Across New York (part one)

After we came back from our New England journey we agreed that finishing off this corner of the country before the year-end was a realistic goal; and that is how we came to think that staying home on the long weekend of the Labor Day would be a crime. Even more so that another off-work holiday would only be in late November, a month not very apt for traveling.

We concluded it more practical to cover New York rather than New Jersey, for reasons of actually having enough time for such a large territory. However, a different realization was that it could easily take a few days to explore New York City alone; so, ultimately we just focused on the rest of the state and saved the City for later.

In what follows I describe our three-day trip through the state of New York, which comprised over 1,200 miles, almost two dozen destinations, and about 300 photographs. The volume of photographs has been reduced to a mere 80 since, but even such a number merits two individual posts. So I presented you herewith the first part.

Staten Island

We started our travel in a bright and colorful—that is, picture-wise—fashion, by visiting the Staten Island’s Snug Harbor botanical garden, across from Brooklyn. While the establishment lacked overall splendor and order, some of the “exhibits” turned out a rather appealing sight.

One small conservatory had a lively-colored piano stationed outside, and I amused my wife and son by playing a tune or two to the best of my abilities. We then continued our walk towards the oriental gardens and, having sweated a bit in the surprisingly humid air, returned to our car and got going.

Fort Wadsworth was an interesting next stop. For one thing, there was indeed a fort, or actually several installations making together a single fort ensemble. Another thing was the colossal bridge, connecting the Island with the mainland part of New York City.

Astoria

The single place that we saw in Astoria was exceptionally justified use of our time and money. That place was the charming Museum of Moving Image.

For a movie connoisseur or an admirer of particular film director’s work, this museum will surely be a pleasant discovery. With the great diversity of cinematographic artifacts, production trivia, and various items from shooting areas, the Museum of Moving Image could be a splendid addition to any tourist excursion planned around New York City.

The collection of exhibits is truly versatile: from clusters of animated lights that simulate silhouettes of walking people

to stands with original soundtrack vinyls

to posters advertising the best make-up brands of the era.

Certain exhibits make one realize how much design and elaboration precedes and accompanies the production of a successful movie. To illustrate the idea, here are various technical and artistic implementations from the The Silence of the Lambs movie; first two are capturing the floor plan of the prison where Lecter was kept, and the other two reflect the arrangement of the maniac’s dungeon basement, where his last victim was confined.

There were of course portraits of many legendary actors.

There were dozens of masks that had been worn in various popular movies (occasionally, with the factual connotation)

and even entire creatures that had been crafted for some of the best-known films.

However, the collection is not limited to the obvious classics (read: old movies). For instance, here is a neck-extending machine that was employed in the recent Black Swan movie (the head is supposed to be Portman’s).

On top of that, there were a great deal of playback gear, from the earliest film projectors

to kinescopes

to full-blown home entertainment centers :)

Certainly this variety was matched in the cinematographic equipment department. The models included anything from the early photo- and video-capturing devices

to sound recorders

to the more heavy-duty professional video cameras of the day.

Besides this exhibition, the museum offered a free movie viewing and a special display of Jim Henson’s creative work that encompasses most of the Muppet Show and Sesame Street toy characters. Unfortunately, the latter was a non-photographed session, so no pictures from there.

Roosevelt Island

For anyone wanting to capture a bit of high-rise majesty of Manhattan Island yet avoid the notorious traffic conditions of the City, grabbing a camera and setting one’s course to Roosevelt Island is a no-brainer. Quiet and blooming, Roosevelt Island offers over a mile of riverfront drive, much to the photographers’ delight.

After a few shots of the river-side Manhattan, we headed to Bronx, first swerving to Long Island and crossing the bay via Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.

West Point

Then we stroke a series of blunders. First, Wave Hill Cultural Center, Bronx, happened to be closed. Next, Bear Mountain State Park turned out to be a total disappointment. Finally, the West Point Military Academy did not permit visitors after 2 p.m. We did nonetheless take a few shots in and around West Point for completeness’ sake.

Poughkeepsie

On the way to Albany we halted for a good hour at the campus of Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, to have a quick snack, take pictures, look up a hotel, and call one of our dear friends to wish her happy birthday.

It got uncomfortably dark when we finally reached Catskill State Park, only to realize that the expected scenic byways were in fact busy highway with no scenery whatsoever. An hour later we arrived at our hotel, got settled in, and called it a day.

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