light limestone facade. To be redone.

  • 520 Madison Avenue
    A tricky choice between underexposure of the shadows and washing out the reflecting facade. Shot from a conveniently placed plaza of an even more conveniently diagonal-shaped building.

  • 345 Park Avenue
    The 345 from the corner of the Racquet and Tennis Club.

  • Look Building
    The iconic Look from 50th St. Dullish in tone, but otherwise nice.

  • New York Palace Hotel
    An idea somewhat marred by the underexposure and the "twisting" of the top of the hotel tower. A tripod shot from next to the steps leading to the archdiocese building behind St. Patrick's. The twisting might be partly due to the fact that I indeed couldn't get the camera (and the tripod!) to the exact mid-point of the facade as that would have been in front of the steps -- and someone would inevitably have been very disturbed had I moved there...

  • International Building 1 2
    (one) One in a series of shots from the St. Patrick's forecourt. At some point, being told tripods are not allowed...
    (two) A reshoot of a 1997 shot along Rockefeller Plaza. The ground is especially underexposed. The shot could have used some westerly shadows to accentuate the jagged setbacks.

  • GE Building
    Another from St. Patrick's, a more "traditional" view of the building.

  • Sperry-Rand Building
    One of the long-delayed entries. A difficult case of exposure, with the top being very light, whereas the lower portions are in the dark. In the foreground, sculptures on the J.C. Penney's plaza.

  • Nelson Tower
    From the 1 Penn Plaza, well, plaza. Shot with a tripod, if I remember correctly, although the next one...

  • New Yorker Hotel
    The mountain of a hotel from the 1 Penn Plaza. A darkish complexion, but brings out the nature of the building rather nicely. Shot with string-balancing instead of tripod due to security intervention.

  • Westyard Distribution Center
    The concrete-faced mammoth of the Penn railyards shot from within (just another) construction site covered sidewalk, this time of the Farley Post Office Building. (Walking around the vast Farley Bldg., one had a sense of the scale of the structure that spanned two entire city blocks, flanked by its vast "moat".)

  • 1 Penn Plaza
    The "Playstation 2" shot... Crouching on the bridge leading across the Penn rail yards, next to a low-set tripod to give the strong vertical feeling of the black slab. Another underexposed, albeit strong, shot on an overcast day.

  • N.Y. Life Insurance Co. Building & Merchandise Mart 1 2 3
    (one) Exposure gone awry again
    (two) A short tripod-lugging hop from the location of the previous shot
    (three) An impulse shot from a side street

  • Flatiron Building
    A reddish tint and dull tones but at last a "well-recognized" elevation of the building.

  • Metropolitan Life Insurance Building
    A well-exposed limestone facade, for once. A shot from across Madison Sq.

1/10, MONDAY 5 PM - 7 PM

A ride from Madison Square to the Brooklyn Bridge station, all under a cloak of normalcy until one emerged from within the Municipal Bldg. station and the strong and acrid smell of burnt plastic hit one's nose. The cuts on the streets for emergency cable and pipelines as well as the increased presence of police also told about something unusual. Although I kept as far away from the WTC (or Ground Zero, into which it had transformed only two weeks ago) as possible, the smell was a constant reminder of the tragedy (only abating in the deepest recesses of the downtown Strand bookstore). Living in Lower Manhattan must have been trying in the first months after being allowed back in -- the cordoning-off of Lower Manhattan had in fact been lifted only just prior to me confirming this late-September trip, first reserved in June.

  • U.S. Courthouse
    Shot from next to barriers closing the Javits plaza off-limits. Possibly it's just the policeman in the bottom left of the photo who came to me and asked about a permission and told about the area being of Fed buildings and thus not allowed to be shot -- as well as about an earlier confiscation of photo equipment from some unlucky punter and the difficulty he had of gaining it back. Luckily, he didn't properly hear the the word (starting with "para...") that was included in my startled answer, otherwise I could have been in a world of s**t, given the heightened sense of hurt (or was it "alert") in the NYPD at the time. So, I grabbed my tripod and camera without dismantling anything and took off happy that I could... Oh, the photo then: dull and grey but something anyway.

  • 40 Wall Street
    A shot from the Legion Memorial Sq. in front of the Fed. Surprisingly, a group of police officers passing a short distance away on the square didn't react in any way to either the photography of skyscrapers or the tripod... Rather flatly underexposed one.

  • Chase Manhattan Bank
    A reshoot. Despite some underexposure at the bottom, one of the faves.

  • 88 Pine Street/Wall Street Plaza
    A shot from underneath the FDR and the last photo(s) taken during the trip Except for a shot of Saarinen's TWA at JFK. One of my faves in its crispness and colours. I was pretty nervous while taking the shot and well expected to be harrassed, in a Downtown sidestreet as I was with my camera and a potential "terrorism suspect"...


  • TWA Terminal
    The last in line. Shot from the departures level of the JFK Terminal 4.


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2002/2003/24 May 2004