Tag Archives: New York City

Lazy Sunday

For the first time in weeks, I’ve had a weekend where my only obligation was to sleep in and veg out the whole time. Unfortunately, Saturday morning I somehow pulled a muscle in my neck while in the shower, and I’ve barely been able to move without huge amounts of pain since then. This has happened a few times in the past, and it’s a huge pain whenever it does… And it’s not as if I was doing anything particularly physically strenuous, either. It finally seems to be getting a little better now, though.

Despite that, I did manage to get over to Brooklyn yesterday to look at an apartment for rent… Nothing to brag about, but it seemed like a clean, decent place in a fairly stable working-class neighborhood. It’s a so-called “railroad” apartment in an old brownstone, in which all the rooms are in succession without a hallway. As such, one would have to walk through my bedroom in order to get to the kitchen. Not really a problem, since I’d be the only person living there. At least it’s got some character, with a lot of the original details intact. I put in an application on the spot; I hope to hear back from the landlord on Monday… Wish me luck.

In the meantime, I’m settling into life at my temporary abode here in Harlem. The neighborhood can be a little intimidating to outsiders, but so far it’s been harmless. The apartment itself is small but nice, except for the fact that the central air is controlled by the landlord upstairs. Why this apartment wasn’t given its own thermostat (it’s a new renovation) is beyond me, but what’s worse is the fact that the landlord turns on the A/C only about three times a day if I’m lucky… The rest of the time this place is like an oven, even when it’s 65 outside with the windows open. Who turns on the A/C only three times a day? Why not just set the fucking thermostat at one temperature and leave it there? Arrgh…..


Well, I’ve been in NYC for about 24 hours now, and I finally have a minute to catch my breath after running all over the place for errands and official Columbia business.

I left Chicago around 5:30 PM on Saturday (a few hours later than I was hoping, but oh well), spent the night near Cleveland, and got into NYC around 3:30 yesterday afternoon. Aside from the usual traffic delays around Chicago and NYC and some construction delays in Pennsylvania, the trip was uneventful. As of yesterday, at one time or another I have moved from Chicago to each of the three biggest cities in the northeast: Chicago to Boston in 2000, Chicago to Philly in 2002, and Chicago to NYC in 2007.

Funny how each time I moved back to Chicago, it didn’t take me long to remember why I left in the first place… Never say “never,” of course, but this time I have the feeling that I’ve finally left Chicago for good. Maybe I would have felt more inclined to stay in Chicago if I had a better job there or if all my old friends there hadn’t gotten married, started having kids, and/or moved away or if there were better education options for me there. Oh well… I’ll always have some fondness for Chicago, but for now I’m just glad to be out.

Upon arrival at Columbia University I got my housing assignment, which is for a fairly large private room within a suite on 113th Street. Nothing special, but it will suffice. So far my cat seems to be handling dorm life without any problems. He’s behaved very well throughout the trip.

Today I dropped my car off at a garage over in Newark, took PATH back into the city, did some paperwork for Columbia housing, got my Columbia ID, and took care of a few other odds and ends.

Last night I was able to take a stroll around Greenwich Village, and today I did some walking around the financial district… I had forgotten just how much of a sensory overload this city can be. There’s usually something interesting to see no matter what direction you’re looking… It’s thrilling when you first arrive here, but it can become wearisome after a while… I think the secret to staying sane in NYC is to have some sort of escape destination outside the city you can head to when things get crazy here.

I haven’t decided yet, but tomorrow I may head down to Philadelphia while I still have my car and some free time… It’s been a while since I’ve been back there, and it would be nice to see the old stomping grounds again. And one of these days I’ll make it up to Boston for a visit… I haven’t set foot in that city since 2000.

And So It Begins…

Up until now, this whole idea of moving 800 miles from Chicago to NYC had been just an abstraction. But today I finally began packing, and what had been a tastefully-furnished Lincoln Park apartment a couple hours ago is now beginning to resemble the closing scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark:


With that, the reality of this major life change is finally sinking in; until today there had been a sense that I could still change my mind about the whole thing. Now, it feels like there’s no turning back. I really hope I’m not doing something incredibly stupid.

Most of my stuff isn’t coming to NYC with me just yet. It will be put into storage here in Chicago over the next few days, and then next weekend I’ll load my Jeep with only the bare essentials I’ll need while at Columbia for the summer (computer, clothing, studio supplies, cat, etc.) and hit the road. I have a secure parking spot for the Jeep reserved near a PATH station in Newark, and I’ll take my chances bringing my cat into the dorm at Columbia.

Once I get permanent housing in NYC — which will require me getting a job and a few paychecks under my belt — I’ll need to fly back to Chicago, load my shit into a Penske truck, and make yet another I-80 pilgrimage.

New York City, Part Deux

Here’s a quick update, for those of you who don’t already know: I didn’t get accepted to any of my top choices for grad school this year, but it’s doubtful I would have finished my BA degree by the end of the summer anyway. So, I’ve decided to postpone grad school for another year, finish my BA degree in the fall or spring, and re-apply to grad schools for fall 2008.The good news: I’ve been accepted into the summer architecture studio at Columbia University in NYC, an intensive 5-week program that offers studio projects, lectures, field trips throughout the city, and office tours of some prominent NYC architecture firms. This program will give me some additional (and hopefully better) projects for my portfolio and provide some valuable networking opportunities for when I re-apply to grad schools next year.

At the conclusion of the program in August, I plan to remain in New York and work full-time there for a year while wrapping up my BA degree on a distance-learning basis during the fall quarter, leaving the winter and spring quarters open to tie up any loose ends if necessary.

Even though my last time living in NYC was somewhat less than pleasant, I’m looking forward to getting back there. That city certainly has a way of getting under your skin. I wish I could move there tomorrow, but then again, I also wish I had another six months to save up money for the move.

Anway, wish me luck…

New York Road Trip

I recently got back from a road trip to New York… Mainly to visit a couple of prospective grad schools, but also to visit my church in NYC and catch up with some old friends there.I briefly visited Columbia, and although I generally liked what I saw, I wasn’t blown away by it, either. Avery Hall is incredibly cramped, and people are practically sitting on top of each other in the studios. Lots of computers, naturally, but relatively little in the way of models or hand drawings. While walking around, most people seemed inclined to avoid eye contact and pretend I wasn’t there. Being a former NYC resident, I guess I shouldn’t have expected any differently, but it would have been nice to at least gotten a friendly “hello” from somebody.

I spent Monday evening and all day Tuesday up in Ithaca, and spent most of that time hanging around the Cornell campus and the surrounding area. Ithaca itself actually reminds me a lot of Eugene, Oregon… Smallish college town, incredible natural beauty, and lots of flannel and granola. Cornell itself was very nice, and I had a good meeting with Dr. Lily Chi, the director of the graduate architecture program. She gave me a few helpful pointers about my portfolio, gave me tons of information about the program, and led me on a brief tour of the facilities before setting me loose to explore Rand Hall on my own. Rand Hall itself is rather old and decrepit, but much more spacious than Avery, and looks like a cool place with a lot of creative energy… I especially loved the top floor studios. In general, there seemed to be much more of a balance between computers and hand drawings and models, which I appreciated. Dr. Chi introduced me to a couple of the students there, and they were happy to answer any questions I had.

I happen to love waterfalls, so later in the day I did some exploring around the area and got some photos of some of the nicer falls nearby. The Cornell campus reminded me of Rivendell… How many other colleges can claim to have large canyons and waterfalls directly adjacent to the campus? Even if I don’t wind up in Ithaca for grad school, I may have to build myself a vacation house there someday.

Overall, I was much more impressed with Cornell than with Columbia, not only in terms of the welcome and the general vibe I got, but also in terms of the facilities and the program itself. Of course, where I end up going is up to the respective admissions committees of the schools I’m applying to, but I feel safe in saying that Cornell is my #1 pick at the moment.

For those who are interested, I’ve posted some photos from my trip:

Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC
This is my home church in New York, and is currently undergoing a massive cleaning and restoration project as the result of a severe fire in 2001. The nave is currently closed for restoration, but the Great Choir has recently been re-opened, and the results are spectacular.

Ithaca, Cornell, and environs
Okay, not much in the way of Cornell itself, but several photos of Fall Creek Gorge and Taughannock Falls.


Oregon Trail

Just letting everybody know that on Monday, I’m moving from New York City to Eugene, Oregon. After living in Chicago, Boston, Philly, and NYC for the past 11 years, I guess I’ve finally gotten burned out with life in the big city. I’m looking forward to a more mellow atmosphere in Eugene and the incredible natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

I have a 3000-mile road trip ahead of me… Wish me a safe journey.

(originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org)

Checking In… And Moving Again

Sorry for not checking in for a while, but it’s been an “interesting” few months. For those who don’t know, I landed a job shortly after moving here in February, which turned out to be a disaster from day one. I lost that job in May, and was unemployed for a month before landing my current job, working for a small architecture firm in Midtown that does mostly retail and religious work. So far it’s been going well. Throughout all this, I’ve been dealing with a nasty flare-up of clinical depression, and trying to get out of a horrible housing situation in Brooklyn. Despite all that, though, I love being in NYC and I haven’t regretted my decision to move here. (Although I’ll confess to having developed a deep and profound loathing of car alarms, motorcycles, and Mister Softee trucks.)

As some of you know, I’ve been living with roommate here in Brooklyn since February, and this was never meant to be a permanent arrangement. In reality, my roommate and I have gotten along about as well as matches and gasoline (maybe the fact that her loser of a boyfriend and his huge dog have been living here rent-free since the week after I moved in has something to do with it, among other atrocities), so I’ve finally gotten my own one-bedroom apartment almost as far away from my roommate as I can possibly get while still remaining inside the municipal boundaries of New York City: Inwood.

The apartment itself is nothing to brag about, but it’s clean, newly renovated with a brand-new kitchen and bathroom, and faces the back of the building (hence, far less noise than if I were facing the street — another major bane of my current place). The only real negatives to it are 1) It doesn’t get much natural light due to other apartment buildings between my windows and the sun, and 2) I’ll need to avoid thinking about what sort of apartment I could afford in Chicago or Philly for the same rent.

And for those of you who live here in the NYC area or are able to make it here with a short drive: I’ll need some help moving on Saturday, August 28th. The customary pizza and beer will be provided, and I promise my new apartment is not on the top floor of a 6-story walk-up. If you’re able to help, let me know. Even if you can’t do much heavy lifting, I’ll still need somebody to watch the truck while it’s being loaded and unloaded. The more people I have helping, the less work it will be for everybody, and you’ll be safely back home before the RNC riots begin. 🙂

In other news, I’ve been busy with activities at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, which has been very rewarding. I often transfer at Columbus Circle on my way to church on Sunday mornings, and there’s been a couple times when I’ve seen all the local railfans and foamers lined up for some fan trip or another. (I waved at David Greenberger once, but he didn’t see me. I also saw him at Smith/9th just a few days ago.) Since I now ride the subway every day, it’s no longer quite the novelty it used to be (although I still find it fascinating). And with STC going down the toilet, I’ve had even less reason to go there. But I wanted to let everybody know that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.

(Originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org)

Finally, Some Good News

Just letting everybody know that after almost 10 months of unemployment, I’ve been offered a job with a mid-sized architecture firm in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. I’ll be doing mostly construction administration work for now, working at the Manhattan office two days a week and out on a job site in downtown Brooklyn three days a week.

This comes not a moment too soon, as my last unemployment check just arrived in yesterday’s mail.

Thanks to all who have offered their prayers and support during my “time in the desert”, and wish me luck on the new job!

Also, keep in your prayers those who remain unemployed and especially those who have exhausted their benefits. It’s a scary position to be in. Contrary to the noises being made by the White House these days, the national economy remains in the toilet and there are still lots of people who are looking for work.

(originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org) 

Weekend Explorations in NYC

Friday I stayed at home all day, but now I’m regretting it after seeing some other people’s photos of the dense fog that evening. It would have been interesting to head out to Broadway Junction, or perhaps take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

I did discover, however, that there’s a rather loud foghorn located somewhere near my neighborhood. Guess that’s what I get for living three blocks from the harbor. It adds a nice sense of atmosphere and isn’t particularly loud inside my apartment, but the frequency is so low it can be heard just about everywhere. I guess that’s the idea… If it couldn’t be heard over long distances, it wouldn’t be much of a foghorn. Just out of curiousity, does anybody know exactly where this thing is located?

Saturday, I took the subway into the city and did some walking around. On the (N) express from 59th Street, we passed a major construction site in the tunnel just north of 36th Street. Looks like the entire track and trackbed is being dug up and replaced, and there’s a couple work trains parked on the track north and south of the site, and some debris and equipment piled up on the north end of the platform at 36th. Anybody know exactly what all is being done here, and how long it’s supposed to last? Needless to say, all southbound (N) trains are running on the local track along the 4th Avenue line while this is going on. Also, northbound express trains are running very slow while passing the site; The (R) local actually passed us and got to Pacific Street before us. For any of those who like to check out work trains and equipment, though, I highly reccomend a trip to 36th Street.

I got off at Union Square, walked around a bit, and headed up towards Herald Square. Along the way I stopped to explore the ABC store just north of Union Square, which is an incredible place. Six floors of interesting and overpriced furniture and light fixtures. I especially liked the funky 1970’s stuff on the second floor. Once up at Herald Square, I spent some time wandering around Macy’s and riding the ancient wooden escalators.

From there, I took an (F) train to Roosevelt Island and rode the Tram back into Manhattan. The Roosevelt Island subway station was impressively deep, although I was somewhat disappointed to see that the escalators had been broken into two seperate runs with a landing in the middle. It would have been much more cool to have a single bank of incredibly long escalators, but I can understand the pragmatic reasons for having a landing.

I took advantage of my newfound ability to use my unlimited-ride Metrocard on the Tram, and it was very cool. Incredible views of the city and of the Queensboro Bridge, although the Tram seems to have been made redundant by the subway station.

From the Manhattan end of the Tram, I walked over to Times Square via Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center, and then took the subway home.

On Sunday (yesterday), I went to mass up at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and went out to brunch with some friends from the congregation afterwards. After that, I decided to walk up to the northern tip of Manhattan Island. I’ve previously walked from the Cathedral all the way down to Battery Park, so now I can say I’ve covered the entire length of Manhattan on foot.

I pretty much stayed on Broadway with only a couple exceptions. Around 125th Street I took a short detour to check out the Fairway store under the Hudson Parkway viaduct. What an incredible cornucopia for the senses! I also love their store on the Upper West Side (and Zabar’s. *drool*…) One day soon I hope to return with some money in my wallet. I remember readong somewhere that Fairway is also getting ready to open a third store in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn. Anybody know if there’s any truth to that, and when it’s supposed to happen?

I was also very impressed by the 12th Avenue viaduct in that area… Pretty incredible hunk of steelwork. I’ll have to return with my camera at some point.

Back on Broadway, I continued northward up to the Washington Heights area. The topography begins to get very interesting north of the George Washington Bridge, and I made my second detour a few blocks north of there. I noticed that Broadway was becoming rather dull while the row of apartment buildings at the top of the ridge along Ft. Washington Avenue looked far more interesting, so around 187th Street I headed up a very steep hill in that direction. It was interesting to see the backs of these buildings, with the “ground” floor actually a good 5-6 floors above the street behind them. I glimpsed an interesting subway entrance for the 181st Street station on the IND, and climbed a massive flight of stairs to get up to Ft. Washington Avenue (pant, pant). Once up there, I was treated to some incredible views. Again, I’ll need to return with my camera.

The neighborhood itself also seemed very cool… I love the Art Deco apartment buildings, and I’ve seen a lot of rentals advertized up there that are actually reasonably priced. I may look at the possibility of getting my own apartment within the next year or two, once I have a job and get some money saved up. (My current place isn’t bad for now, but my roommate is an annoying “daddy’s little princess” type from the suburbs and a total slob, and her boyfriend has slept over every night for the past two weeks. Don’t get me started.)

I continued walking north along Ft. Washington Avenue and found myself at the entrance to Ft. Tryon Park, along with another interesting IND subway entrance. The park itself was very nice, and I love the network of roadways connecting to/from Henry Hudson Parkway. I had to stand on a good vantage point for a bit and figure out where each roadway was coming and going. I also walked past the Cloisters (but didn’t go inside), and then climbed the steep trail back down into the neighborhood below. I found myself in Inwood and back on Broadway, and before long, walking across the Broadway Bridge into the Bronx. Nice view of the Harlem River and the tall bridge that carries Henry Hudson Parkway, and it was like a little taste of Chicago listening to the IRT subway cross the drawbridge on the tracks above me.

Now with very sore feet, I climbed the stairs at the 225th Street station and boarded the (1) train. I made it back to the Cathedral just in time for Evensong at 6:00, and came staright home from there.

I had another good walk last weekend, going from the Cathedral down to Union Square. I’ve walked that distance before down Broadway, but this time, due to the beautiful spring-like weather, I went all the way through Central Park from the northwest corner at 110th and CPW to the southeast corner at 59th and Fifth Ave. That is one huge park, and the crowds were out in full force… Great for people-watching.

By the way, I had a job interview on Thursday that went pretty well, and the guy has e-mailed me back asking for references. I’ll interpret that as a good sign. The office is in the Chelsea area, just off the 8th Avenue IND line (making Washington Heights even more attractive if I get this job). Wish me luck.

(originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org)

Moved in and Back Online

Just letting everybody know that I’ve finally gotten myself moved into my apartment in Brooklyn, and after almost two weeks of internet withdrawl, I’m now back online (with broadband, no less).

Getting everything loaded and unloaded took much longer than expected, but other than that, the move itself was mostly uneventful. Thanks to U-Haul for not screwing up my reservation this time and for giving me a truck that actually works, and special thanks to BMT Man for helping me get a couple large pieces of furniture up the stairs.

Next step: To find a job before my unemployment benefits expire next month, or my stay here in NYC will be very short. Wish me luck…

(originally posted on the SubTalk forum at nycsubway.org)