Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Chasing Smoke - 12

The Skyline. The skyline? Isn't that a bit obvious? Well, yes and no. It is New York's 'face' after all and a fitting place to conclude this brief series. The skyline, like the city itself, is not one thing. With as many facets as there are angles to view it, and all of them wondrous and brutal. Whether you see it on foot from ground level, rising above the foliage of Central Park or from the observation deck of the Empire State, from the Staten Island Ferry or driving in from one of the surrounding airports, the outlines of New York's wonderful architecture against the sky, land or water, is a human marvel, a statement of what is possible.

In the better part of a decade spent there, I travelled to and from the city several times a week, and not once in all those hundreds of journeys did I ever see the skyline and not sigh with the satisfaction of profound happiness. My first rented apartment was on Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights and I looked out over downtown Manhattan from the living-room window. I ran every morning along the promenade and each time, the same feeling of awe and potential and belonging, crashed over me. However, my favorite view was inevitably the most frequent. Living on the Upper West Side I would most often return via the Tri-boro bridge and there was always that point where the road crested, sweeping right and there it was; by no means the best aspect on the city compared to the classic views approaching from Red hook or the Long Island Expressway, but it was my welcome home.

For me, the enduring quality of this landscape is that it doesn't matter how brief a glimpse I get through trees or buildings or parting clouds, approaching or leaving, it still has the same effect. 

Day 6 - Leaving the city for the airport, I get one last fleeting view through the cables and bridges of the LIRR track as the train speeds to Jamaica, Queens.

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