Sunday, December 6, 2009

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

This was a clear, crisp, chilly Sunday, and a perfect day to have a stroll around some city neighborhoods to see how Christmas is beginning to arrive.

There are lots and lots of trees for sale at makeshift stands along neighborhood sidewalks. These trees are lining Broadway. The impressive building in the background used to be a bank. It is now still partially a bank, but some of its floors have been converted into expensive apartments.

A close up view of some trees shows the variety on offer. The picture below shows that not all the trees are tall. Many New York apartments are small, and require small trees.

A bit further up Broadway is my favorite grocery market, the Fairway. I feel fortunate to have it nearby, because of the tremendous variety and reasonable prices of its stock. Flowers and seasonal greenery are displayed outside on this corner. Seasonal fruits, and some veg, are just around the corner. The store has two floors inside full of all you could want.

Not everyone likes to do his or her own cooking in this city. There are many other ways to ensure that one is fed. Lots of entrepreneurs have begun small roving businesses. Dumplings are made to order inside this truck.

If your appetite requires something sweet, head for this truck parked nearby.

Walking a bit more uptown, you'll pass by the Apthorpe building, a huge apartment building that takes us an entire city block. It has a central courtyard. Some famous folks have lived here, like Cyndi Lauper. I think that some still do. Like many other places around this neighborhood, the cost of living here has risen over and over again.

I took a bus down to midtown today to attend the annual Holiday Open House at the beautiful main branch of the New York Public Library. It is lots of fun.
The building's water fountains are glamorous. Almost too glamorous to use.

In the entrance hall today, there were many folks dressed up as literary characters. The hall was bustling and crowded, with lots of children and adults rushing around. Lots of the following photos are not as focused as I would have wished.
Here is the Grinch, posing for me.

Here is Mr. Scroodge, not cooperating at all. He was very much in character.

There are grand stairways at each end of the entrance hall. I stood half-way up one of them to take this photo, to give you an idea of the scale.

When you keep going up to the third floor, you see the murals on the walls and the ceiling. It is a very enchanting building. Today the library was also very noisy, with singing groups, musicians, laughing children. Refreshments were ... wine, fizzy water, fruit punch, cookies and cheese sticks.

In another area of the library is a ball room where a disco-type band plays for dancing, and a simple buffet is served. There is usually a very long queue leading to entry to this area. I did not bother with it today.

Children could watch and be entertained by magicians, jugglers (who taught them how to juggle,) balloon sculptors, face painters and others.

Even the usually dignified statues were decorated with greenery. This fellow also had some cardinal birds resting on his shoulders.

After leaving the Library, I walked up to Rockefeller Center to capture some photos of the giant Christmas tree. I tried some shots from various angles to give you all an idea of just how giant it is.

The flags were flapping in the stiff breeze. Just below those flags is where the skating rink is located. In the picture below, I did cut off the top of the tree, but wanted to show you how many lights are strung on this tree to make it glitter.

Moving on, I wanted to photograph some of the interesting shop windows in midtown. The one below, which unfortunately has a lot of reflections, is in an Anthropologie shop. It is made from paper, lots and lots of paper.

The next two photos are from Tiffany's. The Tiffany windows are tiny, really little illuminated jewel boxes. This year's theme seems to be an "icy" winter wonderland.

Each window had an impressive selection of baubles nonchalantly resting in a sleigh, or some such setting.
The very best windows, as usual, are to be found at Bergdorf Goodman. They feature so much imagination, and over the topness, one could look at each of them for quite a long time.
This year's theme is a Cabinet of Curiosities. Indeed.

Perspective and scale are topsy turvy.
Again, I apologize for all the reflections. If time and weather permit during the next few weeks, I will try to take some better photos. These windows truly deserve to be seen.

The picture below is a mad tea party scene, with a very tilted floor. In a way, having the images of the large buildings intruding via reflections does add to the madness.

This next picture is of a smallish window that featured parts of clocks, and a fabulous handbag.

I assure you the fantasy of this window was magical.
The background of this window was a multi-leveled doll house, with all sorts of creatures and characters dwelling in many cubicles and corners. Note the tiny mannequin mimicking the full-sized 1960's era lady in the black and white houndstooth.

The lady in white in this setting is joined by topiary unicorns.

Here is a close up showing part of another window's menagerie.

And in this tableau we see a chanteuse accompanied by a musical wolf.

By this time, the light was fading, and my fingers were getting a bit cold. And so, I made my way across 57th Street, past the annual display of candy canes, and found a bus home.

I hope that these pictures, flawed as they are, will give you all an idea of various ways that our city dresses up for Christmas ... or the Holidays, as they are referred to around here.


  1. Fell very much in festive mood Frances,having enjoyed the lovely photos. I love NY at Christmas time. The library visit looked very jolly. I haven't been in to Dublin City yet.

  2. I love it, I want to be there. I love the creativity, beauty, festiveness, the window-dressing with clever cross-references and the unexpected with the traditional, the library with Everything happening (getting too accustomed to suburbia here), the street vendors (yes please to dumplings), the trees of every size, the whole thing. Thank you for this beautiful post!

  3. Wonderful photos... I want to be there! Your posts certainly whet anyone's appetite for visiting your city.

  4. A lovely tour, Frances, thank you. I always think New York is the place to be in the run-up to Christmas and will visit in December one day. I've seen too many movies, that's the problem!

  5. I feel quite breathless Frances! What an amzing tour. the photos you showed us are all so diferent, and the shop windows are quite amazing. I imagine there is a lot of competition amongst the shops to produce the most outstanding windows.
    I love Tiffany's, so understated!!

  6. Wonderful photographs Frances. We got a real flavour of Christmas in New York. So vibrant.

    Very tempted to come and see for myself.

  7. Magical! So many movies feature NYC at Christmastime - it was lovely to have our own private tour. The library 'do' looked wonderful - worth a winter holiday in the city just for that!

  8. utterly gorgeous and a great dose of festive citiness for a country-dweller such as I. I wish I had a teleporter that would allow me to dip in and out of all the magical places around the world at this time of year. Particularly NYC. Those windows look inspirational. There is a paper exhibition in Cirencester (not far from where I live) which I hope to get to go to before Christmas. I love the creations that artists invent with such a basic material.

  9. Oh Frances thank you so much for these it reminded me of goignt o London each year to see the trees and window displays at Christmas and bought back some wonderful memories I know New York isnt Like London but in many ways all big cities are the same and the spirit of Christmas in a big city is so well captured here on your blog.

  10. I am not sure who said "tired of London tired of life" but I am sure this is equally true of NYC. I am enthralled with those windows and wanted to click to enlarge for a closer look!

    I like to cook but how nice it is to have good take-away choices, I could do with one right now in fact. Those dumplings sound good.

  11. Frances, I very much enjoyed viewing all your wonderful photos. I've always heard that NY is the best place to be for Christmas. Thank you for sharing these and also thank you for always leaving me lovely comments. Unfortuately, yours have disappeared due to some problems with blogger.

  12. What an enchanting stroll through your beautiful city; I was mesmerized and long for more. Thankyou from a very grey and wet England.

  13. Hello Frances,
    It must be wonderful to be a child in New York seeing all this enchantment and magic. Maybe you all feel like children again.
    I have never visited but the sheer scale of all your trees, displays, decorations and shop windows must be quite something to see. Thank you for the Show.

  14. What wonderful tour of your magical New York at Christmas! I get nostalgic to look at these beloved sights, but what a joy to see them through your eyes.
    I photographed Tiffany's windows yesterday, they are different, interestingly.

  15. I have never really understood the terms uptown and downtown. They seem to be the reverse of ours. You took the bus down to midtown - but had you gone further would you have ended up in Greenwich village and Wall street. Those are downtown, aren't they? Whereas Harlem is uptown? Central Park midtown? Or am I completely muddled as usual. The poshest areas, the financial districts are in the downtown, whereas outs are in the uptown. Someone living in London's suburbs would say 'Ah'm goin' up West.' - meaning the West End, Picadilly, Leicester Square. We don't really have a down town, though, or a midtown, at least in London,though we would say 'Down the Ol' Kent Road.'

    But you would go up to town (London) on the train and down again to the country. Unless you were going to Oxford or Cambridge. in which case you would go 'up' in both directions. It is always 'up' to Oxford. Railway lines are known as up lines or down lines according to whether they are running to or from London.

  16. Thank you all for your kind comments.

    Let me fill you in on uptown and downtown, a la NYC.

    Midtown is considered the central area of Manhattan island ... say, the area between 59th Street (where Central Park begins) and 34th Street (where Macy's reigns.)

    Since NYC (Manhattan) is laid out in a roughly north/south direction, uptown means north, downtown means south. could live uptown, meaning above 59th Street or you could walk or ride uptown ... even in the "midtown area." Subway train tracks are designated Uptown or Downtown, rather than north or south.

    Fennie ... does this help?


  17. Wasn't there a song the 59th street bridge back in the 60's by - I think - the Turtles or some such? Frances, these are pure magic, I loved every one of them, thank you so much for this wonderful tour of your city; like Tiggy I haven't seen Dublin's lights yet, now I am spurred on to take a ramble in!

  18. Just magical for the child in all of us.
    Your engaging blogs remind me of the story of the famous person who was asked,"If you were to be cast away on a desert island and could choose only one thing to take with you, what would it be?"
    and the famous person replied, without hesitation,"I would take New York".

  19. I just love all the festive excitment your photos show. I used to adore walking around teh West End in London in the evenings when I lived in Rose & Crown Yard just down from Fortnum & Mason. Peering into the shops and department stores and being amazed at the beauty and ingenuity of all the window displays. Fabulous.

  20. It is all so very different to here Frances. thank you so much for the chance to see it xx

  21. Wow, wow, wow- those pictures are just fabulous... Jxx

  22. goodness...wonderful NY Christmas cheer!

  23. Dear Frances
    you have done me a great service in showing me uptown's wonderful decorations since I am freezing to bits down here in Chelsea.
    I loved all the photos from the library especially.
    Yes, very festive indeed.

  24. I was recently there but your photos are more interesting than mine I just took wall street photos and a few others.

    The character ones make me wonder how much fun it could be dressing up as one.

    I connected through another blog.

    Kindest regards,
    Tom Bailey

  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  26. Hello Frances.
    I'm back with a new blog if you want to visit me. You are so welcome :)
    Nice to see some photographs from the big city, it's so far away from my world.

    Earlier "...leva i de längst förflydda tider..."
    now at "Det gode liv hos bestemor" (= living the good life in Grandmother's house)

  27. I have been wondering about writing a short summary in English in each post, it's a good training for my poor English. Perhaps I do so, because I think it's so fun to "get known" to people all over the world via the blog. There's one but: it will take much longer time to write each post, because I need the dictinary sometimes.
    You know you can go to Google translate and fill in the adress of my blog? Then you get an idea of what I'm writing, even if the translating is so and so.

  28. My goodness! I would be there for ages looking at the fantastic window displays, how New Yorkers throw themselves into Christmas! Here, in our household, we rather puritianically start our quiet jollities (if they can be called that) about two or three days before the 25th - but it is always fun to see how others do it.

  29. What amazing windows - not at all what we are used to in the country!

    Pomona x

  30. Well thank you for the Christmas tour of New York, what a treat. I especially enjoyed the library.:-) I hope you are feeling better, thank you for your kind words.

  31. oh thanks so much for sharing, i bet NY at christmas time must be so magical, such a lovely post! fliss xx

  32. Wow those windows are quite amazing Frances. I saw the London Tiffany window on a blog in the last few days and it looked similarly magical. I think the New York Christmas window dressing is on quite another scale to London though. Imagine the hours (and dollars!) that went into these! Thankyou for the peek into this glamorous world.

  33. following you through New York is like going on an adventure. You chose the most exciting and outlandish and unusual sites to show us, so much better than the run of the mill pictures we know from the media and films.

    I envy you the hustle and bustle and dearly wish I could accompany you on your explorations. Walking in fields and on muddy lanes is not quite the same, besides, the only creatures I ever meet are cows and horses and sheep, none of which are in the least interested in art or culture or even shopping.

  34. Hi Frances.......lovely to visit with you and take a tour of your patch :: gosh, so different from mine!
    Fascinating isn't it, how we can glimpse into other lives completely different from our own, I've really enjoyed your pictures a lot ((thank you))

  35. Hello Frances,

    What wonderful photo's you have shared with us, thank you. I love your Grocery at Market store, lovely flowers to buy there too I see.

    I do love the idea of having a mobile vehicle where one can buy dumplings cooked, love dumplings.!

    Really loved the Library too Frances, great post.!


  36. What a great tour you gave us. New York is such a vibrant city and at Christmas is must be a gorgeous place to be. Thank you for the photos, they show a lot of character.

  37. Frances,
    I hope your Sunday went well,
    and you got help removing the snow on the sidewalk!
    Here, it snowed another foot during last night, but the sun was out all day. A truly brilliant, icy cold winter day. I am baking cookies with my girls (the one who studies in California arrived safely last night, like a miracle, with only little more than an hour's delay, after crossing two snowed-in continents).
    A truly blessed time,
    a quiet Sunday evening to you,

  38. How lovely! Images of Central Park keep popping up around me! Your photographs and your narrative give light and life to the holidays! Thank you!

  39. Nollaig shona dhuit a Phrionsios, have a good one!


  40. What a great treat to see the festive spirit alive and in such style in New York City... How I would love to return and trade places just for a day ( or five)..
    Seeing the library building brought back some fine memories.. I was last there in 1998 and will never forget the magnificent interior.
    Enjoy your Christmas and the New Year and all it brings.
    Love and best wishes from over the pond.

  41. Hi Frances
    did you change your home e-mail?
    anyway merry merry!
    hope to see you soon.
    I'm up in Tappan

  42. Have a very happy Christmas!

    Pomona x

  43. Have a wonderful Christmas Frances, don't work too hard!

  44. Frances, I sent you an email but ti bounced back several times! So, just dropping in to wish you a relaxing and peaceful Christmas, and to thank you for your always-interesting City Views which I enjoy so much.

    From the country mouse to the city mouse. x

  45. hope you have a very merry christmas!
    fliss xx

  46. Frances, I hope you have Merry Christmas!

  47. I just strolled once more through your holiday wonderland, more magical than the first few times! ;-)

    I hope you had a wonderful holiday and Boxing Day is not too hard on you! Luckily, everything is still closed, much to my delight.

    Hugs from V.,

  48. Framces...Happy New Year! Hope to see more blog posts soon! Missing your lovely view on life in the big city!