Grand Central Terminal

If you’re a New Yorker, you are probably well aware of the world famous Grand Central Terminal. This station is over 100 years old, it’s an innovation in its design, and has even inspired the designs of dozens of train stations and airports that exist today. This legendary station is a national and pop culture landmark as well. In 1976 it was decided that it’s a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Only the most iconic, historically important, masterfully designed places can be on these lists. There’s a good chance that you’ve seen this station being used, talked about, or blown to bits in a movie or TV show. Even if you’ve never been to Grand Central, you probably know exactly what it looks like on the inside from all the media exposure throughout the years. Grand Central is one of my favorite stations, it has a classic look and feel, and I used to go there all the time to ride the Metro-North line to get to my previous school, and to visit the Dia museum in Beacon, of course. Here are a few shots of the inside of Grand Central Terminal.

WTC Oculus

The theme of my posts usually revolve around travel, exploration, and discovering places you may not know about. But when it comes to traveling, the means of travel itself is often overlooked and underappreciated. Some airports and train stations in this country are true works of art. For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about the transportation hubs and train stations in our eastern bubble. In New York alone, there are so many masterfully designed stations with long, complicated histories. The first transportation hub I’ll be talking about is the Oculus, also known as the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. It’s a massive, oddly shaped structure with a brand new 21st century design (just opened to the public in 2016), but the station within has a long history of opening, closing and reopening. Luckily, this isn’t some boring history lecture. All you need to know is that it’s massive, it’s weird, it’s beautiful, there’s a mall inside of it, and you should totally go visit when you have a chance. It was designed by an architect named Santiago Caltrava, and he has being designing massive structures all around the world since the early 1980s. The Oculus is by far my favorite station, here are pictures of Santiago’s $4 billion project in downtown Manhattan.

The City of Brighter Lights

Continuing on from my previous blog post last week, New York is in for some major things this year. Starting with the opening of Phase 1 of the Second Avenue train station and next “lighting up the bridges and tunnels”.

 

New York, known as the Empire State of Mind but also the city of bright lights is in for a even brighter future! By the end of this month … now … the bridges across the city will be lit in bright colors representing different holidays/events and more just as the Empire State Building does!

Image taken by: Jen Chung

 

Governor Cuomo’s New York Crossings project includes the seven – (7) MTA operated bridges in addition to the two -(2) tunnels and the George Washington Bridge which is operated by both the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.. With cities like Jacksonville Florida, whom already have lit bridges.

 

Below you will find a youtube video with a clear demonstration on the state’s plan.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HNzHyE68ek

 

Photo taken by: Sherri Jackson

 

NYC 2017 – Phase 1: 2nd Avenue

After years and years of discussion, Phase 1 of the 2nd avenue line is now in affect! Probably the best New Year gift New Yorkers across the City received this year. Expanding the “Q” line to 96th Street.

Once the project is complete, it will consist of a service that will expand transportation 8.5 miles along Manhattan’s East Side. From Hanover Square (Lower Manhattan) to 125th Street.

To know that plans for this train line have been discussed since the 1930’s makes me even more appreciative of being able to use this service. After reading an article in the New York Times, about a woman saying “We were young,” said Ms. Shea, now 93. “We thought it was going to happen. It took a little longer than we thought.

I havent visited the stations as of yet however I look forward to seeing the project as a whole be completed. It is about time the East Side expands and has more means of  public transportation, excluding buses.

To be continued …

Diary of A Former Nomad: My Story, Part 3 & 4

Happy holidays everyone! As the year comes to an end so too does my story. For those who have been following me and reading each part of my story I hope that it has given you some hope, inspiration, or even gotten you through a day that you thought you couldn’t. Sharing this story was not an easy decision but I know that because of it I have become stronger. I know that I needed to let go of this baggage that I have been carrying around for years in order to be better for the coming years. I hope that you all have a great holiday season and the new year brings you happiness and success!

Here are the final chapters of my story. If you haven’t read yet read the first and second part click the links below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

I returned home to my small battered village, a battered child. My emotions, self esteem and confidence were at an all time low. I returned to parents who seemed somewhat genuine and had flourished during my absence. The house was filled with much more but the stench of pain and sorrows still remained engraved into the walls. My mother was different. She was colder and less nurturing. My father was as before, standoffish and his eyes still had no light. I still remembered arriving home early that morning and being amazed of how monumental the house felt. I had my own room. It was pink and bright and everything I could have hoped for in a room. I had pets too. My life finally seemed to be what I could have imagined it to be. But soon enough the welcome home mat had been removed and it was back to the ways things used to be. My parents fought and pushed me in the middle to choose a side. I told my mother I chose her and my father I chose him. I couldn’t choose and as small as I was, I remembered thinking I shouldn’t have to. I had given up so much for them and yet they couldn’t give up fighting for me. Maybe it was now that I was older and could understand more that the fights seemed worse. Looking back now, I’ve shed more tears with my parents than laughs. They have been the reason for my birth and the death of many of my beliefs, hopes and dreams. As much as they have given me, they have taken away so much more.

 

I lost my innocence the day I saw my mother try to hang herself in our living room from the rafters.

I lost hope for my father the day he slapped me for standing up for my mother then emptied out the cupboards and left us hungry for weeks.

 

I lost faith in God after many more fights and nights of crying myself to sleep after I realized he had made my life this way.

 

I had lost so much but had gained something I never thought I would. I had friends now due to my father’s new and well-known name. People say money can’t buy happiness but in my case, it sure did. After the beatings and the blows I got money, a lot of money. The money did nothing but numb me even more but one good thing came from that money. I never knew her name, but she was about 5 years old. She had no money to buy a Popsicle and without hesitation I bought it for her. I bought it and a smile shined from one end to another on her face. Sometimes I remember this day and think of how much joy I found in that little girl and my ability to help her and my regret for not giving her more. I wonder if she wished she was me and had the ability to buy more and have more. I hope she didn’t. I had nothing or should I say nothing I wanted.

 

Before I knew it, it was time to leave again and a broken family was going to be broken once more. My father couldn’t leave with us and I question if my fight to wait for him meant anything to him both then and now.

When he did get his papers, we all packed up and I wished and prayed in that moment that my new life would be three things: permanent, happy and enough. Enough for my parents, hoping they would be content with whatever we had because we had each other, that we could finally be a family. A family who loved each other and appreciated one another. That I would be more to them than a bargaining tool, I would be someone they were proud of. I would be worth their love and appreciation without having to be someone else but their daughter.

 

I got on that plane and left again. I left behind hardships that children should not have to endure. I hoped to leave behind sorrow and all the pains. I would be living in a new place and no one would know how bad my dad beat my mom and punished us. No one would know of how damaged I was. I would be able to dream, grow and flourish into the person that the creator of the heavens and I knew I would become.

Part 4

This October makes 11 years since I made that wish. I can’t say that it’s been granted. My story has not been an easy one and I don’t think it’ll get easier but it has become one that I could manage. Life is fluid, it doesn’t stay still. It moves, grows, and evolves and by doing so we find ourselves, our purpose, our reason. What has happened in my life doesn’t define me but it’s given me many roads to determine my own purpose and my own reason. I can’t say that I wouldn’t change the things that have happen but I also can’t say that I would change how my life is now. I’ve had to chance to live freer than most people do their entire lives and it’s something I hold dear to my heart. My life, all 22 years has been trying to find the right place and maybe we never do. Maybe we find the best parts of all the better parts of life. Maybe it’s all one big trial and at some point in our lives whether we are aware or not we find that place. I’ll keep searching for mine.

 

Until then, I hope this story, my story; opens yours eyes to seeing that life even in its worst parts it just that. It’s just a bad day, a bad part, a memory. Life is just a trial subscription to many opportunities, many lives, and loves. So live and be open to the possibilities that no matter what happens someday and somehow it gets better.

Political Unrest

Every year has its highs and lows, but 2016 has been one of the roughest years in recent memory. On a less serious note, terrible movies and video games have been released. More seriously though, we’ve grieved the deaths of legendary artists who’ve inspired generations of current and future artists. We’ve grieved the deaths of seemingly innocent black men, women and children who were gunned down on the street by police. And we laughed at, and now grieve the whole debacle that was the 2016 Presidential Election Race.

gop

From the candidates, to the debates, to the scandals, the race was an utter mess, and as a result our country is constant worry about what the future holds.  “What will become of America when Trump is officially sworn in as president?” seems to be the most asked question.  I recently went to a Trump Protest, not as a participant, just as a photographer. The feeling of racial, political and social divide was quite disheartening. The sight of anger among protesters, lack of empathy amongst Trump supporters and apathy from the suits within the Trump Tower was disappointing to say the least.

coming-together

children-of-the-protest

There were several groups of young teens at the protest, no older than 14. They said to a nearby reporter “we’re not old enough to vote, so we feel that protesting is the only way our voices can be heard.”

But after having a 2 hour discussion with a Clinton supporter, a Trump supporter, and a man with no real allegiances, I realized that not all hope is lost. Although vastly different ideologies, beliefs and viewpoints were discussed, the fact that we could all come together and just talk to each other is a feat in itself. Right now, our country desperately needs more communication, empathy, and respect.

india

This is India Kotis, she’s one of people I had a 2 hour discussion with during the protest. One of her major concerns is the skepticism about climate change.

peace

 

The New York City Marathon

The 46th New York City Marathon was one of the most emotional, passionate, and inspirational events I’ve ever experienced. Three weeks ago, I was just one single person in a sea of thousands of spectators, and in those moments I truly felt that we were all one big family. Peace, love, unity and sportsmanship were all being thoroughly stirred in the melting pot known as New York City on November 6th, 2016. Thousands of men and women from all over the world ran the grueling 26.2 mile marathon through all five boroughs, trying to make their cities, families, and most importantly themselves proud. While observing the runners, I immediately felt the intensity and the motivation to finish the run just by the determined expressions on their faces. As the marathon runners inched closer towards the finish line, breathing the harsh cold air, dripping their blood, sweat and tears, and pouring their hearts out onto the course, I captured some of these candid moments.

 

marathon4small no-tears high5

The Freedom Tunnel

The Freedom Tunnel is an Amtrak route that actively runs through the streets of Uptown Manhattan underneath the famous Riverside Park. But it’s more than just your average railroad line, those tunnels are teeming with history and stories which will never be fully understood. A safe haven for the homeless and a sanctuary for graffiti artists, The Freedom Tunnel partially obtained it’s name from an artist named Chris “Freedom” Pape in the 1980s. When the train’s service temporarily came to a stop in the tunnel, he filled those walls with urban paintings, and even created remixes of classical works of art.

The tunnel also got its name because decades ago, hundreds of homeless people-now infamously known as “The Mole People”- used to have an underground society within these walls. They lived carefree, rent free, and rule free away from society in their hand-built shantytowns. Unfortunately, most of them were eventually evicted since Amtrak purchased and now utilizes this track. However, that doesn’t stop urban explorers (like me) and graffiti artists who want to make their mark or pay their respects to the work of Freedom. There are even still some homeless people living there as you read this. Because Amtrak has recently been trying to restore the tunnels’ original look, a lot of the most famous works by Freedom and other notable artists have since been destroyed. But within the darkness, underneath the rocks, ruin and rubble, there is still a lot of life, and tons of great artwork to be seen.

freedomtunnel

A view of the entrance to the tunnel.

freedomtunnel6

Looking outside from within.

freedomtunnel4

Tools of the trade.

freedomtunnel5

A deeper look into the tunnel.

freedomtunnel3

A light opening from Riverside Park (while I took the picture here, I actually overheard a group of people trying to figure out how to get into the tunnel)

freedomtunnel2

These openings are sporadic the deeper you venture into the tunnel. I stopped here because it was too terrifying to go any further.

Humans of City Tech

“Don’t make a permanent decision for your temporary emotion.”  Sometimes, you overact in innocent situations without realizing what you’re hurting someone.  It’s when things settle, as you finally understand the mess your have created and the miserable feeling inside of you.  When it comes to my family, there are always something that is disagreed upon which leads to arguments and eventually fights.  In the end, there the ones who’s there for you at your prime, as well as your low point.  Recently, towards the end of my spring semester, I had loss someone very special to me.  This person is always the first to leave my house, yet the last to finally come home, after working so hard but still showing so much love to us.  This person would always bother me trying to wake up every Sunday to go to church.  On May 5th, 2016, around 4pm, I was beside his bed in the hospital trying to wake him up.  I don’t know why, but all I could think throughout that night was all the foolish things I have said or done that hurt him throughout my life.  I know this person has already forgiven me, but sometimes I just want to go back to these moments and undo my regretful actions.  I definitely have learned a lot throughout the couple of months.  One of the more important ones is to keep your chin up and maintain a positive state of mind. ”

michaelMichael Lumentut

Diary of A Former Nomad: My America

https://twitter.com/spezzolanti/status/797942548438417408

Silent Protest – Union Square NYC — Photo Caption: Samantha Pezzolanti

I had a blog planned for this week. I was going to tell you of my story and how I adjusted to my life being here in America but with everything happening now I don’t think my adjustment period is over. I think it’s just beginning. As a woman of color who came to this country searching for a permanent place of comfort and peace I find myself lost. I have so many questions, I am confused, hurt, angry, numb, and discouraged. I don’t know where I stand in a country which seems to stand against everything I am.

Those of us who wanted a different outcome stand dumbfounded because it seems that in the same week where we turned the clocks back an hour, we turned history back 200 years with preachings of hate and intolerance. It’s been one week since women, immigrants, muslims, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community lives hang in the air. We stand in disbelief that we are once again being forced to fight for rights we marched, cried, and shed blood for. It’s been one week and we cannot adjust to the words. It’s been one week and we cannot adjust to the pain and ignorance. It’s been one week and we are still waiting to wake up and realize it’s only a bad dream– but it’s not and this is now the America we must face. So how do we adjust to this new reality?

I say we don’t. I say we fight. I say we care for each other like we never have before. I say we use our words and craft to stop these radical changes. I say we educate our communities and sign every petition we can. I say we stand by one another. I say we love each other, support each other, and remind one another that together we stand. I say we speak for the rights of each other. I say we tweet, comment, share, and like positivity. I say we be Americans because to be an American once meant to be the best, to be a leader, to be accepting, helpful, and strong. Let’s be that! Let’s not adjust to a hateful country. Let’s accept and grieve this period of our history, but let it be just that; a day in history that did not break us.

I advocate to everyone feeling powerless by this change to speak up. To share your story because no matter what may change, our speech is still a freedom they can never take from us. Remember that I am here for you. I accept and love every single one of you and there is nothing that could change that. Until next Wednesday remember to be kind to each other!